Posts Tagged ‘metaphors’

In last night’s class we were talking about the Machine metaphor, scientific management, and the way this metaphor has had tremendous impact on organizations and the way we think about them.

Here is a recent podcast and blog post from my favorite show, Planet Money: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/02/our_messy_inefficient_economy.html

The reporters are interviewing an efficiency expert (modern day Frederick Taylor).

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Organization as Organism

After reading the chapter from Morgan on organizations as organisms I was explaining the metaphor to my boyfriend who has a lot of interest in evolutionary biology. I asked him to explain things that happen in the animal world to see if I could make the connections to the business world. One process that he was talking about was selective pressures. We decided that there were many examples of selective pressures in the business world, such as a strong union presence that blocks an industry from changing its structure in one area.

One of my favorite evolutionary biology stories is about the squirrels in the grand canyon. There are 2 different species of squirrels. One lives on the North Rim and one on the South Rim. They are very similar because long long ago they used to be of the same species. Then something happened (geologists still don’t understand the whole reasoning) and a mile deep, four mile wide canyon opened up in their habitat (gross oversimplification). Being now physically separated they evolved to be 2 separate species with slightly different traits, adapted to their now different environments. Anyone see any parallels in the business world?? This one stumped me.

Another concept from evolutionary biology that I thought would be interesting to make connections with is the difference between “source” and “sink” populations within a specific species. Source populations are ones in which the birth rate is higher than the death rate (growing, healthy). Sink populations are the opposite (they are sinking). This becomes important in conservation, because a conservationist may look at a big area of habitat and say ok, we can’t save it all, but we will protect this area on the East side. Well, if it turns out that the east side was a sink population, then you just saved a sinking ship. I’m wondering again, if there are interesting parallels to the business world here. Maybe with foundations putting their monies into business models that are outdated or losing ground in a particular industry?

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