Organizational Metaphors

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Organizational Metaphors

A metaphor for an organization is a phrase that determines how and what we think about organizations. Organizational metaphors shape the way we think about organizations and affect how we work and make decisions (McCrimmon, 2012). Organizational metaphors help people to see, manage, and understand everything we need to know about an organization. Gareth Morgan proposed eight metaphors of organizations that explain the elements of an organization in a metaphorical way and give us insight, but also prohibit us from seeing certain things about an organization (Visser, 2010). Two of the most influential metaphors he proposed that lead to seeing, managing, and understanding organizations are organizations as machines and organizations as brains.

The first metaphor that leads to seeing and understanding an organization is organizations as machines. Organizations as machines suggests that organizations are very much like machines because they require high levels of efficiency in the same way that machines require high levels of efficiency to operate correctly. Organizations require maintenance as time passes to keep them running smoothly and successfully in the same way that machines require maintenance overtime to keep them running effectively. Organizations focus on maximizing production in the same way that machines are created to maximize production. Organizations are like machines because when individuals talk to one another about an organization or a machine they communicate using many of the same words to describe the organization or the machine. For example, an individual may say that the organization for which he works is running like a well oiled engine because things are going well in the same way that an individual may refer to a machine as a well oiled engine because it is working well (Visser, 2010). Also, organizations are created with predetermined goals and strategic plans made to make the organization successful in the...
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