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The greatest tragedy in life is that we only understand it backwards yet we must live it forwards – Kierkegaard

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A metaphor commonly used to represent organisations is that of an iceberg. The part of the iceberg we can see,  that piece above the water line, represents the formal aspects of organisations – its rules, procedures, practices, reward system, protocols etc.  These are regarded as the rational aspects of an organisation. The piece below the waterline is made up of those elements which are less objective in nature, more open to interpretation and considered as the informal side of organisational life.  These include cultural norms, patterns of behaviour and the attitudes, values and emotions of employees.

Manfred Kets de Vries, the Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organisational Change at INSEAD, and rated by The Financial Times, Le Capital, Wirtschaftswoche, and The Economist among the world’s top 50 leading management thinkers has long been an advocate of exploring organisations ‘below the waterline’. He regards the more common approaches to understanding organisations as often inadequate oversimplifications and proposes that we ignore other elements at our peril [1]. The danger, he suggests, lies in perpetuating patterns of dysfunctional and problematic behaviour because their roots lie below many executives’ level of conscious awareness and may ultimately cost the organisation its livelihood. Many other experts agree that these are among the  casual factors behind many corporate failures including the downfall of Enron, Parmalat and Long Term Capital Management [2].

To address this issue and avoid such outcomes, Kets de Vries applies a clinical paradigm in his 30+ year career of working with blue-chip multinational organisations and their leaders.  This means he pays attention to three issues.  Firstly, he considers the critical role of a leader’s ‘inner theatre’ as the starting point of many of their actions and decisions. This ‘inner theatre’ constitutes the script by which we understand ourselves and which acts as a guide to our interaction with others.  Evolving through early interactions with parents, caregivers, teachers, and other influential people, it constitutes the foundation of an individual’s personality and sets us up to engage in certain ways with the world.  The problem is that many leaders are oblivious to this ‘script’ which has shaped them as it commonly operates below their level of conscious awareness.  They fail to recognize that patterns of behaviour acquired in the past, which may have been functional then, are dysfunctional now but continue to strongly influence present and future behaviour.

Secondly, he encourages us to recognize that there is rationality behind every act of irrationality.  Somewhere, somehow, seemingly irrational behaviour makes sense for the individual. The job of leaders is to identify the source of their irrational behaviours, interrogate them deeply and use the insight gained as a starting point for developing more functional approaches to the world.

Thirdly, he emphasizes the role of unconscious drivers of behaviour. This psychodynamic approach to organisations (enacted professionally by members of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations, of which Kets de Vries was a founding member in 1983) acknowledges that people are complex and contradictory and that their behaviour is a function of multiple, often contradictory, influences. It recognizes that workers are subject to unconscious, unresolved conflicts that they carry with them which then play out in the relations and interactions workers have with each other, often with problematic consequences.  Modern neuroscience has confirmed the role of the unconscious in our behavior with studies illustrating that decisions originate in the unconscious [3]. As the human brain can only consciously process 40 of the 11,000,000 pieces of data it is bombarded with every second, a question remains concerning the impact of data below our level of conscious awareness [4]. Thus the psychodynamic view rejects the purely rational and economic view of work and encourages us to acknowledge that statistical analysis of big data does not tell us everything we need to know about the behaviour of people in organisations.

However, few organisations welcome attention to such matters. They prefer to regard themselves as rational and objective rather than consider these murkier domains as explanations for performance and effectiveness. But this paradigm has illuminated accounts of what may appear irrational behaviour  amongst some of the world’s most successful business leaders including Henry Ford, Samuel Goldwyn, Jack Welch, Michael Eisner, Conrad Black and Martha Stewart [5].

Kets de Vries encourages us to acknowledge that organisations cannot perform successfully if the quirks and irrational processes that are part and parcel of the leader’s ‘shadow side’ are ignored. In his work with global corporations, he encourages leaders to act as sleuths in making sense out of their behaviour and actions and to build a greater understand the critical dimensions that make up their inner script.  He advocates an approach to leadership that encourages reflection and leads to insight which can help them avoid getting stuck in vicious circles and becoming prisoners of their own past. Wise leaders, he says, realize the extent to which unconscious, irrational processes affect their behaviour. Those leaders who fail to take their irrational side into account, however, are like ships’ captains proceeding into icebergs where the greatest danger lurks below the surface.

On the DCU Business School Executive MBA programme, we hone the skills for practice that enable today’s leaders to inspire action through a two-year leadership and career development programme. Action-based projects, workshops, team and facilitator feedback, and self-reflection develop self-awareness of our participants’ leadership style. This process deepens emotional intelligence, enhances leader behaviours, and untimately leads to both personal and organisational success.

Find out more about the DCU Executive MBA here or email mba@dcu.ie

Dr Melrona Kirrane is an Organisational Psychologist and lectures predominantly in the areas of Organisational Psychology, including Selection and Assessment, Leadership & Decision-Making, Employee Well-Being and Change Management on our MBA programe. She maintains an active research agenda and is currently carrying out work in the areas of personality at work, successful change management changing and work-family conflict.



[1]Kets de Vries, M. (2001). The Leadership Mystique. Prentice Hall
[2] Long, S. (2007). The Perverse Organisation and its Deadly Sins.  Karnac, London
[3] Damasio, A. (2006). Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. Random House
[4] Wilson, T.D. (2009. Know Thyself. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 4, 384-389
[5] Maccoby, M. (2003). The productive narcissist: The promise and peril of visionary leadership. Broadway.

PhD Scholar of DCU Centre for Family Business (CFB), Vanessa Diaz will present at The Academy of Management Annual Meeting, the premier conference for scholarly management and organisation. Ms Diaz is a co-author on the paper entitled Innovation Capability in Family Firms: An Integration Approach.

The Academy of Management Annual Meeting, attracting over 10,000 academics and scholars, will be held in Vancouver, Canada August 7-11th, 2015.

The paper, accepted in April this year, looks at a sample of 1,205 family SME manufacturing firms across Europe, and examines the impact of innovation on the future growth of these firms.  The authors review innovation in terms of technology development, operations, management and transaction capability.

The authors are Dr. Eric Clinton (Director of CFB), Professor Justin Craig (Adjunct Professor of CFB), Dr. Michael Dowling (Associate Investigator in CFB), Vanessa Diaz (PhD scholar of CFB) and Catherine Faherty (PhD scholar of CFB).

This year, Opening Governance is the theme of the 75th AOM Annual Meeting. The conference invites members to consider opportunities to improve the effectiveness and creativity of organisations by restructuring systems at the highest organisational levels.

We met with Emerson Burke Murphy, a former Vet from UCD (2009) who graduated from the Professional Diploma in Accounting (PDA) (2010 First Class) to discuss the change from veterinary to accountancy and his exciting career path which followed.

Why did you choose to change career to accountancy after veterinary medicine?

Veterinary medicine has a very high employment rate due to the small number of graduates each year so this was never a concern of mine. I was always going to specialise in veterinary (equine surgery or equine reproduction) but I came to realise that the opportunities in veterinary at this level were very limiting. I am someone who enjoys understanding the bigger picture of what they are involved in and being removed from this would have frustrated me in time as a vet. Chartered Accountancy appealed to me as a profession involved in some of the most diverse aspects of business.

How did you hear about the Professional Diploma in Accounting (PDA) in DCU?

I graduated from veterinary (UCD) and commenced the PDA in September, graduating in 2010. I secured a training position with KPMG during the 2008 Milkrounds. As part of my interview preparation I was aware of the wall I might face when seen to be making such a dramatic change in direction. To this end, I carried out my own research and through this, became aware of the PDA and its merits. My firm were also very encouraging about the PDA as they had seen good results with it previously. I had the option to begin my training contract in 2009 but stuck with my decision regarding the PDA.

How did the PDA help you with your accountancy exams?

I wanted to complete the PDA as I felt it would ensure I was making the right move and would also give me a head start in KPMG rather than worrying about the most basic accounting concepts during my first audit busy season. The PDA was an incredible help with the CAP2’s as I felt that the PDA syllabus (particularly financial reporting) covered far more than the CAP1 syllabus. One particularly helpful aspect of the PDA structure was all-day tutorials on a Friday. Accounting is best learned through experience and the range of issues tackled during these sessions was very helpful.

How did the interdisciplinary mix in the class help your mind develop?

I still have some very good friends from the PDA who are continually developing professionally. The mix of disciplines was refreshing, particularly coming from such an intense and focused discipline like veterinary. Some of the most memorable participants in my class were the science graduates and the law graduates. This mix is something that the firms look for when recruiting.

Why did you choose Corporate Finance? Do you feel that being a non-relevant graduate gave you added insights in this field and why?

Audit was fundamental in my training and is a great way to understand the detailed financial (and to an extent operational) workings of clients. However, I always wanted to move in the corporate finance direction as the variety of work and the satisfaction from being much more involved with clients and their commercial needs (rather than the regulatory requirement of audit) relates back to my initial reason for choosing Chartered Accountancy.

When I first came to London I expected people to be mystified or resistant to my differing academic background. The reality has been that people see it as an asset as the range of issues dealt with is so diverse and challenges to the normal ways of thinking are always welcome.

After completing the Professional Diploma in Accounting in DCU, Emerson qualified as an accountant (ACA) in 2013 and worked in KPMG for 3 years but is now in Deloitte UK as an Assistant Manager in Corporate Finance and is studying for a Diploma in Corporate Finance via the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments.

Find out more information and apply for the Professional Diploma in Accounting in DCU here!

On May, 28th 2015 DCU Business School hosted the first of three ‘Employee Engagement Roundtables’ which will be spread out over the course of a year.

The roundtable was organized and led by academic experts in the field of HR and engagement, Professor Kathy Monks, Dr Edel Conway, Dr Yseult Freeney and Dr Janine Bosak (all DCU Business School staff members). It brought 17 HR directors and managers from a range of non-competitive organizations together in order to explore the concept of employee engagement and the various definitions that are being used by practitioners, discuss best practices in assessing engagement and jointly tackle issues of employee engagement using an evidence-based approach.

The first roundtable was a great success; the second part of this exclusive event will be held on September, 17th 2015 in DCU Business School with over 20 HR directors and managers expressing interest already.

You can find out more about research in HR and Organisational Behaviour at DCU Business School here.

Details of our part-time executive Masters in Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour can be found here.

DCU Business School will be hosting an Information Evening about the new part-time executive Masters in Aviation Leadership on the 25th June 2015 at 6.00pm. If you are interested in learning more about the programme, you can register here.

About the Programme:

The MSc in Management (Aviation Leadership) is the first programme of its kind in Ireland. Commencing in September 2015, it will be a two year part-time executive masters with elements of the programme delivered both in Dublin Airport, in its capacity as a live laboratory, and in Castlemoate House, daa International’s academy facility, adjacent to Dublin Airport.

Subject Areas:

  • Aviation Leadership
  • Aviation Governance
  • Aerodrome Operations Management
  • Leadership and Change
  • Delivering Performance Excellence [Operational, People and Financial Performance]
  • Strategy, Organization and Innovation
  • Research Methods
  • Aviation Industry based research project

Aims and Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the management complexity required to operate the various compnents of Airport Operations
  • Identify the important leadership and management competencies required to plan and execute future aviation industry strategies
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the characteristics, requirements and legal responsibilties of aviation organisations
  • Identify the concepts and skills necessary for conducting business analysis and strategic thinking
  • Develop the ability to lead and initiate professional and/or research activity independently or as part of an aviation management team;
  • Enhance your opportunities to take a leading role in the future development of the aviation industry

Details of the Open Evening:

When: 25th June at 6.00pm

Where: 3rd Floor of DCU Business School, DCU, Collins Avenue, Dublin 9 [Map here]

Register online here

Why attend?

  • Learn first hand about the programme and how it will help to advance your career
  • Speak to members of faculty directly, who can answer any questions you may have
  • Network with members of the aviation industry

Informal Enquiries:

Informal enquiries about the programme can be made via email to pj.byrne@dcu.ie

Register:

You can register to attend online here.

Dublin City University’s Centre for Family Business is inviting incumbent and next generation family business members to attend one of its four nationwide workshops during the month of May. The events will take place in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway from 19th – 28th May.

These interactive workshops entitled ‘Professionalisation of the Family Business – What it is and why it matters?’ will be facilitated by leading family business academic and founding director of the Australian Centre for Family Business, Professor Ken Moores. A veteran family business chairman and non-executive director of fourth generation family business, Professor Moores will speak about structuring the family business and the importance of professionalisation.

dcu centre for family business

Each event will also feature an insightful and thought provoking contribution from a local guest business who will share their experience of professionalising and succession.  All workshops will encourage attendees’ involvement and groups will work together to find solutions for common family business challenges.

  • Dublin event: 19th of May in the William Fry Offices, Dublin 2
  • Cork event: 21st of May in the River Lee Hotel
  • Limerick event: 26th of May in the Castletroy Park Hotel
  • Galway event: 28th May in the g Hotel

The Centre for Family Business Roadshow is supported by partners AIB, PwC and William Fry.

To register for this event, visit the DCU Centre for Family Business website.

DCU’s Centre for Family Business is holding a half-day conference entitled ‘Professionalising Your Family Business’ on Tuesday 24th March.

The prosperity of Ireland is dependent on the strength of family business but for family firms, survival is a fundamental issue and they face multiple challenges. The aim of this event is to present the challenges family businesses face on a day-to-day basis, to discuss how professionalisation will ultimately drive growth and to explore how to build your social capital for enduring family business.

The keynote speaker will be Dr Timothy Habbershon, Managing Director of Fidelity Investments in the USA. Dr Habbershon is also advisor to Johnson family of Fidelity Investments and founding director of the Institute for Family Enterprising, Babson College, Massachusetts. Other speakers include: Bobby Kerr, Chairman of Insomnia Coffee Company and Jonathan Stafford, Managing Director of Stafford Funeral Homes.

Panellists on the day will include Colm Mac Fhionnlaoich, Client Development Manager, Enterprise Ireland, Paul Hennessy, Business Partner, PwC Ireland, Michael Slein, Founder and Director, LED Group and Dave Byrne, Managing Director, Dualtron Ltd.

For further information, please visit the DCU Centre for Family Business website

In collaboration with Great Place to Work® Ireland, a team of researchers based at Dublin City University (Link Research Institute) and Maynooth University recently conducted a major research project of the current and future challenges faced by HR Managers in Ireland. The aim of this project is to capture HR professionals’ views in order to understand the key challenges faced by HR Managers currently and in the future.

A feedback workshop held at Dublin City University on the 21st of Jan 2015 attracted about 30 HR Directors/Managers drawn from diverse sectors and organizations. The workshop was welcomed by the Dean of DCU Business School Dr. Anne Sinnott and chaired by the CEO of the Great Place to Work® Ireland Mr. John Ryan. The research team presented the survey findings and received valuable feedback from the audience. The findings cover many important HR topics including organizational effectiveness, HR networks, evidence-based management, line managers’ role in HRM, middle managers’ role in change management, work engagement, HR current and future priorities and HR challenges. Participants actively discussed their experience on these topics. The results will be published in a special supplement of the Irish Times.

Picture (right to left): Mr. John Ryan (GPTW), Dr. Claire Gubbins (DCU), Dr. Na Fu (MU), Professor Patrick Flood (DCU), Dr. Edel Conway, Director- Link; Dr. Yseult Freeney (DCU) and Mr. Jim Flynn (GPTW)

DCU Business School has performed strongly in the latest global business masters rankings.

It features in the Top 100 in the world for three of its Masters programmes – E-Commerce, Strategic Procurement and Finance.

The School’s MSc in eCommerce was ranked 14th in the world, and first in Ireland, by the Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking which evaluates the best business Masters and MBA programmes internationally.

Amonth the top-100 ranked programmes at DCU were: MSc E-Commerce – ranked 14th globally and the MSc Finance – ranked 68th globally.

The Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking classifies Masters and MBA programmes which develop and graduate the best new professionals in the global labour market by evaluating employer attitudes, employment prospects on graduation and student satisfaction. It measures the academic excellence and quality of 4,000 programmes in 30 fields of study across 1 000 academic institutions in 154 countries, with final rankings determined through a survey of 5,000 international recruiters and 800 000 students.

Dr Anne Sinnott, Executive Dean of DCU Business School said: “These rankings are a very welcome endorsement, by employers and graduates, of both the academic excellence of the Business School’s postgraduate programmes and the quality of student experience delivered. Our international ranking is improving year on year and I am particularly pleased to note the continuing improvement in the rankings of the MSc in Electronic Commerce and the MSc in Emergency Management, both of which are placed first in Ireland.”