The Organization that Never Sleeps: A Metaphorical Pathology of Organizational Insomnia

University of Zurich, Institute of Organization and Administrative Science (IOU), IOU Working Paper No. 103

40 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2009 Last revised: 3 May 2011

See all articles by Dennis Schoeneborn

Dennis Schoeneborn

University of Zurich - Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology; Copenhagen Business School - Department of Intercultural Communication and Management

Steffen Blaschke

Copenhagen Business School

Ina Maria Kaufmann

Institute of Organization and Administrative Science, University of Zurich

Date Written: November 24, 2009

Abstract

The application of metaphors as a means to advance our understanding of organizations has a long-standing tradition in management studies. Generally speaking, metaphors allow for a description of organizational characteristics and functions in the terminology of another domain of interest. Organizational learning and organizational memory are two prominent examples of anthropomorphic metaphors in management studies which draw on the human mind as the source domain. In the light of recent advancements in neuroscience, however, they lack the complementing metaphor of organizational sleep, though sleep plays a particularly important role for learning and memory of the human mind. Based on the view that communication constitutes organizations (CCO), this study recontextualizes the metaphors of organizational learning and memory in terms of organizational sleep-wake cycles. Finally, the ideal-typical distinction between a regularly resting organization and an insomniac organization leads to a reconsideration of existing theories of organizational learning and memory.

Keywords: sleep, insomnia, organizational knowledge, organizational learning, organizational memory, metaphors

Suggested Citation

Schoeneborn, Dennis and Blaschke, Steffen and Kaufmann, Ina Maria, The Organization that Never Sleeps: A Metaphorical Pathology of Organizational Insomnia (November 24, 2009). University of Zurich, Institute of Organization and Administrative Science (IOU), IOU Working Paper No. 103. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1512498 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1512498

Dennis Schoeneborn (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
Zürich, 8032
Switzerland

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Intercultural Communication and Management ( email )

Porcelænshaven 18A
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

Steffen Blaschke

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Dalgas Have 15
Frederiksberg, DK - 2000
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://www.orgcom.org

Ina Maria Kaufmann

Institute of Organization and Administrative Science, University of Zurich ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 84
Zurich, 8006
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.iou.uzh.ch/bwl/index.php

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