Link between individual and organization

In this article the message is to keep an eye on the individual in organizations and to see our integrity as a condition for (work) happiness. Because there will be specific attention for the meaning of the power of the individual, for an organization and the forces that act upon it, the subtitle is therefore 'Link between individual and organization'1.

This linkage is not so obvious. This is because our general discourse is more business-like than sociological in nature. Thus there is ground to be gained in making happiness and love more part of the power of renewal in an organization. (Work) happiness from the approach of organizational forces is deliberately chosen in relation to integrity. Because, despite the fact that there is literature on this, in my opinion a non-common sociological approach to forces in organizations is lacking. It also brought me to a 'Sideways look at the thought of Spinoza (1632-1677)'. This philosopher considered happiness and love to be forces between people and thus part of a society. This article is therefore also a plea to philosophize about forces in organizations as well as in society. This brings us to three focus points about forces. One is the need to understand the zeitgeist, because insight into the 'forces at play between the organization and its environment' is of vital importance to an organization's right to exist. The other two focuspoints concern 'values as forces' and 'forces of emotions'.


The focuspoints should lead to making room for positivity and curiosity from respect, understanding and attention. To this end, I want to take you along with me each time to transform the negative in our feeling and thinking into positive action. As a basis for this, the Idea-Image-Shape paradigm from my first book The Glowing Organization (De Glunderende Organisatie (DGO), 2016, p. 92 - figure 1 in this article)2 is further elaborated. It shows how important (shared) images are for innovation and that an approach from forces according to Spinoza (see Figure 2) is helpful to arrive at an Image of Integrity. But also with the help of hinge virtues I show that the negative can be transformed into the positive.

Although history does not receive emphatic attention, it does have a place in it between the lines. In fact, it goes into more detail laterally about why both Ethics & Compliance and Love, Integrity and Happiness in Organizations are important. For example, I recommend training in ethical behaviour3 and Social leadership through courage4 and I invite to philosophize because this era no longer has any ideas that can point the way for steering our society. Ideas about human happiness are very diverse, which does not bring the joining of forces into a 'flow'. I conclude that we can still learn something from old thinkers about how to deal with abundance and adversity.

It is therefore a search for the best mix of wisdom from the past! Of course, there are current attempts with, among others, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG, set by UN member states in Sept. 2015) and by scientists (such as Kate Raworth)5 who want us to think about the derailing consequences of the free market economy.

Article Structure
It was in the above dynamic that my essay 'Organizational Forces, Integrity, Happiness and Love'1 came about, based on the premise that it is a choice to work through the eyes of love in and on organizations, with the confidence that the noble in people can prevail. This means that I present a question for the present, namely whether the importance of honour recovery after an integrity violation is acknowledged3, because otherwise there will be an inhibiting effect on the 'link between the individual and the organization'.

Rich concepts from a positive forces approach

For this edited version of the essay, I present a number of one-liners about strengths because they are pivotal in it. They give an impression of how attention can be paid to forces. This applies to the operation in organizations but is also related to organizations:

  1. Positive forces are the accelerators of renewal that put people in a "flow" and thus into positive energy (E).
  2. Positive forces always have a direction to avoid negative energy so that the organization does not slow down in development. (Nb. For example, you should not duplicate an audit unnecessarily because two people in charge did not coordinate on the process to readiness).
  3. It is precisely the positive power in the individual that makes it possible to activate his/her abilities.

However, from the point of view of forces, for a lasting process of a shared positive direction for an entire organization, this also requires the following conditions:

It is fundamental to be open to the fact that change/renewal is sometimes not possible without external forces.

After all, an organization is part of a larger whole: society. When forces in an organization do not bring people into a "flow", then something external will have to be an accelerator of renewal (see "1") or something will have to activate the individual capacity (see "3").

I see the bundling of individual forces within an organization as a horizontal approach to organizational development.

This is necessary among other things to give forces a direction (see '2') and to activate forces in the individual (see '3') for the organization.

However, this focus on (positive, external, and aggregate) strengths does not yet provide insight into a moral compass for acting with integrity in a larger context. The following focus areas, which you will encounter as outcomes in the text, relate integrity as a force to the organizational. Integrity is not for nothing a reference to wholeness and coherence and thus appeals to awareness about forces that bring it about:

  • The more components (named later in this article) are included in an Ethics & Compliance program, the more effective those programs are.
  • This brings us to the connection between love, trust and integrity in the creation of the Image, as Figure 2 shows: I therefore see integrity as a result of the elements of the Creative/Artistic process, for which love and trust are positive forces.

Focus on strengths related to practice - working perspective

Based on the confidence that the noble in people can prevail, I would like to state with my submitted question myself that the importance of individual honour recovery after perceived questionable behaviour must be recognized. I do this in order to continue to make a case for the continued optimization of the link between the individual and the organization. Perhaps more than ever, this is a foundation for a good handling of the zeitgeist by organizations, from a striving for wholeness.

From this, in relation to the focuspoints mentioned in the introduction, I connect the following:
It is precisely the significance of the positive force in the individual that puts those forces in a broader perspective. So that should not be neglected! Thus I consider the effect of dealing with our contemporary Technology in a broader perspective, as an impact for people with a disadvantage thereon, from the hinge virtues 1/Wise, 2/Righteousness, 3/Moderation and 4/Courage. This allows for outcomes of the Creative/Artistic process (see Figure 1), to deal with the meaning of Technology as follows: ad1/ (Thought image) The language used is positive with regard to dealing with individual consequences, ad2/ (Sound image) The sound is mutually agreeable and we deal with 'the strong feeling of not being able to keep up', ad3/ (Speech image) The mutual consideration, is correct with word and gesture and ad4/ (Vision) There is no doubt about the motive 'We don't let people with a clear discernible disadvantage get lost'.
I bring integrity into the limelight by means of two scientific articles (by Hoekstra/Kaptein6 and Roshnee Ossewaarde-Lowtoo7). The first article establishes a relationship from the necessary management of Ethics & Compliance. The second article establishes a compelling relationship with love and happiness and I will discuss further at the Spinozist perspective.
The first article makes a plea for more supported responsible behaviour. The second article poses as a main question 'How can we achieve and maintain our integrity, c.q. wholeness of soul, in organizations?'.
Naturally, casuistry should not be lacking, in the sense that there should be no failure to convert negative emotions into positive ones. I am referring here to the Public Ministry Office and the Police organization with regard to a blow caused by not behaving with integrity. (An excess of) fear was the symbol and we do not know that as a positive force! There hád to be a joint picture of a solution, from forces that reinforce each other. That was not the case; there was an overwhelming negativity due to a diversity of integrity affairs. That should have been an inevitability for an Ethics and Compliance (E&C) program.

In what working perspective could we now place the aforementioned dynamics and forces approach! Because force is an important key word, reference is made to Figure 1 'the Idea-Image-Shape paradigm' (Bruijn, 2016, p. 92) 2. That paradigm is a plea for the emergence of images about renewal, from the power of the individual. And, it offers at the same time the possibility to both put forces in a broader perspective and to position them recognizably within it. For this last great importance we return again to the focuspoints on forces at the beginning of this article, namely:

  1. values as forces. They are at the center of the paradigm, because what we as people make meaningful is a foundation for how we deal with contexts and issues.
  2. forces at play between the organization and its environment. The Creative-Artistic (imaginative) process is seen as a (serving and comprehensive) process of awareness for insight therein and as a process for fathoming the spirit of the times.
  3. forces of emotions. Converting negative emotions into positive emotions appears to be a suitable angle of approach as a condition for integrity.


Figure 1 > ‘Balance between internal and external forces on an organization with the Creative/Artistic Process’. Source: IBV- paradigm out De Glunderende Organisatie (Bruijn, 2016, p. 92)


We have arrived at an important point for the further elaboration of perspectives and positioning of forces. Can/will we recognize the MEANING of the forces of the individual?
The focus on forces and presentation of rich concepts has, in my opinion, a central idea, as a plea for THE EFFECT of positive force in the individual:

We consistently make an undeniably strong connection between the importance of investing in individual awareness and its impressive effect on the organizational.

A. The zeitgeist demands that organizations be shaped from positive forces

Of course, I would like to point out another more specific importance of the paradigm in Figure 1, as a concept for understanding awareness about forces. This then concerns the inevitable need to be able to fathom the zeitgeist. The Creative/Artistic process (= process of perceiving for awareness, which investigates the Image that belongs to the Idea) is meant to keep working on individual issues in BALANCE with what is affecting the organization (the external) and what is going on in the organization (the internal). The times we live in have an important place in the view of that process. This includes the observation that we can ultimately understand ourselves and how we can work in and on an organization only when we can see and place these matters in the zeitgeist.
The quoted one-liners as rich concepts should thus be seen as conditional for leading the entire process of forces in the zeitgeist. So on the one hand bundling and directing positive individual forces and on the other hand realizing at the same time that change sometimes (inevitably) cannot be done without external forces, when the solution of a problem cannot be located in a current paradigm.

Not for nothing do I introduce the negative forces for individuals brought about by today's Technology. Not everyone can keep up with that development. Thus, an additive (organizational) force is missed in this example of an unmistakable picture of the zeitgeist. That is why I am challenging the social impact, that there are people who are (have become) significantly behind in technological developments. We take poor care of that group of people (in organizations). The technology train rumbles on, while we know that that group is not going to get smaller overnight. As a result, wholeness, happiness and love in the organization are also under pressure. That is a great counterforce to the individual that should be recognized! How nice it would be to have organizations be a flywheel (for the better) for this (social) inequality if it plays out internally.

I therefore return to the cited pivotal virtues in dealing with Technology. For the individual, the already mentioned outcome of the Creative/Artistic process should not be mistaken for positive energy (E). With regard to technology in companies, therefore, forces are needed that must bring the individual and the organizational (internal and external) into its own BALANCE, so that each individual can activate his/her abilities. I therefore deepen, with regard to the hinge virtues, the mentioned results and make the following suggestions:

- Wise > We are not laconic and indifferent to the individual and organizational consequences. That would be stupid!
- Righteous > When we have a strong feeling of not being able to participate, that disables positive forces and is also irrational and impractical. Thus, we must lead this process well in order to break through this barrier.
- Moderation > It is unwise to be overly controlling in taking into account the other. A mutual dealing with the impact, however, brings, ultimately for everyone, forces positively together.
- Courage > We don't let people with a clearly discernible disadvantage get away with it. That would be cowardly! This observation therefore requires social leadership through courage4. That means acting 'carefully, consistently and explainably' (see Fig. 1 - Integrity) with respect to both individual and organizational consequences.

B. Multiple and dynamic perspective for good results

With a consciousness-raising self-discovery (Bruijn, 2020, p. 11)1 I name the great responsibility in shaping the organizational. This gives me reason to zoom in on a scientific and an artistic (forces)approach.

I already tipped the cited article 'Managing Ethics & Compliance: a multiple perspective (drs. A. Hoekstra and prof. Dr. M. Kaptein / Tijdschrift voor Compliance - June 2019)6' as a plea for more supported responsible behaviour, to which should be added that such behaviour arises when behavioral bottlenecks are approached 'with an Ethics and Compliance (E&C) program from a multiple and dynamic perspective'.

The multiple perspective concerns 'the deployment of multiple coherent instruments' and the dynamic perspective concerns 'following an iterative and repetitive cycle and therefore no time frame that is limited to one moment! According to the article, the following should also be known:
An E&C program can be described as a formal organizational managementsystem to prevent unethical behaviour and to encourage ethical behaviour. Such a program consists (according to the scientific literature - Kaptein, 2009, p. 89, p. 261-281)8 of nine components or instruments, which must fit together and reinforce each other.

Broadly outlined, this would include: 'desired values/standards', 'a compliance officer', 'training', 'a reporting line', 'established policy', 'screening of ethical structure and culture' and 'screening of new employees'. For the details on this, referring to the article, it appears highly relevant that research shows that

the more components included in an E&C program, the more effective those programs are.

I would like to point out, however, that this places a strain on the way the individual deals with this. Just like the organization as a whole, the individual is expected to be involved from head to toe. Inevitably the necessary people will need a supporting positive force from management, for example for a value such as 'attention' to support the process towards a we-attitude. Because attention, for the link individual and organization, reaches to both head, heart, hands and belly level a following force perspective.

A ballet performance succeeds thanks to the collaboration of all those involved
To signify that our bodies express forces in an organization, we can use, in line with the Creative/Artistic Process in the IBV paradigm, the image evoked by the process of working on the choreography for a ballet. For example, a representation of the balance between the individual and the organizational, with balance between internal and external forces, can be seen with a performance of the National Ballet (NB). Enjoying the choreography, it seems as if everything happens automatically. So as a spectator/client we imagine the ballet to be excellently suited to the zeitgeist. However, we can know that around the performance there is a world of organizing, with carried responsibility and undoubtedly a multiple and dynamic perspective. The entire NB organization must stand to make the ballet a success. No one should doubt the presence of multiple cohesive instruments and the following of an iterative and repetitive cycle.

We see with this example that we express possibilities with our bodies. That fact in itself is not different in any organization. With this, this performance offers us the temptation to look at the organizational from a perspective of forces. At the individual level everything has to be done VISIBLY to be ready for the organizational joining of forces!

C. Not letting casuals be overwhelmed by the negative and keeping an eye out for honour recovery

A few quotations1 will suffice here, as their message is what matters most. The first quote makes it clear that there was an overwhelm of the negative. In 2019, the Public Ministry Office was in The news under the heading 'lack of leadership'. There was no counterpunching possible and there was fear of saying something.
Practice, in my opinion, showed that people completely lost track of how forces should be interpreted. That is why I write about this:
'We do not solve such a question. Explanatory analyses, however, obscure the path of an awareness-raising (self) discovery to find out together what is really important and then the common values. A view is needed to transform negative emotions into positive.’

The following quote makes it clear that when the practice can no longer be explained, it is absolutely necessary that the individual is structurally linked to the organizational. With patch work (however well intended), for example only improving the resilience of a corps against corruption while integrity cases are not transparent, you do everyone wrong.

We see a solution that only concerns an approach aimed at the individual and the instrumental. Of course one must learn to deal with personal issues or resilience. But, working simultaneously on the nine components of an Ethics & Compliance program6 is also inevitable in this case’.

The last quote does extra credit to the subtitle 'Link between individual and organization':
'Surely there will have to be an Idea which, from a Creative/Artistic process, will lead to an Image about conduct with integrity.' For the restoration of honour I quote the German political economist, historian, jurist and sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) with 'The honour aspect of these professions - namely that one is not only internally driven by a self-interest, but also by a greater interest - is thereby in danger of being pushed into the background'. Here we see the importance of the relationship between the individual and the organizational. The core and forces of the honorary aspect, as a clear social plea for the relational, concern:

1/ the positing of (core) values, from ethical behaviour that must be monetized and
2/ it is necessary to be able to address each other on the basis of standards.

This brings us back to the focuspoints on forces from the introduction to this article. We see that the individual and the greater interest are inextricably linked!

The organizational from a Spinozist perspective, with happiness and integrity inseparable

Following the above focuspoints and rich concepts, we will delve more deeply into the sociological approach to forces. In the introduction, I argue that we should look for the best mix of wisdoms. To that end, I relate two views to gain ground for renewal power in an organization. There are and were great names who brought much wisdom to our society. Today there is a call to take responsibility for difficult issues. Spinoza has a hand in this. Figure 2 includes from Spinoza's thought, first, the types of knowledge as part of the Creative/Artistic process. Second, the meaning he gave to emotions (as an affect) is shown as personal and mutual POWER. The intention here is to be able to see the importance of using emotions as positive forces in social intercourse.



Figure 2 > Application 'Look at forces acting on an organization from knowledge types and emotions (as affects) according to Spinoza’. Source: IBV-paradigm out De Glunderende Organisatie (Bruijn, 2016, p. 92)


From DGO2, therefore, I bring out here the joy play, as an important element of the Creative/Artistic process to encourage the participants to use positivity for renewal power. Spinoza relates gladness to love as ‘Gladness accompanied by the representation of an external cause’. That cause is then someone who generates joy. What I like about this is the relationality that gratitude for the presence of the other produces. So I have no trouble relating the central values in the IBV paradigm to Spinoza's definition of love.' It is the connection between two of the three focuspoints! The knowledge types complete the bridge for philosophizing about forces in organizations and society.

The second view puts happiness and love, as Spinoza did, in a historical perspective and supports the sociological discourse. For a sharp look at the relationship between affects and happiness, an exceptionally good article deserves attention, namely 'Love, integrity and happiness in organizations (Roshnee Ossewaarde-Lowtoo / M&O 2016 3/4 - Theme: Insight and drives III)7'. The main question is: 'How can we achieve and maintain our integrity, c.q. wholeness of soul, in organizations, given our working and living conditions? The argument is that gaining integrity, which is actually a project of character building, is made possible by love as the primal motive for the ordering of motives. Thus the idea that love 'directs' reason is elaborated.'

The following quotation from this work, which I fully support as a sociological approach to organizational forces, concerns: 'That no one is superfluous or undesirable and mutual distrust and contempt can be broken through.' and 'At the same time, the wholeness of the soul, our integrity, has traditionally been seen as the prerequisite for personal happiness. Happiness and integrity, according to this line of thought, are thus inseparable. Integrity or the wholeness of the soul refers to the ordering of vital forces, intellectual faculties and drives, as well as to the proper prioritization of interests, concerns or attachments’

The conclusion, from that ordering and prioritizing from the love that directs reason, then concerns:

'Wholeness is a prerequisite for wise decisions. Character formation should therefore be the highest priority of all who hold high positions. Each person, has the responsibility to work on this lifelong project.'

This underscores the plea for taking responsibility for the connection of the individual to the organization.

 It should be mentioned that we come into contact with negative forces and negative emotions, which cause us to change. This requires extra attention for these dynamics in individual guidance. The experience of a person involved who has committed a breach of integrity is far-reaching, so that extra attention is needed to transform the experience of negative forces into positive ones. For that transformation process, there is a parallel with the thought of Spinoza who sees passions/emotions (affects) as direct causes of action to happiness. The task is not to let negative emotions such as hate and fear weaken us, but to try to "replace" them with love, which enhances our existence.

This brings us to the connection between love, trust and integrity in the creation of the Image, as Figure 2 shows:
I therefore see integrity as a result of the elements of the Creative/Artistic process, for which love and trust are positive forces.

This process, with its facets, is therefore an excellent breeding ground for the appealing Image of Integrity. Once that has been achieved, the power of that image will be a basis for the Formation Process, for the optimization of all processes (while ordering and prioritizing) that promote integrity.


We have the task of not getting bogged down in an "I-you and we-they attitude of judgment", but of giving space to a positive movement in which all those involved feel connected. In fact, each time it is about connecting the individual with the organizational, from the removal of the shortage of a sociological approach to forces in organizations.

Some of the startingpoints for healing offered for this are:

  • To take up the mentioned play of forces as a positive process. This activates capacities for a Creative/artistic process in order to allow happiness and love to gain ground in organizations;
  • Not neglecting a 'linking of the individual and the organization' for a more supported (joint) responsibility and thus preventing that you are really on your own, after a breach of integrity. This happened in the case mentioned about the Public Ministry Office where people were overwhelmed by the negative. The individual and the organization suffered from these forces!
  • Embracing motives for an Image that connects love, trust and integrity. This includes recognizing the importance of honour recovery. An important statement is that this can be consciously chosen;
  • An empowering plea that a multiple and dynamic perspective is needed. Only by doing so do you take the whole organization seriously and therefore also the individual.

For the right of organizations to exist, insight into 'both forces within and outside the organization, and between the organization and its environment' is necessary. In order to understand the zeitgeist, we need to philosophize about organizations and society. In each case study we should be able to see the following about 'love as the primal motive for integrity' and about 'insights in passions/emotions as direct causes of acting towards happiness’:

- safety to make things discussable;
- awareness that supposedly dubious behaviour is to the detriment of the organizational;
- the possibility of 'replacing' a negative force by a positive one; and
- ensuring that a lot of trust can be gained.

Unmistakably, you can read between the lines that we must keep our positive core awake to appreciate the best in people. Love must be expressed in verbs, with 'love', 'loving' and 'give love'.

For the Dutch version of the above article click HERE


Bruijn, A. (2021) Organisatiekrachten, Integriteit, Geluk en Liefde – Koppeling tussen individu en organisatie. Maassluis: Bruijnontwikkeling. ISBN 978-90-826332-1-4; 28 pagina’s; € 15,00
Bruijn, A.  (2016). De Glunderende Organisatie – Vernieuwingskracht in organisaties door verbeelding. Maassluis: Bruijnontwikkeling. ISBN 978-90-826332-0-7; 142 pagina’s.
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