An effective leader should understand major principles of organizational change, development and behavior. Morgan (2006) introduced (and provided an in-depth analysis of) certain metaphors to use to evaluate organizations’ effectiveness.
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These metaphors help analyze effectiveness of the organizational structure and behavior; it can also help evaluate performance of the company and each employee (Renz, 2009). It is possible to consider two metaphors to illustrate this point. Organizations as machines and organizations as systems are two metaphors which can be used to evaluate different aspects of the organization.
Organization as a machine is a metaphor that depicts the organization as a machine where all systems work according to some algorithms (Morgan, 2006). Departments are seen as different subsystems of a single machine. The major focus is made on productivity and performance. Such concepts as bureaucracy and technocracy become central. In terms of this metaphor, organizations function according to a plan with no deviation (Morgan, 2006).
This metaphor can help evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy chosen. When seeing an organization as a machine, it is rather easy to trace deviations from the plan if any. Performance can also be easily evaluated as it is rather easy to check whether the organization or a particular employee reaches goals set (or even starts working on time) or not.
Nonetheless, there is a drawback in this metaphor which prevents leaders from evaluating interpersonal relationships within the company. However, effective leaders should be aware of the relationships existing in the company (Kinicki & Kreitner, 2009). The use of this metaphor is also ineffective when concentrating on the change and development of new creative ideas as machines do not create, they only perform.
Another metaphor can help focus on relationships within the organization. Unlike the metaphor considered above, the present one does not focus on performance or efficiency. According to Morgan (2006), it is possible to consider the organization as a system of political activity.
Thus, such concepts as leadership, power, conflict and relationships come to the fore. In terms of this theory, the leader can trace a variety of links between employees and departments. This can help the leader understand needs and aspirations of the employees, which, in its turn, will help to develop proper approaches applicable in various situations with different individuals.
However, this organizational metaphor prevents the leader from properly evaluating efficiency and performance of the employees and the entire company. It is hardly possible to trace development of innovative ideas. This metaphor is rather ‘narrow’ as it focuses on a particular aspect of organizational behavior.
Remarkably, the two metaphors focus on different concepts and are somewhat ‘narrow’. Nevertheless, when used together, these metaphors can help evaluate performance of the organization. More so, leaders should exploit all the metaphors revealed by Morgan (2006) as they reflect a particular facet of organizational development. The use of these metaphors will help the leader get a complete analysis of an organization.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that Morgan’s metaphors are helpful when it comes to analysis of organizational behavior. Each metaphor focuses on a particular facet and, hence, it is important to use all the metaphors to have all the necessary data to develop proper approaches and leadership strategies. More so, it is vital to switch between the metaphors in different periods of the organization’s lifetime as sometimes leaders should pay more attention to particular concepts.
Kinicki, A., & Kreitner, R. (2009). Organizational behavior. Burr Ridge, ILL: McGraw Hill.
Morgan, G. (2006). Images of organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Renz, L.M. (2009). Metaphor: Imagery devices used by Morgan to describe organizations as culture and psychic prisons. Emerging Leadership Journeys, 2(1), 54-65.