Human Relations

, Volume 52, Issue 6, pp 805–832 | Cite as

Organizational Cultures as Holding Environments: A Psychodynamic Look at Organizational Symbolism

  • William Van Buskirk
  • Dennis McGrath


The traditional formulation of symbols as“bundles of meaning” has supported manyfine-grained analyses of organizational culture.However, it tends to obscure deeper psychodynamicelements that are essential to shaping how culture forms,develops, and dies. This paper adapts the idea of“holding environment” from Winnicott, Kegan,and others to sketch the potential contribution of such a psychodynamic perspective. An illustrativecase is presented to support the argument.

organizational culture organizational symbolism psychodynamics holding environment 


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Copyright information

© The Tavistock Institute 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Van Buskirk
    • 1
  • Dennis McGrath
    • 2
  1. 1.La Salle UniversityPhiladelphia
  2. 2.Community College of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia

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