The attitudes, emotions and actions of staff are powerfully influenced by the culture within which their work takes place. In turn, the culture of an organisation arises from the ways in which tasks, priorities, values, anxieties and relationships are viewed and managed in the system as a whole. This matrix of influences is internalised by all involved, as the context for the individual’s reactions to experience.
Larry Hirschhorn, former President of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations, has termed this ‘the workplace within’ (Hirschhorn, 1988) whilst David Armstrong, a principal consultant at the Tavistock Consultancy Service, London, uses the term ‘the organisation in the mind’ (Armstrong, 2005). The core concept is that staff members have an internal working model of the organisation, part conscious, part unconscious. This colours their experience, how they understand their tasks, and how they manage themselves both in their own roles, and in their work with others.