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Tavistock and Portman faculty member discusses his award-winning paper at Danish university

Photo of Professor Mark Stein smiling at camera
Professor Mark Stein

Professor Mark Stein, Associate Lecturer in Consultation and Organisation at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, explored ganging phenomena and his award-winning paper on the topic at a workshop for 70 postgraduate students at Roskilde University in Denmark last month.

The term ‘Ganging’ refers to perverse and vengeful group dynamics and is the basis of Mark’s 2020 paper entitled ‘Lord of the Flies: A psychoanalytic view of the gang and its processes.’

The paper draws William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, and argues that gangs aren’t exclusive to mafias and street gangs, but instead may occur in ordinary groups and organisations following a trauma.

It won the 2020 Gavin MacFadyen Memorial Essay Prize from a field of 60 essays. The  Macfadyen Prize committee described it as ‘a great achievement’, ‘erudite’, and ‘particularly relevant’ in the current political climate. The paper is published in the book A deeper cut: Further explorations of the unconscious in social and political life and has been republished in the Journal Organisational and Social Dynamics.

Mark said, “The Danish students were well able to understand the core concepts of the paper and also apply it to their experience of organisations. It was fascinating working with them and hearing their ideas and associations to the theme.”

The paper follows the lead of a number of important people associated with the Tavistock and Portman over the years who have written on ganging processes, including Herbert Rosenfeld (who qualified as a psychotherapist at the Tavistock in 1942), and more recently John Steiner, Margot Waddell, Hamish Canham and Gianna Williams.

“These thinkers did ground-breaking work in articulating both the idea of the internal gang in the mind as well as the external gang in groups and organisations and, inspired by their work, I use Golding’s novel to explore the latter,” said Mark.

Mark is on the core faculty of the Doctorate and Certificate in Consultation and the Organisation at the Tavistock and Portman and is also Emeritus Professor of Leadership and Management at the University of Leicester. For his writing, he has also been awarded the European Academy of Management’s iLab Prize for innovative scholarship; an Emerald Citation of Excellence; the ‘Group & Organisation Management’ best paper prize; and the Richard Normann Prize.