Original Research

A conceptual analysis of the use of systems-psychodynamics as an organisation development intervention: A neuroscientific perspective

Dirk J. Geldenhuys
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 48 | a1940 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v48i0.1940 | © 2022 Dirk J. Geldenhuys | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 August 2021 | Published: 22 February 2022

About the author(s)

Dirk J. Geldenhuys, Department Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: Systems-psychodynamics as a consulting stance offers learning experiences that not only have links with the first organisation development interventions but also remains a popular approach for organisational consultation. Here, the argument is made that neuroscientific principles, as embedded in neuropsychotherapy, offer a lens for evaluating and improving the effectiveness of systems-psychodynamic interventions.

Research purpose: The purpose of this study was to hypothesise about the effectiveness of systems-psychodynamic interventions, and to offer propositions for improvement.

Motivation for the study: Studies on the effectiveness of systems-psychodynamic interventions from outside the same network of science-practitioners, are limited. Furthermore, no evidence of a similar study using a neuroscientific framework could be found in the English literature.

Research approach/design and method: This was a conceptual analysis with theory adaption as an approach. Systems-psychodynamics was chosen as domain theory and was discussed first, followed by neuropsychotherapy as method theory.

Main findings: It was hypothesised that, using the lens of neuropsychotherapy, systems-psychodynamics – with its focus on insight into unconscious processes – would most likely enhance fear-based learning. To facilitate transformational learning, the experience could be augmented through a better alignment with neuroscientific principles.

Practical/managerial implications: There is a need to augment the role of the consultant as science-practitioner with the skills of a reflective practitioner. This will enable consultants to continuously critique and adapt preferred interventions, by integrating new neuroscience-related knowledge in those interventions.

Contribution/value-add: This study contributes to the literature on organisation development interventions, and the reflective practice of the science-practitioner.


basic human needs; interventions; learning; group relations; memory; neural networks; neuropsychotherapy; organisations; systems-psychodynamics; organisation development; organisational psychology


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