Chapter 15

Organizations as Humans

Harry Cendrowski

James P. Martin


Organizational theorists have long devised descriptive tools for analyzing businesses. For instance, in his seminal work, Images of Organization, Gareth Morgan critically examines firms by relating organizations to machines, brains, and even “psychic prisons,” among other metaphors. Through these analogies, an analyst can gain an acute understanding of how a business works, and also how it can improve. Such a topic is particularly pertinent for private equity (PE) professionals because they often act as change agents for an organization.

Along these lines, this chapter will, in effect, serve as a “mental pause” for the reader: a break from the analyses of past chapters and a segue into those forthcoming on organizational improvement and operations assessments. After reading this section, one should be better equipped to understand and analyze the needs of organizations and how those needs are currently being met or evaded. Moreover, a new metaphor for organizations—in the vein of Gareth Morgan's work—will be introduced, that of organizations as humans.

An organization is a complex manifestation of a once original idea. Many of today's most prominent organizations are quite large in size, allowing for unwieldy analyses of their inner workings if a structured framework for investigation is not provided. This complexity and the search for a tangible metaphor are the motivation behind this chapter's central ...

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