“… the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor by Aristotle, as cited in Leary (1995: 268)
Metaphorical language, often in the form of relational metaphors describing organizational relationships, is pervasively used especially in the context of international joint ventures (IJVs). For example, a manager states his joint venture is “a marriage made in heaven,” suggesting a smooth and cooperative relationship between the international partners (Crooks, 2011). In contrast, another manager describes the disputes between two IJV partners as, “The feud … resembles a particularly messy marriage breakdown,” conveying a rocky and competitive relationship (Guthrie, 2011: 14). Metaphorical language serves a symbolic role that reflects each partner’s understanding of the venture, and partners’ metaphors together can signal a collective understanding of their relationship (Brannen, 2004). When metaphors are shared, the symbolic language of metaphors represents a congruent view of the organizational processes and resources utilized by the partners during alliance operations (Brannen & Doz, 2012; Gibson & Zellmer-Bruhn, 2001). Brannen (2004) maintains that “semantic fit,” or the shared use and understanding of corporate language, is critical to navigating the foreignness among culturally distant partners and achieving performance outcomes.