+/+ A practical solution: Transactional analysis in organisation contributing to ethical internal communication

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Internal Communication is important to achieving overall organisational success; effective Internal Communication unifies employees in terms of an organisation’s mission, values and strategic development (Rogala & Bialowas, 2016). One way of promoting values, in organisational settings, is to apply Transactional Analysis (TA). Introduced by Berne (1961) as an analytical framework for individual and social psychiatry, TA is now being successfully applied in organisational contexts (TA-O) as a systematic approach for personal and group development. Founded on the humanistic values and principles: “I’m OK/You’re OK; Everyone can think; Change is possible” (Cornell, de Graaf, Newton, & Thunnissen, 2016, p. viii), TA-O assists in developing positive attitudes towards self and others, and building a culture of trust. Our research takes the form of an organisational Case Study that explores, both conceptually and in practice, the use of TA-O with a specific focus on Internal Communication. Research is designed as three ethnographic fieldwork projects and takes place as a series of geographic and strategic sites across an administration unit, in Switzerland. The role of this public agency is assisting jobseekers, through regular counselling, to reintegrate into the workforce. Preliminary field work uncovered systematic and longlasting investments in and maintenance of TA-O principles, embedded in strategic development, policy, internal training, and workplace practices. Further investigative techniques showed that an I’m OK/You’re OK attitude, expressed as +/+, meaning an unconditional acceptance of the other in terms of human being, was perceived by research participants as being a crucial element to their further development. Adopting a +/+ attitude assisted them to improve their personal competencies, establishing successful relationships and thereby more authentic collaborations. At the centre is a humanistic attitude that was viewed as ‘focusing on strengths’ (intrapersonal), ‘appreciation of others’ (interpersonal), and ‘building a +/+ culture’ (organisational) based on respect. Organisational field work participants perceived TA-O as a ‘holistic framework’ that, when utilised, is instrumental in bringing together hard and soft business elements such as strategy and skills. This 121 influencing of people’s skills, attitudes and beliefs (soft elements) can come about by motivating participants’ work engagements which, in turn, enhance contribution to organisational policy and strategic aims (hard elements). Analysis showed how TA-O impacts, at different levels (Welch & Jackson, 2007), to improve communication and relationships. For instance, research participants experiencing self-development (intrapersonal level) found they could strengthen collaborations (interpersonal level) thus fostering a wider understanding at the organisational level. Interestingly, the case showed how exposing vulnerabilities, conflicts and challenges can be useful for organisational participants trying to make sense of their shared lived experiences. When trusting relationships, between supervisors and employees, are supported by +/+ attitudes, conversations took place whereby participants could better listen to and participate in the day-to-day challenges of contemporary workspaces. These findings offer evidence-based possibilities for strengthening organisational practices by uncovering what appear to be some useful contributions in matters pertinent to ethical Internal Communication. It is these emerging connections that most warrant further exploration.


Conference9th Annual Australasian Business Ethics Network (ABEN) Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleBusiness ethics: New challenges, better theories, practical solutions
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