The Pencil is Mightier than the Word: Sketching organisational portraits of business schools in Britain and Canada
As management researchers seek ever more lucid means of analysing organisations, image is at last beginning to challenge the supremacy of the written word. Yet, despite fifteen-thousand years of art history, the use of image as a scientific instrument is still in its embryonic stages. This paper explores the origins and use of pictorial representation as an innovative research technique for the exploration of organisational constructs. Beginning with a review of the academic use of image, the epistemological roots for pictorial representation are then uncovered: to help provide a firmer theoretical foundation for using image in management. Next, the reader is shown how pictorial representation fits into an holistic analytical framework. Subsequently, the methodology is applied in a 'live' situation, with glimpses provided of the strategic use of pictorial representation in British and Canadian business schools. Data from the project are presented to illustrate how image can be applied to practical strategy formulation and implementation. Overall, it is felt that images can be valuable as vehicles for exploring people's organisational constructs. Although words may still be the most favoured means of organisational analysis, in the quest for a richer understanding of organisations, images should certainly not be ignored.