Estudantes de administração buscam cursos de psicologia

At IMD, Students Explore Their Innermost Psyches
por Deborah Steinborn
The Wall Street Journal
visto no post de Carlos Ferreira

Buscar entrar em contato com as profundezas da própria psique pode parecer que não combina com estudantes de MBA, que costumam ter foco em empregos de altos salários e jornadas de trabalho intermináveis. Mas estudantes de administração começam a olhar para outras direções, como cursos de psicologia.

Getting in touch with your innermost psyche may seem unbefitting to M.B.A. students, most of whom are focused on landing jobs that come with big salaries and marathon workweeks. Yet as markets turn, more and more B-school students are looking for different direction, and courses related to morality, spirituality and even psychotherapy are sprouting up.

IMD, a business school in Lausanne, Switzerland, has offered a personal-development elective to all M.B.A. candidates for the past 10 years. Today, the course is in high demand; about two-thirds of all students participate. The course features 20 hours of in-depth analysis with a qualified psychotherapist.

Jack Denfeld Wood, a professor of organizational behavior at IMD and a psychotherapist in private practice, has been the driving force behind the course. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and a diploma candidate at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich. The Wall Street Journal recently spoke with Professor Wood, and here are edited excerpts:

WSJ: Why did the school introduce this course?

Mr. Wood: The original idea came about in 1999 because [the M.B.A. program is] a tough program for the participants and partners; it's so intense and heavily focused on group work. I was training at the Jung Institute at the time, and saw there was an opportunity for M.B.A.s and their partners to talk about what their lives were like and for diploma students at the [Jung] institute to come down from Zurich on weekends to provide supervised analysis. It took a couple of years for me to talk the school into doing this. I offered to do the work pro bono in collaboration with others from the Jung Institute, and ended up with 36 participants in the very first intake.

In a class of 90, there are about 60 students involved and additionally about 20 partners.

WSJ: You require students to fill out an identity narrative, which stresses their personal rather than professional lives. How difficult is it for students to be frank?

Mr. Wood: Some students haven't thought about themselves in a reflective way their whole lives. [Some] provide bullet points of their lives. And some other narratives are richly articulated and evolve around important life events.

In class the first few days, I make a distinction between the persona students put in the M.B.A. application and what's really there. We put the personas aside. Every time you go for a job interview you put on your armor, but in [this course] we want you to remove it. Not that those personas aren't useful, because they are, but we have to distinguish between the two, to get behind the mask.

Each student has a one-on-one coaching session to get a feel for what a therapy session is like. It's up to them to decide which level they want to go to: coaching, counseling, in-depth psychotherapy.

WSJ: What is the influence of the psyche on managerial decision-making?

Mr. Wood: There is no decision-making without the psyche. Let me explain it this way: In all internal decisions, there's an angel and a devil on each shoulder, and the ego in the middle trying to make sense of the process. You see the same thing in groups externally. There's someone representing one opinion, someone representing another opinion, and a third party in the middle.

Decision-making, whether managerial or otherwise, is a psychological process. You can't get away from it.

WSJ: Why should a student consider psychological forces?

Mr. Wood: If you aren't aware of what's driving individual and collective behavior, it will start running you instead of you being able to run your own life. Students who participate in the [course] leave as more integrated human beings. They may be more prone to self-reflect, so the decision-making process when they are involved may be slower. But it's also more effective because they make a more informed, more thoughtful decision.

Some students come into the program a little anxious. They have trouble dealing with group dynamics during assignments. They get easily frazzled. But with their analyst or coach, they start to sort out priorities and literally become less affected by the craziness in their group.

WSJ: How difficult is it for M.B.A. students to think in Jungian terms?

Mr. Wood: Thinking in Jungian terms is simply working metaphorically and symbolically.

Why do we watch scary movies? Why do we see the same Little Red Riding Hood theme replayed over and over again in film, theater and other genres? Why is it important to get that sense of fear in entertainment? It's a way to have a dialogue internally: Each of us has a little of [Little Red] Riding Hood but also the wolf and the hunter in us. You can see the interrelationship of the three. And it's not difficult at all to get a discussion going with the M.B.A.s about the broader patterns we can see in human actions and relations related to that.

One of the remarkable things about the work we have done is that, despite having students from all around the world, you see that dreams are the same and issues are the same. Students might be Japanese, American, African, but family, father and mother, obedience and rebellion, and leadership are universal phenomena and not cultural.

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