Desired Diversity and Symptomatic Anxiety: Theorising Failed Diversity as Lacanian Lack

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This paper conceptualises organisational diversity as constituted by psychoanalytic lack. Empirically, we show how diversity as Lacanian lack is understood as nothing in or of itself, but as an empty signifier with no signified. The lack of diversity becomes a catalyst for desiring particular ideas of diversity that, however, constantly change due to the empty form of diversity. Anxiety manifests itself in the obsession of unobtainable idealised forms of diversity as well as in the uncertainty associated with the traumatic experience of always falling short of what is desired in an object – the experience of failed diversity. Conclusively, we discuss the productive potential of the power of lack. The impossibility of diversity is what, at once, conditions the possibility of diversity. We therefore suggest that the symptomatic anxiety provoked by the lack should be enjoyed in order to engage with new meaningful desires and fantasies of organisational diversity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)114-133
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 27. November 2017


  • Anxiety
  • Desire
  • Diversity management
  • Lacan
  • Lack
  • Psychoanalysis

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