Management Metaphors

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Description of Management Metaphors. Explanation.

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Definition Management Metaphors. Description.


Management Metaphors are used often by managers to communicate and clarify the meaning of complex things or concepts, such as a strategy, a strategic vision, a mission statement and, last but not least, a management method or philosophy.


A metaphor (from Greek metapherein - to transfer) is a comparison which imaginatively compares one (complex) thing with another dissimilar (well-known) thing, and transfers or ascribes to the first thing (the tenor or idea) some of the qualities of the second (the vehicle or image). Typical for a metaphor is that one thing is likened to another dissimilar thing not using like, as, than, etc.


A metaphor is not merely an expressive device, but an integral part of the function of language as a definer of reality as well as a reflector of reality.


This form of figurative language can help to convey meaning to widely dissimilar things. Below some examples of frequently used metaphors in management:

Metaphors are extremely powerful communication mechanisms, and their relevance in management, the media and society as a whole can hardly be overestimated. This can be both positive and negative. For example if we need to change an organization, a carefully chosen metaphor can be a powerful change agent, but if the employees keep referring to the organization using an old metaphor, that old metaphor can be a strong barrier to change.


When crafting an organizational metaphor it is advisable to be very alert for Cultural Dimensions.


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Compare with: Framing  |  Metonymy  |  Cognitive Bias  |  Storytelling  |  Positioning  |  Catalytic Mechanisms  |  Six Thinking Hats  |  Brainstorming  |  Strategy Maps  |  Mind Mapping  |  Garbage Can Model

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