What are some of the concepts associated with the brain metaphor in organizational imagery? 

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gareth Morgan devotes chapter 4 of his insightful study Images of Organization to the conceptualization of organizations as brains. This metaphorical understanding is dictated by different factors. Like brains, organizations have to process information in order to exist and take decisions. Like brains, organizations promote learning and knowledge that can allow them to face unpredicted events as well as to adapt to changes in the environment and context in which they operate. Finally, like brains, organizations are like an hologram, whose parts are able to reconnect themselves to a whole and regenerate the system when they are separated. Organizations function like a brain in that they use both centralizing and decentralizing features. This last feature may account for some resistance to conceive organizations as brains as it entails the managers' willingness to give some of their powers to their employees and start processes of self-regulation and decision among them. Systems of organizations built on the brain model treat hierarchies in flexible and open ways. Hierarchies become more the result of organizational improvements and innovations, to which all parts of the system contribute, than the product of pre-determined and imposed rules and qualifications.