Metaphor and the Gap between Theory and Practice

  • Heather Watson
  • Trevor Wood-Harper


We review metaphors in organisations and methodologies. While this tends to focus on specific metaphors, we reflect generally on a methodology’s meaning to consider why there is a gap between theory and practice. As an outcome of this, we reformulate the gap, describing it as a special case of a more extensive metaphorical gap already admitted within practice itself. Using Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), we then suggest Schön’s (1963) schema for a displacement of concepts as a way of enriching our understanding of developments in a methodology’s theory and practice.


Constitutive Rule Soft System Methodology Staging Debate Total System Intervention Metaphorical Thinking 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather Watson
    • 1
  • Trevor Wood-Harper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Computer ScienceUniversity of SalfordSalfordUK

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