Tracy Wallach

TWheadshotGroup relations (or “Tavistock”) theory and methods have informed my research. Group relations is an interdisciplinary field which integrates aspects of psychoanalytic and open systems theories with Wilfred Bion’s work on basic assumption mentality in groups, and political science. Its focus is on the ways that unconscious processes can impact the exercise of leadership and authority in groups, organizations, and larger social systems. A group relations lens allows one to look at human and organizational behavior simultaneously at multiple levels:

• The psychological level: issues of identity, collective narrative, emotions and unconscious processes

• The social level: inter-group relations

• The political level: the role of leadership, authority and power dynamics.

Authority, Leadership, and Peacemaking: The Role of the Diasporas, my dissertation, involved applying the method to examine individual and collective roles of Jewish and Arab Diaspora communities in perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An article I wrote about the conference has been published in Organizational and Social Dynamics in the November 2012 issue.

As a result of the above project, my research has shifted somewhat from working on inter-group dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians to intra-group work with Palestinians. I am interested in using the model as an action research tool to facilitate collaboration and civic engagement, as well as to build leadership capacity. I am working with the Research and Educational Collaborative with Al Quds University (RECA), a US based 501c3 organization, to lay the foundation for this work, and explored the idea with several university officials in my 2012 visit. I am planning to return to Al Quds in early 2013.

Currently, I am working with the executive director of an NGO whose mission is to bring together UN officers and academics. We are speaking with funders about running a series of group relations conferences aimed at facilitating dialogue between the UN, government officials, NGOs and academics working on sustainable development and conflict resolution.

I am writing a paper on teaching organizational and group dynamics in Palestine and Turkey, which is due to be published in the Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice in March 2013, and am also working on an article about research and evaluation in group relations conferences.

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