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The division of the subject and the organization: a Lacanian approach to subjectivity at work

Gilles Arnaud (Dean of Faculty, Toulouse Business School, Toulouse, France)
Stijn Vanheule (Department of Psychoanalysis and Clinical Consulting, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 29 May 2007



The purpose of this conceptual paper is to discuss the relevance of Lacanian psychoanalysis for thinking on organizational functioning and organizational change.


First, the authors discuss basic Lacanian ideas with regard to the notion of the unconscious and its discursive status and with respect to the crucial difference between the ego and the subject. Subjectivity is linked to the notion of the lack. The authors then address implications of Lacanian theory for thinking about and intervening in organisations.


It is argued that the non‐satisfying nature of work needs to be recognised, that organizational intervention entails an intervention on discourse, and that subjectivity is an issue to be recognized in the context of organizational functioning.


In discussing the implications of this point of view, the authors address the possibility of a psychoanalytic ecology of human resources.



Arnaud, G. and Vanheule, S. (2007), "The division of the subject and the organization: a Lacanian approach to subjectivity at work", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 359-369.



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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited