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Recontextualizing Anthropomorphic Metaphors in Organization Studies: The Pathology of Organizational Insomnia


Schoeneborn, Dennis; Blaschke, Steffen; Kaufmann, Ina Maria (2013). Recontextualizing Anthropomorphic Metaphors in Organization Studies: The Pathology of Organizational Insomnia. Journal of Management Inquiry, 22(4):435-450.

Abstract

In this article, the authors discuss critically the use of “anthropomorphic” metaphors in organization studies (e.g., organizational knowledge, learning, and memory). They argue that, although these metaphors are potentially powerful, because of frequent usage they are at risk of becoming taken for granted and contextually disconnected from their source domain, the human mind. To unleash the heuristic potential of such metaphors, it is necessary to take into account the inherent dynamics and bidirectionality of metaphorical language use. Therefore, the authors propose a methodology for the context-sensitive use of metaphors in organization studies. They illustrate this approach by developing the new metaphor of organizational insomnia, which is informed by recent neuroscientific research on human sleep and its disruptions. The insomnia metaphor provides an alternative way of explaining deficits in organizational knowledge, learning, and memory, which originate in a state of permanent restlessness.

Abstract

In this article, the authors discuss critically the use of “anthropomorphic” metaphors in organization studies (e.g., organizational knowledge, learning, and memory). They argue that, although these metaphors are potentially powerful, because of frequent usage they are at risk of becoming taken for granted and contextually disconnected from their source domain, the human mind. To unleash the heuristic potential of such metaphors, it is necessary to take into account the inherent dynamics and bidirectionality of metaphorical language use. Therefore, the authors propose a methodology for the context-sensitive use of metaphors in organization studies. They illustrate this approach by developing the new metaphor of organizational insomnia, which is informed by recent neuroscientific research on human sleep and its disruptions. The insomnia metaphor provides an alternative way of explaining deficits in organizational knowledge, learning, and memory, which originate in a state of permanent restlessness.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:08 Jan 2014 09:59
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:20
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:1056-4926
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/1056492612448463
Official URL:http://jmi.sagepub.com/content/22/4/435
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:8848

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