Managing across boundaries: Identity, differentiation and interaction

Paula Hyde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of organisational restructuring on organisational boundaries has become increasingly important, especially because modernisation of work practices within large organisations generates increasing boundary complexity. Psychoanalytic theory offers a means of exploring boundaries and emphasises the importance of boundary in the emergence of an integrated sense of identity. In the UK, restructuring of health services has resulted in changes to organisational, professional and work group boundaries, seemingly, without attention being given to what may constitute a healthy set of boundary relationships. Four interrelated case studies illustrate a variety of organisational relationships and cross-boundary processes in mental health services, and how threats to particular boundaries can lead organisational members to engage in defensive activity. Whilst defences may be healthy for the individual or the organisation, they may generate more problems than they solve. Although the examples given here are highly specific, they may illuminate boundary systems more generally within organisations. Copyright © 2006 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-362
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation and Learning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Boundaries
  • Differentiation
  • Healthcare
  • Identity
  • Interaction
  • Mental health services
  • Organisational defences
  • Organisational restructuring
  • Psychodynamic approaches


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