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Unconscious Organisations: Exploring the Archetypal Masculine and Feminine in a Large Corporation in Turkey

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date2017
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventAnnual Australasian Business Ethics Network (ABEN) Conference - RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 10/12/201711/12/2017


ConferenceAnnual Australasian Business Ethics Network (ABEN) Conference
Abbreviated titleABEN


This paper proposes to examine organisations through a psychological lens. This perspective assumes that an organisation resembles the psyche of a human being and that ethical and unethical actions undertaken by the organisation can be explained by studying the various conscious and unconscious elements that compose it.
When we fail to pay the necessary attention to these unconscious elements, they might become destructive.
The consequences might affect both the individual members and the collective unit, and thus tend to influence the moral behaviour of organisations and agents significantly. Extensive research has looked at economic, political and social factors to explain cases of unethical corporate actions. More timidly, researchers have considered psychological factors when analysing individual or group-level immoral behaviour. Still, much organisational research ignores the place of the
unconscious in organisations as a whole (Bowles, 1990).
In the tradition of Analytical Psychology, the psyche includes archetypal qualities which are the fundamental elements of human existence. Carl Gustav Jung (1969) identified two intuitive concepts in his study of unconscious contents which he believed represent key underlying patterns of behaviour: the archetypal masculine and the archetypal feminine. While qualities like rationality, hierarchy and growth are associated with the archetypal masculine, in contrast, qualities likeirrationality, emotional depth and cyclic renewal are associated with the archetypal feminine. Irrespective of gender, it is argued that these archetypal contents manifest in various ways in individuals and organisations.
In this context, most business actions are related to rationality and profit as a means of achieving organisational goals rather than prizing emotions, relationships or meanings.
The overemphasis on and predilection for rationality that governs the behaviour of organisations in many ways tend to encourage the denial of the qualities associated with the archetypal feminine and as a result, those qualities are repressed and form the shadow, which might produce destructive results with dramatic ethical consequences.
This paper offers insights from an ongoing study carried out in a work organisation in Turkey. Collecting data through interviews, participant observation and ethnographic notes, both dominant qualities and the qualities which are not allowed in organisations but that still exist in the unconscious are explored through analysing values, language and relationships in context.
Albeit tentative, there are some early insights obtained from the initial data analysis. On the one hand, the manifestation of the qualities associated with the archetypal masculine allowed the company to grow from a small sole proprietorship to one of the Fortune 500 companies in Turkey and to build up a rather loyal employee portfolio over the years. On the other hand, it seems that the neglect of the qualities associated with the archetypal feminine manifests through a range of emotional outbursts in different levels of organisational hierarchy. Similarly, deviations from the appropriate workplace behaviour are disciplined through inconsistent punishments which seem to bring out more deviant behaviours and a tendency to rebel among the employees. The paper proposes to examine the hidden to understand the reality observed, arguing that there lie deeper truths about human moral behaviour.