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Images of Organization

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  873 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Morgan shows managers how to break free of management fads by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of management metaphors and applying them to organizational life.
Paperback, 504 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Sage Publications, Inc (first published 1986)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
OK, so I am reading this for school, but I LOVE IT!!!! It's for the Organizational Theory and Change course, and it's been able to give me a framework to explain organizations I have been involved with - how they operate, why and what does / does not make sense. As a disclaimer I fully admit to being a theory nerd.

The book takes a "metaphor lens" approach to looking at organizations to explain how they function and communicate. It looks at the benefits and disadvantages of various approaches, wi
Jordan Peacock
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, psychology
Easily in my top five 'idea' books - essential reading for anyone.
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was first introduced to Gareth Morgen's images of organization in an introduction course in Organization and Manangement at my first term of a bachelor program in Management. In retrospect I imagine my introduction to this work as a gathering of organizational academics happy for their reunion, passionately discussing organizational theory while opening new bottles of red wine:

-the passion for the subject and their lingual capabilities are reflected in that this work is great litterature.
Mark Uberuaga
In Images of Organizations, Morgan describes how metaphors can be used to describe organizations, which provides a framework for understanding and decision making.

Of the eight metaphors he introduced the machine, organism, and brain were the most useful to me. The machine metaphor reminds me of the main body of the army or an industrial factory. The organization is made up of many parts and people and each has a specific purpose. The disadvantage of an organization that operates like a machine
Sarah Clement
I can see why this work has become popular among managers, as it prescribes a sort of ideal organisation in which we'd all like to work. Drawing on chaos and complexity theory, Morgan describes organisations that are dynamic, self-organising and adaptive; very much consistent with the idea of a 'learning organisation' developed by Senge. Like this organisational form, I have my doubts about how much of this has actually been proven empirically, and if you look at the peer-reviewed literature, th ...more
Apr 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
i hate this book. if you are ever required to buy it for school DO NOT
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: grad-school
I had to read this for an Organizations and Systems theory class for my Ed.D. Granted, I would not have selected it on my own, but it was an interesting read with many creative, applicable examples. Though an older theoretical text, it, perhaps sadly, is still applicable to organizations of 2018. It sparked lively discussions (well, as lively as my cohort gets) between professionals in various organizations, and for a class that runs on a Wednesday evening, that's about all we could ask for.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, management
The first 345 pages of this book really give you the ideas and tools to look at issues from different lenses and see how the metaphors that come into play have far reaching implications beyond the perceived benefits.

This reminds me of a quote - when we design for something, we need to think about what we are designing against and see if we really want to do that.
Helen Palmer
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book when i read it, many, many years ago. Especially the chapter about organisations as brains. I want to re read butt it costs about a million pounds so I will have to go to the library,
Sergej van Middendorp
Good introduction to metaphor in the context of organizations. Especially helpful if you are practice focused. If you want to understand the deeper backgrounds, refer to Philosophy in the Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson.
Dustin Dye
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Morgan provides compelling metaphors that will change how you see organizations. The book, though, is a bit rambling and has its share of dry passages. I recommend a careful reading of the opening of each chapter, before skipping to the next.
Xavier Shay
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really interesting perspectives, overall picture not as interesting as the little things I got out of it. It is a text book, so can be a bit of a slog at times. Also couldn't get it on Kindle, so my notes are very poor.
Christine Keegan
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pretty thick, but the idea is brilliant and if you're looking for organization theory, this is about as good as I've read.
Ng Zi Xiang (Zack)
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A hidden gem.. especially when complemented later with the Gervais Principle by Venkatesh Rao.
Ole Qvist-Sorensen
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book on power of metaphor's when describing and thinking of organization.
Shahine Ardeshir
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
The idea behind this book is terrific: Change the metaphor through which you look at an organization, and you'll discover facets about it that you didn't earlier think of. It struck me as a novel way to look at management, and that's what made me pick it up.

The warning I would give, however, is that this is less a book to read and more one to refer to. It's tonality, structure, and flow (or rather, lack thereof) all reminded me of the textbooks I read in college. It was long winded, often unnece
It's ok. Maybe it's just my impression of the class I had to read it for bleeding out into my overall impression of the book itself, but I found it to be a bit dull. Morgan has some good insights into how organizations work - his ideas about organizational culture in particular are particularly good. However, overall this book just seems a bit on the ephemeral side for my tastes. Maybe this is just because, even after about 18 graduate credits' worth of management-related education, I still don' ...more
Mark Jacobsen
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I like lenses. Graham Allison's classic "Essence of Decision" opened my eyes to the value of multiple lenses in analyzing decision-making, and Gareth Morgan has now done the same for my understanding of organizational structure and behavior. Multiple lenses are powerful analytical tools for observers to study an issue; by illuminating the issue from radically different perspectives, they help observers develop rich, nuanced conclusions. I have never formally studied organizational management, so ...more
Anne Lutomia
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gareth Morgan provides the reader with a unique way of understanding organizations. He applies multiple metaphors to theorize and analyze the nature of organizations. By so doing, organizations are deemed as machines, cultures, organisms or instruments of domination to name a few. This book was a required reading for my organizational behavior. I enjoyed it, the professor was able to initiate interesting discussions by tying our lived experiences to the various images or lenses discussed by Gare ...more
Britton Bush
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Interesting, provocative, and extremely useful method of analyzing organizations. The commentary, analysis, and examples that Morgan uses in 'Images or Organizations' aid perfectly in the presentation of organizational analysis. Morgan uses metaphor lenses a method of investigating organizations. Each metaphor acts as an aid in which analysts can gain, perhaps previously unseen, insights about any organization in question. Great book for anyone in pursuit of organization and administration theor ...more
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Images of Organization is deep stuff, and not recommended for the casual reader. I loved the exploration into different models of thinking about organizations, but not everyone will share my passion. Morgan organized this book well, every chapter ended with a brief "strengths and weaknesses" section of a different perspective on organizations. I suspect that I will be turning to Images of Organizations for reference material for my writing and my classes for years to come.
Hafez Shurrab
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For better understanding of how organizations may work, I recommend reading this book thoroughly. I started to better understand the theory of organizations when I have read it. It is very helpful for understanding the processes inside and across organizations. If you want to manage and lead an organization in the future, you would not regret it to read this book.
May 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book is dense. Dense, dense, dense. But, to be fair, it is also very thorough. I cannot recommend this book for anything but as a textbook with chapters parsed out and discussed in groups. It is really that thick. Reading it as supplemental reading on your own? You're either a serious introvert or a masochist.
Jeff Lampson
This one MUST be on my book list. I first read it in my graduate Organization Theory Course circa '86 and it's metaphors are as illustrative and powerful today as then. I enjoyed reading through it while in the basement this past weekend and it's worked it's way back onto the coffee table. Timeless and excellent.
Ahmed Sherif
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book has changed my life. After reading it I was a completely different person regarding Organization Theory. It helped me a lot in my business life as well as my personal life. The brain metaphor was the most interesting to me. A must read book for businessmen as well as business students.
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
it's a text book, I'm counting it on my goodreads. It's interesting look at organizations but really it's a text book.
Jan 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
Ah, Lead 103. What an extremely...repetitive...experience.
Mar 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read this in grad school and loved it. I'm currently revisiting various chapters.
Jul 04, 2008 rated it liked it
A tough read, but good organizational theory. Very much like reading the blueprints to the Space Shuttle -- dry, not fun, but its all there.
Samir Dhond
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
One of the most profound books I have ever read about an organiation. I liked this book for its approach of looking at organizations. Very insightful and educational.
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