Insight and Imagination: A Study in Knowing and Not-Knowing in Organizational Life

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Insight and Imagination explores the primacy of the self in organizational research, consulting, and management/leadership. Contesting the radical dichotomy between "objective" and "subjective" understanding, and the devaluation of the latter, Professor Howard F. Stein argues that the imagination of the observer, informed by his or her unconscious, can lead to a greater understanding of the psychological reality of the workplace and in turn to better informed problem solving. Insight emerges from the disciplined use of the imagination rather than its repudiation. The book brings countertransference to center stage as a tool for understanding the emotional experience of organizational life and for formulating interventions. One often neglected use of the imagination is the capacity to not have to know beforehand what one needs to learn-what poet John Keats called "negative capability." Insight and Imagination proposes the use of the humanities as a means of expanding and deepening one's access to the inner life of organizations. The author draws from the art created by others and from his own poetry written and often used during an organizational consultation. Among the specific contexts discussed in this book are the experience of organizational downsizing; helping organizations to grieve after change and loss; recognizing "red herrings" in organizational decision making; the language of organizational change; recognizing hidden agendas in meetings; and reflective practice in organizational life.

About the Author:
Howard F. Stein, Ph.D., is Professor of Family Medicine in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center,Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Editorial Reviews

Dr. Seth Allcorn
Stein in Insight and Imagination intersperses his thoughtful and reflective discussion of the psychological nature of the workplace with poems...this much needed, playful but yet intensely thoughtful book makes an important contribution to the discussion of knowing and not knowing of the workplace for what it is...I recommend this book to anyone seeking to more thoroughly understand one's experiences at work.
The Applied Anthropologist, Spring 2008 - Richard V. Badalamente
. . . a book that demands the reader's full attention, promising to reward it with an insightful and imaginative approach. . .
The Applied Anthropologist, Spring 2008 - Darby C. Stapp
Howard Stein's new book, Insight and Imagination: A Study in Knowing and Not-knowing in Organizational Life, is an important book. I believe it can have a profound impact on the many practicing anthropologists working with, and more commonly, within organizations. I sense it is going to have a profound impact on my own professional development
The Applied Anthropologist, Spring 2008 - Satish K. Kedia
Stein takes an innovative approach, drawing from over thirty years of personal experience as a psychoanalytic anthropologist and organizational consultant. He crafts an engaging, exhilarating, and often depressing narrative of the pitfalls surrounding organizational change. . . . By providing a window into the emotional center of organizational life and culture through the use of artistic means, Stein manages to create an anthropological set piece that is at once instructive, challenging, and rewarding.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761837459
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 6/15/2007
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Howard F. Stein, Ph.D., a psychoanalytic anthropologist, organizational consultant, and poet, is Professor of Family Medicine in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he has taught for thirty years. He is a long-time member of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations and the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology. Professor Stein is author of twenty-five books, the most recent of which is Beneath the Crust of Culture (2005). In late 2006, he was nominated for Oklahoma Poet Laureate.

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Table of Contents

Foreword   Burkard Sievers   Dr. Sozial Wissenschaft     v
Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     xiii
Countertransference and Organizational Knowing: Understanding from the Inside as Well as the Outside     1
"The Centre and Circumference of Knowledge": The Use of Poetry as a Tool of Countertransference in Organizational Knowing and Consulting     14
Uncovering an Organizational Conference's Hidden Agendas     27
Red Herrings in the Workplace: On Not Solving the Wrong Problem     42
Learning How to Help: An Applied Anthropologist's Role in Massive Organizational Change     53
The Role of Our Words in the Masking and Unmasking of Organizational Experience     64
Trusting the Journey: The Narrative History of an Organizational Consultation     76
Letting Go of Who We Were: The Triad of Change-Loss-Grief in Organizational and Wider Cultural Life     98
The Dangers of Not Reflecting on What We Are Doing in Workplaces     116
The Inner World of Workplaces: Learning About Real World Workplaces Through Art     125
Ways of Knowing in Medicine and Other Worlds of Work: Objectivized Seeing and Beyond     141
The Consultant's Story as Conduit to the Client and Organization's Story: Fiction as Guide to Organizational Reality     153
Summary, Conclusions: ADocumentary Play     171
Index     193
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2007

    Understanding Workplace Experience

    Howard Stein has taken the insight that may be gained by using a psychologically informed perspective to examine the workplace in a new and much needed direction. Dr. Stein not only wants his reader to understand the workplace from a psychological perspective he wants the reader to have the experience and feelings that his inspection of work life brings to the table. The workplace is most often and I will add wishfully thought of as fundamentally rational where a cost/benefit ratio may be calculated. It is, however, much more than that. It also contains irrational, spiritual and affective/emotional elements that often dominate work life but regrettably become the messy and hard to measure and manage nature of work experience. Stein in Insight and Imagination intersperses his thoughtful and reflective discussion of the psychological nature of the workplace with poems to help the reader enter into the affective/emotional and spiritual space that comes with exploring the workplace from the point of view of what it is like to show up everyday to go to work. He concludes his book with a documentary play also intended to evoke experience, thoughts, feelings and emotions as one travels and more important experiences through its 8 scenes. This much needed, playful but yet intensely thoughtful book makes an important contribution to the discussion of knowing and not knowing of the workplace for what it is ¿ a place where human nature resides. I recommend this book to anyone seeking to more thoroughly understand one¿s experiences at work.

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