Ideas of French psychoanalyst Jaques Lacan regarding studies of organizations appeared quite odd as they interfered with the traditional theories of Freud and Klein. Lacanian ideas involved the impact of human needs, demands, and desires to explain an organization theory.
Organization emerges as a result of constant development and change. According to Lacan, human development achieved through change and learning is a revealing of person’s inner needs. Change is a complex process of self-deception which is characterized b setting unattainable goals. The purpose of development is for individual to become aware of this self-deception. Lacan associated language with a means of self-deception and stated that its use retard human affairs.
Lacan’s views on organization obviously interfered with the conventional theories of organizational construction. While sociologists suggested that socially constructed world was perceived by individuals, Lacan believed that inner motivation of people determined the outer world. His theories rather undermine conventional realization of how individuals change in organizations. According to the psychoanalyst, change is not a consequence of biological or evolutionary events; it is rather a set of experiences which interfere with individual’s inner needs, demands, and desires.
In Lacan’s view, an organization is a linguistic enterprise within a social and political structure. He substituted the Freudian concept of ego with narcissism and leadership as expressions of leaders’ needs. The language used by leaders to influence their subordinates is the expression of leaders’ needs. The role of the leader is to help their subordinates understand the relationships between their inner needs and outer demands.
Lacan’s works provide a better understanding of setting and achieving goals. Goals are future desired states of individuals. However, emotions experienced by individuals on the way to their goals are more important than the fact of achieved goal itself. Goals can never fulfill the needs, according to Lacan, which underlines the necessity of emotions. This principle may be applied to the process of goal setting within the organizations.