Comparing TIHR and NTL Founding Traditions

Comparing TIHR and NTL Founding Traditions

In 2017, both the TIHR and NTL celebrated 70th anniversaries; Dr Jean E. Neumann used the occasion to provide a snapshot history and comparison of these two founding traditions in this talk.

Seventy years ago in 1947 on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, social and behavioural scientists created two different organisations with similar purposes in order to address post-WWII challenges facing society. In the UK, The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) became a registered charity characterised as an employing R&D institute. Its founders used the application of social science to complex problems in order to enhance well-being and effectiveness in individuals, groups, organisations and society. In the USA, The NTL Institute of Applied Behavioral Science (NTL) became a non-profit membership organisation for training, development and research. Its founders aimed to apply behavioural science for interpersonal effectiveness, facilitation of pragmatic behavioural change and democratic leadership.

This lunchtime talk, first given in 2017, Dr Jean E. Neumann makes a contribution to the 70th anniversary of both TIHR and NTL by providing a snapshot history and comparison of these two founding traditions. During the talk, central theorists, major constructs, and common diagnostic and analytic categories were explored in regard to participants’ own initiation and career development in the studies and work that constitute contemporary fields of applied social and behavioural sciences. Consultancy orientation and scholarly practitioner methodologies were puzzled over in terms of the degree of differentiation and similarity that participants have or are experiencing currently.

Recording of the talk


  1. Neumann, J.E. (2012). Learning how to do OD in the UK: Integrating NTL and The Tavistock Institute. OD Practitioner44:4, 11-17.
  2. Neumann, J.E. (2005). Kurt Lewin at The Tavistock Institute. Educational Action Research13:1, 119-135 (link to paper)
  3. Neumann, J.E., Holvino, E. & Braxton, E.T. (2004). Evolving a “third way” to group consultancy: Bridging two models of theory and practice. In Cytrynbaumn, S. & Noumair, D. A. (Eds.), Group Dynamics, Organizational Irrationality, and Social Complexity: Group Relations Reader 3, 383-401. Florida: A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems.

Dr. Jean E. Neumann is both a Professional Partner of TIHR and Professional Member of NTL. In 1973, she entered the field through NTL-influenced channels, becoming an OD practitioner for a dozen years before pursuing a doctorate in applied social science on “why people don’t participate when given the chance”. She met Eric Miller about that time and subsequently immigrated to the UK to take up a post as consulting social scientist at TIHR in 1987. For slightly over a decade, Jean co-directed (along with Richard Holti) an action research unit named “Organisational Change and Technological Innovation”, served as Director of Studies and founding faculty (with both Eric and Richard) of the long-running, respected post-graduate “Advanced Organisational Consultancy” programme, and helped revitalise TIHR’s journal, Human Relations (again with Richard and Editor Ray Loveridge). Since 1998, all of Jean’s publications and conference presentations have been from the role of TIHR’s Senior Fellow in Scholarly Practice. An Associate Editor of NTL’s Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Jean also sits on the NTL UK-European Hub Coordinating Body.

Comparing TIHR and NTL Founding Traditions was presented by Dr Jean E. Neumann as part of the Tavistock Institute’s Food For Thought series.

Subscribe to our newsletter

The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations | 63 Gee Street, London, EC1V 3RS
hello@tavinstitute.org | +44 20 7417 0407
Charity No.209706 | Design & build by Modern Activity