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Exploring the roots of bullying in a "pristine" organisation

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This article describes part of a small-scale research project looking into how bullying can arise when everything on the surface of an organisation appears pristine. The Human Resources (HR) team of an international company were working hard to create a healthy working environment for employees and ticking boxes to achieve the status of "a great place to work". However, cases of bullying were still arising. Two colleagues and I were invited to provide insights into the roots of the conflicts. As part of the investigation we carried out an observation day and this forms the focus of this article. Observations based on a reflexive research method and psychoanalytical theory, are described. The subjective findings illustrate how, when there is an excessive desire to care and protect employees, emotional life can become split off, denied, and repressed. Disconnections develop and the ability of employees to engage with reality and collaborate effectively can be undermined, potentially leading to shame, envy, and bullying.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • Organisational and Social Dynamics is a forum for the publication of theoretical and applied papers that are relevant and accessible to an international readership; and, one where writers from psychoanalytic, group relations, and systems perspectives can address emerging issues in organisations and societies throughout the world.

    It aims to sustain a creative tension between scientific rigour and popular appeal, both developing conversations with the professional and social scientific world and opening up these conversations to practitioners and reflective citizens everywhere. We wish to attract manuscripts from contributors who are aware of their own values, suppositions and assumptions, the influence of counter-transference in their work, whatever form it takes, and the ability to connect the internal world of individuals and groups with societal and global processes.
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