Images of Organization / Edition 1

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Gareth Morgan's book is designed to develop the art of reading and understanding organizations. He works from the premise that our theories and explanations of organizational life are based on metaphors that lead us to see and understand organizations in distinctive, yet partial ways. He demonstrates how the use of different metaphors provides new ways of managing and designing organizations. His book also stands as a treatise on metaphorical thinking that contributes to both the theory and practice of organizational analysis.

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Editorial Reviews

Linda L. Putnam
"This volume updates what has become a true classic in management literature. Sprinkled with contemporary examples, it incorporates the most recent themes in cognitive approaches, chaos theory, self-organizing systems, and metaphor analysis. Retaining its provocative framework, it is essential reading for any scholar or practitioner who must act or seek to understand the paradoxes and shifting visions of organizational life."
Curt Lindberg
"A fine, well-thumbed friend returns reborn and refreshed. No one who cares about organizations should miss this living classic."
Antonio Strati
"The new edition of Images of Organization leads the reader smoothly into the most recent debate among organizational scholars while preserving the elegance of the first edition. The reader is freed from compulsory and totalizing accounts of organizational life."
Bill Veltrop
"Images of Organization is MUST READING for practitioners in the overlapping fields of organizational design, management, learning, and change. . . . In Images, metaphor becomes an extraordinarily accessible and pragmatic tool. Gareth Morgan challenges us to flex our innate capacity to imagine and create-to image and evolve. . . . He is one of the most thorough researchers and imaginative theorists in the domain of organization. This piece of work is rich with examples and down-to-earth frames. ENJOY!"
Danny Miller
"Gareth Morgan's new edition of Images of Organization is a classic work that will stir the imagination of readers for years to come. I recommend this superb contribution with unreserved enthusiasm."
Chris Argyris
"Gareth Morgan has improved importantly on the new edition of Images of Organization. It contains many new ideas such as 'design principles' for creating learning in organizations. There are also fascinating suggestions for practitioners, challenging their assumptions and replacing them with ones that are more likely to lead to effective performance."
Eugene W. Ratsoy
"There aren't enough superlatives to describe Images of Organization. I have used Gareth Morgan's first edition as the main text in my seminar on organizational studies for the creative insights it provides into the functioning of organizations. What was already a masterpiece is strengthened in its new edition. . . . Original, insightful, creative, meaningful, relevant, practical, scholarly, research-based. These descriptors only begin to describe this brilliant and challenging work."
Pratima Bansal
"Images of Organization provides powerful tools for understanding and analyzing organizations. The book forces us to extend our existing frames of reference. . . . The revisions to the first edition have been substantial."
Brian Nichol
"Images of Organization is an exciting book, demonstrating both the diverse perspectives and the limitations on our understanding of organizations. It is invaluable for teaching the future leaders of organizations."
W. Edward Stead
"In Images of Organization, Gareth Morgan demonstrates an uncanny ability to visualize organizational processes. The metaphorical images he creates provide a deep understanding of what organizations are and, more important, what they can become. Each of his organizational metaphors is a richly woven blend of classic organizational theory and new, often radically different, ideas from many diverse arenas. Further, he goes beyond simply creating explanatory metaphors. He makes it clear that metaphorical thinking is at the heart of effectively managing organizations during times of turbulence and change. This book is a must read for all serious students of organization, theory, behavior, and change. Gareth Morgan ranks alongside James Thompson and others as the elite scholars in the field."
Susan C. Aldridge
"I have used Gareth Morgan's Images of Organization for many years. Morgan's approach to organizations is thought provoking. Students find the use of metaphors intriguing and insightful. Through the use of metaphors, Morgan provides students with a variety of lenses to view the world differently. He provides an interesting method for exploring organizations that standard course textbooks do not offer. Images works well as a course text or as a supplementary text."
David Hachen
"Gareth Morgan's Images of Organization and its companion, Creative Organization Theory, have changed the way I teach my course on organizations. My students really enjoy learning about organizations by discussing and debating the decision cases in Creative Organization Theory. The way Morgan uses images and metaphors stimulates students to 'reframe' and think about organizations in different ways. I have even found Morgan's images useful in helping me think about not just organizations but many other aspects of our social worlds."
Letter from James Michael Burke
Professor Morgan,

I only recently received a copy of Images of Organization (updated edition) as a desk copy to review for the I/O Psych class that I teach. I just started reading your book I am absolutely blown away by it. I cannot believe that I had missed this marvelous work. My ignorance knows few, if any, limits!

You pull together such a span of ideas and integrate them beautifully with your own angle, stimulating one's thinking. This is the kind of mind opening perspective to which I like to expose my classes. Thank you for condensing it so powerfully. By the way, the bibliographic notes are as exciting a read as is the rest of the book. I look forward to devouring the rest of the book.

James Michael Burke, Ph.D.
Virginia Commonwealth University
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Center for Public Policy
"This is the new updated edition of a classic published over 20 years ago. The book is based on the simple premise that all theories of organization and management are based on implicit images of metaphors that stretch our imagination in a way that can create powerful insights, but at the risk of distortion. The author provides a rich and comprhensive resource for exploring the complexity of modern organizations internationally, translating theory into practice."
Mohammad A. Auwal

“A universe of thanks to you for spearheading the metaphoric, creative thinking about organizations. Your method has essentially electrified my teaching.”

--Mohammad A. Auwal, CSU, Los Angeles

Jim Bonilla
"Let me say that I've loved teaching this course for over 10 years now, in part, because your book (and now the excellent CD) are so well thought out. You deserve a bow. Bravo."
Abstract of Public Administration Development and Environment
"This book is based on the simple premise that all theories of organization and management are based on implicit images of metaphors that stretch our imagination in a way that can create powerful insights, but at the risk of distortion. The author provides a rich and comprehensive resource for exploring the complexity of modern organizations internationally, translating theory into practice."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803928312
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 1/28/1986
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368

Meet the Author

Gareth Morgan is well known for his creative contributions to management. He is the author of seven books, including Images of Organization, Creative Organization Theory, Imaginization and Riding the Waves of Change. He acts as consultant and seminar leader to numerous organizations throughout Europe and North America, and is Distinguished Research Professor at York University in Toronto. He has sat on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management, and Organization Studies; and is a Life Fellow of the International Academy of Management. Born in Wales, he now lives in Toronto with his wife, Karen and their children Evan and Heather.

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Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION MECHANIZATION TAKES COMMAND ORGANIZATIONS AS MACHINES Machines, Mechanical Thinking, and the Rise of Bureaucratic Organization Strengths and Limitations of the Machine Metaphor NATURE INTERVENES ORGANIZATIONS AS ORGANISMS Discovering Organizational Needs Recognizing the Importance of Environment, Organizations as Open Systems Contingency Theory The Variety of the Species Organizational Health and Development Natural Selection Organizational Ecology Strengths and Limitations of the Organismic Metaphor TOWARD SELF-ORGANIZATION ORGANIZATIONS AS BRAINS Images of the Brain Organizations as Information-Processing Brains Brains and Organizations as Holographic Systems Strengths and Limitations of the Brain Metaphor CREATING SOCIAL REALITY ORGANIZATIONS AS CULTURES Culture and Organization Creating Organizational Reality Strengths and Limitations of the Culture Metaphor INTERESTS, CONFLICT, AND POWER ORGANIZATIONS AS POLITICAL SYSTEMS Organizations as Systems of Government Organizations as Systems of Political Activity Manageing Pluralist Organizatons Strengths and Limitations of the Political Metaphor EXPLORING PLATO'S CAVE ORGANIZATIONS AS PSYCHIC PRISONS The Trap of Favored Ways of Thinking Organizations and the Unconscious Strengths and Limitations of the Psychic Prison Metaphor UNFOLDING LOGICS OF CHANGE ORGANIZATION AS FLUX AND TRANSFORMATION Implicate and Explicate Aspects of Organization Autopoiesis The Logic of Self-Producing Systems Organizations as Self-Producing Systems Loops not Lines The Logic of Mutual Causality Contradiction and Crisis The Logic of Dialectical Change Strengths and Limitations of the Flux Metaphor THE UGLY FACE ORGANIZATIONS AS INSTRUMENTS OF DOMINATION Organization as Domination How Organizations Use and Exploit their Employees Multinationals and the World Economy Strengths and Limitations of the Domination Metaphor DEVELOPING THE ART OF ORGANIZATIONAL ANALYSIS Using Metaphor to Read and Understand Organization Using Metaphor to Manage and Design Organization Reading as Theory in Practice IMAGINIZATION A DIRECTION FOR THE FUTURE On Elephants and Organizations Imaginization Organization as a way of Thinking

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Images of Organization

    In today's business environment, most organizations are complex and multifaceted. There is a marked trend away from the idea of centralization and large bureaucracy toward the concept of decentralization, which allows for more flexible and responsive decision making. Furthermore, globalization has forced organizations to develop a "global mind set," which has impacted the way how corporations operate in the economy.

    Morgan believes that modern organizations can be best understood in terms of metaphors. He defines metaphors as certain images that can be produced to view and analyze critical issues of organizational life from different angles. Morgan provides the reader with eight very different and powerful metaphors: 1. Organizations as Machines (Mechanization); 2. Organizations as Organisms (Nature); 3. Organizations as Brains (Self-Organization); 4. Organizations as Cultures (Social Reality Creation); 5. Organizations as Political Systems (Interests, Conflicts, and Power); 6. Organizations as Psychic Prisons (Plato's Cave); 7. Organizations as Flux and Transformation (Logics of Change); and 8. Organizations as Instruments of Domination (The Ugly Face). He also discusses various theories, including Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy, Henri Fayol's administrative theory, Frederick Taylor's theory of scientific management, and Peter Senge's theory of learning organizations, as well as Emile Durkheim's theory of morality and symbolism. This discussion further helps the reader understand how organizations function.

    Morgan mentioned that the skill of "reading" a particular situation occurs at an almost unconscious level; it is an intuitive process that is influenced by experience and the general ability of the manager and leader. Yet, the art of creating images and analyzing situations of organizational life can also be learned. He shows the reader in great detail how this can be done.

    Morgan points out that the biggest benefit of using metaphors is to stretch our imagination and create powerful insights into the different dimensions of an organization. He also makes the reader aware that different qualities, as identified by the metaphor analysis, can coexist in organizations. Morgan warns us, however, that metaphors are inherently paradoxical: On the one hand, they can significantly improve our understanding of organizations; on the other hand, they can distort an image, if not carefully interpreted, and block our ability to gain a correct overall view. It is thus not surprising that Morgan places a major emphasis on showing the reader how to properly use these eight metaphors.

    In my opinion, "Images of Organization" is an excellent information resource and practical guide for managers and leaders who want to understand the different facets of their organizations with the ultimate goal to improve them. In this regard, I consider a major strength of this book the successful linkage of theory to management practice. Morgan prepared a text that contains rich ideas, sophisticated reasoning, and clear presentation. The book is intellectually stimulating and encourages leaders and managers to learn from the past and prepare for the future. This text is also quite useful for students who want to learn the trade of imaging organizations. I would highly recommend Morgan's book - it is absolutely worth the investment.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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