Metaphors of Management and Organization in Germany and France

7387 Words30 Pages
Problems and Perspectives in Management, 1/2006 175 From Charts and Sails. Metaphors of Management and Organization in Germany and France Markus Gmür Abstract Metaphors of organization rely on a set of assumptions about organizational reality. A comparison of dominant concepts of organization in Germany and France shows that the preference of scientists and practitioners for certain metaphors of organization is culturally determined. The history of organization science in research and practice determines the emergence of preferred metaphors. These find expression in German and French textbooks on organization as much as in the organizational structures of German and French companies. In essence, the differences between the…show more content…
It is unclear, however, how such distinction is actually achieved. Using the example of organization science in Germany and France, this paper demonstrates the significance of cultural factors in the country-specific characteristics of metaphors of organization science. The basic premise here is that dominant metaphors of organization guiding scientists and practitioners can be differentiated by intercultural comparison. Through such comparison, the emphasis of organizational research and the patterns of organizational structures differ accordingly. In an empirical study, Gibson and Zellmer-Bruhn (2001) have shown how images of teamwork differ through international comparison, and that the cultural dimensions of ‘power distance’ and ‘individualism’ (Hofstede, 1980) have a major bearing on the emergence of differing preferences for metaphors. For instance, the competition metaphor for teamwork is seen to dominate in individualistic cultures. This paper evaluates available studies on organizational theory and practice in Germany and France with the aim of isolating the respective dominant images of organization and to identify
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