Metaphors of Organisation
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The machine metaphor is defined as an organization that operates in a
mechanistic-like manner (Morgan 12). These organizations are very
centralized and structured. The tasks performed are very monotonous and
predictable, and workers become very separated from their work, similar to
how a robot would operate. The employees are viewed by the organization as
inanimate and replaceable. In a machine, each unit is independent and
necessary to create a smooth operation of the whole machine. Community
Clinic has only a few similar mechanistic functions within their
organization. The South County Clinic employees (and all other clinics)
follow a set “chain of commands” within the hierarchy. There are very
strict rules pertaining to ones job that may not be broken, similar to how
one would program a machine. For example, an employee is expected to do
many tasks at once, such as answering the phone, filling out paperwork and
assisting incoming clients. If these tasks cannot be performed correctly and
on time, one may be subjected to termination. The paperwork that has to be
filled out by the employees and the patients is also very routine and
standard, making it a repetitive, mechanistic-like chore for both parties.
The rules and guidelines that are given by the government for Medicaid
patients and Title X patients (funding for family services) are also very
stringent and must be followed as to not get the funding taken away (see
Appendix C).
The machine metaphor creates a few strengths and weaknesses within an
organization. This metaphor suggests that the mechanization of
organizations is effective in dealing with straight- forward tasks, as well
as providing efficiency and control. At Community Clinic, most of the
paperwork is required to be done in a set time- a mechanistic like manner,
which is done efficiently and precisely. The weaknesses of the machine
metaphor are the inability to adapt to change and its dehumanizing
qualities. For example, if a patient educator were to fill out paperwork
differently than the organization says to, he/ she would be reprimanded.
This ideology allows no room for human error.
A different approach to the machine metaphor would be the organismic
metaphor, which suggests that organizations are fluid, flexible and
adaptable to change (Morgan 34). This metaphor goes along with the Human
Resource style of management, mentioned earlier. This metaphor suggests that
the environment and the organization are always dependent upon each other,
otherwise known as “open systems”. This ideology also suggests that there
is always uncertainty within an organization-due to the nature of human
beings, and that this should always be acknowledged (Morgan 39).
In relation to the organismic metaphor, Community Clinic has realized some
of the needs of its organization and their environment. The times have
changed within the realm of sexuality (being much more acceptable to talk
and educate about it). All clinics provide “teen clinics” where teenagers
can get one years services completely free. Becoming educated on sexuality
at a young age is something that would not have happened 50 years ago. They
also offer free STD screenings quarterly and do many other

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Machine Metaphor And South County Clinic Employees. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from