My Phd research


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Research project

I am currently undertaking a Doctoral program, exploring the interpersonal dynamics of power. Here is an outline of my issues of interest:

1. Those on the receiving end of power often have bad experiences. Being pushed, manipulated, taken advantage of, overridden, not listened to, excluded, and sometimes abused.

2. The impact of those experiences ranges from mildly traumatic to devastating. This provides most of the issues that psychotherapists deal with.

3. Thus much of psychotherapy is focused on the results of being a victim of the poor use of power.

4. Some professional development programs attend to the question of the right use of power. But these generally centre around 'doing the right thing' professionally, ie, a behavioural focus.

5. Some managerial programs attend to the question of power. But these generally centre around effectiveness - an instrumental focus.

6. What is missing in these educational approaches is a deeper awareness of personal style, field factors, and relational dynamics as they manifest in the way someone uses power. What is also missing is an exploration of the darker aspects of self which can result in the destructive use of power.

7. It is difficult for people to become aware of the destructive ways they use power. Most people wield the power they have, in ways they consider to be ok. 

8. The difficulty of self examination in this area indicates a high need for support. There is a great potential for shame in the process of coming to terms with who one is and how one has acted in this arena. Normal feedback mechanisms do not appear to be particularly effective as a mechanism for change in the way people wield power.

9. The research program will explore a matrix of six dimensions of power as exercised by people in different position:  three personal, and three contextual. The scope of attention will be the exercise of power within an organisation.

Individual focus:

 1. personal style

 2. impact on others 

 3. skill set (knowledge and behavioural skill)

Contextual focus:

 4. personal history

 5. social and cultural spheres of influence

 6. organisational culture


If you would like to offer some input into this process, please contact me:

I am writing an article titled 'Who Minds The Minders', and am looking to hear people's experiences on the other end of professional ethics committees. The next page details this more, and I am interested in hearing of your experience.