Intention in Hybrid Organizations: The Diffusion of the Business Metaphor in Swedish Laws
Journal article, 2015
© 2013, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Recent studies of conceptual metaphors in a legal context have often dealt with the power of embodiment. However, the connotations of culturally originated metaphors could be different when they appear in laws and regulations. In particular, the role of metaphor when the legislator wishes to define intention in hybrid organizations is investigated here. The case studied is how a conceptual metaphor of ‘business’ manifesting itself in the Swedish simile adjective affärsmässig (businesslike) has spread over 40 years. ‘Business’ early on acquired connotations such as impartiality and methodical approach, and can be used metaphorically. Introduced in the regulation of public procurement, ‘businesslike’ was later used to regulate conflicts of interest, restrict state aid and also entered tax legislation. Analysis of Swedish court decisions where ‘businesslike’ occurs shows how the emphasis has shifted from public sector efficiency to neo-liberal principles of competition, while stronger social norms related to environmental effects have led to the term being removed from the Public Procurement Act. Elements of a mixed jurisdiction arise from reliance on EU case-law, and national use of ambiguous cultural metaphors in legal texts and court decisions is a plausible response.