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Pygmalion Mirage as an Organizational Metaphor

  • Lawrence JonesIIEmail author
Chapter
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Part of the Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business book series (CFPLB)

Abstract

Leadership has a profound effect on many aspects of our society. Often organizational dysfunction is a reflection on the direction of the organization. In Greek mythology, Pygmalion was a sculptor that became fascinated with his work. He admired his work so much that he fantasized it was a living and breathing masterpiece. An extension of Morgan’s (Images of organization (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006) metaphors is a “Pygmalion Mirage.” In considering extensions of Morgan’s metaphors of organizational dysfunction, there are some corporate examples and biblical insights to the proposed new metaphor. A Pygmalion Mirage is when the organizational culture, often influenced by the leader, becomes overly confident with their perception of a situation without gaining the full details of the environment and circumstances. The illusion of success as the result of a mismatch between the organization’s design strategy and the environmental conditions for the approach to users can be very detrimental for an organization that has blurred vision. It is important to note that such a mismatch and lack of sight do not occur overnight. Leadership’s escalation of commitment can also contribute to a Pygmalion Mirage. This is when leaders rationalize their decisions and actions even with increased adverse outcomes rather than recalibrate their course (Staw, Knee-deep in the big muddy: A study of escalating commitment to a chosen course of action. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 16(1), 27–44, 1976).

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Regent UniversityVirginia BeachUSA

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