Using Metaphors: Case Study Analysis


Various organizations’ operational activities depend on a number of factors and both external and internal influences that form managerial approaches and create a context for relevant interventions. By using the example of two individual academic case studies, the significance of metaphors will be defined as tools for assessing and interpreting enterprises’ work. Relevant scholarly articles will be involved, and researchers’ approaches will be analyzed in relation to the role of metaphors in the organizational context. The study by Agarwal and Gupta (2018) addresses the issue of interaction and interpersonal communication in an Indian organization, and the authors use the family metaphor as an analysis component.

Tohidian and Rahimian (2019) consider Morgan’s metaphors as common analytical tools and, in particular, focus on organizational culture, offering ideas about the self-identification of leaders and managers in an animal context, which is a mechanism for evaluating individual abilities and prospects. The use of metaphors in assessing organizational strategies allows expanding the understanding of specific management approaches and opens up additional opportunities for analysis.

Critical Issues

As the issues involved in the two case studies are under consideration, different challenges are assessed and analyzed in the context of applying specific metaphors. Agarwal and Gupta (2018) emphasize employee relationships and psychological contracts at an Indian company and note that meeting subordinates ’expectations is a challenging task for leaders. The authors also draw attention to the problem of the lack of differentiation in solving the proposed difficulties and argue that, despite an available theoretical background, the categorization of psychological contracts is a gap (Agarwal & Gupta, 2018).

Finally, the issue of the universality of specific approaches is also an issue because, according to Agarwal and Gupta (2018), there are no clear methods for engaging influence mechanisms to solve problems with the interaction of employees and meeting their needs. These topics are analyzed in the context of the activities of an Indian organization and, in particular, through the family metaphor.

Tohidian and Rahimian (2019) draw attention to the issue of the controversial use of metaphors as effective and strategically important tools for analyzing relevant organizational topics. The researchers assess the diversity of Morgan’s metaphors and argue that the outcomes of engaging these mechanisms can vary significantly based on the relevance of the selected instruments and their relevance to the stated problem (Tohidian & Rahimian, 2019).

In other words, despite a wide list of metaphors, not all of them can be utilized to analyze a specific situation or organizational trend. As a secondary problem, Tohidian and Rahimian (2019) consider the challenge of interpreting metaphors from a practical perspective because, according to the authors, vagueness and intricacies of these tools are barriers to an unambiguous assessment. Thus, in both case studies, various aspects of the application of metaphors are considered.

Proposed Solutions

In one of the case studies, the family metaphor is utilized as an approach to interpreting the proposed problems and solving difficulties. In particular, Agarwal and Gupta (2018) state that this metaphor makes it possible to compare the interaction between managers and subordinates in the context of individual communication and its importance for establishing productive activities. The authors note that closer relationships contribute to employee motivation and provide an opportunity to meet their expectations (Agarwal & Gupta, 2018).

This solution is valid since an individual approach increases the confidence of workers in their importance for the organization and the value of the tasks performed. The proposed metaphor helped to compare the importance of close interaction among the participants in the work process with the psychological satisfaction of employees regarding the microclimate in the team.

In the case study by Tohidian and Rahimian (2019), the authors also the metaphor of animal resemblance, which is an objective solution. The approach based on a personal comparison of team leaders with animals makes it possible to determine the intentions, ambitions, and potential goals of managers, thereby revealing their potential. The metaphor utilized allows revealing the relevant motives for work, offers objective mechanisms for influencing the operational efficiency, and defines strategies for those responsible.


When considering both case studies from the perspectives of validity and value of the proposed problem-solving methodologies, additional recommendations may be given. In particular, for the work of Agarwal and Gupta (2018), not only family but also other metaphors can be involved, for instance, comparing the organization with a particular culture. In order to meet the needs of employees and strengthen the interaction of managers with subordinates, appropriate corporate ethics should be promoted to engage stakeholders and ensure productive activities. The metaphor of culture can make it possible to evaluate the experience and arguments of the parties involved in detail and suggest possible solutions for establishing interaction.

For the case study by Tohidian and Rahimian (2019), one can offer additional approaches to reveal managers’ and leaders’ intentions and goals. In addition to the metaphor of animal resemblance, one can cite an approach that views a business organization as a living organism. Such a context is convenient to describe how participants in the work process can adapt to current conditions and improve their performance indicators, which, in turn, is also the practice of assessing professional prospects.

Communication of the Solutions

Both cases studies are qualitative and offer interaction with stakeholders through the discussion of proposed approaches. This method of the communication of solutions corresponds with the stated metaphors and does not imply other methods of presenting the information. I agree that the practice of the direct discussion of possible mechanisms for optimizing the workflow by analyzing and obtaining personal value judgments is relevant in the context of organizational management.

Nevertheless, for the case study by Tohidian and Rahimian (2019), more attention could be paid to assessing employee opinions regarding leadership prospects since animal resemblance can be interpreted distinctly by different stakeholders. The approach to communication of the solution in the case study by Agarwal and Gupta (2018) is objective because subordinates are the target audience, and their positions and views are key assessment tools. Therefore, no significant changes are necessary to improve the interpretation of the findings.


The use of metaphors in managerial practice makes it possible to analyze specific leadership approaches and solutions from non-standard perspectives and interpret corresponding findings based on the data obtained. The value of such a methodology may be explained by the convenience of formulating a specific issue and the variability of its analysis depending on the objectives chosen. By using the examples of two proposed case studies, one can note how metaphors allow considering specific problems and evaluating the comparative nature of the interventions. These strategies contribute to expressing the implications for managerial practice and help stakeholders understand the essence of a particular and how to solve it.


Agarwal, U. A., & Gupta, R. K. (2018). Examining the nature and effects of psychological contract: Case study of an Indian organization. Thunderbird International Business Review, 60(2), 175-191. Web.

Tohidian, I., & Rahimian, H. (2019). Bringing Morgan’s metaphors in organization contexts: An essay review. Cogent Business & Management, 6(1), 1587808. Web.

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