A psychodynamic perspective on staff related issues observed in an organisation undergoing change

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Sheehan, Richard
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The research undertaken sets out to demonstrate that underlying psychodynamic processes can explain many of the behaviours and staff related issues observed within an organisation which underwent significant change. The study is based on a case study location which experienced significant change and to which the author had access. Change impacted on employees in such a way that the organisation observed an increase in absenteeism and a decrease in productivity; there were also manifestations of blaming and aggression in addition to an increase in employee stress and anxiety. The research was conducted by first carrying out a comprehensive literature review to provide a basis for understanding the relevant psychodynamic processes that would help predict likely psychological outcomes for individuals and groups arising as a result of change. This was followed by a thematic analysis based on a number of strategic interviews with key personnel within the organisation to gather information regarding the actual impact of change on employees. The research concludes that psychodynamic processes, based largely on psychoanalytic and object-relations concepts, occur at both individual and group level and can explain many of the personnel issues observed. The analysis takes into account psychoanalytic concepts such as splitting and projection in addition to concepts from the Kleinian model such as paranoid / schizoid and depressive positions and projective identification. Aspects of Bionian group theory such as ‘dependency’ and ‘fight/flight’ assumption groups have also been found to be relevant. The research concludes that a psychodynamic model needs to be adopted in tandem with sociological models of behaviour in order to provide a more complete explanation of the impact of organisational change on employees, impacts which are typically observed in the HR and mental health statistics of organisations undergoing change.