Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Steven A. Gelb, PhD; Cheryl A. Getz, EdD; Lea A. Hubbard, PhD


analytic, central antagonism, central struggles, communication, co-researchers, graduate Leadership studies program, group relations learning, language, Leadership studies, qualitative, real life practices, secondary struggles, social interventions, therapeutic, University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)


Recently, there has been considerable research focusing on outcomes of Group Relations conferences as a unique form of adult experiential learning. Most of the focus has been on participants' learning during and immediately after conferences with less attention paid to applications of learning outside conferences in participants' professional and/or personal lives. The San Diego group relations/ case-in-point model is integrated into the University of San Diego's graduate leadership studies program. Participants in this study included 10 individuals who had participated in this model's experiential learning as teaching assistants. The methodology that was implemented, Relational Qualitative Research, synthesizes elements from several qualitative research sources. The design treated each participant as a case, but also allowed participants (functioning as co-researchers) and the researcher to jointly interpret data through a relational process. Three dimensions were used in the final analysis. First, Lacan's theory of four discourses was used to identify tacit knowledge in participants' mode of communication. Second, socio-structural concept of central and secondary struggles was used to discuss the influence of the class dimension, and third, distinction between therapy and analysis was used to look at whether interventions were therapeutic (i.e., adjusting to circumstances) or analytic (i.e., looking at social structure). The participants reported that the group relations learning was transformational and led to more effective social interaction in their personal and professional lives. Participants expressed psychoanalytic concepts through ordinary language so that people unfamiliar with psychoanalysis could understand their meaning. The participants used tacit knowledge to activate appropriate modes of communication dependent upon context, but could not externalize this by turning the tacit and applied knowledge into explicit and conscious knowledge. To do so would require the use of theory that is likely unknown to them. The findings show how the central antagonism is surfaced or displaced in language and thereby suggest ways learning can be redirected to address social structure. This would require an analytic stance to replace the therapeutic one that this study showed is currently predominant in this model of experiential learning.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies