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 8: The Sage

Monika Kostera

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies


The Sage, or Senex, is one of the classical archetypes (Jung, [1959] 1990) referring to social role. The Sage is an older person, rich in experience, who shares their wisdom with the younger generation. The Sage can be a man (he appears in myths and stories as an old man, a prophet or a magus) or a woman (a wise old lady, a witch or an oracle) but, as the gender is not essential to the interpretation of the archetype I use here, I will use the term ‘Sage’ to designate a social role, regardless of the person’s gender. The Senex can use information, experience and knowledge in a way that goes beyond their technical and rational qualities, because wisdom is more than these qualities. The Sage knows a lot about the world and human nature, and can be a mystic or a philosopher, has an open mind and a liking and understanding for everything that is human. They can be absent-minded and seem ‘otherworldly’, without having a negative attitude towards the world. Their estrangement from the world results from not pursuing goals the majority of people find desirable, like riches, fame or success. Sometimes the Senex is a stranger – which stresses their position outside the ordinary social reality, and sometimes they are presented as a borderline character, a visitor from another dimension, half-angelic, half-human, maybe a time traveller.

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