Understanding IS/IT implementation through metaphors: A multi-metaphor stakeholder analysis in an educational setting

Stephen Jackson

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Notwithstanding the importance of metaphors in organizational research, this paper recognizes that few empirical studies examining the multiple metaphors elicited by stakeholders (for instance, teachers, administrators and managers) in the context of IS/IT implementation within an educational setting have been conducted. Using a total of 30 in-depth interviews carried out within a further and higher educational college in the United Kingdom, the broad aim of this paper is to examine the metaphors produced from organizational members in their accounts of IS/IT implementation. The analysis reveals a number of dominant metaphors that feature in IS literature on which participants drew—journey, military, machine, bodily/illness, sports and religion—as well as a number of additional, novel metaphors not widely acknowledged within IS literature, namely nautical, horticultural and child-like metaphors. The paper proposes that practitioners and managers should be aware of the multiple metaphorical expressions members of an organization use as it may help to clarify the tensions arising during IS/IT implementation. Furthermore, an exploration of these metaphors generates fresh insights into implementation practices, which may otherwise go unnoticed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039–1051
Number of pages13
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue numberPart B
Early online date21 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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