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School of Business and Management

Inaugural: Metaphors, Ways of thinking and Organisational Theorising

Professor Trevor Dadson opened the event with an entertaining but touching whistle-stop précis of Cliff’s journey into academia.

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Cliff’s background was far from the traditional route. The school he attended during his early years was one of Brent’s poor performers. However, Cliff’s academic talent knew no bounds and he went from a building site as a hod carrier to the role of an Academic Dean in the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty at Queen Mary, University of London.

In his speech, in true academic style, Cliff highlighted a number of academic scholars to both support and argue against his point; e.g. advocates of metaphor, such as Ortony, Morgan and Barrett and Cooperrider versus critics of metaphor, e.g. Bourgeiois and Pinder, Tsoukas, Doving and Tinker. Those not familiar with such an esteemed list certainly related to Lakofff and Johnson, citing examples such as ‘look how far we’ve come’ and ‘it’s been a long, bumpy road’.

Cliff then went on to discuss ‘change as a three-way process’ and gave some very interesting examples of how change affects people within organisations and how change affects organisations themselves. The Iceberg model was clear in its description of above and below the surface, equivalent to formal and informal organisation, which translates into structure and procedures versus culture and attitudes.

Further reference to dominant metaphors of organisational change such as Health (Kumra) and Journey (Marshak) were illustrated prior to Cliff giving a formulaic explanation of the ‘change equation’. Cliff concluded his speech by discussing problems with organisational theorising and enhancing organisational theorising.

Contact: Fola Ademoye
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 2697