National Health Service (N.H.S.) mediation in focus: a psychoanalytic lens on the unconscious at work. How does conflict find its way into organisational life?
Minns, Michael David
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Workplace mediation services are committed to developing strategies that help people resolve conflict. In its various intrapsychic and psychosocial guises conflict is central to psychoanalytic theory and practice, but within the current literature there are no qualitative workplace mediation studies explicitly drawing on psychoanalytic/systems psychodynamic theory and thinking. In this way, the dynamic unconscious is effectively marginalised from the mediation research literature. This research adopts a case study approach, and reports the findings of a mixed methods mediation service review undertaken in an N.H.S. Trust. All research participants experienced significant conflict in the workplace, or were directly involved in addressing the antecedents, management and/or consequences associated with collegial and organisational dispute. 27 current N.H.S employees, selected by the mediation service lead, were invited to participate, with 15 proceeding to interview. All 15 participants contribute towards the service review data, whilst 6 of these interviews are used to specifically underpin psychoanalytic/systems psychodynamic analysis. The study methodology incorporates analytically informed negative capability and the Free Association Narrative Interviewing (F.A.N.I.) and analysis methods of Holloway & Jefferson (2012). An emphasis is placed working with the whole data according to the principles of gestalt, including the inter-subjective dynamics of the interview encounter itself, and analytical concepts such as counter-transference, splitting and projective identification. Many of the skills needed to work successfully as a psychoanalytic mediator are illustrated. The study also presents a summative content analysis of Trust board minutes Dec.2012 - Dec. 2015 to establish the representation of organisational conflict and mediation at the most senior levels of the organisation. A discrepancy between the reported prevalence of organisational conflict and its representation at board level is evident. The study links the service review findings to recommendations for the N.H.S. Trust at the level of policy and practice, alongside suggestions for further research.
Doctor of Clinical Practice