Lord of the Flies: A psychoanalytic view of the gang and its processes*

Presenter: Professor Mark Stein

Chair: Dame Ruth Silver

During this Scientific Meeting, and drawing on William Golding’s classic novel ‘Lord of the Flies’, Mark will explore ganging phenomena. Mark argues that, following a trauma, ganging may develop in private, public and voluntary sector organizations, as well as in governments. He utilises psychoanalytic and especially Kleinian ideas to examine these themes. Worryingly, he argues, precisely because of the widespread trauma that will inevitably be left in their wake, phenomena such as climate change, famine, wars and pandemics could lead to the pervasive spread of ganging processes.

Mark’s paper received the 2020 Gavin MacFadyen Memorial Essay Prize from a field of 60 essays. The prize honours the memory of Gavin MacFadyen, who was Professor of Investigative Journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London. The Macfadyen Prize committee described the paper as ‘a great achievement’, ‘erudite’ and ‘particularly relevant’ in the current political climate.

Mark Stein PhD is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Management at the University of Leicester, and a coach and organisational consultant. He is also an Associate Lecturer on the Tavistock Clinic’s Professional Doctorate in Organisation and Consultation. He has held posts at Imperial College London, London School of Economics, Brunel University and the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, and been a Visiting Scholar and Adjunct Professor at INSEAD, Fontainebleau.

As well as the Gavin Macfadyen Memorial Essay Prize, Mark has received the European Academy of Management’s iLab prize for innovative scholarship; an Emerald Citation of Excellence; the ‘Group & Organization Management’ best paper prize; and the Richard Normann Prize, of which he is the only recipient.