When fantasies fail: how crumpled expectations shape workplace relationships

Shuchi Sinha*, Eda Ulus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review

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There has been attention to the role of fantasies for worker subjectivity, but critical research has not focussed with depth upon the role of failed fantasies in workplace experiences. In this paper, we focus on an interview from a wider project on workplace emotions, applying a psychoanalytic perspective to argue that the emotional significance of the trauma disclosed in an extended monologue by the participant, within a group interview format, can be understood by probing the failure of the superior-subordinate fantasy. This fantasy is contextualised within the Indian workplace context, and has resonance across cultural borders. We contend that analysing unconscious dynamics of fantasies in workplace relations provides immense analytic resources to make sense of individual struggles within authority relations and organisational practices. Closer engagement with psychoanalytic perspectives on failed fantasies provides opportunities for working through the crumpled aftermath of these fantasy failures, to prevent toxic effects upon the self in further work encounters.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventAcademy of Management Annual Meeting, 2018, Chicago - Chicago, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 2018 → …


  • failed fantasy
  • superior-subordinate relations
  • workplace experiences


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