Transactional analysis in organisations: A case study with a focus on internal communication

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Internal communication, embracing both technical and human organisational aspects, is an important function for organisational success. Transactional Analysis (TA) is an analytical framework for individual and social psychiatry used in an organisational context (TA-O) for personal and group development. This study explored TA's impacts on internal communication in a single case study of a Swiss public organisation with the mission to help jobseekers reintegrate into the workforce through counselling. Preliminary fieldwork uncovered the long-term adoption of TA principles in the organisation’s strategic policy, internal training, and workplace practices. The study was designed as three complementary ethnographic fieldwork projects.

The first project focused on strategists' and TA experts’ understanding of TA’s contributions to the organisation’s strategic aims. Interviews with executives and TA experts revealed six 'strategic contributions' of TA. Thus, the strategic organisational contributions of TA as a relational approach for strengthening internal communication in the case study organisation are both human (i.e., people’s skills and attitudes, relationships, leadership, communication, collaboration and interaction) and technical (i.e., efficient and effective organisational structures); elements which lead to the implicit strategic aim of organisational sustainability. This combination helps the organisation because it stimulates employee motivation, wellbeing, and performance.

The second project investigated leaders' and employees’ perceptions of the influence of TA in their work experiences. The interviews elicited participants’ stories. As a result, eight 'work experiences' emerged emphasising the dimension of self. In the case study organisation TA helped staff’s ability to engage in self-reflection constructively, more effectively manage their emotions, and be more collaborative and tolerant. TA supported staff to experience greater job satisfaction, build meaningful internal relationships, create a more positive working climate and team spirit, and resulted in a common culture in which TA’s humanistic values based on I’m OK/You’re OK are embedded.

The third project explored TA’s contribution to the understanding of self and internal communication. Reflexive writing using analytic autoethnography allowed the researcher, as a full participant in the organisation’s TA training programs, to explore the cultural understanding of applying TA principles in the specific organisational setting. This experience ultimately transformed the researcher’s capability of ‘trusting self and others’. Thus, the thesis explains TA as a relational tool that may foster internal communication through strengthening trust in self, between staff and within the organisation.

In conclusion, the three projects brought to light the human organisational aspects (e.g., skills and attitudes) and technical organisational aspects (e.g., structures) as areas of ‘win-win’ that showed TA to be beneficial. Examples demonstrated an interplay between both aspects: TA trained people engaged in improving organisational structures (technical organisational aspects); and complementarily, enhanced organisational structures supported TA training and the development of employees’ skills and attitudes (human organisational aspects). The essence of TA that improves organisational communication was shown to be the basic TA principle of I’m OK/You’re OK—that is, skills and desire to accept the other as a human being. Furthermore, TA was found to impact on all internal communication levels: participants experienced self-development at the intrapersonal level, which strengthened collaboration at the interpersonal and group level, and fostered a common understanding at the organisational level.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Taylor, Jill, Principal Supervisor
  • Simmons, Peter, Co-Supervisor
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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