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The Hero’s FarewellWhat Happens When CEOs Retire$
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Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780195065831

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195065831.001.0001

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Heroes in Late Career

Heroes in Late Career

(p.3) 1 Heroes in Late Career
The Hero’s Farewell

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

Oxford University Press

Society has come to recognize the leaders of modern corporations, among many others, as heroes. In order to understand why some business leaders are being seen in larger-than-life contexts, this chapter examines the concept of hero as illustrated in mythology and folk literature. It argues that what business heroes have in common with the heroes of myth and religion is that they not only symbolize dreams and aspirations to their firms, and even to general society, but also are accomplishers of pragmatic goals. The chapter also presents how the heroic self-concepts of leaders in the latter part of their careers, tempered by the corporate settings, gives rise to distinctly different departure styles. Four categories are illustrated: monarch-like exits, general-like exits, ambassador-like exits, and governor-like exits. This chapter concludes by providing a brief outline of the book which includes an overview of the succeeding chapters, the book's goals, and the primary sources of data.

Keywords:   modern corporations, heroes, business leaders, mythology, heroic self-concepts, departure styles, corporate settings

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