Transforming the Field of Work: The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, 1940-1980
Daniel Monninger (doctoral project)
The second half of the twentieth century saw a paradigm shift that fundamentally changed the organization and management of enterprises and their employees. Key phenomena in this transformation were an epistemic shift in the conception and treatment of managers and employees, a shift from hierarchies to dynamic self-organization, and a profound change in the meaning of change in organizations. Change became a constant goal rather than a means to an end. The London-based Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR), which was founded in 1947, played an important role in this process. Examining the institute’s history up to 1980, this dissertation project investigates how knowledge emanating from the psy sciences was used to reshape the field of work. It aims to show how psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic insights that emerged from group experiments in World War II led to new work-related practices of (self-) management and organization. The study contributes to the research on the "economization of the social," incorporating approaches from the history of applied human sciences, the history of subjectivity and self-relations, and the study of structural change in the field of work. Project duration: October 2014 to July 2018.