The aim of this paper is to add to existing work on the theme of power, emotion, and organizational learning. The study was undertaken in Kazakhstan, where tensions between old and new regimes provide an environment that is rich in emotion and power/politics; and offer an opportunity to study the interplay between emotion and power during individual and organizational attempts to learn. The social unconscious
is used as a conceptual frame to identify underlying dynamics that impact on organizational learning. The empirical study illustrates a social fantasy concerning the fear of mistakes and its consequences. This fantasy is sustained through blaming and punishing the people who make mistakes, and through feelings of internalised embarrassment and guilt that are enacted through interpersonal relations of shaming and being ashamed. Our contribution to knowledge arises from employing a concept (social unconscious) that has not been used to study organizational learning within a social and organizational context for organizational learning (Kazakhstan) that has not yet been studied. The practical purpose of this paper is to improve our knowledge of the social and political context of organizational learning in post-Soviet Kazakhstan through understanding unconscious dynamics that both inform and undermine attempts to learn.
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