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Title: A semiological analysis of organisational culture and meaning making within the healthcare sector
Author: Meudell, Karen Allyson
ISNI:       0000 0001 3395 7085
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2001
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Studies of organisational culture have tended to concentrate on one of two main perspectives: the ‘managerialist’ approach considers culture to be a variable which can be manipulated or controlled in order to improve organisational performance while the ‘root metaphor’ position takes an anthropological stance in that organisations are considered as cultural settings, as sites for constructing meanings. Although this latter approach appears to offer greater insights into culture, its stance assumes that culture emerges from social interaction, and is a product of the ‘collective unconscious’ which is produced and reproduced over time. A further assumption which arises from this position is that culture can be viewed as a collective term for the extent and depth to which meanings and ‘tacit’ knowledge are shared within an organisation. This thesis explores this assumption of ‘unconscious collectivity’ by considering the extent and depth that meanings are shared within an organisation. In order to gain access to, and penetrate, meanings which are difficult to articulate, the thesis employs the use of metaphor. The empirical research was undertaken in an NHS Community Healthcare Trust and respondents were invited to consider their organisation as a metaphor, to depict that metaphor pictorially and then to describe that representation. Data analysis utilised a semiotic approach taking a model derived from a synthesis of the work of Saussure and Barthes. The first level of analysis, the ‘Organisation of Metaphors’ considers the denotative and connotative meanings of each depiction and classifies the metaphors thematically. The second level of analysis, the ‘Metaphors of Organisation’ is in two parts, firstly the themes and meanings are turned on themselves to consider the connotative meanings isolated, rather than the metaphors themselves. Secondly, the data was considered within the context of a relatively new and undeveloped approach to cultural analysis, The Ambiguity or Fragmentation Perspective. Utilising this approach the thesis concludes that while there appeared to aggregates of sensemaking these were arrived at accidentally and were the product of common experience rather than shared meaning: an individualised and internalised phenomenon rather than a collective, negotiated process. In addition, the thesis also concludes that there is some evidence to suggest that the use of metaphor and pictorial representation is a valid methodological device by which the liberation of meanings can be facilitated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: NHS; Community Healthcare Trust