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An organization called Harry

Jon Aarum Andersen (School of Management and Economics, Växjö University, Växjö, Sweden Faculty of Social Sciences, Lillehammer University College, Lillehammer, Norway)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 4 April 2008

Abstract

Purpose

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to gods, plants, animals or inanimate objects (the wind, rocks, etc.). This paper sets out to disprove the association of anthropomorphic characteristics with individual organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper discusses anthropomorphism in organization theory because many scholars argue that organizations are human or like human beings. Some examples of “An organization called Harry” in organization literature are presented.

Findings

Three causes of anthropomorphism can be traced. The negative, rather than any positive, consequences of anthropomorphism in organization literature are discussed.

Originality/value

A new agenda for organizational studies is suggested where anthropomorphism is avoided together with the fallacy of the human metaphor. Anthropomorphism creates confusion rather than advancing the field of organization theory.

Keywords

Citation

Aarum Andersen, J. (2008), "An organization called Harry", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 174-187. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534810810856426

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited