Volume 8 Issue 2 (2012): New Approaches to Psychodynamic Research
Main Articles

Application of Work Psychodynamics to the Analysis of CEOs' 'Presentation of Self': Resorting to an 'Astute' Clinical Methodology

Marisa Wolf-Ridgway
Equipe de Psychodynamique du Travail et de l'Action - Centre de Recherche sur le Travail et le Développement (CRTD) - Conservatoire National des Arts et métiers (CNAM) - 41, rue Gay-Lussac - 75005 Paris
Published November 27, 2012
  • research context,
  • research frameworks & paradigms,
  • research process,
  • research method,
  • communicative rationality,
  • logic of research,
  • clinical approach,
  • defense strategy,
  • intersubjectivity,
  • presentation of self,
  • top management,
  • work psychodynamics
  • ...More


Does work psychodynamics--a sub-discipline of clinical psychology in the field of work sciences--offer a relevant methodological reference to analyze the psychological processes that come into play when a CEO is working? The objective of this article is to propose an answer to this question by going back to a doctoral research, which focused on the clinical analysis of the CEOs' "presentation of self," noted as one aspect of their work. The author's arguments for a clinical approach are presented as well as the later decision to resort to "astute" tactics that, beyond the traditional frameworks of work psychodynamics, were required to have access to the CEOs' presentation of self. Following the presentation of the research's achievements, the article shows that, while methodologically unconventional, the astute tactics proved useful in ushering in new elements of knowledge that otherwise would have remained inaccessible. Notably, the specifics of the intersubjective relationship that was established between the author and each CEO had a major positive impact on the interpretations. To legitimize this clinical approach further, the conclusion draws a few indications on criteria that could be investigated to scientifically validate the qualitative methods and their interpretive results.