Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Management Studies

The Use of Metaphors in Poetry and Organization Theory: Toward De-Compartmentalization of Organizational Knowledge

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Management Studies

The Use of Metaphors in Poetry and Organization Theory: Toward De-Compartmentalization of Organizational Knowledge

Article excerpt


Organization theory draws from multiple disciplines. These disciplines include not only the more obvious ones such as economics and mathematics, but also the more remote ones like philosophy, religion, arts and literature (Hatch, 1997, p. 1-3).

The relation between literature or as a whole arts and organization theory is manifested clearly in the emerging field of corporate aesthetics. In general terms aesthetics is defined as "philosophy of beauty" (Langfeld, 1920, p. 28). It "is the field of philosophy that deals with form, beauty and ugliness, and the sensuous and symbolic dimensions of existence such as arts, music and culture" (Thorpe & Holt, 2008, p. 24).

Corporate aesthetics are concerned with the knowledge or impression which we get through our senses about a particular organization. Hospitals, for example, are known to exude a particular smell (McAuley & et al., 2007, p. 453). Similarly five-star hotels are associated with a particular environment appealing to our senses, fragrance, background music played in lighter notes and properly dressed up staff with name tags and designations displayed, are all part of the "package" which one expects from that organization. The idea of corporate aesthetics developed in 1980s in relation to the study of organizational culture and artifacts (Ramirez, 2005).

Corporate aesthetics is a means to project "highly stylized corporate identity". Many organizations in the world are accumulating art collections. Deutsche Bank is said to have the world's largest corporate art collection, around 50,000 arts works. There are also stakeholders in the proprietorship of Deutsche Guggenheim art museum in Berlin. Even some military cemeteries are using specialized designs and layouts which exude a sense of "solace and peace rather than depression". All the corporate aesthetic endeavors are targeted to "feel" the organizational values, beliefs and practices, the pathos underlying an organization's culture (Hancock & Spicer, 2010, p. 53-56). Corporate Aesthetic Management (CAM) is developing as a full-fledged strategic framework. CAM seeks to strategically manage an organization's range of visual and aesthetic outputs. These outputs include products, logos, company showrooms, building and interior, packaging, advertisement and employee uniforms (Schmitt et al., 1995; Hancock, 2005; Teck, 2006).

The whole edifice of marketing is based on the psychological assumption that the semiotic decoding of aesthetic symbols creates a brand image in the minds of consumers (Jones & Bos, 2007, p. 166). It is through advertisement and various other marketing campaigns that organizations build positive images about themselves and their product offerings in the eyes of the consumers (Karaosmanoglu & Melewar, 2006).

The colors, sounds, smells and images which make an organization beautiful, revolting or ugly are included in the field of corporate aesthetics. These more ephemeral aspects of organizations are more phenomenological rather than substantial because they require time and reflection to be appreciated and are beyond the immediate fleeting moment of consciousness (Dale & Burrell, 2002).

The use of photography in studying organizational culture and behavior and "art therapy" used as a psychotherapeutic technique are also examples of how corporate aesthetics are gaining more and more significance in the contemporary organization theory (Barry, 1996; Warren, 2002).

From the above discussion it can be inferred that the field of corporate aesthetics is about the artful projection of an organization's values. Corporate aesthetics therefore serves as a link between the fields of organization theory and arts and literature. There are numerous ways and instruments which link the two fields which cannot be captured through one paper. This paper explores only one of such link, metaphors, which are used to convey or impart meanings in both literature1 and organization theory. …

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