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Images of Organization [Hardcover]

Gareth Morgan
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1986 0803928300 978-0803928305
Gareth Morgan's book is designed to develop the art of reading and understanding organizations. He works from the premise that our theories and explanations of organizational life are based on metaphors that lead us to see and understand organizations in distinctive, yet partial ways. He demonstrates how the use of different metaphors provides new ways of managing and designing organizations. His book also stands as a treatise on metaphorical thinking that contributes to both the theory and practice of organizational analysis.

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Professor Morgan, I only recently received a copy of Images of Organization (updated edition) as a desk copy to review for the I/O Psych class that I teach. I just started reading your book I am absolutely blown away by it. I cannot believe that I had missed this marvelous work. My ignorance knows few, if any, limits! You pull together such a span of ideas and integrate them beautifully with your own angle, stimulating one's thinking. This is the kind of mind opening perspective to which I like to expose my classes. Thank you for condensing it so powerfully. By the way, the bibliographic notes are as exciting a read as is the rest of the book. I look forward to devouring the rest of the book. James Michael Burke, Ph.D. Virginia Commonwealth University L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs Center for Public Policy -- Letter from James Michael Burke, Ph.D. 20061003 "This is the new updated edition of a classic published over 20 years ago. The book is based on the simple premise that all theories of organization and management are based on implicit images of metaphors that stretch our imagination in a way that can create powerful insights, but at the risk of distortion. The author provides a rich and comprhensive resource for exploring the complexity of modern organizations internationally, translating theory into practice." -- APADE 20061205 "A universe of thanks to you for spearheading the metaphoric, creative thinking about organizations. Your method has essentially electrified my teaching." --Mohammad A. Auwal, CSU, Los Angeles -- Mohammad A. Auwal 20070125 "Let me say that I've loved teaching this course for over 10 years now, in part, because your book (and now the excellent CD) are so well thought out. You deserve a bow. Bravo." -- Jim Bonilla 20070226 "This book is based on the simple premise that all theories of organization and management are based on implicit images of metaphors that stretch our imagination in a way that can create powerful insights, but at the risk of distortion. The author provides a rich and comprehensive resource for exploring the complexity of modern organizations internationally, translating theory into practice." -- Abstract of Public Administration Development and Environment 20070416 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Images of Organization has already established itself as a classic that has influenced management thinking throughout the world. This New Edition takes Gareth Morgan's achievement one step further, providing a rich and comprehensive resource for exploring the complexity of modern organizations.

In this monumental work, leading-edge theory is translated into leading-edge practice. The New Edition carefully preserves the qualities and strengths of the original, while delivering new insights on today's managerial challenges. Morgan shows managers how to view their organizations by using his renowned creative images and metaphors. In a sequence of path-breaking chapters, he demonstrates how to mobilize the insights of different metaphors: to manage and design organizations in new ways; to develop novel understandings of the relationships between organization and environment; to create learning organizations with the intelligence of a living brain; to explore the intricacies of corporate culture and politics of organizational life; to understand the unconscious dimensions of organization; to translate the implications of the new science of chaos and complexity into practical management strategies; and to confront and deal with the negative impacts that organizations often have on society and the natural world.

No other management book covers so much ground while developing the implications for management with such force. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Effective managers and professionals in all walks of life have to become skilled in the art of "reading" the situations they are attempting to organize or manage. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most valuable read of my MBA Feb. 14 2003
Gareth Morgan's book provides an antidote to the finance, marketing and HR texts that are required reading for an MBA student. The clever use of metaphor allows the reader to absorb the huge anount of information contained within the book (check out the bibliography!) - you don't even realise how much you are learning until you start relating concepts to others around you. My fellow students, colleagues and even my parents had to listen ...
I found it a very easy to read book, if you are willing to put aside your existing ideas (psychic prison) about the way the organisation works(?) If you prefer big words, read Morgan and Burrell's Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis - essential reading, but even more brilliant as a companion to Images.
Learn the stuff you are expected to know from your finance, marketing, statistics, strategy and HR texts, but understand the stuff that will change your world from Images of Organisation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Effort! March 26 2001
Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, thinkers have used evocative images in trying to explain just what a corporation is. Have they succeeded? Gareth Morgan presents a thoughtful, well-documented look at images that arise from our theories and metaphors about reality. He discusses how they shape the way we view the corporation as an entity and how we act. His analysis involves a mix of philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, biology and organizational examples. He moves from industrial-age notions of the organization as a machine, to biological analogies about the organization as an organism. Other metaphors - the organization as a brain, as social reality, as the source of cultural difference and as an arena for power struggles - shape what occurs within corporations. While this book is not an easy read, it illuminates the dynamics of organizational life. We [...] recommend this book to executives, and to readers intrigued by serious societal expositions.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Started out good, but got hard to follow. June 9 2000
This book is quite accessible to the reader. It's not dry like most textbooks, but talks about organizations in a straightforward manner. Morgan presents various ways of looking at organizations through the use of metaphors.
This is what made the book so good. Each chapter examines a different metaphor applied to organization. Metaphors such as "...as machines", and "...as brains" shed light on different aspects of organizations. What makes the book even better is that, in the summary of each chapter, Morgan also looks at the weaknesses of each metaphor, thus giving the reader a very thorough examination of the concept.
The reason I didn't give this book 4 stars was the fact that, later in the book, it got kind of hard to follow. By the time he got to "Organizations as Psychic Prisons", I was way out of my league. The chapters got convoluted and hard to understand. The chapter summaries ended up being half as long as the chapter itself. I just kind of gave up on some of them...they weren't helping me at all.
All in all, if you want to learn about how organizations work, this is a very good book, but be wary of the last third or so.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The not so simple Organization Nov. 6 2000
By Zelig
Morgan decribes common assumptions about organizations - he helps to reveal the hidden assumptions behind the managers perceptions. What do we mean when we say that 'organizations are like animals'? It is pretty easy to start to think from a metaphor, and end up in literal believing in it (e.g. that 'organizations live and die', 'organizations have evolutions'). Such reifications are carefully described by Morgan - several most recurrent metaphors of organizations and popular organization theories basing on them are clearly described, and their pros and cons are pointed out. Having read 'Images of Organizations', it is much more difficult to adopt illusionate metaphors, and to get persuaded by a biased visioner.
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