Métaphore, changement de paradigme et expérimentation : le cas de la gestion des entreprises

  • Catherine Resche Université Panthéon-Assas - Paris 2


This paper investigates the field of corporate management – where experimentation is vital – in order to examine the role of metaphors in paradigm shifts. Metaphor and science are not mutually exclusive and both theorists and managers resort to metaphorical thinking to envisage new theories and practices. The basic hypothesis is that, by stimulating heuristic thinking and opening new vistas, new metaphors can trigger paradigm shifts and reflect them as well. Several approaches are tested in an attempt to detect paradigm shifts through metaphors: a diachronic perspective is adopted to review the major management concepts and their authors from this perspective. It appears that neither initial training and nationality, nor historical benchmarks can be used as reliable bases. Nor are schools of thought telling enough. Metaphorical veins do offer a more accurate basis for analysis, though detecting paradigm shifts in the Kuhnian sense seems to be very challenging. Ultimately, the chaos theory and the notions of open, non-linear, complex systems are likely to offer new insight into the current changes in management viewpoints, which could point at a potential paradigm shift. Systematically tracking emerging metaphors in the field will be required to confirm the trend.

Author Biography

Catherine Resche, Université Panthéon-Assas - Paris 2
Full-time Professor of English for Economics. research fields : terminology, neology, theory-constitutive metaphors, discourse and genre analyses (finance, economics, international management)