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Organizations and food [study]: “Overweight Organizations”

The original meaning of the word ‘corporation’ strongly hints at the idea that a firm can be regarded, in some ways (including, on occasion, legally) as a ‘person’. Could the idea of corporality be expanded to include ‘organizations’? If so, what if they eat too much – or too little?

Professor Miguel Pina e Cunha  (now at the Nova School of Business & Economics, Portugal) and colleagues explore such things :

Organizations are like people; as they get older and more successful, they put on fat (Reis and Peña, 2001). Overweight organizations are regarded as bad and unsuccessful, thus requiring an intervention of some kind. The remedy appears to be similar to the one prescribed for individuals: dieting (downsizing), hiring a personal trainer (hiring consultants to do the dirty job of firing people), and do plenty of exercise in the gym (structural changes, removal of managerial layers). The ultimate goal for individuals and organizations alike is to achieve that seductive, slim and beautiful body (make the organization more flexible and more attractive to investors). And the risks are not dissimilar either: Taken too far or too quickly, a sliming programme can become a health hazard. Anorexic firms may experience serious problems. But food may also have other meanings in the field of organizations. Among these, is the search for the best organization.

Sauce : Manna from heaven: The exuberance of food as a topic for research in management and organization  Human Relations Journal Volume: 61 issue: 7, page(s): 935-963 (a full copy of which may be found here)

Coming soon : Oganizations and dogs

Improbable Research