The model for Group Relations Conferences centering on Authority & Leadership was developed by the Tavistock Institute of London and has since been used all over the world. It bases itself on the understanding that real learning about groups, organizations and social systems takes place through experience – one’s own and others. The conference is an educational institution, albeit a temporary one. It is designed to provide participants with numerous opportunities to learn through their own experience about the issues and processes that take place within this institution. It also provides participants with ways to reflect upon the relevance of their learning and newly acquired insights and skills to the leadership they exercise in their own organizations.
This conference is designed to provide opportunities for participants to explore how the full range of feelings and fantasies about ‘German-ness’, ‘Israeli-ness’, ‘Jewish-ness’, ‘Palestinan-ness’ and ‘Other-ness’ influence relations within and between the different groups in the conference, and how they affect and influence perceptions of the future.
The conference provides a setting, away from the pressures of daily activities, in which participants can experience and begin to interpret some of the unconscious and not-quite-conscious factors in the relatedness of the various groupings present at the conference. Living and working together for six days will make it possible to examine previous and ongoing psychic and social processes from different perspectives, to become aware of attitudes, feelings, reactions and fantasies, to reconsider one’s identity as a member of a group, to express and explore existing ideas as well as new ones, to apply and test these within the conference itself, and subsequently to take them home for future application in professional and other roles.
A central feature of group relations conferences is the experiential study of group, inter-group and institutional processes; the explicit task is to study processes in the here and now. The structure and agenda of ordinary work organizations and of committees are removed, and without these familiar organizational defenses underlying – perhaps unconscious – dynamics are exposed and hence more easily observable. The relation of the consultant to the group is somewhat analogous to that between analyst/therapist and analysand/patient, but, in this case, the “analysand” is the group or larger system, and the focus is on the dynamics of the group as a whole in relation to the task, not on the individuals within it. The exercise is, of course, an educational rather than a therapeutic one. However, there is no teaching of the conventional kind, and what the individual participant learns is not, and cannot be, prescribed. Rather, this depends on how each individual uses his/her own authority and internal resources to participate, to reflect upon their experience, and to contribute to the ongoing the process.
The task is carried out through several different kinds of events – two events that are directly experiential, and others that are more reflective. There are same-nationality groups in some events; in other events the nationalitie
These are mixed-nationality groups of 9-12 members, with a consultant. The task is to study the behavior of the group, as a group, in the here and now.
All participants are involved. Staff takes part in the event as a management group and makes consultancy available. The task is to study the ongoing processes of establishing and developing relationships in the system as a whole.
Plenaries involve all members and staff. The opening plenary introduces the conference and provides an opportunity to explore the experience of crossing the boundary into the conference institution and taking up roles within it. The final plenary is also designed for work on the process of ending.
About 5-7 members of the same nationality. The purpose is to enable members to examine and reflect on their experience in the roles they have taken within the conference. A consultant will be provided to facilitate this work.
The conferences working language is English, except where a single-nationality group is working with a consultant of the same nationality. However, potential participants are encouraged to register even if they are not fully fluent in English: they can expect to receive help with translation when needed.