Gareth Morgan explores organisational complexity and dynamics through various metaphors that may be used as a means by which to simplify and rationalise some of the behaviours of organisations today.

Written By Gareth Morgan

What is it about?

Gareth Morgan explores organisations through the lens of various metaphors including:

  • Machine
  • Brain
  • Organism
  • Culture
  • Political system

Re-reading the book after nearly 20 years, one is struck by its continuing relevance to contemporary organisations and organisational and social challenges, notwithstanding significant changes to organisational life over the last 30 years.

Why read it?

As Morgan himself writes…”All theories of organisation and management are based on implicit images or metaphors that persuade us to see, understand, and imagine situations in partial ways. Metaphors create insight. But they also distort. They have strengths. But they also have limitations. In creating ways of seeing, they create ways of not seeing. Hence there can be no single theory or metaphor that gives an all-purpose point of view. There can be no ‘correct theory’ for structuring everything we do.” [ Images of Organisation (1986) ]

There is much to appreciate in Morgan’s metaphors. This guide through a kaleidoscope of organisational perspectives is especially valuable in providing the reader with different perspectives through which to perceive of an enterprise. The metaphors would prove to be useful discussion points with executives and staff alike as part of a transformation or cultural change program. Understanding how those in an organisation perceive how it operates goes some way toward understanding how one might go about changing it.

So, using the language of metaphors to appreciate how others might perceive of the enterprise will help a change agent understand why different people may respond to change/improvement initiatives in different ways and importantly provide some guidance as to the best ways to approach the change.


Business Process Management – Insights and Practices for Sustained Transformation - $69

Business Process Management - Strategies to Improve Performance - $69

Bundle both books for $100


The ability to visualise your enterprise as a dynamic system is the first step toward being able to manage and improve it as a viable business.


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