This essay explores the concept of studying organisation styles metaphorically, particularly as perceived by Gareth Morgan (1986). The essay begins by describing two of the organisational metaphors, specifically the mechanistic organisation and the organisation as a brain being the most diverse of the metaphors used. It then reviews the interpretation of theorists writing on the subject and explores the practicalities of these organisational styles. In exploring these interpretations the essay discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each of the styles of organisation and endorses the continuous improvement of the brianlike organisations, but also seeks to highlight potential limitations which may arise.
"A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a phrase is applied to something that it does not literally denote in order to imply a resemblance." (Collins English Dictionary, 2002)
The image created by metaphor allows us to make comparisons and see similarities between how, in this case, different organisations are run and describe the organisations in a way that can easily be recognised.
Gareth Morgan (1986) has widely promoted the value of using different metaphors to look at organisations. The first metaphor, the organisation as a machine, is possibly the easiest to understand. Morgan (1986) explains how this style of organisation underpins the development of bureaucracy. The mechanical metaphor was dominant for most of the last century, and is associated with the work of Taylor & Fayol (Pugh & Hickson 1989). When we think of an organisation as a machine we imagine a very systematic approach which is frequently seen in bureaucratic organisations. They usually have strict processes and chains of command with a hierarchical, top down style of management.
These organisations are conceived of a series of functional departments...