Metaphors are powerful because they allow us to understand complex concepts by relating them to things that are familiar to us. So when Robert Frost tells us that his love is “a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June” and that it is “a melodie that’s sweetly play’d in tune,” we understand that love is a pleasant thing. And when George Peele says that, “It is a fire, it is a coal, whose flame creeps in at every hole,” we associate it with lust or passion that could consume our whole being. Is there space for metaphors in the world of business and management? Definitely. And I am not just talking about those used in advertising campaigns, but also in other aspects of organizational life. “Business is war” is one such powerful metaphor that has, unfortunately, dominated the thinking of managers in many parts of the world. This has led them to adopt competitive strategies that seek to “annihilate the enemy,” sometimes without regard for ethical principles (e.g. predatory pricing, poaching of talent, industrial espionage). Another metaphor that business schools have propagated is the “organization as machine,” an idea championed by classical management theorists such as Henri Fayoland reinforced… Read full this story
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