Functional Collusion in a UK Non Governmental Organisation: Processes of Shame and Exclusion from the Perspective of an Organisational Development Practitioner
This thesis explores the emergence of functional collusion in groups and communities. Collusion is often taken up as synonymous with conspiracy, as a negative aspect of people seeking to get an advantage by nefarious means. In contrast, the thesis points to how a form of collusion might have a function for supporting people in their ongoing relating and in doing so suggests that there are two important factors in functional collusion. The first is that contextual history is key to understanding how, without planning or discussion, collusion emerges and is maintained in groups and communities. The second is that an absence of discussion is key because bringing collusive patterns of relating into our conversations disables their continuation. This thesis argues that collusion arises as people avoid the discomfort of emotions such as shame as well as maintaining familiar patterns of power relating. As collusive patterns of relating tend to emerge undiscussed between people, the thesis suggests that deciding whether to uncover and discuss them is a matter of contextual practical judgement or phronesis as it will inevitably require the navigation of ethical dilemmas which the author argues cannot be solved simply through the application of universal rules. This thesis offers a challenge to the way people working as organisational development practitioners think about their practice, especially those working in the not-for-profit sector.
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