This Conference is a temporary educational institution whose primary aim is to provide members with the opportunity to develop a deeper awareness and understanding of group and inter-group processes which affect institutional and organizational life.
The ability of individuals to work effectively in groups and organizations is influenced by the way in which authority is vested, and how responsibilities for leadership and followership are assumed. The forces which influence this process can best be understood when they are seen in actual operation. Therefore, this Conference offers the opportunity to study what happens in and among groups at the same time it is happening. Consequently, the learning which takes place occurs from the direct experience of the individual. The aim is to bring together experience and thought, emotion and intellect, without neglecting one for the other.
Since the exercise of authority is dependent upon the presence of others, the Conference’s focus of study is upon groups rather than individual personalities. Although the individual is important, it is our experience that the complexities of group life are best examined and understood when the attention shifts from the narrower perspectives of the individual to the group as a whole. This broadened perspective, shifting the emphasis from the individual to the group, distinguishes these conferences from sensitivity training or encounter groups.
The conference gives special attention to covert as well as overt processes operating in and among groups. A basic underlying assumption is that greater awareness and understanding of these processes may enhance leadership and followership, and lead to more effective participation in organizational life.
The conference is open-ended in that there is no attempt to prescribe what anyone shall learn. The intent, rather, is to provide an institutional structure within which conference participants can experience and examine the many dimensions and aspects of authority in a variety of contexts. Using an open systems approach, participants and staff will have the opportunity to experience and examine aspects of the system as they occur in the “here-and-now.” The hope is that as a result of conference experience and subsequent reflection on this experience, participants will increase their capacity for effective leadership and responsible followership.