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Spiritual insights in cross‐cultural conflicts and mediation in ecclesiastical organizations in Tanzania

Claude‐Hélène Mayer (Department of Management, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa)
Christian Boness (Institut für Interkulturelle Praxis & Konfliktmanagement, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 23 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to provide insights into cross‐cultural conflicts and their management in ecclesiastical organizations in Tanzania. It aims at increasing the understanding of these complexities from an emic perspective of employees with a Christian background, thereby providing in‐depth information on the topic. These new insights provide fresh ideas for further research on this topic in the Tanzanian context.


Qualitative data were selected from a more comprehensive case study carried out in multiple governmental, educational, ecclesiastical and economic organizations in Tanzania. The case study was based on phenomenological and interpretative paradigms and hermeneutical interpretations using qualitative methodology including in‐depth interviews and observation during field stays, as well as documentary and secondary analysis.


The findings show that senior management staff of ecclesiastical organizations function as mediators for conflicting parties to regain harmony and peace through third‐party intervention and spiritual self‐development. Mediation in ecclesiastical organizations is mainly used in relationship conflicts, employment conflicts and church re‐structuring processes. It supports the resolution of value conflicts between the conflict parties and the environment and at the same time re‐constructs religious and Christian values and concepts, such as the concept of “Shalom” and “creating lobe” and thereby re‐enforces spiritual integrity and the reality of the church.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are not generalizable and are limited to this specific research context. Findings should be verified by follow‐up studies which expand the content, the context and the methodological approach of this study. These findings should be viewed as exploratory research findings and as highly contextual and sample‐bound.

Practical implications

The paper describes the practical implications for further research relating to future research topics for researchers interested in the field of cross‐cultural conflict management in ecclesiastical organizations in Tanzania.


The authors present original data and provide new insights into managing conflicts in Tanzanian ecclesiastical organizations through mediation.



Mayer, C. and Boness, C. (2011), "Spiritual insights in cross‐cultural conflicts and mediation in ecclesiastical organizations in Tanzania", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 171-190.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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