An Interview With Gareth Morgan on Metaphors in Organization Theory

Well-known for his work in organization theory, Gareth Morgan explored the use of metaphors to help examine organization problems in his 1986 book “Images of Organization.” Cliff Oswick of City University London and Davis Grant of UNSW Business School in Australia recently interviewed Dr. Morgan about his perspective on metaphors in Journal of Management Inquiry.

The abstract:

In this article, we review the metaphors presented by Morgan in Images of Organization and highlight how they JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointsimultaneously act as “relatively static reflections” (i.e., they provide a history of organization theory) and “relatively dynamic projections” (i.e., stimulating the formulation of further organizational images). We also discuss the potential for new organizational metaphors and consider two specific metaphors (i.e., the “global brain” and “organization as media”). We also challenge the established punctuated metaphorical process (i.e., a transfer from a metaphorical source domain to an organizational target domain), propose a dynamic perspective of interchange (i.e., source domain to target domain to source domain and so on), and develop the notion of multidirectionality (i.e., two-way projections between target and source domains).

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