Intuitively, groups of people, be it a business, sporting club, or international corporation are recognized by a particular flavor of consciousness. Broadly described as organizational culture, this article presents a methodology to systematically enter and explore organizational consciousness described by Helen Russ as the organizational lexion. Drawn from idealist philosophy, particularly Plato’s Theory of Forms, metaphysical mapping is a systematic subjective technique to map consciousness, described by Plato as intelligible realms. Plato uses the Allegory of the Cave and the Analogy of the Divided Line to explain the difference between the visible and the intelligible. This article presents a method to systematically enter and explore that which is intelligible within an organizational context. Case studies in Ireland, Australia, and the United States are the contexts. The methodology is significant because it provides a subjective, systematic, repeatable process to map and, therefore critique, the consciousness of groups. Organizations largely run on “vibes” on subtle feelings and beliefs. This method allows mappers to enter this field of perception and experience the pathways, behavior, and systems of the lexion from the inside. A plethora of qualitative and quantitative techniques explore organizational behavior and culture. These techniques use participant observation, surveys, and metaphor to explore what can be known through conceptual, analytical, or descriptive mental processes. Edgar Schein argues that (1) artifacts and behaviors, (2) espoused values, and (3) shared basic assumptions are categories for understanding culture. There are, to date, no techniques recognized academically that actively engage with Noetic realms, beyond the levels described by Schein. Metaphysical mapping provides material to critique, discuss, and actively work with organizational consciousness. While it has significant implications for organizational integrity and design, here it is presented as an additional qualitative tool for understanding the lexion or “meta” organization within a mixed methods framework.
The management of organizational culture, while extensively studied, remains one of the most challenging components of work in business, community, and corporate life (Bodley, 1994; Geertz, 1973; Hofstede, 1983; Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1963; Schein, 1984). The complexity of the subject is often approached by gaining multiple perspectives through a mixed-method framework (Hayes et al., 2016; Turner et al., 2015). Cameron and Ettington (1988) suggest the main investigative tools are studies using participate observation, metaphorical language, and quantitative research or surveys (p.16), each of which is grounded in a standpoint that is conceptual, analytical, or descriptive. There are no current methods that explore organizational culture from an experiential or Noetic standpoint, that allow researchers to enter the field of consciousness associated with the organization, that systematically map the component of organizations that is beyond the level of opinion, and that places what we describe as culture within a cosmological context. This research presents a method to address this.