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Conference design

The conference will have two streams: one for people who are attending a group relations conference for the first time (Learning group A); and another for people who have previously attended a group relations conference and wish to extend their understanding of group dynamics (Learning group B).

The conference comprises a series of events which are designed to enable an exploration of the conference primary task, the opportunity to study how we make sense of our experience, and what this means for leading, relating and managing.


Plenary discussions: to open and close the conference, and events within the conference

Small study group: an opportunity to experience and learn about small group dynamics

Large study group: an opportunity to experience and learn about large group dynamics

Intergroup event: an opportunity to experience and study the relations between groups

Institutional event: an opportunity to experience and study dynamics of leading, relating and managing

Praxis event: an unstructured opportunity to experience and study dynamics of leading, relating and managing  alongside institutional authority

Review groups: for members to reflect on their experience of taking up roles in the conference

Applications groups: for members to consider how they might apply the learning in their work

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The conference is underpinned by group relations theory which focuses our attention on leadership, authority, task, and the regulation of organisational boundaries. The list below is a starting point for thinking about and discovering what these concepts mean in practice.

Task. While task is a simple term, in group relations it is a primary concept. This is because the task defines the scope of work to be done.

System. A system is two or more people whose interactions create properties/dynamics that are not a property of the people/individuals. 

Role. A role is the part one plays in the overall task of the group/organisation. A position is a formal definition of task responsibilities; role refers to the meaning and significance of a position in the experience of both those holding the role as well as for those interacting with the role-holder.

Authority. Authority is the right to exercise defined influence in the service of a group or organisation's mission or purpose. Authority is attached to roles, not individuals.

Leadership. Leadership is a capacity that each person has, to act in a way that more richly connects self and others to the task.

Group dynamics. The ways in which people take up roles in groups and organisations is informed by conscious and unconscious group dynamics related to the task. These can be studied through attention to and reflection on experience.

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