The anxiety of learning
The article is an interview that Diane Coutu a senior editor at HBR conducted with Ed Schein prominent organizational psychologist. In this interview, Ed Schein brings to light the “organizational learning”.
In his earliest years, he quickly discovered that the group could be influential in one’s life therefore this discovery shaped the way he view organizational psychology. In his opinion, there is always a coercive trait associated with learning. In other words, learning is not a choice but rather an imposed one. For instance a child goes thru different stages of learning before he becomes the informed adult that society wants him to be. The child did not have any choice but he has been indoctrinated into beliefs that shaped the way he thinks and acts today. It has been a long and painful “brainwashing” process that Schein prefers to call “coercive persuasion”.
What is coercive persuasion?
For Schein, it is a situation in which individuals are mentally and physically forced to accept regardless of one’s opinion.
Stephen Covey in his book “Principle of centered leadership” relays the same idea regarding individual within society. He stated that “ we all face restraining forces, opposition and challenges , and this sometimes causes us to do things that are contrary to our stated missions, intentions, and resolutions”. Therefore there is a coercive persuasion that manipulates and shapes individuals and organization’s behavior.
Indeed, Schein’s works with prisoners during the Korean War shaped the way he perceived and applied his organizational psychology within companies. He discovered that there was no difference between what the prisoners were subjected to and what Americans were doing in order to keep their employees: indoctrination.
Diane Coutu believes that it is extreme to compare the learning that companies provide to new hires during orientation session and the indoctrination in POW camps. However, Schein