Original Research

The directors’ roles in containing the Robben Island Diversity Experience (RIDE)

Frans Cilliers, Michelle May
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 38, No 2 | a986 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v38i2.986 | © 2012 Frans Cilliers, Michelle May | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 May 2011 | Published: 19 March 2012

About the author(s)

Frans Cilliers, University of South Africa, South Africa
Michelle May, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: Robben Island represents past denigration and present day liberation. The researchers report on their experiences of containing the learning, consciously and unconsciously, in the Robben Island Diversity Experience.

Research purpose: The purpose of the research was to describe the experiences of the directors of RIDE in the last 10 years.

Motivation for the study: Of the many and different diversity events that South African organisations present, RIDE is the only systems psycho-dynamically designed and presented event. This research was an effort to explore the nature of the directors’ roles in working with unconscious diversity dynamics in such a provocative venue.

Research design, approach and method: The researchers conducted qualitative, descriptive and double hermeneutic research. The various RIDE events served as case studies. The data consisted of researcher field notes collected during the 10 years. Thematic analysis resulted in four themes, for which the researchers formulated working hypotheses. They integrated them into the research hypothesis.

Main findings: Four themes emerged. They were the diversity characteristics of the directors as containers, working on the boundary between RIDE and the macro role players, attacks on the programme as container and challenges from participants.

Practical/managerial implications: The research highlighted the important roles of directors’ authorisation as a resilience factor in containing RIDE.

Contribution/value-add: The research contributed towards the awareness of intergroup relations between role players during diversity dynamic events and of how authorisation cements relationships.


Diversity dynamics; systems psychodynamics; group relations; director as container; boundary management; attack on the programme; participant challenges


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