Data warehousing is an information technology (IT) innovation based on an evocative metaphor for physical materials management. This metaphor has implications not only for the design of corporate-wide databases but also for the meaning and utility of data used in business analysis and for relationships between IS staff and end-users. While acknowledging that data warehousing offers many benefits, this paper argues that the data warehousing approach has been applied without critical reflection on the cognitive mappings implied by the underlying metaphor and that possible consequences of its use as a guide for organizing IT practices have not been fully explored. The paper examines the metaphorical implications of data warehousing in concept and presents findings of an empirical study of a data warehousing project that illustrated limitations of metaphor in practice. Drawn from these conceptual and empirical analyses, a critique of the metaphor highlights inherent limitations in the data warehousing concept for conceptualizing key aspects of the organizational data management problem. Implications for theory and practice are considered.