Susan LongISSN / ISBN:
The Perverse Organisation and its Deadly Sins begins by examining the nature of perversity and its presence in corporate and organisational life. Then, four chapters examine the "corporate sins" of perverse pride, greed, envy and sloth, each taking case studies from major organisations suffering their effects. Finally, the book enquires into the nature of the consumer/provider pair as a centrepiece of the perverse cultural dynamics of current organisational life.
There is evidence of a movement from 'a culture of narcissism' toward elements of a perverse culture. This book brings forth and examines the evidence as it reveals itself through one of the major institutions of our time: the work organisation. Corporations and organisations for work are major centers of social activity. In many senses they provide a critical source of identity for their members, just as do families and religions.
The examination of corporations and organisations gives access to most of the dynamics operating within our society and reveals some of the deeper assumptions upon which our lives are based. To call them simply a reflection of human social organisation and proclivity, perhaps is to underrate the importance of themselves shaping today's psyche. To look at the formation of perverse practice, structure and culture within organisations is also to look at that development in society more broadly.
The book first examines the nature of perversity and its presence in corporate and organisational life. Then, four chapters examine the 'corporate sins' of perverse pride, greed, envy and sloth, each taking case studies from major organisations suffering their effects. Finally, the book enquires into the nature of the consumer/provider pair as a centerpiece of the perverse cultural dynamics of current organisational life.
The emphasis in the book is on perversity displayed by the organisation as such, rather than simply by its leaders, or other members, even though they may embody and manifest perverse primary symptoms to the extent that they at times engage in corrupt or criminal behaviours. What is explored is a group and organisation dynamic, more deeply embedded than conscious corruption. Within the perverese structure some roles become required to take up corrupt positions. They become part and parcel of the way things work. The person may condemn certain practices, but the role requires them. Tensions between person and role may mean that the person in role acts as they would not while in other roles. Such tensions may lead to the dynamics of perversity.
This book is important reading for managers, consultants, and all who are interested in the dynamics propelling what seem to be the out-of-control dynamics within contemporary organisational life. It helps us understand how many people in positions of trust may end up abusing those positions. It looks at how we may be collectively perverse despite our individual attempts to be otherwise.
'This is the book we've been waiting for, and for so long. A psychoanalytically inspired and politically informed look at contemporary organisational life which takes us from the mysteries of the New York Stock Exchange via Calisto Tanzi (Italy's Robert Maxwell) to the dynamics of envy in professional associations. How rarely one comes across someone who can integrate Bion, Lacan and Klein with critical social and organisational theory to produce an accessible book of vital contemporary relevance. This book signifies the coming-of-age of Bion's belief in the creative and disruptive possibilities of a psychoanalysis anchored in the life of the group.'
- Paul Hoggett, Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for Psychosocial Studies at University of the West of England.
'Susan Long chronicles Enron, Palamat, and many other corporations to identify the underlying psycho-dynamics of perverse organizations. These exist not only because of key role-holders' narcissism and greed, but also because of their ability to spin corporate narratives to sustain their lies and deceit. When the whistle is blown and the hubris fails, employees are caught in the fallout of the collusive conspiracy and, ultimately, lose.'
- W. Gordon Lawrence, Managing partner of Social Dreaming Ltd, Visiting Professor, University of Northumberland, Newcastle
- The Perverse Organisation
- Understanding the Perverse State of Mind
- Perverse Pride
- Perverse Greed
- Sloth and Neglect
- Perverse Wrath
- The Consumer Provider Pair
Notes about the author(s):
Susan Long is an organisational consultant and researcher. Formerly Professor of Creative and Sustainable Organisation, she is now an adjunct Professor at RMIT and in Melbourne Australia where she conducts courses for senior managers, supervises research students and conducts organisational research. As an organisational consultant she works with organisational change, executive coaching, board development, role analysis, team development and management training.
She is a member of Comcare’s advisory board for the Center of Excellence for Research into Mental Health at Work and a member of the Board of the Judicial College of Victoria. She is currently President of the Psychoanalytic Studies Association of Australasia, was the founding President of Group Relations Australia and a past president of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations. Her research interests involve participatory action research projects in industry, government organizations, health, education and correctional services and have attracted grants through the Australian research Council and industry. She has published five books and many journal articles and is editor of the journalSocioanalysis.