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Spiritual performance from an organizational perspective: the Starbucks way

Joan F. Marques (Instructor, Business and Management, Woodbury University, Burbank, California, USA.)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 13 June 2008




The purpose of this paper is to illustrate spiritual performance from the perspective of a globally operating corporation.


The paper uses spirituality at work as its subject‐matter and takes the form of a literature review. The paper approaches the topic by: giving a general overview of the shift in global corporate behavior; a short historical review of American business culture; defining workplace spirituality; examining Starbucks Corporation's performance from three angles: suppliers and societies, employees, and customers; and a conclusion and postscript.


The paper finds that: spiritual behavior at the organizational level does lead to enhanced corporate performance; workplace spirituality, when encouraged by top management, is oftentimes instigated by personal life experiences; and spiritual behavior, at the organizational level, leads to advantages for multiple stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations to the research are that the research findings were of a secondary nature. The information was gathered through massive readings, but not through primary research‐gathering processes. This study only reviews the performance of one major corporate entity, which reduces the justification of generalizability. Suggestions for future research would be: applying primary studies on a broader sample of globally operating entities to measure their spiritual performance; and formulating particular standards for this type of measurement.

Practical implications

The practical implications are that globally operating but also smaller entities may start scrutinizing their performance toward stakeholders in a more spiritual light.


New in this paper is the: viewpoint of the Starbucks corporation as a spiritually performing entity; reflection of this major corporation's behavior in three dimensions: toward employees, customers, and suppliers and societies; and reflection of the elements of the definition used here for spirit at work on Starbucks' performance.



Marques, J.F. (2008), "Spiritual performance from an organizational perspective: the Starbucks way", Corporate Governance, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 248-257.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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