Experiencing uncertainty – on the potential of groups and a group analytic approach for making management education more critical.
This article points to the potential of methods derived from group analytic practice for making management education more critical. It draws on the experience of running a professional doctorate for more experienced managers in a university in the UK over a 16 year period. Group analysis is informed by the highly social theories of S.H. Foulkes and draws heavily on psychoanalytic theory as well as sociology. First and foremost, though, it places our interdependence at the heart of the process of inquiry, and suggests that the most potent place for learning about groups, where we spend most of our lives, is in a group. The article prioritises three areas of management practice for which group analytic methods, as adapted for research environment, are most helpful: coping with uncertainty and the feelings of anxiety which this often arouses; thinking about leadership as a relational and negotiated activity, and encouraging reflexivity in managers. The article also points to some of the differences between the idea of the learning community and psychodynamic perspectives more generally and the limitations of group analytic methods in particular, which may pathologise resistance in the workplace.