Building novel supply chain theory using 'metaphorical imagination'

Victoria Stephens, Lee Matthews, Joep Cornelissen, Hefin Rowlands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we explore how supply chain theorists can engage with metaphorical imagination to develop supply chain theory. Our main purpose was to provide additional useful guidance on how scholars can approach the method of metaphoric transfer. To do this, we build on previous work on the metaphoric transfer method and develop the Metaphoric Transfer Pathways framework. The framework offers two novel approaches to working with metaphors that will help theorists to best leverage the theorizing potential of metaphors in their work. We also develop a set of evaluation criteria which can help scholars to choose which approach to metaphoric transfer to adopt and to maximize the productivity of metaphors used within their theorizing efforts. Our paper synthesizes the existing literature on metaphorical imagination in a novel way to provide accessible guidance for those looking to work with metaphor and to maximize their contribution toward developing novel supply chain theory.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Supply Chain Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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