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Paper info: Mind Your Language: A Review of Music Metaphors in Business Networks Research


Mind Your Language: A Review of Music Metaphors in Business Networks Research


Annmarie Ryan and Satu Nätti

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 25th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2009.


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 While the benefits of collaboration in networks have been heralded for some time the question of how these networks are best managed remains unresolved. A concept that has emerged of late to understand managing in networks is that of 'orchestration'. In this regard researchers have used the language and concepts from orchestras in order to help them better understand business networks. This is consistent with scholarly use of metaphor which borrows concepts and language from a more familiar domain, to enable researchers to conceptualise unfamiliar terrain. While the metaphor of network orchestration has become part of the network discourse, there has been little research on the implications of using this metaphor. This paper set out to systematically work through a number of music metaphors, some of which are already being used to understand business networks and some of which provide novel insights. Our issue is not whether one metaphor reflects reality better because such an endeavour is futile given that metaphors create their own realities (see Brown, 1976). Rather, we have considered the inferences that result from the use of different metaphors (see Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). Thus, in our analysis we have reviewed different music metaphors in order to understand what they reveal us considering leadership, interaction, sources of innovation and skills needed in innovation activities.