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Title: Ideology, the social imaginary and narcissistic tendencies in organisations
Author: Mackay, Seumas Campbell James.
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2001
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A first contention of this thesis is that whilst much organisation theory to date has emerged from a structural-functionalist perspective, in which rationality, congruence of aims, and the validity of the systems model were assumed, a more fruitful approach would be essentially hermeneutic, seeking to understand the meanings ascribed to organisations by those who work in them. Hermeneutics is seen as compatible with elements of post-modernism - the importance of perspective over 'fact', the suspicion of grand narratives, the decentred subject, and above all the role of language in forming consciousness and identity - and more appropriate to the human domain than hard scientific models. Having argued that psychoanalysis and aspects of literary theory may offer appropriate conceptual tools, it is suggested that the concept of pathological narcissism may offer a model for understanding the creative potential or otherwise of organisations: the less creative being inclined towards control, superficial success, and depreciation of the other. Moreover, through the medium of Lacan's theory of discourse, there is the possibility of linking the psychic economy of the individual to that of the organisation, and to the external world in the shape of prevalent ideologies. A theory of the Narcissistic Organisation is advanced, which in its ideal form will exhibit many of the characteristics of the pathological narcissist: through leadership styles, group processes, structures, rules and regulations, and discourses which tend to promote identification with a limited set of signifiers, which represent in turn a rigid underlying ideology. There is a strong dis-identification with what is perceived to be other. In order to illustrate this theory, a case history is presented, based on interviews with senior managers in a large company. Analysis reveals a degree of support for the theory: there is evidence of an overt ideology, a narrow set of signifiers regulating attitudes and behaviour, and other structural, stylistic, and discursive dimensions which tend to promote rigid identification and allow the Chief Executive to dominate the organisation effectively. The deficiencies of the theory are addressed - including the charge of 2 reductionism and the difficulty of distinguishing between 'healthy' and pathological narcissism, and opportunities for further research are identified. Nonetheless, as it stands the theory of the Narcissistic Organisation is found to increase understanding of the psychic and ideological underpinnings of organisations, and the potential ways in which these might impact on creativity and adaptation
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology Psychology Management Philosophy Religion