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Dances with Words: Untying Laingian Knots in Double Binds and Vicious Circles in Organisational Discourse


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Poulson, C 2007 , 'Dances with Words: Untying Laingian Knots in Double Binds and Vicious Circles in Organisational Discourse', paper presented at the 25th European Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium, 5 - 8 July 2007, Vienna, Austria.

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Organisational discourse is fraught with circular reasoning, double binds, and vicious circles - in effect, Dances With Words. Some are pas de deux, some solos (a la barre?) danced before a mirror. Some are solos danced in dyads, triads, or groups. Many are pure improvisation.

R. D. Laing, a Scottish psychiatrist who published widely on schizophrenia
explored such patterns in his work of poetry "Knots" (1970):
I'm not entitled to what I have
Therefore everything I have is stolen
If I've got it,
And am not entitled to it
I must have stolen it
because I'm not entitled to it. (p.34) [a citation; not part of
the poem! Since these are knot my words I must properly cite
them lest you think I have stolen them (which in fact I have since
I am knot good enough to write them myself, therefore I am
knot entitled to use them)].

These then are 'scripts' - the 'cognitive dynamics underlying many
organizational behaviors and actions. A script is a schematic knowledge held in memory that specifies behavior or event sequences that are appropriate for specific situations.' (Gioia and Poole, 1984, p. 449) These scripts are often only known to the individual and help for expectations about how one behaves and the responses expected for enacting the behavior (and are not always 'appropriate!) Laing's 'knots' result when scripts (intrapersonal or interpersonal) conflict either cognitively, experientially, or both.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:Poulson, C
Keywords: Organisational discourse, psychological contracts, double binds, poetry, R.D. Laing, "Knots"
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