Title: The 'dead goat syndrome' in organisations

Authors: Emmanuel Osafo; Robert M. Yawson

Addresses: WSU-Extension, Washington State University, 404 W Clark Street, Pasco, WA 99301, USA ' School of Business, Quinnipiac University, 275 Mt. Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT 06516, USA

Abstract: The use of metaphors to explore the connection between theory and practice in organisation and leadership studies has proven to be highly effective. This paper discusses the dead goat syndrome (DGS) as a benchmark in discussing the importance of metaphor in organisation life and to identify the various leadership types that conform to the DGS metaphor. The dead goat syndrome emanates from a popular Ghanaian metaphor literary meaning a goat that is already dead does not fear to be thrust with a knife. Using this metaphor, we present a new lens for looking at leadership effectiveness and identify the basis for certain leadership behaviours in organisations. We illuminate some definitions of metaphor by briefly reviewing the literature on the classical views on metaphors, metaphors in organisational theory development, and how the DGS metaphor can be utilised to identify certain leadership behaviours in organisations.

Keywords: complex adaptive systems; systems change; metaphors; wicked problems; altitude sickness; organisational leadership; self-concept; systems; organisation effectiveness.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBSR.2021.113415

International Journal of Business and Systems Research, 2021 Vol.15 No.2, pp.143 - 162

Received: 27 Jun 2019
Accepted: 30 Sep 2019

Published online: 15 Dec 2020 *

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