Looking at the gap between social psychological and psychodynamic perspectives on group dynamics historically

Sandra G.L. Schruijer (Utrecht University School of Governance, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Petru L. Curseu (Department of Organisation Studies, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Publication date: 8 April 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to describe and understand the gap between the psychodynamic literature on groups and the social psychological perspective on group dynamics.

Design/methodology/approach

As Wilfred Bion is the most influential group dynamics representative of the psychodynamic tradition the authors performed a citation analysis of Bion's work to find out whether it influenced the social psychological research on group dynamics. They compared three domains of literature: therapy/clinical, management/organization studies and social psychology. Moreover, they depict (by drawing on interviews with European pioneers in social psychology) the historical context in which European social psychology developed to explain the gap between the psychodynamic and social psychological approaches in the study of group dynamics.

Findings

The results clearly indicate the existence of a gap between the social psychological and psychodynamic perspectives on group dynamics. Moreover, the authors show that Bion did influence scholars studying or working with real-life groups and is cited more by American than European scholars. The attempt to build a legitimate scientific identity for social psychology provides a context for understanding of the neglect of the psychodynamic tradition.

Research limitations/implications

The authors conclude by exploring ways in which the psychodynamic tradition may fertilize the social psychological tradition in studying groups.

Originality/value

The paper is one of the first to address the discrepancy between the social psychological and psychodynamic perspectives in the study of group dynamics.

Keywords

Citation

G.L. Schruijer, S. and L. Curseu, P. (2014), "Looking at the gap between social psychological and psychodynamic perspectives on group dynamics historically", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 232-245. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-08-2012-0121

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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