metaphors from Morgan’s writings


1. Discuss one the metaphors from Morgan’s writings (SEE ATTACHMENT) that applies to your own organizational context. From the perspective of a leader/manager, discuss the benefit of identifying the functionality of your organization through the lens of the selected metaphor. What do you learn about your organization using that metaphor? What do you learn about your role in the organization through recognizing the metaphor at work? USE THE DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE AS THE ORGANIZATION. USE #4 off the attachment as the organizational perspective.

This forum is reflective (No citations/references required). First person is acceptable.


My organization is in line with the machine metaphor. Morgan writes “Machine organizations are modelled on the military from which it borrowed ranks and uniforms, standardized regulations, task specialization, standardized equipment, systematic training, and command language.” Oddly enough because my organizations supports United States air force operations, it must act in a manner that will allow the objective, of providing airworthy aircraft. Looking at this from a management perspective there are tremendous benefit from adhering to a pre-determined set of rules and regulations. This mitigates or minimizes the risk factor when it comes to performing work in an industrial environment. Secondly the point about dividing labor is exactly how my organization is separated. While we all work together collectively to provide air worthy aircraft, we have different sections that are responsible for special systems on the aircraft, and one section which has overall responsibility. This organization operate as a hierarchy, however not as stringent as the military in that we do not have a rank structure. While we have different levels of mechanical ability, we all are responsible for even distribution of tasks and maintenance actions. On the negative side of this coin my organization runs well if things are operating in a smooth, or normal sense. However, when those currently in control of managing the assets are threatened, or challenged by a worker, or supervisor, they become irate, and begin to make poor, or ill-tempered decisions. This fosters, the idea of us vs them, instead of lets work together, in order to adapt, and overcome.


From my perspective, the military is an organization of culture. Nearly everyone has the same entry point into the organization. Unlike a corporation it is very rare to have a leader come from the outside so the culture at the top should mirror the culture at the bottom with only slight generational differences. There are set rules for how to do almost everything. The traditions are long standing, some several hundred years old that we still utilize such as a change of command ceremony to identify who the current leader is of an organization in front of their people. The organization has it’s own set of laws, The Uniform Code of Military Justice, it’s own court system and in the case of most bases, it’s own small town complete with schools, churches, homes, gas stations, a commissary, and a mall called a base (or post) exchange.

My job in the organization is to provide constant opportunities for development to progress the individual’s performance as well as to provide guidance and stability to the families. Unlike other organizations, the family is a key part of the military culture. There is also the looser “family” term that refers to the brotherhood of service members.

Although, I believe that this is generally positive, I agree with the warning that “a cultural model can also lead to ideological control in the wrong hands” as we’ve seen in negative trends with some military units who have charismatic, but unethical leadership at the top who lead to either an allowance of or direct support of negative actions as we saw with the Abu Graib atrocities in Iraq a few years ago.

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