Patagonia Inc: Environmental Sustainability

Case Study Analysis Using Metaphor

The paper is focused on the evaluation of two articles containing case studies involving the use of metaphors to understand the peculiarities of the method. The first one is the article by Jerminer and Forbes (2016) that is focused on the investigation of using metaphors in assessing the environmental sustainability of companies. The functioning of a well-known champion Patagonia Inc. in the given sphere is taken as the background for the research.

The case study is focused on the growing importance of sustainability and water consumption. To analyze the functioning of the company, two metaphors are introduced. The first one represents an unsustainable path and sounds like ‘organizations as water exploiters’; the second one stands for companies that recognize the needed change ‘organizations as water keepers’ (Jerminer & Forbes, 2016). The introduction of these two comparisons helps to investigate the functioning of Patagonia Inc. and its focus on environmental concerns.

Applying the given models and metaphor, it becomes clear that the organization is a water keeper that tries to minimize the harm done to the environment and achieve success in the given field. Ranking all issues mentioned in the paper, the use of environmental problems and their solution via metaphors acquire the top priority. The other questions such as the application of the approach to other domains become less significant.

Regarding recommendations, it can be offered to continue using metaphors to assess other aspects of the company’s functioning. The case also presupposes the application of Morgan’s thesis to analyze the work of a firm utilizing metaphors and applying them to various problems (Jerminer & Forbes, 2016). The given solutions can be communicated via the cooperation between various departments which will help to achieve success.

The second case study is introduced in the article by Engen (2008), and it delves into the characteristics of the organizational structure and culture peculiar to various organizations. Thus, the introduction of the metaphor is justified by its high value as a descriptive tool and its contribution to a better understanding of the basic peculiarities of firms’ functioning. Using both small and large organizations, such as family-run firms and Microsoft, the case proves the importance of using the approach mentioned above as the potent tool for the analysis of the peculiarities of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of companies’ functioning (Engen, 2008).

One of the basic problems faced by leaders and followers in these organizations is the lack of a balanced approach that helps to understand the existing culture and alter it to guarantee the beneficial development of the company. In such a way, utilization of the given method can help to add color to all elements mentioned above and transform them from the tradition to innovational ones (Engen, 2008).

Moreover, the application of Morgan’s concept of the organization as the metaphor can help to achieve success in creating a new value. It helps to reduce the complexity of new challenges and attain success by introducing new perspectives on some particular things. This idea acquires the higher rank if to speak about all themes mentioned in the case. The necessity to solve problems in the sphere of leadership goes after it.

Nevertheless, another possible way to improve results that are not mentioned in the case study is the use of metaphors to align cooperation between all departments and compare the collaborative work with a particular issue that should be achieved. It will help to visualize the goal and improve results. The given tasks and proposed interventions can be communicated through the alignment of various interaction schemes relevant to all employees. It will help to establish a better atmosphere and introduce metaphors.

These case studies prove the importance of using metaphors as a potent tool for the analysis, and there are several takeaways generated from reviewing them. First of all, the introduction of metaphors can be considered an appropriate measure to assess the work of the company, its current problems, and its peculiarities. As in the case with Patagonia Inc. utilization of two terms ‘organizations as water exploiters’ and ‘organizations as water keepers’ helps to investigate the approach to sustainability used by companies and consider the existing problems preventing the achievement of high sustainability levels.

Second, metaphors can also be an effective method to assess the inner organizational problems with culture and structure as they contribute to the gradual decrease in the sophistication of discovered issues. Altogether, numerous benefits can be achieved due to the utilization of the metaphors and the creation of many metaphors while evaluating particular units.


Engen, R. (2008). Metaphor: A multifaceted literary device used by Morgan and Weick to describe organizations. Emerging Leadership Journeys, 1(1), 39-51.

Jerminer, J., & Forbes, L. (2016). Metaphors, organizations and water: Generating new images for environmental sustainability. Human Relations, 69(4), 1001–1027.

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