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Philosophy of Management

Volume 5, Issue 1, 2005

Real Worlds

Stephen Sheard
Pages 67-84

White Mythology
From Linear to Virtual Value Chains in E-Business

This article examines the development of the concept of the value chain from the linear to the virtual conception of the chain, through the evolution of the literature from Michael Porter’s writings of the mid 1990s to the theorists of e-business and e-commerce in the later 1990s I argue that Porter’s account employs white metaphors and that writings on the virtual value chain both extend the white metaphors of Porter’s linear chain, and suggest a pronouncedly metaphysical system of thought – one which has correlates in areas of thought, including Renaissance Neo-Platonism, cybernetics and the discourse of cyberspace. I suggest that this offers a model of the advance of metaphor - of its usure, as described by Derrida in his White Mythology - and that this model can be synthesised with the views of Ricoeur about the evolution of metaphor towards symbolism. When we apply these ideas of Derrida and Ricoeur to the development of the White Metaphor of the linear chain towards a progressive symbolism, we can see a correlation between the complex causality inferred as a feature of the virtual chain and the cosmological affinities of Renaissance notions of causation.

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