Publication details [#8062]

Morgan, Jayne M. 2001. Are we "out of the box" yet? A case study and critique of managerial metaphors of change. Brumal 52.


A cultural-critical approach is used to explore dominant and alternative ideologies of change reflected in the metaphors of a retail-based management staff The case study reveals the managers as change agents were well versed in the corporate call to "get out of the box," yet reflected a less transformational vision of change in their own discourse. Traveling metaphors used by the store-level managers indicated a process orientation to change, but one that severely limited discussion about other possible routes toward the desired end. Suppressed alternative metaphors speaking to the personal losses and frustrations associated with change are exposed and validated in this analysis. Implications for research and practice are discussed. The only constant in organizational life today, it seems, is change. Failure to understand the multiple and possibly divergent beliefs within the culture will likely amount to increased resistance if not sabotage or outright rejection of proposed changes. Furthermore, if a managerial change ideology is imposed, the result may be the unnecessary suppression of interests, opinions, or discourses that fall outside of the dominant agenda. When this happens, an environment of "discursive closure" forms in which alternative voices are silenced. A metaphor analysis has the potential to address this role of managerial discourse in both promoting and silencing perspectives in change efforts. As metaphors simultaneously expose and conceal ideologies (Deetz & Mumby, 1985; Lakoff &Johnson, 1980), they can be viewed through both cultural and critical lenses. (From the Introduction)