Culture Metaphor - Morgan G.1986

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Linh Nguyen – 1149482 AFM

Assignment 2 "One of the major strengths of the culture metaphor rests in the fact that it directs attention to the symbolic significance of even the most rational parts of organizational life" ( Morgan, G. 1986) Discuss the issues raised in the quotation above, and comment on: • • •

the effects of organization culture on the design of organization structure; the effects of national culture on organization culture; and the ways in which power exists in different organization cultures.

Metaphor is a method to explain a phenomenon or create meaning by using one element of experience to understand another. Gareth Morgan uses this tool for building up theories about organization and management. He suggests the way of observing and thinking about organizations through different metaphors such as mechanistic, organic, political or cultural approach, etc. In scope of this essay, I will focus on issues raised by Gareth Morgan in 1986 “One of the major strengths of the culture metaphor rests in the fact that it directs attention to the symbolic significance of even the most rational parts of organizational life”. Furthermore, I will criticize the effects of organization culture on the design of organization structure based on Gareth Morgan’s theory and the effects of national culture on organization culture based on Hofstede’s idea. Lastly, I will explain how power can exist in different organization cultures by using theoretical approaches from Gareth Morgan and Mullins Book. In essence, organizational culture is a difficult context. It is hard to be conceptualized exactly so there are many different definitions of organizational culture. However, the definition given by Gareth Jones is broadly accepted. He considered organizational culture as “a set of shared values and norms that controls organization members’ interaction with each other, and with suppliers, customers and others outside the organization” [1]. Culture goes beyond an entity’s physical form or operation. It is reinforced through the system of rites and rituals, patterns of communication, the informal organization, expected patterns of behavior and perceptions of psychological contract [1]. According to Schein’s viewpoint, organizational culture also needs approaching from three levels of culture: artefacts, values and basic underlying assumptions. Therefore, the strength of culture lies in immaterial forms. According to Gareth Morgan, organizations are considered as mini-societies with their own distinctive patterns of culture and subcultures such as unique values, formalities, ideologies and faiths. The major strength of culture metaphor is that it emphasizes the symbolic significance of even the most concrete and rational parts of organizational life – whether structures, hierarchies, rules or organizational routines – embody social instructions and meanings that are crucial for understanding how organization functions day-by-day [2]. The symbolic significances go beyond the physical presence of organizational components, existing under certain organizational culture forms, “the slogans, symbols, stories, rituals, and patterns of tribal behavior that decorate the surface of organizational life merely give clues to the existence of a much deeper and all-pervasive system of meaning” [2]. For example, the “locked door” story in HP conveys the message that HP trusts and highly appreciates its employees. The symbolic meaning connects employees’ effort to the organizational success, which means the organizational goal is only achieved by the employees’

working cooperation. This encourages their motivation to contribute to achieve the organization’s objectives. Cultures create a form of “Blindness” and “Ethnocentrism”. If the individual then experiences other organization culture that have different values and normal behaviors, the individual finds that the thought patterns appropriate to their birth organization culture are not...
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