The purpose of this paper is to contribute to existing critiques of workplace spirituality and organizational culture. The paper links the two by problematising definitions of workplace spirituality that employ a “culture approach” to change, in which the construct is limited to a set of values that gives particular meaning to the workplace.
Properties of Weick's sensemaking model combined with a critical sensemaking approach are used to analyze texts in order to show how a spiritual culture may shape the actions of its members by serving as an implicit form of managerial control.
The paper reveals how some texts, Mitroff and Denton's, in particular, advocate workplace spirituality as necessary for organizations and the individuals who work in them to prosper. Simultaneously, such texts may imply a form of pastoral power, the purpose of which is to re‐affirm a positive self‐image, due to the cueing effects of language that is voiced in specific contexts.
The paper suggests that a cultural approach to understanding workplace spirituality influences how people can make sense of the organization in which they are members. The potential inordinate reverence of work and one's contribution toward enhanced organizational performance is of interest to all members of organizations because it highlights how control is achieved.
The paper offers some insights into the conditions that promulgate the linkage between work and spiritual fulfilment, and it promotes the continuing development of critical spirituality in organizations in order to overcome the potential managerial instrumentality that is highlighted in this paper.
Long, B.S. and Helms Mills, J. (2010), "Workplace spirituality, contested meaning, and the culture of organization: A critical sensemaking account", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 325-341. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534811011049635Download as .RIS
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