Decades On: So where to for Group Relations in South Africa?

Decades On: So where to for Group Relations in South Africa?

Through a visual display we present an historical overview of the group relations work in the Tavistock tradition done in South Africa as a way of thinking about our future contributions through group relations work. We focus on the different organisations/role players that offered and are still offering group relations interventions in the different spheres of daily life in South Africa. The various contributions of the Tavistock Institute to the South African fraternity is also be highlighted.

Using the visual display as backdrop, ideas from the socio-photo matrix are used to present an interactive session to explore how lessons learnt from our history may help to influence and guide our group relations work in South Africa and internationally  in the future. Based on the assumption that photographs of group relations work are not just ‘subjective impressions’, but representations of ‘group relations in the mind’, we invited participants to bring photographs of their Group Relations work from different settings. These photos were the central vehicle for exploring role players’ retrospective views on their group relations work, as well as looking forward to their ongoing contributions. Through this, learnings from the past, current opportunities and challenges were be explored.

Through photographs and re-membering the THEN during the workshop we explored our contributions through group relations practice to the NOW and the FUTURE in different international settings.


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Michelle S. May is a professor at the department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology at the University of South Africa (UNISA). She is a registered clinical psychologist. Michelle received extensive training in the field of group consultation, under which from ISLA and the Tavistock Institute (UK), and has also consulted in various programmes of this nature – nationally and internationally. She has been part of the team who has designed and planned the Robben Island diversity experience (RIDE) and has been taken up the role of director, director of the training group and associate director from 2000 until 2014. She has also been part of the Group Relations workshops at UNISA since 2000, the South African Today conference series and the IGSPO Group Relations workshops. She has also been a member of consultancy staff on the first group relations, Leading our Transformation, hosted by TILT international.Peliwe Mnguni is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Business Leadership at the University of South Africa. Her research interests and areas of consulting practice include women in leadership, the psychodynamics of organisations, intra and inter-organisational collaboration and the psychodynamics of sustainability. She has experience working as a consultant in in local and international group relations conferences.
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