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Organizational form, structure, and religious organizations

Religion and Organization Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78190-692-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-693-4

Publication date: 16 April 2014



This article reviews the historical development of the treatment of religious organizations in journals centered on religion.


The article asks four questions: (1) Are religious organizations different from other kinds of organizations? (2) What factors produce differences or similarities between religious and other organizations? (3) Are religious organizations different from each other?


Differences from other kinds of organizations are based in beliefs/theology. But there is a constant concern with the bureaucratization of religious organizations as they are subject to general organizational influences such as scale and geographical dispersion. However, it is argued that these general influences emanate from belief systems. We suggest the need for a renewed attention to a comparative organizations perspective in organization theory – one that appreciates the similarities and differences between sectors and within sectors.


Not only are there differences between religious and nonreligious organizations, but there are also substantial differences between religious organizations. There are also similarities between religious and nonreligious organizations, as well as similarities between religious organizations. The way forward for both the study of religious organizations and organizational theory in general is to look for explanations for these similarities and differences.



Hinings, C.R. and Raynard, M. (2014), "Organizational form, structure, and religious organizations", Religion and Organization Theory (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 41), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 159-186.



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