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Communications of the Association for Information Systems

Abstract

Organizational metaphors represent an important study area in the information systems (IS) field. In this paper, I review previous work on organizational metaphors in IS research and build on this work by proposing a discourse dynamics approach to metaphors as an alternative lens for conceptualizing and studying IS metaphors. With this approach, one can recast organizational metaphors from something that researchers commonly perceive as detached from the subjects they investigate—a view fixed in much IS thinking—to something that results from both language and the mind, that has a situational nature, and that individuals can deploy in flexible and dynamic ways. Drawing on in-depth focus group studies, I illustrate the discourse dynamics approach via analyzing metaphors that individuals made in describing workplace automation. With this study, I not only raise new questions in relation to theorizing about and analyzing organizational metaphors in IS research but also illustrate metaphors’ usefulness as a form of sense making to generate fresh insights into the implications that arise from adopting and using workplace automation that remain unnoticed if one used more conventional methods.

DOI

10.17705/1CAIS.04904

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