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Metaphor in organizational research: Context, modalities and implications for research introduction

Cornelissen, J. P., Oswick, C., Christensen, L. T. & Phillips, N. (2008). Metaphor in organizational research: Context, modalities and implications for research introduction. Organization Studies, 29(1), pp. 7-22. doi: 10.1177/0170840607086634


We provide a general overview of previous work which has explored the use of metaphors in organizational research. Differences in focus and form of research on metaphors are noted. Work in organization theory (OT) and organizational communication (OC) generally features prescriptive metaphors that aid the practice of theorizing and research; research in organizational development (OD) tends to use metaphors for intervention in individual and group decision-making; while studies of organizational behaviour (OB) emphasize the metaphors-in-use within individuals' sensemaking accounts of critical events within their organization. Alongside these differences in focus, the form of metaphor analysis also differs across these contexts, ranging from text- and discourse-based analysis to the analysis of non-linguistic modalities such as pictorial signs, gestures and artefacts. Based on our overview of previous work, we call for greater attention to methodological issues around metaphor identification and analysis and outline a number of directions for further research.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2008
Publisher Keywords: metaphor, discourse, organization, change, theory-building, communication, sensemaking
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
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