Organizations and Archetypes

Organizations and Archetypes

Monika Kostera

Archetypes are common patterns containing hidden images of human motivations, offering inspiration and awakening imagination. This book is a collection of such tales, connected to twelve organizational archetypes, where each is illustrated by more general theoretical reflections, current management and organization theory literature, as well as practical examples. Monika Kostera proposes an imagery and language for self-management and self-organization for non-corporate use including entrepreneurs and multipurpose NGOs.

Chapter 2: Culture and organizational stories

Monika Kostera

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies


Charles Perrow (1991) described the contemporary times as a world of organizations. Organizations have existed since time immemorial; they came into being the moment people started cooperating in an ordered way to reach goals unavailable to a single person. What makes our time different, however, is that organizations have become omnipresent. An organization, public or private healthcare, usually welcomes us when we are born; we are raised, taught and employed by organizations; they provide us with entertainment and enable us to do things together. Even those who ‘are against organizations organize themselves to protest against them’ (Czarniawska-Joerges, 1994, p. 16). People may not spend their whole lives in organizations, but their entire lives are totally organized and there is no way to avoid it (Burrell, 1988). Definitely, organizations are an important part of life for contemporary people, to which they devote much time, attention and energy. No wonder that it is within organizations that people place and find their hopes, efforts, dreams and aspirations. This book is dedicated to meaning in contemporary organizations, workplaces: how people look for it, create it and talk about it. But first, I will briefly explain what organizations are, as seen by organization theory. Organizations, like many social phenomena, can be regarded in two different ways: as structures or as processes (see e.g. Hatch, 1997; Czarniawska, 2009). Both approaches are equally valuable, and equally true. Organizations are indeed complex phenomena that cannot be directly experienced or described (see Morgan, [1986] 2006).

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