Cynthia McSwain

One of my favorites unearthed from the old web site.

The baseline goal that that the organization or any human system must pursue is the development of the person within it; other matters, other goals, must come after. — …the primary axiological commitment of transformational theory is not dominantly rational or utilitarian in motivation or behavior.— … indeed it is not an exaggeration to say that the technology of the field of organization development is at bottom a set of techniques for managing the resolution of individual and group projections, thereby releasing the energy that is bound up by them.

Cynthia McSwain
A Transformational Theory of Organizations
American Review of Public Administration 23:2.1993

I come back to this idea some ten years later. Almost no organization psychologizes itself to the extent McSwain finds worthy. This sense is very worthy too, but my gloss is: one hopes an organization’s idealization of itself does make room for a critical inquiry into its complex arrays of prejudices. In old fashioned terms, this unearths various critical tensions. There is a human scale implicit in this, yet it is also true that almost all organizations don’t report (to themselves) anything we might class as a refined sense of organizational “soul”.

The report is usually reductive, pragmatic and convergent.

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