Organization theory and poetry: A not so elusive link by Naveed Yazdani , Hasan S. Murad and Rana Zamin Abbas (6)

Corporate aesthetics is one of such emerging arena, where value is put on the beautiful, sensuously pleasing and aesthetical aspects of organizations. Contemporary writers of organization theory suggest that the field not only draws from Natural Sciences and Economics but from multiple and diverse disciplines. They do not rule out Literature and Arts from these parent perspectives. The symbolic interpretive view of organization theory cognizes that organizations are socially constructed and that languageplays a vital part in this construction or sense making.

This opinion paves way for disciplines of Linguistics, Sociology, Religion, Arts and Literature to formulate ‘undifferentiated’ organizational knowledge and theories.

This paper has focused on the link between organization theory and poetry. This link between the two
disciplines is captured through the use of metaphors in both fields. Metaphorical employments in poetry are well known and this paper provides some examples from both English and Urdu poetry of such instances. Metaphors emerge as instruments and tools of conveying multiple meanings which enrich and contextualize the language and enhance understanding. The metaphor of ‘Wasteland’, for example, informs us of the psychological, social and economic conditions of Post World War world.

These conditions could be described without employing this metaphor but it would not be as terse, concise, enrich and immediate in conveying what the writer wants to convey. The one word ‘wasteland’ conveys it all forcefully and immediately. The same characteristic of metaphors is seen at display in the analysis of Mir Taqi Mir’s poetry where body parts are employed to convey sublime and ephemeral meanings and feelings. It comes out that metaphors are the best tools to describe the felt emotions
which are otherwise difficult to describe and convey.

How the same instrument is employed for the same purpose of conveying meanings and enhancing
understanding in organization theory is further discussed here. The examples of organizational metaphors
highlighted in this paper shows that the basic purpose and function of a metaphor is to create a link between an abstract concept and the concrete form of organizations.

The Machine metaphor, for example, captures the abstraction of a ‘machine’. These abstraction include, the ability of a machine to produce something and interconnection of its individual parts to produce a whole. These abstractions, when applied in organizational context, capture concretely the various systems, sub-systems, departments and processes which coordinate with each other to produce products and services. The ‘organism metaphor’ takes the abstract-concrete link a step further.

It also includes the context of organization environmental elements through the abstraction of a cell’s or organism’s intercellular or immediate physical environment. The metaphor Theater encompasses organizational stakeholders through the abstract concept of stage actors (organizational actors or employees), audience (external stakeholder like consumers and competitors), directors and producers (top management of organization) and success or failure of the theater (organizational performance). It can be inferred from this discussion that metaphors have different levels or dimensions. Theater metaphor is more ‘multi-dimensional’ than the Machine metaphor because the former captures, compares and links more elements of the abstract with concrete organizational forms. In a like manner, the employment of two metaphors in conjunction (what Morgan terms as ‘binocular vision’ metaphor) also improves the meaning conveying capability of the metaphors. For example if the Machine and Organism metaphors are simultaneously used to describe an organization, they would not only capture its internal machine like functioning but also its organism like link with the external environment and other stakeholders.

The aforementioned discussion highlights that both in poetry and organization theory, the metaphors have the theoretical and practical potential to compare and contrast the ‘source’ (abstraction) with the ‘target’ (the actual organizational or social reality). As an episteme, the metaphor possesses the power to encompass the ontological reality.

This reality could be the structure, systems, culture, strategy, processes, in case of an organization or the daily life sorrows, joys, relations, depressions and devastation at social and societal levels. Poetry and Organization Theory are therefore not entirely and highly differentiated fields but are strongly linked through the medium of language which enables both organization theorists and poets to ‘constructs’
social realities. Metaphors are but one of such conceptual tools of language.

(Organization theory and poetry: A not so elusive link by Naveed Yazdani, School of Professional Advancement, University of Management and Technology, Lahore. Pakistan. Hasan S. Murad, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan. and Rana Zamin Abbas, Organization Theory Center, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan. / Accepted 15 September, 2011 African Journal of Business Management Vol. 6(1), pp. 7-13,11 January, 2012 / Available online at )

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