Organization can be defined as a planned process that people interrelate for a certain objective. An organization can also be said to be a construction of relationships, power, purposes, roles, actions and communications that come along during the contact of several individuals. Under this definition, an organization life can be said to be made of people’s interaction (Thompson & McEwen, 1958)
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On the other hand, an organization can be said to be a set of social bonds purposely created with the clear objective of achieving some targeted goals. Since organization are created through the social foundations that differ from one person to the other, then organization can be said to be created and is different depending on the purpose of its formation.
According to another definition, organization is said to be a makeup of interpersonal interactions and in which, the members recognized in terms of their class, status and duties within the organization (Aldrich1979). In another definition, organization is a structure that has inputs, procedures, productivity, response and a surrounding.
Therefore, according to this definition, an organization life is not fictional or created, but it occurs naturally with its structures clearly defined (Thompson & McEwen 1958). Any individual practice has an effect on organizational life even if the practice is positive or negative. Accordingly, the whole life within one company consists of the structure of actions and commodities manufactured.
That is the reason life in the organization can be explained as made or constructed through individual actions and not as natural occurrence. To understand the organizational life, the values and the activities that supply to the distinctive social and psychological surrounding of the business are to be learnt. To know if organizational culture is made or occur naturally, certain ideas on the communication is to be looked at.
First is the application of metaphor in the organization context. The second perspective will be the functions of symbols to the organization. Myths and stories will also be discussed since they are figurative communication in the organization. Lastly, language and text will be looked to see how it contributes to the creation of the organizational life.
Use of metaphor in the organization life
Metaphor can be defined as borrowed figures or signs used to deliver a particular meaning in a spoken language. Metaphors are used in a place of an absent word in a statement that although it carries a proper meaning, it is not emphasizing as the metaphor.
Through the emphasis of a particular feature of domain and hiding the rest of the attributes, a metaphor helps a person to look at the world in a different perspective. For instance one may describe a company as a beehive of activities that means that people are very busy in the company and all of them work together for the success of the company (Tietze, cohen & Musson, 2003).
Metaphors features. The first feature is the generative function that helps establish new conducts of considering the world. The old world views need to be constrained for the new constructed ways to be in use. For example, a business may be compared to an iceberg.
Since only a small part of the iceberg is noticeable and the rest is in water, then it means that a small portion of the business activities are known to the people and the rest represents the larger activities for instance, the political aspects of the management are not known. The second feature, which is metaphor logic, assists one to view the organization in rational way.
For instance on the iceberg metaphor, the business values and processes can be seen to be well arranged, complicated or even difficult depending on one’s view as the iceberg patterns (Tietze, cohen & Musson, 2003). Some of the famous metaphors used to describe organization include the machine metaphor that views the organization as having some aspects similar to that of a machine.
A business is said to have a prescribed rationality value. An organization is goal oriented, has defined order and structure and the management is classic. The labor is also divided in the specialized and professional way. Although the metaphor is somehow true, it fails to show the reality of the organization from the human being perspective and the absurdity of consequences.
Another metaphor that has been in use in the industrialized world is that time is money. Since time is in limited supply, but a very important valuable, then money is the same and wastage of time is seen to be a loss of income (Harris 2002). The metaphor has influenced the employees of many organizations not waste time during working since it is money getting lost as in terms of wages.
Many organizations have based their payment method on the money and time. Therefore, time and at the same time money, can be used up, wasted, budgeted and invested badly or sensibly. The organism metaphor according to Gareth Morgan sees an organization as an open structure, which relates well with its surroundings (Tietze, cohen & Musson, 2003).
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Organization processes, people’s interaction and group association reflect an organization as a family. Since the family members refer to one another in regard to roles and status, so is the same to the workers on each other. The staff knows their seniors and juniors and the level of interaction and respect if different depending with the personal level and duties in that organization (Tietze, cohen & Musson, 2003).
Moreover, some of the employees get titles if their roles in the organization seem to be of the same nature to some of the individual family duties. For example, a strict manager maybe nicknamed father since in the family the role of the father is to see everything is running smoothly and above all, the father is always strict (Harris 2002).
Metaphor uses in the organization’s life
Metaphors have been applied widely in the day to day life of the organization. In the organizational change, the metaphorical signs have been used to establish the issues that affect the business and later strategy the methods of solving the issues. Since organizational change requires the contribution of both the managers and the employees, then it is important to explain to the staff, the importance of that change to the business.
For the staff to participate in the change, the managers need to use metaphors to capture the employees’ skill and emotions. Metaphors are also important in the business since it helps to conquer and misunderstandings between the workers therefore, enabling good communication (Tietze, cohen & Musson, 2003).
Even though metaphors seem to be applicable in the normal organization life, sometimes they seem to work out. Some managers have always tried to use metaphor to generate a change among the workers, but failed. The reason for the failure of the metaphor effectiveness was because sometimes change comes from a person’s will (Tietze, cohen & Musson, 2003).
Other changes are derived through staff training, political interests, resources and enough power. Therefore, as it can be concluded, the organization life can be seen as fictional if the use of metaphors is effective in the organization performance. But on the other hand, the organizational life can be said to be real and based on facts since the application of metaphorical signs is not effective to the workers and the organization operation in general.
Application of symbols in the organization culture
A symbol is an item that stands for a certain thought or meaning. Symbols are evident through sight, resonance, contact and smell. Otherwise, a symbol can be said to be ideas that make up the business. Symbols are seen to be true and they have a considerable effect on organizational life (Dandridge, Mitroff & Joyce1980). Symbols make known the different meanings of the organizational life, its arrangement and the strength of its culture.
The business culture can be seen in the response, explanation and events of the organization people to the organization life and their views and outlook to the organization is determined by their unity (Dandridge, Mitroff & Joyce1980). Symbols are essential in the organization’s life and they can be seen to be elements that help the individuals to create sense, knowledge and behavior towards the organization.
Different people including the organization staff, guests, vendors, suppliers, directors and the clients create an implication from organizational symbols. Several symbols in an organization are like the layout, the business site and the code of dress for the workers (Bitner, 1992).
Functions of the symbol to the organization
Symbols are said to give one an idea about the organizational culture. The organization culture is a system of common experiences and understandings that give the organization members a joint and acknowledged life reality (Katz & Kahn 1978). Moreover, symbols give a meaning to people on the organization culture and help appreciate the organizations represented by the symbols.
Therefore, symbols can be said to be a link between the individuals’ emotional reaction and cognitive response towards the organizational life (Katz & Kahn 1978). The second role symbols play in an organization is to control the members conduct by bringing out internalized standards and norms.
According to the social learning theory by Bandura, people learn by observation from others and a character or a person is said to be influenced by the symbols available to the person from the environment. According to the theory, symbols create a feeling to a person if they are related with something. In the organizational life, a sign that creates inside feelings in a member gives an understanding to the prompted sentiments (Katz & Kahn 1978).
Therefore, symbols can be said to create a connection among the individual’s feelings, their understanding and organization dealings. The third function is to enable members to communication within the business existence. Symbols operate as framework of indication that facilitates talk on abstract thoughts. The last function is the role to incorporate emotion, cognition and conduct of members into shared codes.
It is this integrated shared system that organizational culture is formed and supported (Katz & Kahn 1978). Different organizations have different symbols associated with its type of operations. For instance an organization that deals with banking will have symbols that one expects from a banking business.
Symbols expected in this type of business will include smartly dressed workers with good suits and ties, well furnished offices with beautiful flowers at the tables, partitioned offices with the name “office” on the doors and of course, the workers are expected to be well learned and intelligent since their work involves a lot of calculation (Katz & Kahn 1978). Different work atmosphere is associated with different organization.
In another organization like a hotel, the place is expected to be always clean, the pictures of different food is expected on the walls, the menus are expected to be on the tables and above all, the workers are expected to be dressed with aprons, white caps and their intelligence is expected to be lower as compared to the bankers. The symbol enables one to compare and understand the workers with the organization’s life they are in.
If worker in the bank is seen wearing an apron, then one understands right away that the individual is not normal since the dress code is a symbol not associated with the banking life (Peters 1978). Symbols are believed to be dynamic since in an organization, symbols and their denotation vary over time. Without proper and enough observations, symbols can be said to be ambiguous and mal-productive since every person has his or her own interpretation on symbols.
Each organization can create its own symbols in order to influence the members understanding of the organizational life. Therefore, in regard to the symbols used in different organizations, organizations life can be said to be fictional (Rafaeli 1999). The organizational life is said to be based on the emotional and cognitive feeling of a person that can easily change by time and influenced by the environment.
It can be concluded that, the organizational life does not exist naturally. The organizational life is seen to be created by managers through organizations symbols that reflect the business image (Rafaeli 1999). Therefore, it can be said that organizational life is fictional since it is based on the meaning of the symbols that are translated differently the organization’s members (Peters, 1978).
Myths in the organization life
Myths are a part of organizational cultural variables that are used in the communication to imply certain implication. Myths do not mean bogus stories, but are said to be a method of communication. A cultural myth come from its history and helps make images of the world to create identity between outlying spheres. Therefore, myths are said to help people understand the environment they are in, its behavior and their relevance of existence in the world (Gargiulo, 2005).
The myths created by an organization provide a cultural impression, the ethical framework and the workers thinking on the organizational life. Trying to recognize and understand the created myths within the organization helps the members contextualize the organizational change that may occur within the premises (Gargiulo, 2005). In the context of myths, organizational life can be viewed to be fictional.
Since myths are narrated differently, but many people then the organizational life may be understood differently among the members. Organizational life will seem to have different interpretation in regard to the several myths that will be applied to the organization life by the managers.
Spoken and written language in the organization life
Language can be defined as a form of communication that uses vocal symbols. Language is part of the member’s cultures and each person’s languages classify things and thoughts in different ways. Language is said to be dynamic and the changes that occur to it lie on the foundation of profound cultural systems. Organizational life is based on the language of the members.
The language used within the organization is understood by each member and is useful in understanding the daily business operations. Therefore, basing the organization life on the language context means that the organization is fictional, dynamic and defined differently by people as it is seen with the individual language (Keenoy, Oswick & Grant 1997).
On the other hand, text is defined as the set of written and spoken forms of communication during the relations of individuals. In terms of organizational life, text plays a role of agency indicating production and reproduction of firms. To clarify, each text sustains physical evidences of how organizational life experience changes.
For example a dialogue between the manager and the staff at the board meeting can be form of text if the manager uses a past example to illustrate something. Texts can be said to be a talk in the interaction of individuals. The way the texts appear within the interaction period can be seen to be component of the evolutionary course of the organizational life (Keenoy, Oswick & Grant 1997).
Texts are also referred to be a collection of talk patterns contained in a language and as component of combined heritage of a community or organizations. The patterns of talk establish the organization experiences and demonstrate the function of language in determining certain social factors and power relation as certain and justifiable.
Organizations are said to be dynamic. According to (Taylor, Cooren & Robichaud, 1996) organization changes occur within the continued multi-level business talk as individuals discuss patterns of interaction and co-orientation in the fulfillment of work. Organization is also seen to evolve as an element of a bigger system or ecosystem of organizations.
At the time of evolving, the organization existence is seen through scrutiny of texts, but not through the members’ dialogue or language. According to Alvesson and Karreman 2000, organizations’ conversations changes over time. The time-scale of language changing is different from the time to time. Therefore, organization can be said to be progressive as with time as compared to the language is which is also said to be dynamic (Taylor and Robichaud, 2004).
Language surpasses any organizations boundaries and is said not to be a collection of texts, but helps develop sets of texts. The language structure and characters change gradually to reveal the changes that occur in the organization, its development in density and scope and above all, the system replacement by others (Taylor and Robichaud, 2004).
According to Thibault, language is not an individual discovery rather is a society variable given to the community members. When a language changes, its tools are also said to change. Therefore, language is not a stagnant structure of symbols, but a variable that changes over a period of time and as the symbols are recognized by people, so is the organization (Thibault, 1997).
Speech helps the organization members to cooperate with one another through dialogue as the try to understand the world within them. On the other hand, speech is said to establish which factors of language will continue to exist and which of them will be done away with (Thibault, 1997). In that context it be concluded that language growth lead to the growth of a society.
Language is a system of internationally patterned communal semiological interaction and practices that give the society members the reason for their interaction with each other in the determinative ways (Thibault, 1997). Looking of the language as dynamic and made of semiological patterns, defines the organization life as fictional and created from the influence by the society practices.
Organization discourse is also based in the social context as a piece of text and an ingredient of social practice. According to Linstead and Westwood, organization is a text. They explain that an organization does not have a self-directed, established or structural status apart from the one established by the text within the organization. For example, the conversion held by the managers to improve the production process can be the one defining the way an organization will be functioning (Thibault, 1997).
So if the texts are not held, then the organization production may not be clearly defined. According to Linstead and Westwood, organizations do not exist on the material body, but on the formed entity (Westwood & Linstead, 2001) On the other hand, a research conducted by Engestrom showed that the organization life is objective based. The talks held in the organization are later put into action to facilitate organization performance (Thibault, 1997).
Organizations are said not emerge from mere communication through language and texts, but come from conversation and they continue to exist in order to manufacture commodities for that satisfaction of the consumers. Therefore, texts are important in the organization since they encourage and describe the horizon of organizations goals and strategies.
According to Engestrom, the organizational life occurs naturally and it is not created by the people through communication or any other social interaction (Taylor & Robichaud, 2004).
Understanding the organization life through stories
Stories are a part of the cultural legacy that helps individuals to articulate some message and also shape their personality. Stories are said to be the mirror of the society. Stories also provides outline of the code of behavior expected from the society members and a moral ruling deviance. Stories are said to be applicable in some section of culture.
They are known to attract the trial specificity of individual dealings that involve the reasons, purpose, certainty, target and values (Tietze, Cohen & Musson, 2003). During the narrations of the stories, both the narrator and the listeners put themselves in certain background and contexts. They understand the story differently and have a different opinion on the story.Moreover, stories help interpret personal experiences therefore, helping one to understand the situation. In the organizations, stories are mostly used by the managers to their employees (Tietze, Cohen & Musson, 2003).
Managers use stories for the purpose of social control, to make the public images of the organization, in the clerical learning and above all, in the strategic management for the growth of the business. The manager application of the stories in the organization as systematic, conceptual and administrative tools is seen to be vast and continuous.
For example, a manager may give a story that concerns a person who was always hard working and could not give up on anything he tried till he got it. The person in the story may be shown to be successful at the end and become so rich out of the hard work. The story is therefore, meant to motivate the workers to always put more effort in all they do and at the end they will become successful just as the person in the story.
Stories seem to be effective in the controlling of the members practices and performances in the organization. Therefore, the organization life can be said to be constructed through stories that create different perception on individuals (Tietze, Cohen & Musson, 2003).
Organization study is based on the assumption and the reality, perception and the action, macro and micro practices. Organization can therefore, be said to be created be patterns of people’s interactions, business operation for the achievement of the organization goals and objectives and processes that involve that development of the organization.
The patterns involved in the organizations’ life are alleged to be created through individual memory, interest, social experience and language. Therefore, organizational life is said to be fictional and based on the false description of the natural world. Use of communication as an interactive tool between the organization members; reflect the organization life as constructed.
Communication has been explained as figurative in the organization. The application of myths, metaphor, stories, language and text in organization shows how organization life is made and not real. As the people’s mind is dynamic, so is the organization that is thought to change to the experience of the environment. In is conclusive that the organization life in not real as it is based on the communication that exists between the members.
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