Metaphors in Self-Descriptions of Organizations



The paper presents results of a study aimed at exploring values and organizational culture of members of an organization through their metaphorical self-descriptions. The study involved 35 heads of several departments (production, financial and sales departments and department of new product development) working in an electrical company. The subjects were asked to describe the real and the ideal organization using metaphors at their choice. These metaphors were then analyzed according to the specially developed criteria. The revealed root metaphor suggests that safety values dominate over self-direction and achievement values in the subjects. Also, the metaphorical self-description method helped to discover the principles of organizational identity and the basic principles of the organizational culture, with its features specific for a certain type of activity.

General Information

Keywords: root metaphor, self-description, organizational culture, identity, semantic component ideal organization

Journal rubric: Applied Research and Practice

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Vlasov P., Kiseleva A. Metaphors in Self-Descriptions of Organizations. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2014. Vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 127–137. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Burlachuk L.F., Korzhova E.Yu. Psihologiya zhiznennyh situacii. M., 1998.
  2. Vlasov P.K. Psihologiya formirovaniya strategii organizacii na etape zamysla. SPb., 2001.
  3. Vlasov P.K., Kiseleva A.A. Zamysel i organizacionnaya real'nost'. Har'kov, 2007.
  4. Kammings S. Rekonstrukciya strategii. Har'kov, 2011.
  5. Kartashev V.A. Sistema sistem. Ocherki obshei teorii i metodologii. M., 1995.
  6. Kotik M.A. Kurs inzhenernoi psihologii. Tallin, 1978.
  7. Seidl D. Metaforicheskoe samoopisanie // Myuller A., Kizer A. Organizacionnaya kom) munikaciya. Har'kov, 2005.
  8. Elvesson M. Organizacionnaya kul'tura. Har'kov, 2005.
  9. Cameron K. Critical Questions in Assessing Organizational Effectiveness // Organiza) tional Dynamics.1980. Autumn.
  10. Korzybski A. Science and Sanity. The International Non)Aristotelian Library Publi) shing Company, 1958.
  11. Kreitner R., Kinicki A. Organizational Behavior. Chicago, 1995.
  12. Luhmann N. Soziologische aufkldrung 3. Soziales System, Gesselschaft, Organisation. Opladen, 1993a.
  13. Weick K.E. The social psychology of organizing. MA, 1979.

Information About the Authors

Peter Vlasov, PhD in Psychology, head of the Institute of Applied Psychology "Humanitarian Centre", Kharkiv, Ukraine, e-mail:

Anna Kiseleva, PhD in Philology, deputy head of the Institute of Applied Psychology "Humanitarian Centre", Kharkiv, Ukraine, e-mail:



Total: 1741
Previous month: 3
Current month: 3


Total: 2157
Previous month: 0
Current month: 2