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Necessary evils and transcendent virtues: The dialectics of leadership and followership in “good” organizations
Presented at EGOS in Copenhagen, Denmark
July 6, 2017
by Carrie M Duncan and Seth Allcorn

Abstract: Organizations are split along opposing dimensions – work/play, important/trivial, good/bad. “Badness” is split off individually and collectively to preserve the organizational ideal. Reintegrating split off thoughts, wishes, perceptions, and emotions into the collective image of organizational life is deeply resisted by organizational members, leaders, and consultants. Yet, integration of good and bad images and experiences of collective life is an integral part of successful and positive change in organizations. Resisting the “bad” organization paradoxically increases the potential for the dark forces of organizational life to surface in enactments that range from poor performance to organizational evil. This paper explores the “dark side of the good organization” as a means of informing what it means to consult to and lead change in organizations. We seek to answer the question “Why do the dark forces always seem to win out?” by exploring three organizational dialectics: leader, leader-follower, and organizational.

Key words: organizational dialectics, dark forces, leadership, organizational culture, organizational change


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