Organizational Metaphors

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Organizational Metaphors
Maria F. Shoemaker
South University
April 19, 2012

Organizational Metaphors
The two metaphors that I am about to describe to you are machines and organisms. I am also going to note what each metaphor suggests about how humans and their behavior are perceived in the organization. I will also let you know the similarities and differences in the two metaphors. Also conclude on how the ability to switch between metaphors might enhance effective leadership and organizational behavior. The machines one tends to think of inputs and outputs, standardization, productivity, measurement, and control. The organization tends to want the workers to just perform the mechanics of the job. They want them to not think about what to do, just perform with manpower. They just wanted them to be the energy to propel the organizational machine. The jobs they were required to perform were more simplified so that the workers were cheap and easy to train, supervise, and replace. This helped them to interchange workers as they needed at any given time. The human behavior perceived in this machines metaphor was they were just there to do their job and they had no input in what was being done. This metaphor showed me how an organization can perceive a worker in their job functions. Some organizations make their employees feel that they are just a body there doing the work that needs to be done.

The organism metaphor is a living system existing in a wider environment depending on the workers various needs. There is no one best way to design or manage an organization. The flow of information between different parts of the systems and its environment is the key to the organization’s success. It is important to maximize the fit between individual, team and organizational needs. This metaphor represents the organization as an ‘open system’. Organizations are seen as sets of interrelated sub-systems designed to balance the requirements of the...
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