A Kleinian analysis of organisations: implications for competitive activity

Document Type


Publication details

McManus, J & Westwood, RI 2006, 'A Kleinian analysis of organisations: implications for competitive activity', paper presented to 23rd Annual Meetings of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 19 June.


This paper reports on research that sought to provide a Kleinian analysis of a sample of organisations, position them on the Depressive – Paranoid/Schizoid continuum, and relate that to various measures of personal well-being and the uptake and efficacy of employee assistance programs (EAP). The paper argues that the different types of organisations, as differentiated in Kleinian terms, impact upon the health and wellbeing of their employees in terms of internal everyday organisational practices and experiences, but also in relation to the modes of competitive conduct adopted by the organisations. Extensive and iterative interviews were conducted with 120 employees from six organisations. A Kleinian Analysis Rating Scale was used to analyse and position the organisations on the depressive – paranoid/schizoid dimension. The findings show that organisations can be effectively distinguished in Kleinian terms and that such differences appear to be related to a range of health effects for employees. Employees in Depressive organisations experienced their organisations in significantly more positive terms, as more in congruence with their own values, and as enhancing of self esteem and self image. Competition was also viewed in relatively positive terms. In contrast, employees from Paranoid – Schizoid organisations experienced their organisations more negatively and as at odds with their personal values and sense of self esteem. Competitiveness was perceived in somewhat destructive terms and as anxiety causing. The study found that the mental and physical health of individuals and their rate of recovery from psychological issues arising from personal or workplace matters were affected by the lack of containment afforded to them in paranoid-schizoid organisations.