Organism metaphor

Organizational metaphors provide information about the value system of a company and about employers' attitudes toward their customers and employees. Kosheek Sewchurran and Irwin Brown: [M]etaphor is a basic structural form of experience by which human beings engage, organize, and understand their world. The organizational metaphor is a well-known way in which organizational experiences are characterized.

We have come to understand organizations as machines, organisms, brains, cultures, political systems, psychic prisons, instruments of domination, etc.

Llewelyn The metaphor is a basic way in which human beings ground their experiences and continue to evolve them by adding new, related concepts that carry aspects of the original metaphor.

Dvora Yanow: What we may discover in analyzing organizational metaphors are complex relationships between thought and action, between shape and reflection. Corey Jay Liberman: Perhaps the earliest metaphor used to define an organization was provided by Frederick Taylor, a mechanical engineer interested in better understanding the driving forces behind employee motivation and productivity.

Taylor argued that an employee is very much like an automobile: if the driver adds gas and keeps up with the routine maintenance of the vehicle, the automobile should run forever. In other words, as long as employees are paid fairly for their outputs synonymous with putting gas into a vehiclethey will continue to work forever.

Although both his view and metaphor organization as machine have been challenged, Frederick Taylor provided one of the first metaphors by which organizations operated. If an organizational employee knows that this is the metaphor that drives the organization, and that money and incentives are the true motivating factors, then this employee understands quite a bit about his organizational culture. Other popular metaphors that have surfaced over the years include organization as family, organization as system, organization as circus, organization as team, organization as culture, organization as prison, organization as organism, and the list goes on.

Michael Bergdahl: The people-greeters give you the feeling that you are part of the Wal-Mart family and they are glad you stopped by. They are trained to treat you like a neighbor because they want you to think of Wal-Mart as your neighborhood store.

Sam [Walton] called this approach to customer service 'aggressive hospitality. Dukes ]. Rebekah Peeples Massengill: Framing Wal-Mart as a kind of David in a battle with Goliath is no accidental move--Wal-Mart, of course, has worn the nickname of the 'retail giant' in the national media for over a decade, and has even been tagged with the alliterative epithet 'the bully from Bentonville.

Robert B. Reich: Think of Wal-Mart as a giant steamroller moving across the global economy, pushing down the costs of everything in its path--including wages and benefits--as it squeezes the entire production system. Kaihan Krippendorff: After experiencing the flaws of having someone in Bentonville make decisions about human resources in Europe, Wal-Mart decided to move critical support functions closer to Latin America.

The metaphor it used for describing this decision is that the organization is an organism. Wal-Mart defined three critical organs--People, Finance, and Operations--and positioned them in a new Latin American regional unit. Charles Bailey: A metaphor seeps deeply into organizational narratives because the metaphor is a way of seeing. Once established it becomes a filter through which participants both old and new see their reality.

Soon enough the metaphor becomes the reality. If you use the football metaphor you would think that the fire department ran a series of set plays; finite, divisible, independent actions. You could also assume that at the end of these short segments of violent action, everyone stopped, set up the next plan and then acted again. A metaphor fails when it does not accurately reflect core organizational processes. The football metaphor fails because fires are extinguished in one, essentially, contiguous action, not a series of set plays.

There are no designated times for decision making in firefighting and certainly no timeouts, though my aging bones might wish that there were. Share Flipboard Email. Richard Nordquist. English and Rhetoric Professor.This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

He was the founder of many health-related institutions in Croatia and world-wide. His endeavors and sociomedical ideas found fertile ground and left a mark not only in the national, but also in international setting.

As a young man, he started publishing programmatic and popular science articles, promulgating his beliefs about social medicine and health enlightenment. On the one hand, they reflect a specific manner of expression characteristic of sociomedical framework and health enlightenment, widespread in the world at the turn of the 20th century.

On the other, they are heavily influenced by national zeitgeist at the time, particularly the works of the writers such as A. He completed his elementary education in his place of birth and finished high school in Vinkovci in 1. After that, he left Slavonia to study medicine in Vienna, where he also earned his doctoral degree in Inhe joined the Ministry of Public Health in Belgrade, dedicating his time first to theoretical-organizational work and then to systematic development of health institutions in the old Yugoslavia.

Inhe left for the United States, where he spent a year as a visiting professor at the Universities of Harvard, Yale, and California 3 - 6. When his appointment as professor at the Zagreb University School of Medicine was confirmed, he returned to Croatia. After the War, he resumed his duties as a professor of hygiene and social medicine at the Zagreb University School of Medicine and assumed the position of the director of the School of Public Health in Zagreb.

He fought to increase the proportion of practical classes for future physicians. Due to his endeavors, a College of Nursing was established under the auspices of the Zagreb University School of Medicine.

He died in Zagreb on June 26, 2. While still a young man, he started publishing programmatic and popular science articles, promulgating his beliefs about social medicine and health enlightenment, which he continued to follow throughout his whole life.

The parallel development of eugenics and public health during the second half of the 19th and early 20th century established mutual resonance and specific discourse through which these two areas construed and popularized their goals. Ever since the ancient, pre-scientific times, the human body had been metaphorically described as a fortress resisting diseases 9.

Diseases, on the other hand, were described by the metaphor of threatening danger — an enemy that invades the body-fortress. This old metaphor survived in the language of public health education, which saw disease as a social category and used the expressions such as fight, battle, or war to describe the efforts to reduce mortality rates. Thus, the transformation from fighting a war to having an opportunity to initiate a mass ideological mobilization made the notion of war a metaphor useful in all sorts of melioration campaigns aimed at defeating the enemy.

The metaphor of society as an organism marked the introduction of anthropomorph, organicistic approach into the interpretation and understanding of social processes. Although its roots could be traced back to the ancient times, it became almost paradigmatic at the turn of the 20th century, with the arrival of the founder of cellular pathology, Rudolf Virchov.

As an individual organism consists of cells, so does the society consist of individuals representing cells; as an individual organism can become ill, so can the society become ill. Thus, medical observation becomes tightly linked to sociological one and remains under continual influence of sociological principles. There is no doubt that this term was chosen to strengthen the analogy between society and the human organism, emphasizing the characteristics that influence the appearance and course of disease.

Ascribing almost parasitic characteristics to social diseases, he insisted that they exhaust the entire society and thus cannot be treated on an individual basis. He was sensitized against alcoholism at an early age. On one occasion, while he was still a teenager, he talked to the village miller 14who said that more people drowned in liquor than at sea.

Because of alcohol, many lose their eyesight, the strong become weak, the rich become poor. Alcohol makes a man belligerent and quarrelsome, it makes him commit murder and robbery.Organism Metaphor of an Organization Organism Metaphor of an Organization Introduction All the organizational theories and management comprises of metaphors or particular images that allows us to understand and visualize conditions in confined traditions. Metaphors develop insights, leads to creativity and they have strengths.

However, they also have limitations, and they lead to distortions. Besides, metaphors can create ways of perceiving, but also may block our ways of perceiving. So there is no significant theory that clarifies the point of view. There is no accurate way to organize everything we do. The organization emphasize on machine metaphor thinking in terms of input and output, profit maximization, mass production and efficiency.

Organization prefers re-engineering by computing and measuring everything. This defines the mechanical thinking of an organization which is embedded in our everyday understanding of the organization.

organism metaphor

This conception makes it difficult for us to think in a new way. Organization as Living Organism This metaphor allows organizations to view from a Biological view. It defines organizations as living environmental systems which interdependently satisfies various needs. With this metaphor, an organization is considered as sharing the same idea as of a living organism.

Wherein to survive, adapt, manage and replicate the organization needs to accept conditions otherwise it will perish Morgan, The organizational system must have to adjust with environmental factors which affect the health and prosperity, several organizational species and the relation among ecology and species. Through the point of view as a living being for an organization, people and employees are its lifeblood.

Therefore, an organism needs to revitalize and revive itself to survive, or it will decease and perish. While same goes for the company. Cultural influences on Organizational metaphors Generally the usage of the metaphors defines the view expressed by the speaker to emphasize on the idea. The idea is to present the object fruitfully to draw attention of the recipients.

The scope of the metaphor is used to understand a phenomenon of one element in terms to experience another. In the situation of complexity and obscurity, the metaphors are found to useful to bring clarity in such circumstances. The usage of metaphors is recognized to determine the individuals feeling and image for an organization. The metaphors influence the individual thought and the way they interpret information.

Due to which the conflict may appear by holding different metaphor and understanding about organization. Every employee having their own meaning and understanding for the organization does not necessarily lead to adverse conflict but also to imaginary and illustrative fashion. The metaphors help to identify that beside the customers, staff Nadler-Tushman Congruence An internationally recognized expert in organizatIs your organization a ship? Do you say: "Welcome on board?

An organism? A person? A group? A community? A family? A dynasty? Or something else? Organizational metaphors operate in the background but they can strongly determine how we think about organizations and affect how we work and make decisions. It is good to be aware of how they shape our thinking. Ships have a clear direction from start to finish because their destination is not a moving target, unlike business today where direction cannot be fully decided in advance and it can change constantly.

Also, on a ship, the captain decides direction. The ship metaphor does not fit very well with empowerment. If it is operating subconsciously in your business it may be blocking empowerment. Your metaphors determine how you think organizations should behave. The ship metaphor was OK in the old days when we could sail towards a destination that was not shifting as we sailed.

Today, this metaphor is comforting but dangerous - not only is the destination shifting, but you have to make it up as you go! When you think about how best to manage your organization, question your underlying metaphors to ensure they fit with your environmental demands.

What metaphors determine your thinking about organizations? The machine metaphor appeals to minds that like orderliness - such as engineers. It also ties in with business process re-engineering. Any business requiring a high level of efficiency is essentially a machine.

MacDonald's and similar service businesses are examples - they offer the same product everywhere all the time at minimum cost and maximum quality - this is machine-like. Machines can only be repaired or replaced, they cannot evolve or develop.

We cannot dispense with this metaphor - contrary to the advocates of adaptiveness. All businesses need to deliver today's products efficiently as well as adapt to the future. So, all businesses will have a relatively machine-like part.Hi reacher, simply put in a link to ameykantak. Post a Comment. Wednesday, March 7, Organizations as organisms. In Images of Organization Gareth Morgan utilizes the eight metaphors namely organizations viewed as: machines, organisms, brains, cultures, political systems, psychic prisons, transformation systems, and instruments of domination, in concert with each other to explain organizations.

Organizations as organisms is my effort at looking at images of organization and associating it with real life examples.

organism metaphor

Mind you this was a MBA paper written by a 25 year old for whom Organizations as organisms were places of possible recruitment and much has changed since than but the gist remains the same.

Organism metaphor. The organism metaphor mainly deals with the organization's survival and its ability to grow and change in response to its environment. Various parallels can be drawn between an organization and an organism. Living organisms also tend to share common beliefs and guidelines. Take for example a herd of deer which share the common understanding that a lion is dangerous and they must flee as soon as they sense one near them. If one comes to the top of the food pyramid to humans, then culture and social norms become even more apparent.

Thus with respect to culture the organism metaphor talks about the adaptability culture of an organization. Organisms tend to have a definite life cycle from birth to aging and death. Similarly organizations also have a comparable life cycle depending on the industry in which they are present. An organization may continue to exist even after the people within it have moved away — attrition, turnover, retirement, etc.

Consider the example of a CRT monitor manufacturer. When this happens, the CRT monitor industry will die and so will the monitor manufacturing organization. Organizations also tend to struggle for their survival against changes in both their internal and external environment. Organizations compete with their peers.

Unlike organisms, organizations do not have the advantage of time and must respond quickly to changes in their environment which means a stress on decentralization. Since authority to make decisions gets spread, managers can respond quicker to the changes. Since it uses low costs rather then high quality to compete with its competitors, Zenith must respond quickly to any new launches of desktops by the competition to ensure that its products sell in the market.

Large multi-cell organisms have distinct parts doing specialized jobs. Similarly an organization also has a definite structure both in terms of physical artifacts as well as the social setup. Just as an organism requires food and drink to survive so does an organization which needs continuous inputs of raw materials and manpower to survive. Labels: Human resourcesorganizational change.After you enable Flash, refresh this page and the presentation should play.

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There may be different ways of arriving at a given end product. All three theories move away from the mechanistic, bureaucratic theories of organizational structure and operation, and take into account the importance and subjectivity of human resources to an organization.

Flexibility and ability to adapt to changing conditions are important to the success of a company. Emphasis on the environment is important to the organization's existence. Environment and system are to be understood as being in a state of interaction and mutual dependence The organization itself is made up of smaller divisions.

All are dependent on the others and on the environment. Open Systems theory encourages interaction and integration of smaller divisions, in ways that meet the requirements of the environment.

Developed in the ls from the work done by Tom Burns and G. There is no best way of organizing. The appropriate form depends on the kind of task or environment with which one is dealing. Different types of 'species' of organizations are needed in different types of environments".

These species include machine bureaucracy, the divisionalized form, the professional bureaucracy, the simple structure, and the adhocracy 6 C.

Species of organizations Machine bureaucracy and divisionalized forms highly centralized and appropriate for organizations where tasks and environment are simple, stable and market driven.Metaphors are used to learn about an organization by comparing it to an object considered to be like that organization.

organism metaphor

They are important in emphasizing functions that may sometimes go unnoticed. One of the most popular metaphors, I presume, is the machine metaphor. In the late 19th century, during the advent of the industrial revolution, the society began to change. The world was moving from an agrarian society to an increasingly complicated one.

Organism Metaphor Of An Organization

As a result, classical organizational theorists used this metaphor as a guide in all their theories. There are four 4 aspects of the machine metaphor that are of importance in my discussion: specialization, standardization, replaceability, and predictability. Think about a machine like it is a computer.

Every part has its specific role in the totality of the operation process of the computer. Each plays a specialized role that is essential for a computer to properly run. In relation to how humans operate, the specialization of tasks equates to division of labour, for example, our government. The division of labour are the three branches of the government namely the executive, legislative, and judiciary.

There are scope and limitations to what and how things are done in each branch, nonetheless, they are co-dependent and interrelated. The president, vice president, senators, house representatives, chief justice and the other justices are just few of the specialized parts of the machine, I would like to call our government.

Machines are designed to have the same parts as machines similar to them. For example, the motor of your electric fan suddenly overheats and burns, you can easily buy a new one. Humans are considered as cogs of the machine.

Thus, if something goes wrong, those cogs are standardized, interchangeable, and replaceable. Relating this to our government, this is the standards or qualifications of the leaders. One must be able to meet the qualifications before they can be considered viable for a certain position.

Standardization also pertains to how our government operates. The Constitution is one form of standardization. The laws are made based on the provisions set by our Constitution. Hence, limiting and defining the actions of all leaders and citizens to what is acceptable and appropriate according to the standards.

A concept related to standardization is replaceability. Since parts are standardized, they can be easily replaced. Applying the principle to humans, if a worker quits, the organization can replace the worker. In our government, recently, we have witnessed several changes with the line-up of the regime.

The former chief justice was plucked out of the ranks and was replaced. In a less coarse way, the election organizes this concept. Each leader are expected to serve his or her given term considering extension and re-election and then replaced. There are rules that govern the ways in which a machine is made and the rules that govern the ways in which the machine operates and perform its functions.

If a machine breaks down, there can be a number of reasons to why it broke.

organism metaphor


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