The concept of human relations, which began to rise in the 1920s and 1930s, was based on the prison metaphor, although it placed the issue of how best to organize the work on an ideological framework. According to Fleming (2020), the employee has been treated tactfully and tolerantly since then within the conception of Taylorism, which is presented in a noble-hearted manner, until the moment he decides that he does not get what he has wanted. The main purpose here is to ensure the loyalty and commitment of the employee. Thus, the employee continues to work without feeling any discrepancy between himself and the business. The aim here is to make the employee work much more prolifically. In this context, the phenomenon of work and the relationship between the organization and employee has always been an issue to be carefully considered.


    In this study, friendly metaphor has been problematized on the scale of business, and why and how metaphor is used and why it has been described as false truthfulness in the study has been tried to be clarified through Foucault’s “critical” approach, expressed in his words as “it is another dimension related to the importance of telling the truth, knowing who may tell the truth, and why we should tell the truth” (2019, s. 144). To this end, critical theory and critical management studies have been explicitly introduced in the first place, and then the relationship between business and friendly metaphor has been tried to be elucidated.


    This study is seeking a critical answer to the question “Is friendly metaphor a search for virtue for businesses?” For this purpose, friendly metaphor was primarily attempted to be analyzed within philosophical contexts. Thus, as Bates (2001, p.582) stated, it was aimed to contribute to the effort to make the world we live in more transparent with a critical analysis through the metaphors that express our beliefs and actions. What’s more, this study bears a critical aspect that will contribute to the structural transformation of businesses. Furthermore, since there is no study in the literature that discusses and examines the friendly metaphor issue outside the mainstream management approaches in the context of businesses, the door-opening feature of this study should not be overlooked.

    2. DESIGN and METHOD

    Critical management studies (Goldman, 2016) that dare to step out of the comfort area of traditional mainstream management and organization studies and thus approach the existing theories with suspicion (Goldman, 2016) aim at humanizing business processes, creating an alternative to bureaucratic structures, realizing democracy in the workplace, ensuring the participation of employees in management, and establishing a balance between work life and other areas of life. Organizations should not be considered simply as institutions that offer a number of goods and services. The basic principle that organizations are the establishments that produce and reproduce man (Cooper, 2001, Akt.:Yıldırım, 2010) is one of the main reasons why the use of friendly metaphor in organizations has been the main point of focus in this study.


    Although this study has the characteristics of a traditional review, the friendly metaphor concept used for businesses has been discussed from the perspective of critical management studies.


    This study is seeking a critical answer to the question “Is friendly metaphor a search for virtue for businesses?”


    Friendship, which is the subject of this study, is regarded as a virtue both in the works belonging to the Aristotle period and those after Aristotle. In studies conducted on the concept of virtue, we see friendship as a dimension in the scales developed to measure individual and organizational virtue. Businesses are rendered informal with the aforementioned friendly metaphor. This informalization blurs the boundary between work life and non-work life. This blurry condition basically plays a role in favor of the company, while it has the potential to turn into a rather disturbing picture for the employee. Metaphor, which is used to ensure high commitment to the business, also paves the way for the employee to encounter more workload.
    Instead of “friendly metaphor,” especially after 1990s, there is a use of “environmentally friendly enterprise” in businesses due to a sustainable environment concern. In addition, while there were a limited number of studies (Hogg & Harker, 1992) on “family-friendly businesses” in the same period, the category of “user-friendly businesses” emerged with the inclusion of technology producing businesses. Today, it can be seen that friendly metaphor is widely used by businesses, but there is no critical and theoretical study on the subject.
    According to the findings of this study, it is possible to say that new categories are added every passing day to the categories where friendly metaphor is being used, and even further, one may speak of fairly specific categories such as businesses that are food allergy friendly, train friendly, student friendly or user friendly. However, in this study, explanations particularly about women, family, baby and elderly friendly enterprises are included. Similar to employee-friendly businesses that have the capability to increase the employees’ level of job satisfaction, strengthen their business relationships and ensure their participation in management, family and female-friendly businesses can also increase the productivity of their employees by reducing the time they spend in the business through part-time or flexible-time work programs. The friendly categories mentioned here naturally bring to minds Fleming’s (2020) aphorism that “capitalism cannot exist without classes.” However, it is not the labor-capital relations that are in question here, but it is the classes that capitalism creates to its favor. Gender, age and even religion are used in the society in a very functional way. As stated at the beginning, it is not possible to reach friendliness, which is a virtue, through false truthfulness. However, metaphors are elements with linguistic power that have the potential to transform organizational cultures in time. In this respect, it should be underlined that the use of friendly metaphor in organizations has eventually come to a point that cannot be underestimated.


    In this study, through a fragmented approach and with a style that is far from being holistic, it was tried to critically evaluate the issue of friendly metaphor used in the form of so-called truthfulness in organizations by possessing absolute power and command and perceiving various characteristics of employees in the form of weakness. The most important thing that the companies in different categories associated with friendly metaphor in the study should realize is that they could achieve their main goals only if all the aforesaid friendly categories are brought together within the organization. In short, it should be kept in mind that we cannot be innovation friendly without being employee friendly, and employee friendly or family friendly without being woman friendly. Friendly metaphor can be considered as an effort to close the flaws of enterprises with the help of a band-aid. Consequently, it would be beneficial to use the true friendly metaphor, which has the potential to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, rather than using it in the form of false truthfulness. At this point, does friendly metaphor have the potential to transform businesses? Or whether it will remain just a band-aid remains to be seen. Yet, what is known for now is that the enterprises are far from having conceived the understanding stated by Yunus Emre in his words: “Friend’s house is our hearts, and I came to make hearts.”