Religion and Organization Theory: Volume 41

Table of contents

(18 chapters)
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Advisory board

Pages xi-xii
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Abstract

Despite its central importance in nearly all societies, religion has been largely neglected in the study of organizations and management. In this introduction to the volume on religion and organization theory, we argue that such neglect limits unnecessarily the relevance and scope of organization and management theory (OMT) and that there is therefore great value in connecting organizational research with a deeper appreciation and concern for religion. We begin by speculating about some of the reasons why organization and management theorists are hesitant to study religion, and go on to discuss some nascent points of contact between religion and OMT. We conclude with a discussion of the articles in this volume, which represent an attempt to remedy this unfortunate blind spot within OMT scholarship.

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Abstract

This article reviews research published in secular management journals that examines what the world’s largest religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Islam) say about management. In terms of how religion informs management, the literature identifies two basic means: (1) written scriptures (e.g., Analects, Bible, Quran) and (2) experiential spiritual practices (e.g., prayer, mindfulness). In terms of what religion says about management, the emphasis tends to be either on (1) enhancing, or (2) liberating mainstream management. Studies based on scriptures typically either enhance or liberate management, whereas empirical research based on spiritual disciplines consistently point to liberation. Implications are discussed.

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Abstract

Religious institutions can affect organizational practices when employees bring their religious commitments and practices into the workplace. But those religious commitments function in the midst of other organizational factors that influence the working out of employees’ religious commitments. This process can generate varying outcomes in organizational contexts, ranging from a heightened effect of religious commitment on employee behavior to a negligible or nonexistent influence of religion on employee behavior. Relying on social identity theory and schematic social cognition as unifying frameworks for the study of religious behavior, we develop a theoretically informed approach to understanding how and why the religious beliefs, commitments and practices employees bring to work have varying behavioral impacts.

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Abstract

In this article we consider how cultural resources rooted in religion help to constitute and animate people working in industrialized societies across both religious and nonreligious domains. We argue that redemptive self-narratives figure prominently in the symbolic constructions people attach to their experiences across the many domains of human experience; such redemptive narratives not only can shape their identities and sense of life purpose, they inform their practices and choices and animate their capacity for action. To consider how redemptive self-narratives can provide a basis for agency in organizations, we analyze and compare the career narratives of a retired Episcopal Bishop and a celebrated CEO.

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Purpose

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

Design/methodology/approach

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?

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

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Abstract

Megachurches represent an interesting empirical and conceptual phenomenon. Empirically, megachurches (Protestant churches with average weekly attendance of greater than 2,000 members) are growing at a time when overall church participation in the United States is steady or declining. Conceptually, megachurch pastors can be viewed as institutional leaders who attempt to reconcile new technologies and large congregations within a highly institutionalized setting. While many of these megachurches have a denominational affiliation, some do not. In this essay, we describe the literature on megachurches and offer observations about the megachurch as an institution. Drawing from preliminary analysis of a sample of over 1,400 megachurches (identified from the Hartford Institute for Religious Research), we also draw tentative conclusions about the characteristics of the pastors of megachurches, and one growing institutional maintenance practice: writing texts. We propose that examining megachurches can help extend the current research on institutional leadership, institutional work, and institutional support mechanisms.

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This article examines Max Weber’s theory of value spheres as a basis for a polytheistic religious sociology of institutional life. Weber’s approach implies institutional theory as a form of comparative religion. Two problems present themselves. If the values of the spheres are to be considered as “gods,” they do not align easily with Weber’s sociology of religion. Given that love was central both as a driver and a constituent in Weber’s understanding of salvation religions, it also implies that love be incorporated into our theorizing of institutional life, something entirely absent in the way we think about enduring forms of social organization. Taking the second seriously may enable us to fabricate a solution to the first.

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We discuss a recent effort of institutional resistance in the context of the 2008–2011 Apostolic Visitation of U.S. women religious motivated by Vatican concerns about perceived secularism and potential lack of fidelity among Catholic sisters. We examined the process of and women’s responses to the Visitation to shed light on the institutional work associated with productive resistance and the role of identity and emotions in transforming institutions.

At a time when the male leadership can be blamed for leading the church to a state of crisis – a time when the voices of women are needed more than ever – even the modest roles accorded to female clerics have come under attack. The specific reasons for the investigation are unclear (or, more probably, not public), but the suspicion, clearly, can be put in the crassest terms: too many American nuns have gone off the reservation.

– Lisa Miller, Female Troubles, Newsweek, May 27, 2010

At a time when the male leadership can be blamed for leading the church to a state of crisis – a time when the voices of women are needed more than ever – even the modest roles accorded to female clerics have come under attack. The specific reasons for the investigation are unclear (or, more probably, not public), but the suspicion, clearly, can be put in the crassest terms: too many American nuns have gone off the reservation.

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In this article, we use the case of religious research universities to explore the presence of multiple institutional logics with the potential for contradiction and conflict. In particular, building on existing research on conflicting institutional logics, we assess the most common forms of resolution (replacement, dominant logic, decoupling, compartmentalization, and coexistence) and identify the potential for a new form of resolution – a transformative outcome that resolves the conflicts through adoption of a superordinate logic. Drawing on the history of Baylor University, we illustrate different forms of resolution, proposing its most recent efforts may represent a transformative outcome. We close by presenting a model for resolving institutional contradictions which suggest some resolutions may trigger cycles of institutionalization and deinstitutionalization when they are inherently unstable because they mitigate rather than resolve the conflict between institutional logics.

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This article explores how social actors negotiate the competing logics they face as a result of their work in organizations subject to institutional complexity. In particular, I theoretically focus on the unique characteristics associated with societal institutional logics, such as religion, family, and the state. Empirically, I analyze religious mutual funds (Catholic, Muslim, and Protestant) in the United States that dwell at the intersection of the competing logics of religion and finance. Through interviews with 31 people who work at religious mutual funds (or fund producers) and content analysis of religious mutual fund material, I focus on the symbolic boundary work that religious fund producers engage in. I find examples of boundary blurring and boundary building and suggest institutional complexity that involves at least one societal logic is especially likely to foster both modes of boundary work. This, I propose, leads to an increased likelihood of enduring institutional complexity.

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In the last 10 years or so, a growing body of research has highlighted the importance of social movements as the mechanism through which fields change or new fields emerge. This article contributes to this body of research by studying how an organization was able to promote institutional change from the center of a field by channeling the legitimacy generated by local religious movements. Data comes from the archives of a special commission within the Catholic Church that developed rules for adjudicating miracles performed by candidates to sainthood. The social movement is composed of candidates and their supporters who mobilized local communities using miracles. The period of the analysis was the aftermath of the Protestant Schism, when long-established practices and beliefs were fundamentally challenged. By approving miracles that created ties between individuals that spanned across kinship and social status boundaries, the commission was able to channel legitimacy into the wounded core of the Church. At the same time, receiving Rome’s approval reduced the competition the candidate’s supporters faced from other religious activists. The noncontentious interaction that occurred between the two actors gave birth to the field of modern sainthood. The main implication for organization theory is that, even in the absence of conflict, a new environment and ideology can emerge endogenously from the center of a field and transform both the organization and the social movement.

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A growing religious-environmental movement is working to reconcile environmental thought and practice with the mission and ministry of religious organizations. We examine two leading interfaith social change organizations and identify key strategies they routinely employ to create shared meaning and alignment between environmentalism and faith. They reframe stewardship in religious organizations by (1) highlighting and interpreting environmental themes in sacred texts and scriptures, (2) celebrating and fostering mutual awareness of environmental action by faith-based organizations, and (3) providing resources and creating linkages between clergy and lay leaders across religious congregations. By emphasizing moral and spiritual rationales for the adoption of resource-saving products and behaviors at both the congregational and household level, these networked organizations help shift the perception of global climate change from an insurmountable problem to one that is being addressed in cooperation with similar others. Our investigation reveals organizational actors deeply engaged in growing moral calls for political action to address climate change and underscores the need for more socially realistic models of technology adoption and behavior change.

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DOI
10.1108/S0733-558X201441
Publication date
2014-04-16
Book series
Research in the Sociology of Organizations
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78190-693-4
eISBN
978-1-78190-693-4
Book series ISSN
0733-558X