Bob Townley


Love, loss and leaving in Organisations: there’s no emoticon for that!
Exploring criticality in relation to a psychoanalytically-informed study of loss and mourning in organisations”

Arguments have been made for the criticality of a psychoanalytic approach to the study of management and organisations. Arnaud (2012: 1124) contends that a psychoanalytic approach “brings a new sense to meaning” to organisational research by shining a light on unconscious processes and allowing researchers into deep, largely uncharted, territories such as matters of life and death; becoming ‘critical’ in that this approach allows a “re-examination of what is accepted as… Read more

My Claim: “Psychoanalytic theory emphasises love, loss (and mourning) as fundamental aspects of individual psychic life. Experiences of love, loss (and leaving) are therefore inevitable in organisational life, where the forces of life and change are present, but the painful emotional impact of these experiences may not be recognised or acknowledged. A better understanding of how these experiences impact on individuals and groups within organisations may allow for a more formative approach, where losses can be recognised and mourned.”

My Expectations: “To contribute and learn from a trans-disciplinary exploration of these issues, while broadening my approach to re-thinking management and culture more generally.”

Bob has an MSc (Econ) in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics and has worked for 20 years as a researcher / evaluator within the UK and other parts of Europe. His research interests have spanned a range of labour market and work issues including learning, skills, small businesses / SMEs, discrimination, disability, mental health and workforce diversity. A particular interest in mental health and organisational well-being led him into his current PhD research within the Management School at the University of Leicester. He hopes that this study will contribute to an understanding of how psychoanalytic concepts and approaches can inform organisational practice and address organisational issues arising from manifestations of loss and mourning.