Presenters:  Seth Harkins, EdD; Rui Lu, Xiaohua Lu, PhD; Jeffrey Roth, MD; and Xumie Wang, MD, PhD. 


Proposal:  Group Relations In China: A Cross-cultural Narrative of Organizational Development 2014 – 2019examines the lived experiences of staff in six group relations conferences over the past five years. These conferences were:


  • Beijing Group Relations Conference 2014: Authority and Leadership and Recovery from Mental Illness and Addiction;

  • Hong Kong Group Relations Conference 2016: Authority and Leadership and Recovery from Mental Illness and Addiction;

  • Beijing Group Relations Conference 2016: Authority and Leadership and Recovery from Mental Illness and Addiction;

  • Beijing Small Study Group Training Conference 2017;

  • Beijing Group Relations Conference 2018: Authority, Leadership and Group and Organizational Dynamics;

  • Shanghai Large Study Group Training Conference 2019          


The presentation is based on a longitudinal, qualitative investigation currently in progress that builds on and extends Beijing Group Relations Conference 2014: Cross-cultural Learning and Implications for the Futureand the 2016 AKRI Dialogues presentation Hong Kong and Beijing Group Relations Conferences 2016: Cross-cultural Learning and Implications.[1] The conferences held during this period were significant for five reasons.  


  1. They were situated in an international geopolitical context in which China and the United States are more interdependent than at any point in world history.  

  2. They were national conferences, drawing membership from across Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. 

  3. They addressed significant public health challenges of recovery from mental illness and addiction. 

  4. They employed cultural interpretation to facilitate cross-cultural communication and transitioned to bilingual modes without cultural interpretation. 

  5. Training events were implemented to support the development of a group relations infrastructure in China.  


This presentation examines the exceptional possibilities for bridging differences and fostering mutual understanding through the Tavistock Method.  With a foundation training and practice in psychoanalytic group psychotherapy since the 1980s, Group relations in China has been evolving since 2010, when Husseyn Ozdemir conducted the first group relations conference in China.[2]  Since then, Jeffrey Roth, MD, directed three group relations conferences in Beijing and one in Hong Kong.  Also, since 2016 Tavistock China and OPUS have conducted conferences in Chengdu and Shanghai Additionally, the Taipei GRC was held in August 2018. The presentation describes, analyzes, and interprets the organizational development of group relations conferences in China directed by Dr. Roth and the incorporation of the China American Society for the Study of Groups and Organizations (CASSGO). The core organizing question for this inquiry is: What has been the historical and lived experience of group relations development from 2014 to 2019?  This presentation addresses four additionally related questions: 


  1. What has been the lived experience of staff and member regarding their learning about authority, leadership, and overt/covert dynamics in groups and organizations?  

  2. How has this learning contributed to the organizational infrastructure for group relations in China?

  3. How has this learning been applied in the personal, professional, and communities lives of group relations participants? 

  4. What are the implications for the future of group relations in China, cross-cultural learning? 


The presentation will: 


  1. Present applicable stage theories: a) developmental psychosocial stage theory; b) organizational development theory; c) innovation stage theory; and d) trust theory.

  2. Present the evolution of group relations in China since 2010.

  3. Present the lived experiences of GRC participants in the roles of director, assistant director for administration, consultants, cultural interpreter, and member.

  4. Present Q-sort data from GRC staffs from three conferences.

  5. Present the application of learning to personal, professional, and community experience.

  6. Discuss the implications for cross-cultural learning and the future development of group relations on China.


This presentation is based on qualitative research informed by the research traditions of phenomenology, ethnography, and narratology, and multiple data sources including: document artifacts, interviews. Q-Sort surveys, and contemporaneous field notes. 


[1]Harkins, S., Anonymous, Huang, X, Jacob, S., Kennedy, D., Moore, V.T. Y, Robertson, J., Roth, J.D., & Woon, J. (2018). Beijing group relations conference 2014: Cross-cultural learning and implications for the future. In E. Aram, C. Archer, R. Kelly, G. Strauss, & J. Triest (Eds.), Doing the business of group relations conferences: Exploring the discourses. London: Routledge; Harkins, S., Jacob, S., Kennedy, D., Moore, V., Yang, F., Lu, R., Huang, X., & Wang, Y. (2016). Hong Kong and Beijing Group Relations Conferences 2016: Cross-cultural Learning and Implications, AKRICE Dialogues, September 16, 2016. 

[2]Ozdemir, H. (2015). Exploring group relations in China: Challenges, risks, and impact. In Aram, Baxter & Nutkevick (Eds), Group relations work: Exploring the impact and relevance within and beyond its network. London: Karnac, pp. 101-124 

Saturday 1:30-3:00