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The Psychic Prison Metaphor

The Psychic Prison Metaphor

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The Psychic Prison Metaphor

Gareth Morgan has made many contributions to the field of Human Resource Management. His insights provide relevant knowledge on the workings of an organisation, and its effects to employees and their productivity levels. In his work, ‘Images of an Organisation’, Morgan provides these insights. The work discusses the 8 metaphors of an organisation. The metaphors are display an organisation as; a political system, a machine, an organism, a brain, a culture, a psychic prison, a system of change and flux and finally, an instrument of domination. Each metaphor has its advantages and misgivings, as it attempts to explain the workings of an organisation from a different angle.

With regards to the presented case study, the metaphor of a psychic prison is of significance to the organisation in question. In this metaphor, Gareth Morgan attempts to portray organisations as systems that get hindered by their own activities, whether, conscious or subconscious. He further explains that the attention of such organisations is shifted towards irrelevant issues. For instance, narcissism, illusions of control, anxieties and obsessions are observed. Employees of such organisations may also have defence mechanisms entrenched in them. Morgan’s work is useful in analysis of small organisations and their respective work cultures.

There are various signs that portray the psychic prison metaphor in an organisation. First, there is great control of the organisation by the top management. In such an institution, the key policies and directives are decided upon with little reason from the management and in a random manner. All of the set policies are carried out by the lower employees regardless of their effects. Secondly, the metaphor is seen when an organisation maintains a distance from the outside world. Consequently, promotions to higher posts are granted to insiders. The corporate culture therefore shifts from a perspective based on productivity, to employee loyalty. The organisation’s leadership may therefore be incompetent to the set tasks.

Thirdly, an organisation of the psychic prison metaphor has employees who are greatly affected by Group Think. Therefore, there is a great tendency by the employees to avoid conflict in the organisation, which could be beneficial. Finally, the organisation characterised by the metaphor has little appetite for risk. There, the corporate culture oriented towards carrying out operations in the usual, comfortable manner. This leaves the organisation with little flexibility in response to market changes.

In the client’s organisation, there exist turnover and employee commitment issues. The turnover problem may be viewed in a number of ways. First, the organisation may be lacking relevance to the market. This may be attributed to inflexibility to its competitors. To counter this, it is recommended that the management should encourage more risk taking. Similarly, the company’s employees should be granted expression to key issues, such as product development. This will enable the organisation to keep up with its evolving competition, and consumer needs.

Secondly, the turnover issue may be attributed to the company’s management. The loyalty system in the organisation may be producing incompetent leaders that are developing harmful policies. In response, the organisation should carry out competency checks on its leadership. Appropriate action should be carried out on the failing leaders. For instance, they may be demoted or sacked. It is also important to hire outsiders into the organisation. They are useful in providing insights on market trends, which were previously invisible to the incumbents.

There are various reasons explaining the low levels of organisational commitment. First, the organisation’s Group Think tendencies may be harming it. Useful employees may be leaving it to avoid conflict with their peers or superiors. The commitment issues may also be a result of limited employee input to managerial decisions. Finally, the issues could be attributed to the organisation’s subconscious loyalty system. Employees may be unproductive, or leaving, as a result of frustrations in their career development. To counter this, first, the organisation should promote input from employees on key decisions. Similarly, conflict should be embraced, and not shun, in the organisation. Such a system will enable the organisation to promote employee productivity, as well as satisfaction with their employment. Finally, the organisation should steadily shift from its loyalty culture. This is possible through hiring outsiders in new leadership positions.

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