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 3: Archetypes in organizations

Monika Kostera

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies


Stories that touch us in an exceptional way, that resonate in the most profound layers of the human soul, have such a strong influence because they use archetypes. Carl Gustav Jung ([1959] 1990) believed in the existence of a collective unconscious, a spiritual domain connecting all humanity. It is this space that contains archetypes, or empty slots, ready to accommodate images, characters or plots important to culture and individual development. They are universal in time and space and do not become obsolete with passage of time – on the contrary, they remain vividly alive, and their role is to inspire new ideas and interpretations. Jungian archetypes are very general; they neither specify nor evaluate their content. They activate the imagination to engage in continuous crossing of the boundaries of what is known and familiar. Archetypes as such are neither good nor bad; they all have their bright and dark sides. They are universally shared ways of understanding the world but on a very profound level, without giving it any concrete shape or ascribing values and norms to it. They actualize themselves only when they are filled with the content of conscious sensations and experiences. They exist simultaneously in two spaces: the intersubjective, common to all people; and the individual, internal spiritual space. They can be perceived as pathways connecting us to something larger than ourselves, as well as windows overlooking meanings.

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