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Spirituality in the Workplace

An Emerging Phenomenon

Judith A. Neal, Ph.D.

Work is a major portion of most of our lives, and usually a large part of our identities. In Western society, work has traditionally been very much a secular activity, and quite separate from a person’s religious or spiritual life. That is changing, and I believe that it is a much needed change. For too long, we have had a Cartesian split between our minds, our hands, and our hearts. Matthew Fox, a former priest writes:

Life and livelihood ought not to be separated but to flow from the same source, which is Spirit, for both life and livelihood are about Spirit. Spirit means life, and both life and livelihood are about living in depth, living with meaning, purpose, joy, and a sense of contributing to the greater community. A spirituality of work is about bringing life and livelihood back together again, and Spirit with them.[1]

Since the early 1990s, there has been a dramatic emergence of interest in spirituality in the workplace. In this article, I will define what I mean by ‘spirituality in the workplace’, discuss the reasons for this trend, and describe some of the primary research and theories in the field. But first it is important to see how people in this newly emerging field define ‘spirit’ and ‘spirituality’. These definitions do not come from theologians or religious teachers. Rather, they come from people who are deeply immersed in corporate life.

Defining Spirit

The word ‘Spirit’ comes from the Latin words ‘spirare’,to breathe and ‘spiritus’, the breath.[2]Without breath, we would not be alive. So ‘Spirit’ has something to do with the energy or force that gives us the gift of life.

In most spiritual traditions, people believe that the spirit leaves our body when we die, and that it continues to develop. Moxley writes that spirit helps to define the ‘true, real, unique self that is us. It confirms our individuality [...] We are who we are because of spirit’.[3]

Defining Spirituality

Most of the management authors and consultants[4] who work in the field of spirituality in the workplace define the human being as consisting of four parts or four types of energy: (1) physical: Our ability to take good care of our bodies and physical well-being; (2) mental: Our ability to think clearly, learn, and make good decisions; (3) Emotional: Our ability to create positive relationships and to handle difficult situations; (4) Spiritual: Our ability to connect to something greater than ourselves and to be of service in the world.

To some degree or another, the workplace tends to pay attention to the first three energies, but spiritual energy encompasses these other three and brings in the intangible, life-affirming energy that Fairholm describes as follows:

One’s spirituality is the essence of who he or she is. It defines the inner self, separate from the body, but including the physical and intellectual self [...] Spirituality also is the quality of being spiritual, of recognizing the intangible, life-affirming force in self and all human beings. It is a state of intimate relationship with the inner self of higher values and morality. It is recognition of the truth of the inner nature of people.[5]

Defining Spirituality in the Workplace

It is fairly common for people to interchange the terms ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’. This often leads to resistance in discussions about spirituality in the workplace because some people fear that you are going to be talking about religion in the workplace. Hawley[6] describes religion as institutional, based on a prescribed set of dogma and beliefs, and collective; spirituality is individualized.

 Religion is an important source of spirituality for many people, but it is not the only source. In a U.S. study of leaders in the spirituality in the workplace movement, Schaefer and Darling[7] found that about 80% of the people who identified themselves as deeply committed to their spirituality were not aligned with any particular religion. So while the two concepts are intertwined, they are not interchangeable. Most of the people who identify themselves as spiritual but not religious, would readily admit that they have been influenced by one or more religious traditions. In defining spirituality in the workplace, it is important to speak in terms that do not create a sense of resistance because of the religious connotations. While not an academic approach, poetry is one way to begin this exploration.

James Autry is author of several books about spirituality in the workplace including Love and Profit[8] and Life and Work,[9] and is the former CEO of Meredith Corporation, a very large U.S. magazine publishing company. Autry’s books are filled with his poetry, and a very popular one is ‘Threads’ which is excerpted here. This poem is one of the simplest ways I know to describe what spirituality in the workplace is:

Listen.

In every office you hear the threads

of love and joy and fear and guilt,

the cries for celebration and reassurance,

and somehow you know that connecting those

threads is what you are supposed to do

and business takes care of itself.[10]

Poetry tends to get to the heart of what we as human beings try to express. But academia requires that we become more conceptual and grounded in our definitions, so that we are better able to conduct scientifically valid research, and so that what we teach is reasonably clear and uncluttered. This definition comes from Neal’s review of the wide array of management practices and programs in organizations, and begins to approximate a conceptual definition.

Spirituality in the workplace is about people seeing their work as a spiritual path, as an opportunity to grow personally and to contribute to society in a meaningful way. It is about learning to be more caring and compassionate with fellow employees, with bosses, with subordinates and customers. It is about integrity, being true to oneself and telling the truth to others. It means attempting to live your values more fully in your work. It can refer to the ways in which organizations structure themselves to support the spiritual development of employees.[11]

However, the source of this definition is more anecdotal than conceptual. Gibbons in his critical analysis of the literature in the field of spirituality in the workplace offers the following definition, which is the one used in this paper; ‘A journey toward integration of work and spirituality, for individuals and organizations, which provides direction, wholeness and connectedness at work’.[12]

A Brief History of the Evolution of Management Theory

The field of management is relatively new in academia, with most theories and schools of thought emerging in the 20th century. The following section acquaints the reader with some of the seminal schools of thought as they have emerged over the last one hundred years, and posits that spirituality will be a significant force in future management conceptualization, research, and teaching.

The first school of thought was the Classical School of Management. It was based on the idea of the ‘economic man’.[13] The belief was that workers were motivated by money only. The classical theories were developed around the turn of the 20th century, when many workers were illiterate, and when there was a huge influx of immigrants who may not have spoken English. Frederick Taylor[14] was the first person to develop ideas and practices on how to make organizations more effective. He focused on efficiency and on keeping work instructions simple and repetitive. That made sense at the time because of the nature of the workforce and the relative simplicity of the technology. Man was viewed as an extension of the machine, and Classical Theories focused on time and motion studies and other efforts at making the physical body of the worker more efficient.

The Human Relations School developed in the 1930s, most notably with the Hawthorne Studies.[15] The lighting studies at the Western Electric Plant in Chicago, Illinois were designed to be a form of efficiency study. However, anomalies developed in the studies that led researchers to hypothesize about the social nature of workers. It was discovered that they were not motivated by money alone, but that social needs were also an important part of the work experience. The view of ‘Man’ was expanded from a focus on efficiency of the physical body, to a focus that also included the emotional nature of the worker. Researchers were surprised to find that workers were not just motivated by money and that relationships and a sense of participation could have a significant impact on productivity.

Beginning in the 1970s, with the advent of Quality Circles and later with the Total Quality Management programs,[16] we see an expansion of the view of ‘Man’. Workers used to joke that management wanted you to check your brains in at the door, and just do as you were told. But an underlying premise of these quality approaches, with a heavy emphasis on worker participation, was that the worker was the expert at his or her job. A new awareness of the intellectual capabilities of workers began to emerge. Workers were not just physical bodies that were extensions of the machines, or emotional beings with social needs, they had minds that were valuable. Their expertise and knowledge was a goldmine if you could provide tools and techniques to help them use these abilities to improve productivity and quality.

I worked as an internal organizational development consultant and manager during the 1980s. I was involved in Quality Circles, in Total Employee Involvement, in Statistical Process Control, in Total Quality Management, and in Self-Managing Work Teams. With each new managerial approach I could see that management was taking a larger view of what was valuable about workers, and what it meant to be human. Yet, none of these managerial approaches ever reached its fullest potential, and none of them are in operation in the facilities that I worked with. They were not sustainable.

For the longest time I asked myself what was missing. Each of these approaches had so much possibility, and they were quite visionary and progressive. The organizations invested heavily in an effort to make them successful. And they each were successful for a while. Then, while reading spiritual literature about the four aspects of being human, I saw what was missing. As mentioned earlier, most spiritual traditions speak of the human being as made up of body, mind, emotion, and spirit. Each of the stages of evolution of management thought had focused on one of these aspects. The Classical School focused on the body. The Human Relations School focused on the emotions. The Quality Movement focused on the mind. What was missing was an incorporation of the spiritual nature of human beings. We are just now beginning to see that emerge in the study and teaching of management theory, as well as in organizational practice. Before we examine some of the evidence of this emerging trend, the next section will describe some of the factors that have led to the increased interest in spirituality in the workplace.

Trends that Have Led to an Interest in Spirituality in the Workplace

There have been five major trends[17] that have led to an increased interest in integrating spirituality and work: (1) The changing psychological contract for work; (2) Changing demographics and aging of the workforce; (3) The Millennium Effect; (4) Increased interest in self-help groups and personal growth; (5) September 11, 2001 and terrorism.

The first trend is a result of the mergers, acquisitions, and the resultant downsizing in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. It used to be that the psychological contract with an organization was that if you performed reasonably well and stayed out of trouble that you would have a job for life. Noer[18] states that there is now a new employee contract. This contract states that, to paraphrase Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, ‘we can’t guarantee you a job for life, but we will try to ensure that you are marketable’. The result of this is that people can no longer depend on the organization to provide them stability and security. In an evolutionary sense, this means that instead of looking externally for something to provide meaning, people are beginning to look within. In some cases this means that people are examining their inner lives, their core values, their purpose in life, and finding that meaning comes from within, from their spirituality.

The second major trend is demographic. In the United States and many Western countries, baby boomers – which comprise the largest age segment of the population – are all reaching middle age at the same time. So in a sense, it is as if this particular society is having a mid-life crisis. Middle age is a time for many when we look back at where are lives have come from and look forward to the kind of life we want to live in the future. It is a time of self-assessment, and can be a time of recommitment to deeper values. This generation is the generation that grew up in the 1960’s and who began looking into Eastern religions and into non-traditional forms of spirituality. Now these people are in positions of power in society and are having a major impact on cultural norms. For this reason, spirituality has become a mainstream interest, as evidenced by the number of best-selling books on the topic as well as the themes of many popular movies and shows. All of this has a spillover effect into the workplace, as people who are interested in spirituality look at ways that they can apply their principles and practices in all parts of their lives, including work.

The turning of the millennium drove the third trend towards an interest in spirituality. As human beings, we tend to set aside certain holidays, anniversaries, and other special times as opportunities for contemplation on who we’ve become and what we’ve done poorly that we would like to change. New Year’s is traditionally a time in the secular Western culture for New Year’s Resolutions and for looking back at the past year, and making predictions about the future. The recent millennium celebration multiplied that ‘New Year’s Effect’, and raised it to a global level of consciousness. As a human race we spent time looking back at our history and evaluating how far we’ve come. We also spent time thinking about this new millennium and what we would like to see for ourselves on this planet. These are basically spiritual questions, questions that get at the heart and the meaning of life.

The fourth trend is the increasing interest in personal growth and self-help groups. One example of this is the dramatic growth in programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. Twelf step programs offer a very practical, non-religious, every-day kind of spirituality. Some magazines, such as Utne Reader, encouraged the creation of local salons for people to discuss personal growth in the midst of a dramatically changing world. Fast Company, a very popular and hip U.S. business magazine, supports the development of ‘Fast Company Cells’. A study on ‘Cultural Creatives’[19] documents the growth of a major shift in values in the U.S. and Europe, with an increasing focus on personal growth, spirituality, and social activism. This will be discussed more in detail below.

The fifth trend is a result of September 11, 2001 and other terrorist attacks around the world. On the tragic day of September 11th, thousands of people kissed their loved ones goodbye and went to work, never to return. In the midst of the terror and the chaos, those with phones called their families to tell them they loved them. In the aftermath, those who lived held each other and cried, and prayed, and made commitments to put love over work. Many quit their jobs and moved or went into business for themselves to complete unfulfilled dreams. People learned that life can be short and fragile, and that its not worth it to sell your soul for the almighty dollar (or Euro).

Tragedy and difficult events tend to lead us to ask deeper questions, what I would call the key spiritual questions:

Who am I and what are my deepest values? What do I really care about?
What is my purpose in life? Why am I here and what am I meant to do?
If I am true to myself, what should I be doing next?

Many of the trends above led people to ask these spiritual questions of themselves, and to seek answers for all the different parts of their lives – for their relationships, their families, their health, their community, and their work.

It should be noted that this increasing interest in spirituality in the workplace is an international phenomenon, but it is focused in industrialized countries, such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Norway, United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand. There have been some activities in developing countries such as India, the Philippines and Brazil, but they are not yet widespread. The reason for this is that in industrialized countries, we have had a materialistic and scientific philosophy that has split off and often denied the spiritual side of life. We are only now trying to integrate the two back together. However, in countries that are less industrialized, and in cultures such as the African-American, Latin-American, and Native-American cultures, spirituality is already more a part of everyday life.

Evidence that Supports the Emergence of the Spirituality in the Workplace Movement

In a U.S. News & World Report, Michele Conlin[20] quotes a Gallup Poll that offers the following statistics: 48% of Americans have had the occasion to talk about their religious faith in the workplace in the past 24 hours; 95% of Americans believe in God or a Universal Spirit; 51% of Americans say that modern life leaves them too busy to enjoy God or to pray as they would like.

This tells us that there is a very large interest in spirituality and faith in the workplace in the U.S., and that people feel as if the demands of the workplace and the pace of modern life keep them from being as spiritual as they would like.

Ray and Anderson conducted a demographic study funded by The Fetzer Institute on the changing values in America.[21] There are three major values orientations in the U.S.: Heartlanders, Modernists, and Cultural Creatives. This last group is the fastest growing group and the one that has the most significant impact on changes in society, because people in this group are always looking for the better way.

Ray and Anderson estimated that the Cultural Creatives make up about 26% of the adult population, which would be over 44 million people! This finding is considered to have major marketing implications, since this group tends to be fairly affluent and well educated. The Cultural Creatives can be broken down into two sub-groups: the Core Cultural Creatives, who are more personal growth centered, and the Green Cultural Creatives who are more focused on the environment and social justice. This means that approximately one fourth of the workforce is highly values-driven. Truly a critical mass, and a group to contend with if you are a manager.

Mitroff and Denton[22] conducted a major study on spirituality in corporate America. Based on a sample of 131 returned questionnaires and 90 interviews with executives, they found: (1) Contrary to conventional wisdom, the respondents in their study did not have widely varying definitions of spirituality (2) People do not want to compartmentalize or fragment their lives; (3) Respondents generally differentiated strongly between religion and spirituality; (4) They viewed religion as a highly inappropriate topic and form of expression in the workplace; (5) People are hungry for models of practicing spirituality in the workplace without offending their coworkers or causing acrimony; (6) Lacking positive role models of how to practice spirituality in the workplace, many people – not all – are terribly afraid even to use the words spirituality and soul; (7) There are a relatively small number of models for practicing spirituality responsibly in the workplace.

Thus people do make the distinction between spirituality and religion, and tend to be more predisposed towards spirituality in the workplace than religion in the workplace. Mitroff and Denton also found that in general people seem to think that spirituality has positive benefits for the workplace so long as there is no promotion of traditional religion.

In his review of the literature, Gibbons found that researchers made claims for both individual and organizational benefits of spirituality in the workplace, although at the time of his study, there was no empirical research to support these claims.[23] The following is a table he prepared, based on his critical analysis of the literature:

SaW CLAIMS FOR INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL OUTCOMES

Individual Spirituality Individual Outcomes Organizational Outcomes
Elements of Spirituality

  • content
  • mode
  • salience

Subjective well-being

Effectiveness

  • profitability
  • business ethics
Type of Spiritual "Content"

  • religious
  • secular
  • mystical
Motivation

  • needs
  • org. commitment
  • self-efficiacy
  • work values

Intermediate Outcomes

  • climate
  • culture
  • leadership
Spiritual Lack

  • spiritual distress
  • developmental crises
  • mystical
Task Effectiveness  

In interviews with over 80 people and surveys of about 150 people, Schaefer and Darling found that the existence of contemplative practices in the workplace were much more widespread than they thought. Common practices include meditation, prayer, journaling, opening meetings with an inspirational reading, and being in nature. People felt that these practices made a positive difference in their effectiveness at work.[24]

There is tremendous evidence of the growing interest in spirituality in the workplace, and a wealth of resources to support someone who wants to learn more about this field. According the U.S. News and World Report article cited earlier[25] over 10,000 Bible and prayer groups meet regularly in the workplace. There is a group called The International Coalition of Workplace Ministries that serves as a clearinghouse for the faith at work movement.

There are an increasing number of conferences on spirituality and business every year, and they are worldwide. There are also an increasing number of universities offering courses related to spirituality in the workplace.

Probably one of the most significant events to happen in the past few years is that the Academy of Management, which is the professional organization for professors who teach management and organizational behavior, approved the formation of an Interest Group on Management, Spirituality, and Religion in 1999. The reason that this is significant is that this is the most prestigious academic organization in the field of management, and they basically decide what is acceptable in the field and what is not. By approving this new interest group, the Board of the Academy of Management made a public statement that spirituality in the workplace is a legitimate field of study and that research, teaching, and publishing are acceptable in this area.

Spirit at Work Research

Although there clearly is growing interest in the field of spirituality in the workplace, as an academic discipline, this area is very new and unformed. The earliest academic literature tended to be anecdotal and conceptual rather than empirical. For example, in 1994, the Journal of Organizational Change Management published a special issue on ‘Spirituality in Organizations’.[26] This issue had articles on Shamanic perspectives on organizational change and development,[27] an article on mystical traditions and organizational change,[28] an article on Quaker practice in organizations,[29] and an article on team dialogue as spiritual practice.[30] In 1999, a special issue of Chinmaya Management Review was published on ‘Spirituality at Work’, with similar kinds of articles.[31]

It is important to identify and define the key variables and conceptual areas of a newly emerging field. Around 1999, the spirituality in the workplace literature began to get a little more sophisticated. Doctoral students had been doing work in this area and were beginning to find publication outlets. For instance, Freshman[32] used a grounded theory approach to analyze the text samples from an email listserve devoted to spirituality in the workplace, an email survey, and a literature search. The key themes she found in the various definitions were: diversity, learning and development, intuition, and personal aspects of spirituality in the workplace.

Two other key definitional pieces of work were published by Tischler, Biberman and McKeage,[33] and Kinjerski and Skrypnek.[34] These types of papers helped other researchers to begin to more clearly define the field and to move toward the creation of empirical research. The most basic summary of this definitional work is to say that spirituality in the workplace has, at minimum, two basic components: (1) a humanistic component of valuing relationships with and connections to other people in the workplace, and (2) a transcendent component of valuing a connection to something greater than oneself, usually described as The Divine, God, Cosmic Intelligence, The Transcendent, or similar terms.[35]

In 1999, Neal and Biberman felt that the best way to move the field along to greater legitimacy was to find publication outlets for empirical research. That led to the creation of two special issues of the Journal of Organizational Change Management completely focused on empirical research.[36] Until this point in time, the only major empirical study had been done by Trott on the spiritual well-being of workers in a construction firm.[37] The major issues discussed among researchers focus on the pros and cons of quantitative versus qualitative research methodologies. Some are concerned that quantitative measures of spirituality are an oxymoron. Some will say, ‘You can’t measure God’. The concern is that we may be squeezing the life and the deeper meaning out of important phenomena, by trying to put them in the traditional academic paradigm of quantitative measurement.[38] Others argue that if this new field is to have legitimacy in the academic world, we have to begin where mainstream academics live, and then move to more radical forms of research.[39] More recently, a group of us helped to give birth to a new journal, called the Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion,[40] which is a peer-reviewed high quality international journal dedicated to the latest thinking and research in the field.

This will continue to be a lively dialogue for some time. While I personally work hard to create greater academic legitimacy for this field, I am also very eager to see us push the boundaries of the old paradigms of research, and to open up to a more spiritual way of doing research and gaining knowledge.

I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Ken Wilber, a person whose writing has made a significant impact on a number of academics involved in spirituality in the workplace.[41] The Management, Spirituality, and Religion Interest Group of the Academy of Management was able to make special arrangements for twelve of us to visit with him in his apartment in Denver, Colorado in 2002. I asked him if he had any suggestions about more highly conscious or spiritual approaches to conducting research on organizations. He responded:

Beyond any technique, all knowledge ultimately is knowledge of the knower itself, which is presently looking through your eyes and listening with your ears. That knower is God or Spirit. So the idea is not how we can know some object, but how can we directly cognize that Seer. [...] But there is something in you which is aware of those objects around you. And all this is arising in your awareness. As we engage in spiritual practice, we find ways to get more and more in touch with that spirit in which everything is arising.[42]

Bibliography

Autry, James, Love and profit: The art of caring leadership, New York 1991.

Autry, James, Life and work: A manager’s search for meaning, New York 1994.

Bartunek, Jean, & Michael Moch, ‘Third-order organizational change and the Western mystical tradition’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994), 24-41.

Beazley, Hamilton, Meaning and measurement of spirituality in organizational settings: Development of a Spirituality Assessment Scale (PhD dissertation, George Washington University, Washington DC 1997).

Benefiel, Margaret, ‘Mapping the terrain of spirituality in organizations research’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 16 (2003), 367-377.

Biberman, Jerry, & Yochanan Altman (Eds.), Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion, 1 (2004).

Boje, David (Ed.), ‘Spirituality in organizations’, special issue of Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994).

Conlin, Michelle, ‘Religion in the workplace’, in: Business Week, November 1, 1999.

Dean, Kathy Lund, Charles Forniciari, & James McGee, ‘Research in spirituality, religion, and work: Walking the line between relevance and legitimacy’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 16 (2003), 378-395.

Fairholm, Gilbert, Capturing the heart of leadership: Spirituality and community in the new American workplace, Westport (CT) 1997.

Fox, Matthew, The reinvention of work, San Francisco 1994.

Freshman, Brenda, ‘An exploratory analysis of definitions and applications of spirituality in the workplace’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 12 (1999), 318-327.

Frost, Peter, & Carolyn Egri, ‘Shamanic perspectives on organizational change and development’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994), 7-23.

Gibbons, Paul, Spirituality at work: A pre-theoretical view (Unpublished masters thesis, University of London 1999).

Hawley, Jack, Reawakening the spirit in work: The power of Dharmic management, San Francisco (CA) 1993.

Kinjerski, Val, & Berna Skrypnek, ‘Defining spirit at work: Finding common ground’, in: Journal of Organizational Change and Management 17 (2004), 26-42.

Krahnke, Keiko, Robert Giacalone, & Carole Jurkiewicz, ‘Point-counterpoint: Measuring workplace spirituality’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 16 (2003), 396-405.

Levine, Larry, ‘Listening with spirit and the art of team dialogue’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994), 61-73.

Louis, Meryl Reis, ‘In the manner of friends: Learnings from Quaker practice for organizational renewal’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994), 25-42.

Maganti, Mytrae (Ed.), ‘Spirituality at work’, special issue of Chinmaya Management Review 1 (1999).

Mayo, Elton, The social problems of an industrial civilization, Boston 1945.

Mitroff, Ian, & Elizabeth Denton, A spiritual audit of corporate America: Multiple designs for fostering spirituality in the workplace, San Francisco 1999.

Moxley, Russ, Leadership and spirit: Breathing new vitality into individuals and organizations, San Francisco 2000.

Neal, Judi, ‘Teaching with soul: Support for the management educator’, in: Journal of Management Systems 10 (1998).

Neal, Judi, Benyamin Lichtenstein, & David Banner, ‘Spiritual perspectives on individual, organizational, and societal transformation’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 12 (1999), 175-185 (Special issue on ‘Spirituality in Organizations I’).

Neal, Judi, & Jerry Biberman, ‘Research on spirituality in organizations: Issues, methods, and findings’, special issue of Journal of Organizational Change Management 16 (2003).

Neal, Judi, & Jerry Biberman, ‘Research that matters: Helping organizations to integrate spiritual values and practices’, special issue of Journal of Organizational Change Management 17 (2004).

Noer, David, Healing the wounds: Overcoming the trauma of layoffs and revitalizing downsized organizations, San Francisco 1993.

Pauchant, Thierry, ‘Integrating spirituality at work: An interview with Ken Wilber’, in: Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion 1 (2004), 113-131.

Ray, Paul, & Sherry Anderson, The cultural creatives: How 50 million people are changing the world, New York 2000.

Schaefer, Chris, & Jeri Darling, ‘Does spirit matter? A look at contemplative disciplines in the workplace’, in: Spirit at Work Newsletter, East Haven, CT, 1997.

Tacey, David, ‘Rising waters of the Spirit: The view from secular society’, in: Studies in Spirituality 13 (2003), 11-30.

Taylor, Frederick, Scientific management, New York 1947.

Tischler, Len, Jerry Biberman, & Robert McKeage, ‘Linking emotional intelligence, spirituality and workplace performance: Definitions, models and ideas for research’, in: Journal of Managerial Psychology 17 (2002), 203-218 (special issue on ‘Spirituality, Leadership, Work and Organizations’).

Trott, D.C., Spiritual well-being of workers: An exploratory study of spirituality in the workplace, (PhD dissertation at University of Texas at Austin, 1996).

Walton, Mary, The Deming method, New York 1986.

Wilber, Ken, A brief history of everything, Boston 2000.

Abstract

Spirituality in the workplace is a relatively new phenomenon. This article begins by offering the definitions of ‘spirituality’ and ‘spirituality in the workplace’. In order to place this development in a greater context, a review of the evolution of management theories is discussed, and it is posited that spirituality will be the next major factor in how theorists and practitioners look at the field of management. Five trends are presented that have led to the increasing interest in spirituality in the workplace. Research evidence is presented on the extent of this emerging trend. The article concludes with a brief description of some of the seminal research in the field.

Judith A. (Judi) Neal (1947, Long Beach, CA – USA) is Associate Professor of Management and Executive Director of the Center for  Spirit at Work at the University of New Haven

Address: 300 Boston Post Road, West Haven, CT 06516, USA. E-mail: judi@spiritatwork.org


[1] Matthew Fox, The reinvention of work,San Francisco 1994, 1-2.

[2] Russ Moxley, Leadership and spirit: Breathing new vitality into individuals and organizations, San Francisco 2000, 22.

[3] Moxley, Leadership and spirit, 23.

[4] Cf. Jack Hawley, Reawakening the spirit in work: The power of Dharmic management,San Francisco (CA) 1993, 12-16.

[5] Gilbert Fairholm, Capturing the heart of leadership: Spirituality and community in the new American workplace, Westport (CT) 1997, 29.

[6] Hawley, Reawakening the spirit in work, 3-5.

[7] Chris Schaefer and Jeri Darling, ‘Does spirit matter? A look at contemplative disciplines in the workplace’, in: Spirit at Work Newsletter, (3) 1997, 5, 11.

[8] James Autry, Love and profit: The art of caring leadership, New York 1991.

[9] James Autry, Life and work: A manager's search for meaning, New York 1994.

[10] Autry, Love and profit, 32.

[11] Judi Neal, ‘Teaching with soul: Support for the management educator’, in: Journal of Management Systems 10 (1998), 74.

[12] Paul Gibbons, Spirituality at work: A pre-theoretical view (Unpublished masters thesis, University of London 1999), 14.

[13]Please note that at the time of these early writings, primarily men worked in the workplace, and all management writings tended to use the male gender to refer to human beings.

[14] Frederick Taylor, Scientific management, New York 1947.

[15]; Elton Mayo, The social problems of an industrial civilization, Boston 1945.

[16] Mary Walton, The Deming method, New York 1986.

[17] Cf. David Tacey, ‘Rising waters of the Spirit: The view from secular society’, in: Studies in Spirituality 13 (2003), 11-30, for an in depth discussion of the broader international interest in spirituality in general.

[18] David Noer, Healing the wounds: Overcoming the trauma of layoffs and revitalizing downsized organizations, San Francisco 1993.

[19]Paul Ray & Sherry Anderson, The cultural creatives: How 50 million people are changing the world,New York 2000.

[20] Michelle Conlin, ‘Religion in the Workplace’, in: Business Week, November 1, 1999, 150-158.

[21] Ray & Anderson, Cultural creatives.

[22] Ian Mitroff & Elizabeth Denton, A spiritual audit of corporate America: Multiple designs for fostering spirituality in the workplace, San Francisco 1999, xv-xvii.

[23] Gibbons, ‘Spirituality at work’.

[24] Schaefer & Darling, ‘Does spirit matter?’.

[25] Conlin, ‘Religion in the workplace’.

[26] David Boje (Ed.), ‘Spirituality in organizations’, special issue of Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994).

[27] Peter Frost & Carolyn Egri, ‘Shamanic perspectives on organizational change and development’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994), 7-23.

[28] Jean Bartunek & Michael Moch, ‘Third-order organizational change and the Western mystical tradition’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994), 24-41.

[29] Meryl Reis Louis, ‘In the manner of friends: Learnings from Quaker practice for organizational renewal’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994), 25-42.

[30] Larry Levine, ‘Listening with spirit and the art of team dialogue’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 7 (1994), 61-73.

[31] Mytrae Maganti (Ed.), ‘Spirituality at work’, special issue of Chinmaya Management Review 1 (1999).

[32] Brenda Freshman, ‘An exploratory analysis of definitions and applications of spirituality in the workplace’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 12 (1999), 318-327.

[33] Len Tischler, Jerry Biberman & Robert McKeage, ‘Linking emotional intelligence, spirituality and workplace performance: Definitions, models and ideas for research’, in: Journal of Managerial Psychology, special issue on ‘Spirituality, leadership, work and organizations’, 17 (2002), 203-218.

[34] Val Kinjerski & Berna Skrypnek, ‘Defining spirit at work: Finding common ground’, in: Journal of Organizational Change and Management 17 (2004), 26-42.

[35] Cf. Judith Neal, Benyamin Lichtenstein & David Banner, ‘Spiritual perspectives on individual, organizational, and societal transformation’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management, special issue on ‘Spirituality in Organizations I’, 12 (1999), 175-185; Hamilton Beazley, Meaning and measurement of spirituality in organizational settings: Development of a spirituality assessment scale (unpublished PhD dissertation, George Washington University, Washington, DC 1997).

[36] Judi Neal & Jerry Biberman, ‘Research on spirituality in organizations: Issues, methods, and findings’, special issue of Journal of Organizational Change Management 16 (2003); Judi Neal & Jerry Biberman, ‘Research that matters: Helping organizations to integrate spiritual values and practices’, special issue of Journal of Organizational Change Management 17 (2004).

[37] David Trott, Spiritual well-being of workers: An exploratory study of spirituality in the workplace (PhD dissertation at University of Texas at Austin, 1996).

[38] Keiko Krahnke, Robert Giacalone, and Carole Jurkiewicz, ‘Point-counterpoint: Measuring Workplace Spirituality’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management, 16 (2003), 396-405.

[39] Margaret Benefiel, ‘Mapping the terrain of spirituality in organizations research’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 16 (2003), 367-377; Kathy Lund Dean, Charles Forniciari, & James McGee, ‘Research in spirituality, religion, and work: Walking the line between relevance and legitimacy’, in: Journal of Organizational Change Management 16 (2003), 378-395.

[40] Jerry Biberman & Yochanan Altman (Eds.), Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion 1 (2004).

[41] Cf. Ken Wilber, A brief history of everything, Boston 2000.

[42] Thierry Pauchant, ‘Integrating spirituality at work: An interview with Ken Wilber’, in: Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion 1 (2004), 113-131.

 


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