A case of "acting out the missing leader": Understanding aspects of the psychodynamics of group identity

Adrian Carr, Sheryl Lapp


This article revisits a previously published case study of group dynamics that related to when a leader dies (or is absent). The conceptual lens used to re-read these group dynamics, is one derived from psychoanalysis and specifically features the notion of the death instinct and the work of C. Fred Alford. The paper frames its discussion of the case study using Alford's five dramas of “acting out the missing leader”. Like a drama, the paper locates the case study as a series of acts and scenes with a specific psychodynamic script that is being played-out. The paper has broader implications than simply “When a leader dies” as the discussion speaks to an understanding of larger leader - follower behaviour. 

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