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"Spirituality and Religion in the Workplace: History, Theory, and Research"



The role of spirituality and religion in the workplace (SRW) is a relatively new area of inquiry that has emerged from scholarly fields not typically associated with the study of the psychology of religion and spirituality. This article explores the underlying assumptions and history as well as the state of current theory and empirical research regarding SRW. We first describe the history of the efforts to integrate spirituality and religion into the workplace, with their foundational roots in the Protestant Work Ethic and their emergence through the Faith at Work movement. Next we review the major theoretical developments in this area that have established a domain of relevant definitions, constructs, frameworks, and models. Then we review the empirical research on spirituality in the workplace and conclude that 2 major streams have emerged that have, to date, discovered similar findings in regard to their significant impact on relevant individual and organizational outcomes. Finally, we explore particular challenges associated with integrative work and future theory building and research.
Spirituality and Religion in the Workplace: History, Theory, and Research
Margaret Benefiel
Andover Newton Theological School Louis W. Fry and David Geigle
Texas A&M University Central Texas
The role of spirituality and religion in the workplace (SRW) is a relatively new area of inquiry that has
emerged from scholarly fields not typically associated with the study of the psychology of religion and
spirituality. This article explores the underlying assumptions and history as well as the state of current
theory and empirical research regarding SRW. We first describe the history of the efforts to integrate
spirituality and religion into the workplace, with their foundational roots in the Protestant Work Ethic and
their emergence through the Faith at Work movement. Next we review the major theoretical develop-
ments in this area that have established a domain of relevant definitions, constructs, frameworks, and
models. Then we review the empirical research on spirituality in the workplace and conclude that 2 major
streams have emerged that have, to date, discovered similar findings in regard to their significant impact
on relevant individual and organizational outcomes. Finally, we explore particular challenges associated
with integrative work and future theory building and research.
Keywords: spirituality, religion, workplace spirituality, spiritual leadership
Our relationship to work is an integral part of our self-concept,
greatly affecting not only the quality of our lives in the workplace
but also at home. Interest in spirituality and religion in the work-
place (SRW) has emerged over the last few decades (Bell &
Taylor, 2004;Carroll, 2013;Driver, 2005;Duchon & Plowman,
2005;Fry, 2003,2005a;Fry & Kriger, 2009;Fry & Nisiewicz,
2013;Hicks, 2003;Krishnakumar & Neck, 2002;Lips-
Wiersma, 2003;Lips-Wiersma & Mills, 2002;Dean, Fornaciari,
& McGee, 2003;Tischler, 1999), gaining the interest of both
scholars and practitioners (Carroll, 2013;Fry & Nisiewicz,
2013;Hicks, 2003;Kinjerski & Skrypnek, 2004;Krishnakumar
& Neck, 2002). Scholars have linked SRW to a wide variety of
organizational functions and practices, although the major empha-
sis so far has been on the positive impact of SRW on organiza-
tional reality (Benefiel, 2003,2005,2008;Hall, Oates, Anderson,
& Willingham, 2012;Neal & Biberman, 2004;Wong & Hu,
2012), management processes (Dean & Safranski, 2008;Lewis &
Geroy, 2000;McCormick, 1994;Steingard, 2005), and leadership
practices (Chen & Yang, 2012;Chen, Yang, & Li, 2012;Fry,
2005b;Reave, 2005). Why this interest in SRW has recently
emerged is a matter of debate (see Giacalone & Jurkiewicz, 2010,
for a full review). The most viable arguments have claimed that
society seeks spiritual solutions to ease tumultuous social and
business changes (e.g., Mitroff & Denton, 1999); that profound
change in values globally has brought a growing social conscious-
ness and spiritual renaissance (e.g., Aburdene, 2005;Fry & Nisie-
wicz, 2013); and that growing interest in Eastern philosophies has
resurfaced spiritual yearnings overall (Goldman Schulyer, 2012;
Marques, 2010). Whatever the reasons, the increased attention
directed toward SRW issues is undeniable.
Some have argued that SRW provides answers to complicated
contemporary problems resulting from major organizational
changes, for example, downsizing, reengineering, and layoffs
(Driver, 2005;Fry & Slocum, 2008;Gotsis & Kortezi, 2008;
Kinjerski & Skrypnek, 2004). The distrust and diminished view of
work that have arisen from these organizational changes have
made employees see themselves as expendable resources (Cohen,
1996) and compelled them to seek a deeper meaning and connec-
tion in life and, consequently, integrate a spiritualwork identity
(Ali & Falcone, 1995). Some have argued that these changes,
which have resulted in the demoralization and the spiritual disori-
entation of the employees (Kinjerski & Skrypnek, 2004;Leigh,
1997), can be counterbalanced by the positive impact of SRW
(Driver, 2005;Kinjerski & Skrypnek, 2004;Petchsawang &
Duchon, 2012).
Additionally, there is the need to reduce employee cynicism and
mistrust by recognizing the potential for meaning and sense of
community inherent in work (Cartwright & Holmes, 2006;Duchon
& Plowman, 2005;Fagley & Adler, 2012). Because employees
have spent an increasing amount of time at work, they have
actively pursued opportunities for meaningful experiences in the
workplace (Neck & Milliman, 1994). Indeed, some employees
have even expected their employers to provide for such a spiritual
search (Konz & Ryan, 1999). In addition to the number of work
hours required for employees, the unstable work environment has
increased distrust in organizations (Fry & Coen, 2009).
Many in the field have perceived SRW as providing the impetus,
the necessary driving force, toward more meaningful work expe-
riences (Gotsis & Kortezi, 2008). Moreover, they have expected
SRW to contribute to a better, deeper, and more meaningful
understanding of human work and organizational reality. To be
more specific, the literature has generally treated SRW as the
missing attribute of both organizational life and organizational
Margaret Benefiel, Andover Newton Theological School; and Louis W.
Fry and David Geigle, Texas A&M University Central Texas.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Louis W.
Fry, Department of Management, Texas A&M University Central Texas,
1001 Leadership Place, Killeen, TX 76549. E-mail:
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality © 2014 American Psychological Association
2014, Vol. 6, No. 3, 175–187 1941-1022/14/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0036597
effectiveness (Fry & Slocum, 2008;Giacalone & Jurkiewicz,
2003), in the absence of which an understanding of corporate
reality remains limited and incomplete. For example, Fry (2003)
has argued that the recent, rapid organizational changes inherent in
the 21st century global, Internet age have rendered obsolete the
traditional bureaucratic paradigm that has dominated the organi-
zational scene since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Due to these changes, he called for a radical transformation to a
learning organizational paradigm based on SRW and spiritual
leadership. Fry and Slocum (2008) argued that one of the greatest
challenges facing leaders today is the need to develop new busi-
ness models that accentuate SRW, spiritual leadership, employee
well-being, sustainability, and social responsibility without sacri-
ficing profitability, revenue growth, and other indicators of finan-
cial performance (the so-called triple bottom line, or “People,
Planet, Profit”).
The purpose of this article is to systematically explore the
underlying assumptions and rationale of the main trends of SRW
as well as to offer an overview of the field and a recommendation
for its future development. We first briefly describe the history of
the efforts to integrate spirituality and religion into the workplace.
Next, we provide a review of the recent literature on SRW,
highlighting the major theoretical and empirical work in this arena
to date. Then, we examine particular challenges associated with
integrative work and future research in SRW and, finally, offer
suggestions for future theory building and research.
An Overview of the History of SRW
In the sixth century St. Benedict (c. 480–543) wrote his rules for
monastic life, emphasizing the integration of work and prayer. For
Benedict, work and prayer complemented one another in the daily
discipline of spiritual formation on the path to holiness. Benedict
viewed the work that comprised most hours of the monks’ day as
just as holy as the regular hours of prayer that punctuated the work,
because both provided discipline for body and soul and served a
good end. Benedict’s teachings influenced the Christian West,
both in the monastic and in the lay understandings of the holiness
of labor.
During the Reformation, Martin Luther reaffirmed the holiness
of ordinary, daily work performed by lay people, which he felt had
been devalued by the Church’s gradual elevation of monastic life
over the life of the laity through the medieval period. Luther
claimed that all people, whatever their calling, should “seek per-
fection” in their work, attaining holiness through the discipline of
working faithfully.
The Protestant Work Ethic
During the Industrial Revolution, Protestants developed a work
ethic that aimed to spiritualize the workplace. Through the concept
of a “calling,” the Protestant Work Ethic held people responsible
for doing their best in their worldly stations rather than disengag-
ing from the world in a quest for perfection (Buchholz &
Rosenthal, 2003). Although the ethic gave meaning to work and
the workplace, it carried a pessimistic view of humankind (Mob-
ley, 1971), in which humans are basically sinful and must deny
themselves earthly pleasures to avoid hell and reach heaven. The
Industrial Revolution reinforced the Protestant views by extolling
objectivity and displacing the focus on free will (Mason, 2003).
Both theology and science viewed the universe, humans included,
as stable and materialistic in nature (Mobley, 1971).
These assumptions influenced ideas about management and
work. The scientific concept of “cause and effect” suggests that the
past predicts the future, social structures need hierarchy, and a
supreme controlling agent must be in power. Therefore, classical
management theory, rooted in the Protestant Work Ethic, asserts
the need to exercise autocratic rule and power, thereby minimizing
employee conflict and resistance to work. The problem is that
humans do not conform to this kind of universe. Unpredictable and
endowed with free will, they possess imagination, hope, faith,
ambitions, creativity, and the capacity for growth.
The Protestant Work Ethic restricted consumption, suggesting
that one should not lavishly consume wealth but, rather, invest it
for greater individual and societal well-being. However, these
well-intentioned values resulted in the production of economic
wealth as an end in itself, severed from any moral principles that
could enrich human existence. Consequently, whatever constraint
the Protestant Work Ethic may have provided has disappeared in
the ever-increasing demand for a consumer culture with products
and services geared to produce pleasure and instant self-
gratification. Not only production but also consumption has be-
come an end in itself, divorced from moral purpose (Buchholz &
Rosenthal, 2003;Fry, 2005b).
The Faith at Work Movement
The antecedents of today’s emphasis on SRW reach back to the
late 19th century in Europe and the United States. The Faith at
Work movement arose during this period in response to a per-
ceived lack of interest on the part of the Church toward lay
people’s experiences in the secular workplace. Faith at Work
scholar David Miller (2007) organized the movement into three
eras. The first, the Social Gospel era (c. 1890s1945), arose when
Walter Rauschenbusch, a Protestant clergyman, and Bruce Barton,
a Protestant advertising executive, each rediscovered the relevance
of the gospel to issues of work and society (Rauschenbusch, 1912).
Rauschenbusch articulated the Social Gospel, calling Christians to
address both personal and societal transformation by entering the
business realm and transforming it from the inside. In 1924, Barton
wrote the bestseller, The Man Nobody Knows (Barton, 1924),
which focused on Jesus as a role model for business leaders. In
1891, at about the same time that Rauschenbusch began writing,
Pope Leo XIII issued his social encyclical Rerum Novarum (The
Condition of Labor;
en.html), echoing similar themes for Catholics.
Diminishing during the two world wars and the Great Depres-
sion between them, the Faith at Work movement found new life in
the Ministry of the Laity era (1946–1985), Miller’s (2007) second
era. Among Protestants of the time, a burst of ecumenical activity
after World War II focused on the laity and their work in the world.
This movement joined with special-purpose groups focused on the
ministry of the laity, such as International Christian Leadership,
Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International, the Auden-
shaw Foundation, and the Coalition for Ministry in Daily Life, to
revitalize the Faith at Work spirit. Among Catholics, the Second
Vatican Council (1962–1965) affirmed the laity’s work in the
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world as equally important as the clergy’s work in the Church. In
Miller’s (2007) third era, (1986–present), the prevailing economic
conditions of constant change led to a quest for integration of faith
and work. No longer content to park their souls at the door, people
sought to bring their whole selves—body, mind, heart, and
soul—to work.
The Faith at Work movement emphasized the importance of
religion, its potential value for business and society, and offered
compelling new arguments for the depth and breadth of spirituality
at work. The integration of faith and work has had positive
implications at the personal level, as well as for corporate ethics
and the broader economic sphere. The study of religion has often
investigated beliefs, rituals, and practices, and how they have
manifested in various spheres of life. For many, faith is what
shapes and informs their value system, ethics, character, leader-
ship, and attitude toward work. Research has shown that most
students, workers, marketplace professionals, and leaders want to
live a holistic life that integrates, among other things, faith and
work, but have few resources to help them do that (Miller &
Ewest, 2013).
At the same time, increasing expressions of religion and spiri-
tual practices at work have presented the threat of divisiveness and
discrimination. Miller (2007) documented the surprising abdica-
tion of this field by the Church and theological academy and its
embrace, ironically, by the management academy. Concluding that
Faith at Work is a bona fide social movement, here to stay, Miller
established the importance of the movement, identified the possi-
bilities and problems, and pointed toward future research ques-
Overlapping chronologically with, but often distinct in content
from, Miller’s Faith at Work era, the 1990s saw the publication of
books and articles in the popular press, primarily on spirituality
(for the first time sans religion) in the workplace, and the first
academic interest in SRW. Bestselling books like Bolman and
Deal’s Leading with Soul (1995) and Jaworski’s Synchronicity:
The Inner Path of Leadership (1996) blazed the trail. Marc
Gunther’s (2001) lead article in Fortune, “God and Business,”
built on the groundswell of interest in the nineties, highlighting six
“spiritual” business leaders from a variety of religious back-
SRW Theoretical Development
Mitroff and Denton (1999),inA Spiritual Audit of Corporate
America, offered the first large-scale empirical study of the SRW
phenomenon. Concluding that most organizations suffer from spir-
itual impoverishment, the authors offered models that can be
adopted to promote spirituality in organizations in order to imple-
ment and practice SRW without inducing acrimony, conflict, con-
troversy, and division over fundamental beliefs and values. Like
many writers of popular literature in the nineties, Mitroff and
Denton separated spirituality from religion, advocating for spiri-
tuality in the workplace and arguing against religious expression in
that sphere. As the concept of spirituality in the workplace gained
strength and interest, the Academy of Management created a new
special interest group for its members in 2000. The Management,
Spirituality, and Religion interest group currently works to legit-
imize the study of SRW in the workplace while simultaneously
paving the way to integrate this emerging concept into the lead-
ership arena.
Although SRW has been an ambiguous term, scholars have
brought increasing clarity to the definition. Duchon and Plowman
(2005) defined SRW in terms of its components: (a) a recognition
that employees have an inner life; (b) an assumption that employ-
ees desire to find work meaningful; and (c) a commitment by the
company to serve as a context or community for spiritual growth.
SRW has also incorporated the dimensions of the spiritual well-
being construct, in which one feels a sense of purpose and direc-
tion (Paloutzian, Emmons, & Keortge, 2003).
Other scholars have suggested that SRW can be cultivated to
increase organizational performance. Reder (1982) found that
spirituality-based organizational cultures were the most produc-
tive, and through maximizing productivity they reached domi-
nance in the marketplace. In addition, emerging evidence has
suggested that spiritually healthy workplaces have performed bet-
ter (Duchon & Plowman, 2005;Elm, 2003;Fry et al., 2011;
Garcia-Zamor, 2003).
In 2003, Douglas Hicks published Religion and the Workplace
(Hicks, 2003), which analyzes the writings and issues that had
surfaced in the SRW literature by that time. Hicks agreed with
those who claimed that employees should not be asked to park
their souls at the door. At the same time, he argued that efforts to
decouple SRW were naïve and ineffective, and proposed an alter-
native way to integrate spirituality, religion, and work: “respectful
pluralism.” Hicks claimed that effective leaders should create an
environment for employees to express their own faiths and respect
one another’s faiths.
Also in 2003, Giacalone and Jurkiewicz edited the Handbook of
Workplace Spirituality and Organizational Performance (Gia-
calone & Jurkiewicz, 2003), the largest collection of essays up to
that point, arguing for the necessity of linking SRW to organiza-
tional performance, integrating psychology, spirituality, and orga-
nizational science. Like Mitroff and Denton, Giacalone and Jurk-
iewicz argued that integrating spirituality and work would improve
organizational performance. They defined workplace spirituality
A framework of organizational values evidenced in the culture that
promotes employees’ experience of transcendence through the work
process, facilitating their sense of being connected in a way that
provides feelings of compassion and joy. (Giacalone & Jurkiewicz,
This sense of transcendence, of having a calling through one’s
work or being called (vocationally), and a need for social connec-
tion or membership are seen as necessary for providing the foun-
dation for any theory of SRW. SRW must therefore be compre-
hended within a holistic context of interwoven cultural and
personal values. Also, to be of benefit to leaders and their orga-
nizations, any definition of SRW must demonstrate its utility by
impacting performance, turnover, productivity, and other relevant
effectiveness criteria (Sass, 2000).
In 2005, a special issue of The Leadership Quarterly addressed
theoretical, practical, and empirical issues in SRW as they relate to
leadership. From this issue, a theme comprised of two universal
spiritual needs emerged (Fry, 2005a): that what is required for
SRW is an inner life that nourishes and is nourished by calling or
transcendence of self within the context of a community based on
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the values of altruistic love. Satisfying these spiritual needs in the
workplace positively influences health and psychological well-
being and forms the foundation for SRW. Benefiel’s (2005) article
in that issue focused on the epistemological challenges that arise
when melding social scientific studies with philosophical/theolog-
ical studies, and proposed an integrative approach as a way for-
In 2008, Biberman and Tischler edited Spirituality in Business:
Theory, Practice, and Future Directions (Biberman & Tischler,
2008), summarizing the various integrative approaches in the SRW
field to date, such as: founding SRW on religiously inspired
compassion, drawing on appreciative inquiry, using “intentional
intelligence,” employing meditation, and integrating aspects of
spiritual leadership (Biberman & Tischler, 2008;Heaton &
Schmidt-Wilk, 2008). Drawing on the definition of SRW that
Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (2003) offered above, the authors at-
tempted to summarize and organize existing research in the area of
spirituality and work using a three-dimensional model based on the
level of analysis, type of measures, and validity.
Hill, Jurkiewicz, Giacalone, and Fry (2013) noted that SRW in
the organizational sciences emerged from a very different mindset
than one would have expected. Organizational behavior, for ex-
ample, borrowed heavily from psychology and sociology in its
early development. Similarly conjoined, the field of human re-
source management developed a symbiotic relationship with in-
dustrial psychology. Contrary to what many may have expected,
SRW did not emerge from research on the psychology of religion.
For example, Emmons and Paloutzian (2003), in their discussion
of the rapid growth and progress in the psychology of religion over
the last 25 years, failed to even mention SRW. More recently, as
Carroll (2013), citing Hall and Chandler (2005) and Dik and Duffy
(2009), has pointed out, “psychologists have begun to examine the
concept of calling in studies of religion and spirituality in the
workplace” (Carroll, 2013, p. 599). Carroll (2013) himself “ex-
tended studies of calling to other work-related outcomes” (p. 600),
connecting sanctification of work to job satisfaction, turnover, and
organizational commitment. Oates, Hall, and Anderson (2005) and
Oates (2008) discovered a connection between spirituality and the
ability to cope with the stress of dual roles. Although the research
may now sometimes parallel or intersect, the field of SRW was
born of organizational and social psychology, ethics, and manage-
The disconnection between these fields has occurred primarily
because the psychology of religion, particularly over the past 30
years, has been characterized by empirical research, while the
study of SRW emerged through theoretical advocacy and organi-
zational case study rather than by data sets compiled from indi-
vidual respondents. Thus, the concept of SRW emerged from
recognition and documentation of the phenomenon, and an artic-
ulated need for formalized study to address this salient aspect of
organizational life. The stream of research that has arisen from this
ontological tradition (see Biberman & Whitty, 1997) has led to
important emerging issues regarding SRW in the social sciences
that will be discussed in more detail in the section “Challenges
Associated With Integrative Work and Future Research in SRW”
(Fairholm, 1997;Giacalone & Jurkiewicz, 2003;Hill et al., 2013;
Mitroff & Denton, 1999;Neal, 2001).
Spiritual Leadership Theory
Having received increased attention in the organizational sci-
ences, SRW is a fast growing area of research and inquiry, with
important implications for leadership theory, research, and practice
(Hill et al., 2013). To date, the most developed and tested theory
of SRW is the model of spiritual leadership proposed by Fry (2003,
2005b,2008),Fry and Nisiewicz (2013), and Fry, Matherly, and
Ouimet (2010).Fry’s (2003) initial model of spiritual leadership
was developed within an intrinsic motivation framework that in-
corporated spiritual leadership (i.e., vision, hope/faith, and altru-
istic love) and spiritual well-being (i.e., calling and membership).
The purpose of spiritual leadership is to create vision and value
congruence across the strategic, empowered team and individual
levels. Ultimately, it should foster higher levels of important
individual and organizational outcomes such as organizational
commitment and productivity, financial performance, employee
life satisfaction, and corporate social responsibility (Fry et al.,
2010;Fry & Nisiewicz, 2013).
Essential to spiritual leadership are the key processes of:
1. Creating a transcendent vision of service to others
whereby one experiences a sense of calling so that one’s
life has purpose and meaning and makes a difference.
2. Establishing or reinforcing an organizational culture
based on the values of altruistic love whereby one has a
sense of membership, feels understood and appreciated,
and has genuine care, concern, and appreciation for both
self and others.
Fry (2005b) extended spiritual leadership theory by exploring
developments in SRW, character ethics, positive psychology, and
spiritual leadership. He argued that these areas provide a consensus
on the values, attitudes, and behaviors necessary for health, psy-
chological and ethical well-being, and, ultimately, corporate social
Fry (2008) further revised the spiritual leadership model to
include inner life and life satisfaction. One’s inner life, or spiritual
practice, as a fundamental source of inspiration and insight, pos-
itively influences development of (a) hope/faith in a transcendent
vision of service to key stakeholders and (b) the values of altruistic
love. Inner life affects individuals’ perceptions about who they are,
what they are doing, and what they are contributing (Vaiil, 1998).
It includes individual practices (e.g., meditation, prayer, religious
practices, yoga, journaling, walking in nature) and organizational
contexts (e.g., rooms for inner silence and reflection) to help
individuals become more self-aware and conscious from moment-
to-moment and draw strength from their beliefs, whether they
include a nondual being, higher power, God, or philosophical
teachings (Fry & Kriger, 2009;Fry & Nisiewicz, 2013).
Summary of SRW Theory Development to Date
There is an emerging theoretical consensus that both leaders and
followers who have an inner life or spiritual practice will be more
likely to have, or want to develop, hope/faith in a transcendent
vision of service to key stakeholders and the other-centered values
of altruistic love. To implement SRW, spiritual leaders model the
values of altruistic love through their attitudes and behaviors,
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while jointly developing a common vision with followers. Subse-
quently, both leaders and followers experience higher levels of
spiritual well-being through calling, which gives one a sense that
his/her life has meaning and purpose, and membership, which
gives one a sense that one is understood and appreciated. Thus, the
main proposition that has emerged for testing is that organizations
that implement SRW and spiritual leadership have higher levels of
spiritual well-being through calling and membership, which then
positively influences important employee, organizational, and so-
cietal outcomes (Biberman & Tischler, 2008;Fry et al., 2010;Fry
& Nisiewicz, 2013;Hill et al., 2013).
SRW Empirical Research
This section reviews the empirical research on SRW to date.
Although there are many studies in the extant literature on SRW,
only those that performed and reported adequate tests of the
reliability and validity of their measure are reported here. They
include statistical procedures such as coefficient alpha reliabilities,
confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and
hierarchical linear regression. Studies that reported simple corre-
lational relationships were also excluded. To date, measures of
SRW have been developed for testing Ashmos and Duchon’s
(2000) spirituality at work construct and Fry’s (2003) model of
spiritual leadership. In addition, others have developed mea-
sures that met the criteria for inclusion in this study (Kolodin-
sky, Giacalone, & Jurkiewicz, 2008;Ming-Chia, 2012;Petch-
sawang & Duchon, 2012). These studies, along with a summary
of reported statistically significant relationships (p.05), are
given in Table 1.
Empirical Studies Based on the Ashmos and Duchon
(2000) SRW Measure
Duchon and Plowman (2005) explored the relationship between
work unit spirituality and performance in a study of six work units
in a large hospital system. Using nonparametric procedures, the
results suggested that there is a positive relationship between work
unit spirituality and work unit performance. Milliman et al. (2003)
studied the association between spirituality in the workplace and
employee work attitudes. Using the measure developed by Ashmos
and Duchon (2000), they found positive relationships between
Table 1
Summary of Empirical Studies of Spirituality and Religion in the Workplace
Author Definition/instrument used Results
Bodia & Ali (2012) Fry et al. (2005) Commitment
Unit productivity
Job satisfaction
Chen & Yang (2012) Fry et al. (2005) Altruism
Chen, Yang, & Li (2012) Fry et al. (2005) Self-career management
Unit productivity
Duchon & Plowman (2005) Ashmos & Duchon (2000) Work unit performance
Fry & Slocum (2008) Fry et al. (2005) Commitment
Sales growth
Fry, Hannah, Noel, & Walumbwa (2011) Fry et al. (2005) Commitment
Work unit performance
Fry, Vitucci, & Cedillo (2005) Fry et al. (2005) Commitment
Unit productivity
Hall, Oates, Anderson, & Willingham (2012) Mahoney et al. (2005) Job satisfaction
Interrole conflict
Javanmard (2012) Fry et al. (2005);Duchon
& Plowman (2005)
Work performance
Kolodinsky, Giacalone, & Jurkiewicz (2008) Wheat (1991) Involvement
Job satisfaction
Milliman, Czaplewski, & Ferguson (2003) Ashmos & Duchon (2000) Commitment
Job involvement
citizenship behavior
Ming-Chia (2012) Researcher designed Earnings management
Pawar (2009) Ashmos & Duchon (2000);
Duchon & Plowman
Job involvement
Petchsawang & Duchon (2012) Researcher designed Work performance
Rego, Cunha, & Souto (2008) Ashmos & Duchon (2000);
Milliman et al. (2003)
Instrumental commitment
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dimensions of meaningful work, sense of community, alignment of
values and organizational commitment, organizational citizenship
behavior, job satisfaction, and involvement and intention to quit.
Pawar (2009) used a modified version of the instrument developed
by Ashmos and Duchon (2000) and found SRW to be positively
associated with job satisfaction, involvement, and organizational
Empirical Studies Based on the Fry et al. (2005)
Spiritual Leadership Measure
Fry et al. (2005) tested Fry’s (2003) initial model of spiritual
leadership at the individual level using longitudinal data and found
it to positively predict organizational commitment and productiv-
ity. The results provided strong initial support for the causal model
of spiritual leadership and the reliability and validity of its mea-
sures. The researchers developed a methodology for establishing a
baseline for future organizational development interventions as
well as an action agenda for future research on spiritual leadership.
They argued that spiritual leadership theory offers a springboard
for a new paradigm of leadership theory, research, and practice
given that it incorporates and extends transformational and char-
ismatic theories as well as ethics- and values-based theories (e.g.,
authentic and servant leadership).
Fry, Hannah, Noel, and Walumbwa (2011) examined emerging
leaders at a military academy and found general support for the
model of spiritual leadership at the unit level. They supported the
hypothesis that the variables comprising spiritual leadership (i.e.,
hope/faith, vision, and altruistic love) together form a higher order
formative construct that positively influences spiritual well-being
in groups (i.e., calling and membership). Further analysis revealed
a positive and significant link from spiritual leadership (mediated
through group membership and meaning/calling) to key outcome
variables, including organizational commitment, productivity, and
three measures of squad unit performance taken from two separate
external rating sources. These findings provide additional evidence
that spiritual leadership positively influences important personal
and organizational outcomes and is a key component of SRW.
Researchers other than Fry and his colleagues have confirmed
the validity of the spiritual leadership model and its positive
influence on important individual and organizational outcomes.
Bodia and Ali (2012) studied the impact of spiritual leadership on
banking executives and their employees in Pakistan. They con-
cluded that vision and altruistic love positively influenced calling
and membership, and, in turn, job satisfaction, productivity, and
organizational commitment. Chen and Yang (2012) conducted a
study in selected finance and retail service industries in Taiwan
and tested the spiritual leadership model’s effect on followers’
organizational citizenship behaviors; they found that spiritual lead-
ership positively affects employees’ perception of meaning/calling
and membership, which, in turn, affects their altruism and consci-
entiousness. Chen et al. (2012) studied 20 companies in Taiwan
and 12 in China across three major industries: manufacturing,
financial/banking, and retailing service industries. They confirmed
the validity of the spiritual leadership model and also found a
positive impact on self-career management behavior and unit
Javanmard (2012) researched the impact of spiritual leadership
in an Iranian Islamic work environment. Using hope/faith, vision,
and altruistic love from Fry et al. (2005) as predictor variables and
using inner life, meaningful work, and sense of community from
Ashmos and Duchon (2000) as mediator variables, they reported
the following positive associations:
organizational vision affects employees’ inner life;
altruism affects employees’ sense of community and mean-
ingful work;
faith in work affects employees’ inner life, sense of commu-
nity, and meaningful work;
meaningful work affects employees’ work performance; and
inner life affects employees’ work performance.
Empirical Studies Using Other Measures of SRW
Kolodinsky et al. (2008) sampled working graduate students at
two large universities. Using Wheat’s (1991) Human Spirituality
Scale, they found that organizational spirituality positively related
to organizational involvement, identification, and satisfaction; and
negatively related to organizational frustration. Hall et al. (2012)
studied working mothers. Using the measure developed by Ma-
honey et al. (2005), they found that those with greater levels of
sanctification of work had higher satisfaction with work and lower
interrole conflict.
Ming-Chia (2012) studied managers’ motivation to manipulate
financial reports to achieve predetermined targets; their results
indicated that SRW negatively related to the motivations for in-
appropriate earnings management. Petchsawang and Duchon
(2012) found that their measure of SRW positively influenced
work performance. Rego, Cunha, and Souto (2008) sampled 154
organizations in Portugal, using Ashmos and Duchon’s (2000) and
Milliman et al.’s (2003) measurement instruments. Their results
indicated a positive relationship between SRW and attachment and
loyalty, and that individuals in organizations who reported higher
levels of SRW were less instrumentally committed.
Summary of SRW Empirical Research to Date
A number of studies using multiple measures have found SRW
to be positively related to organizational commitment, job satis-
faction, productivity, and other measures of performance (see
Table 1). In addition, the empirical research on SRW has demon-
strated that measures of SRW are significantly related to altruism
and conscientiousness (Chen & Yang, 2012); self-career manage-
ment (Chen et al., 2012); reduced interrole conflict (Hall et al.,
2012); reduced frustration (Kolodinsky et al., 2008); organization-
based self-esteem (Milliman et al., 2003); involvement (Kolodin-
sky et al., 2008); retention (Milliman et al., 2003); and ethical
behavior (Ming-Chia, 2012). These results are consistent across
various countries and cultures, including Brazil, China, India, Iran,
Malaysia, Pakistan, Taiwan, and the United States.
Challenges Associated With Integrative Work and
Future Research in SRW
Integrative work in SRW presents several challenging ques-
tions: Should spirituality be used for instrumental ends at work or
as a central organizing principle?; How much spiritual expression
should be allowed at work, accommodating an individual’s right
for SRW expression versus company needs (and what are the legal
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issues surrounding this potential conflict, analyzing SRW at mul-
tiple levels)?; and How can a social-scientific approach to studying
business and management be integrated with a philosophical/
theological approach to studying spirituality?
Spirituality and Religion
One central issue in SRW concerns the relationship between
spirituality and religious approaches to SRW (Fry, 2003;Hill et al.,
2013). Many have felt that viewing SRW through the lens of
religious traditions and practice is divisive in that, to the extent the
religion views itself as the only path to God and salvation, it
excludes those who do not share in the denominational tradition
(Cavanagh, 1999). Furthermore, religious practices often conflict
with the social, legal, and ethical foundations of business, law, and
public and nonprofit administration (Nadesan, 1999). Thus, reli-
gion can lead to the arrogant view that a particular company, faith,
or society is better, morally superior, or worthier than another
(Nash, 1994). Imbuing religion into SRW can foster zealotry at the
expense of organizational goals, offend constituents and custom-
ers, and decrease morale and employee well-being (Giacalone &
Jurkiewicz, 2003). Further exploration of the relationship between
religion and spirituality is therefore essential to honor the integrity
of both disciplines while seeking the role each has to play in any
integrative theory of SRW.
Technique for Instrumental Ends Versus Central
Organizing Principle
Another recurring debate in the SRW literature revolves around
the motive for integrating spirituality, religion, and work. For
example, should spirituality be integrated into the workplace for
instrumental ends (e.g., to improve financial performance) or
should spirituality be seen as a central organizing principle for the
workplace? Driscoll and Wiebe (2007) argued that SRW is a
technique often used for instrumental and financial ends. Gia-
calone and Jurkiewicz represented the instrumental view well,
arguing that to be confident our suppositions are more than per-
sonal advocacy requires the dispassionate objectivism afforded by
the scientific method. Organizations need persuasive evidence that
SRW is positively related to bottom-line performance; anything
less would bring into question their fiduciary responsibility to
stockholders and their moral responsibility to stakeholders. For
workplace spirituality to be a viable construct in improving orga-
nizations and the people in them, it requires a degree of confidence
we can only attain through scientific measurement (Krahnke, Gia-
calone, & Jurkiewicz, 2003).
Driscoll and Wiebe (2007), on the other hand, used Jacques
Ellul’s philosophical critique of “technical dominance” in the
modern world to argue that spirituality should be the central
organizing principle in the workplace rather than a means to the
end of profitability. They claimed that where technique reigns,
human values and value judgments are threatened and critical
faculties are suppressed, because “technique never observes the
distinction between moral and immoral use” (Driscoll & Wiebe,
2007, p. 334). They called for an honoring of the soul on its own
terms in the workplace, so that human values and critical faculties
will not be eroded.
During the same time, Fry and Slocum (2008) and Fry and
Nisiewicz (2013) made the case that this is not an either/or prop-
osition, and called for new business models that accentuate ethical
and spiritual leadership, employee well-being, sustainability, and
social responsibility—without sacrificing profitability, revenue
growth, and other indicators of financial performance. Drawing
from the emerging fields of SRW, spiritual leadership, and con-
scious capitalism, they presented a general model of leadership
that can simultaneously optimize employee well-being, social re-
sponsibility, and organizational effectiveness, thereby maximizing
the triple bottom line.
Advocating for SRW Versus Suppressing It
Another challenge to integrative work in SRW focuses on
whether and how spirituality and religion should be expressed in
the workplace. The study of SRW has, to date, been relatively free
of denominational politics and ideological conflict. In fact, reli-
gious ideology itself has been virtually disregarded. Under the
rubric of spirituality, the issues that have surface have avoided any
mention of a comparatively right-and-wrong ideology (Hill et al.,
2013). At the same time, there are problems inherent in suppress-
ing an employee’s religious and spiritual side. While some com-
panies have claimed to be values-free by suppressing all religious/
spiritual expression, Hicks (2003) noted that the purely secularist
position, which prohibits any expression of religion or spirituality
in the workplace, also imposes a values-based worldview on its
employees. Hicks argued that it is simply impossible to avoid
taking a values-laden position vis-a
`-vis the diverse religious and
spiritual (and cultural and political) commitments that employees
and managers bring with them to work. His proposed solution,
“respectful pluralism,” offers a middle way between (a) advocating
particular religions and spiritualities in the workplace, and (b)
prohibiting religious and spiritual expression altogether. Accord-
ing to Hicks,
The guiding principle of respectful pluralism is termed the presump-
tion of inclusion. It can be stated as follows: To the greatest extent,
workplace organizations should allow employees to express their
religious, spiritual, cultural, political, and other commitments at work,
subject to the limiting norms of noncoercion, nondegradation, and
nonestablishment, and in consideration of the reasonable instrumental
demands of the for-profit enterprise. (Hicks, 2003, p. 173)
Hicks (2003), among others (e.g., Miller, 2007), challenged the
separation of religion and spirituality as a relatively recent phe-
nomenon, and argued that the separation is not sustainable.
He argued that the mantra “spirituality unites, but religion
divides” is much more problematic than scholars or proponents of
spiritual leadership would have us believe because the correspond-
ing definitions of spirituality are too broad to be coherent and the
frequent emphasis on the potential of spirituality to create unity or
common ground in the workplace overlooks difficult issues.
Individual Rights Versus Company Needs
Dean, Forniciari, and Safranski (2008) asked how a company
should accommodate an individual’s right to spiritual expression
when this involves proscribed behaviors such as proselytizing or
engaging in actions based on spiritual/religious beliefs that often
are disruptive to the firm, other employees, or its customers. They
asked, for example, how a firm should respond to a request from
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40 Muslim employees on a production line to leave at the same
time for their daily prayers. The authors noted that the SRW
paradigm currently provides little direction on how individuals of
different faiths should interact with the religious rights of others
who may have very different worldviews and beliefs and to what
degree employees have to honor or accept other faiths as legiti-
Another example they provided was the case of a Christian
woman who came to work wearing a sizable button with a color
photo of a fetus, claiming that her religion required her to witness
against abortion. Her coworkers complained and, when she refused
the accommodations management offered, she was fired. Although
she sued the company, she lost the case when the court ruled that,
by offering other reasonable options, the firm met the standard of
employer responsibility to accommodate the employee’s religious
beliefs (Wilson v. U.S. West Communications, 1995).
Legal Issues Concerning SRW
Other legal issues have emerged regarding individual rights
versus company needs. Most of these issues have revolved around
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964). Title VII protects em-
ployees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or
national origin. With regard to religion, the law prohibits discrim-
ination in recruitment, hiring, promotion, assignments, discipline,
compensation, or benefits; prohibits harassment or creation of a
hostile environment due to religious observations or practices; and
prohibits retaliation against employees because of their religious
beliefs or practices. In addition, employers must not prescribe or
proscribe religious participation as a condition of employment and
must provide reasonable accommodations for religious practices or
At issue is the freedom of both employees and employers to
express and practice their beliefs without being harassed and
without contributing to a hostile environment for their coworkers.
However, balancing the legal rights of employees, coworkers,
employers, and customers in this area has proven challenging to
our judicial system. While other hostile environment charge cate-
gories’ (e.g., sexual harassment) complaint numbers have re-
mained essentially flat for a decade, religious discrimination com-
plaints have doubled on a percentage basis. Schaeffer and Mattis
(2012) reported that, in the last 12 years, religious bias complaints
have increased over 69%. These lawsuits have centered on lack of
accommodations and harassment. In addition, the monetary re-
wards from these claims have nearly doubled over the 10-year
period of 2000–2010 (Borstorff, Cunningham, & Clark, 2012).
This is at least in part due to the power differential between
employers and employees. Courts have often viewed an employ-
er’s religious expression as inherently more coercive than employ-
ees’ religious expression and, because of this, there is the likeli-
hood that employers will restrict religious expression in the
workplace in an effort to comply with federal law and thereby
avoid potential liability. To insulate themselves from liability,
some employers may forbid all religious expression, creating a
zero-tolerance policy for religion in their workplaces (Adams,
2012;Kaminer, 2000,2010).
Religion in this legal context has been defined broadly. Accord-
ing to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Compli-
ance Manual (2008), a belief is considered religious not only from
a traditional religious institution perspective, but also if it is
religious in the person’s own mind. As a result, spirituality, how-
ever defined, may also be considered religious with regard to
interpreting and enforcing the law. Indeed, the law has cleared the
way for allowing nonspecific faith tradition expression or spiritu-
ality to the point that some “new age” training programs designed
to improve employee motivation through meditation, yoga, and
biofeedback may conflict with the nondiscriminatory provisions of
Title VII (Dean & Safranski, 2008).
Dean and Safranski (2008) have suggested that using a legalistic
approach to manage the conflict between employee’s and employ-
er’s rights to religious expression and employee’s countervailing
right not to be harassed may not help managers. Crafting policy
that prohibits or curtails SRW expression in the interest of creating
a harassment-free environment may backfire—all it takes is one
employee’s claim. In addition, adhering to policy that is meant to
be inclusive and nondiscriminatory may also backfire. Rather than
following the contradictory legalistic path, Dean and Safranski
(2008) and Fry & Nisiewicz (2013) suggested a noninterventionist
approach. Employers should allow employees to choose their own
SRW opportunities without pressure or sanctions, including reflec-
tion time during the day, a “personal days” policy for spiritual
recharging, organizational space for SRW activities, and a nonde-
nominational chaplain who offers support to employees.
Analyzing SRW at Multiple Levels
Strategic leaders are ultimately responsible for creating vision
and value congruence across the individual, unit, and organiza-
tional levels as well as for developing effective relationships
between the organization and environmental stakeholders (Fry,
2003). At the organizational or strategic level, SRW is a descriptor
of the organization as an entity. Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (2003)
defined workplace spirituality “as a framework of organizational
values evidenced in the culture that promote employees’ experi-
ence of organizational transcendence through the work process,
facilitating their sense of being connected to others in a way that
provides feelings of completeness and joy” (p. 13). As such, SRW
at this level can be considered in terms of a common vision and set
of cultural values for all employees.
At the team or unit level, organizations must establish a culture
with values that reflect the organization’s culture. Especially im-
portant for SRW is the concept of empowerment, which involves
power sharing: the delegation of power, authority, and responsi-
bility to organizational followers (Bowen & Lawler, 1995;Spre-
itzer, 1996). It is this linkage that creates the cross-level connec-
tion between group and individual jobs and the organization’s
vision and values, thereby giving followers a sense of direction in
which to act. In addition to empowerment, this process of provid-
ing directed autonomy, competence, and relatedness also provides
the foundation for intrinsic motivation and SRW (Deci & Ryan,
2000;Ford & Fottler, 1995;Fry, 2003;Fry et al., 2011).
At the individual level, SRW reinforces a set of values that
provide the foundation for a person’s ethical system as well as the
experience of transcendence through the work process, facilitating
a sense of connectedness to others in a way that provides feelings
of completeness and joy (Giacalone & Jurkiewicz, 2003;Fry &
Nisiewicz, 2013). Research has not yet investigated whether em-
ployees bring spiritual values into the workplace, or adopt them to
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organizational requirements (Jurkiewicz, 2010). In much the same
way, some employees may feel that it is best to leave spiritual
values at home because they may sense that spirituality does not fit
the organization’s cultural values. Thus, to understand SRW at the
individual level, investigation into the integration of individual
spiritual values with organizational cultural values is necessary.
A further complexity has arisen when trying to establish a
relationship between individual SRW, group SRW, and organiza-
tional SRW: The empirical issue of when it is appropriate to
aggregate individual-level responses to the unit or organizational
levels to determine if these constructs based on aggregated data
have validity when used to represent higher level phenomena.
Indeed, in the postmaterialism literature, this problem of aggrega-
tion has been a source of continual debate (e.g., Grendstad & Selle,
1997). If SRW is conceptualized at the group and/or organizational
level, more work is needed to determine if and how measures can
be developed that avoid the pitfalls of measurement model mis-
specification and aggregation bias (James, Demaree, & Wolf,
1993;Klein & Kozlowski, 2000;Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Podsa-
koff, & Lee, 2003).
Methodological Issues
Finally, methodological challenges have arisen in the study of
SRW. As Benefiel (2005) pointed out, the dominance of a quan-
titative approach in social-scientific empirical research has raised
important questions for the study of spirituality: How can SRW be
studied qualitatively to get at the lived experience of spirituality
and religion within organizational contexts? Are there questions in
the study of SRW that do not fit into traditional social-scientific
research paradigms? What can SRW scholars learn from scholars
who study SRW from a philosophical/theological perspective?
Drawing from the work of the philosopher/methodologist Ber-
nard Lonergan, Benefiel (2005) provided a way to integrate the
social-scientific perspective and the philosophical/theological per-
spective in the study of SRW. Examining the organizational the-
ories of Burrell and Morgan, Benefiel noted their conclusion that
paradigms based on an objective perspective stand in opposition to
those aligned with a subjective perspective. In Burrell and Mor-
gan’s (1994) view, “A synthesis is not possible, since in their pure
forms they are contradictory” (p. 25). By this logic, the gap
between the social-scientific perspective and the philosophical/
theological perspective cannot be bridged.
Although Benefiel acknowledged Burrell and Morgan’s asser-
tion that no scholar of organizational studies has transcended this
subjective-objective divide, she introduced the theories of Loner-
gan (1957,1972,1985) to challenge the subject/object split. Lon-
ergan used the term “the operations of consciousness” to refer to
the structures of human “knowing,” which include experiencing,
understanding, judging, and deciding. He then delineated “inherent
norms” existing within the structure of consciousness and corre-
sponding to each of the operations of consciousness, as listed in
Table 2. According to Lonergan (1985), authentic subjectivity
involves heeding these inherent norms and results in objectivity. In
this sense, “objectivity, for Lonergan, is the fruit of authentic
subjectivity” (Benefiel, 2005, p. 730).
Lonergan, thereby, refuted the assumption, articulated by Bur-
rell, Morgan, and many others, that subjectivity and objectivity are
mutually exclusive. Benefiel (2005) concluded that Lonergan pro-
vides the critical grounding in the operations of consciousness for
both realist and phenomenological approaches to organizational
analysis and that this critical grounding strengthens both ap-
proaches and helps scholars see that the two approaches need not
be mutually exclusive, viewing one another as absurd and extreme,
but instead, when done authentically, can complement one another.
This article has explored the underlying assumptions and ratio-
nale of the main trends of SRW as well as offered an overview of
the field and challenges to be addressed for its future development.
However, we believe that it is not enough to just develop good
theories and test them. Our hope is that our work here could be an
integrative vehicle for moving the field toward achieving paradig-
matic status. Kuhn (1970) defined a paradigm as, “An entire
constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by the
members of a given community” (p. 175). In other words, a
paradigm is a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scien-
tific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and gener-
alizations, and the methods to test them are formulated. Although
one may argue the extent to which SRW may currently be viewed
as an emerging paradigm in the social sciences, there is no doubt
that there are a number of theoretical and empirical issues that
need to be addressed before this promise can be fulfilled.
Theory Building and SRW
The most promising theoretical approaches to SRW to date are
the meditation integration approach (Biberman & Tischler, 2008;
Heaton & Schmidt-Wilk, 2008), Fry’s model of spiritual leader-
ship (Fry, 2008;Fry & Nisiewicz, 2013), and Hicks’s respectful
pluralism. Heaton and Schmidt-Wilk’s meditation integration ap-
proach has shown promise because of its empirical base linking
meditation, ego development, and leadership effectiveness, and
simplicity in practical application. Similarly, Fry’s spiritual lead-
ership approach has shown promise because of its strong theoret-
ical base and potential for practical application. Hicks’s respectful
pluralism underlies these practical, empirically based approaches,
providing a context in which they can be practiced effectively and
ethically. Another promising area to explore would be to examine
spirituality-based versus religion-based research and how these
can provide a springboard for building on existing theory.
As key components of SRW, workplace spirituality and spiritual
leadership can be viewed as constructs in the initial concept/
elaboration stage of development (Hunt, 1999;Reichers & Sch-
neider, 1990). At this stage, it is important that initial theories meet
the four components of Dubin’s (1978) criteria that provide the
necessary and sufficient conditions for the development of any
Table 2
Lonergan on Human Knowing
Inherent norms Operations of consciousness
Be attentive Experience
Be intelligent Understand
Be reasonable Judge
Be responsible Decide
Be loving Love
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theoretical model. They must specify (a) the units or variables of
interest to the researcher, (b) congruence as defined by the laws of
relationship among units of the model that specify how the units
are associated, (c) boundaries within which the laws of relationship
are expected to operate, and (d) contingency effects that specify
system states within which the units of the theory take on charac-
teristic values that are deterministic and persist through time.
Relative to Dubin’s model, spiritual leadership theory satisfies
these conditions (Fry, 2003,2008). It identifies nine units or
variables in a causal model whose linkages are hypothesized to be
positively related. Subject to further testing, it is currently pro-
posed to be a universal (e.g., no contingency effects) model that
holds across the individual, team, and organizational levels.
Empirical Research on SRW
The studies reviewed have used different models, measures, and
approaches, and been tested globally across different cultures and
countries. Yet they have produced consistent findings. SRW has
been seen to positively influence organizational commitment, job
satisfaction, performance, and productivity at both the individual
and unit levels. Other promising findings have included a positive
influence on ethical and organizational citizenship behavior. The
two main measurement instruments developed by Ashmos and
Duchon (2000) and Fry et al. (2005) have been used to empirically
test spirituality at work in a number of organizations across several
countries. On closer examination, however, this is not entirely
surprising because, although developed separately, the Ashmos
and Duchon dimensions of inner life, meaningful work, and sense
of community are conceptually very similar to the inner life,
calling, and membership spiritual leadership constructs—a simi-
larity that certainly warrants further research.
Spiritual leadership theory in particular can be viewed as an
emerging paradigm within the broader context of SRW (Fry,
2005a). However, research on several fronts is necessary to further
establish the validity of it and other SRW approaches before
widely applying them as models for organizational transformation
to foster systemic change and development. For example, the
importance of SRW for managing diversity is an important area for
additional theory building and research. Although further study is
certainly needed on legal issues and SRW, research is also needed
on the influence of SRW on organizational diversity, including
departmental, geographical, and across divisions in larger corpo-
rations. Although there is emerging evidence of the positive influ-
ence of SRW internationally, further exploration and testing of
SRW theories and models in different cultural and country settings
is needed. Outcomes across levels hypothesized to be affected by
SRW have yet to be explored, especially in terms of the role
calling and membership can play. Additional longitudinal studies
are needed to test for changes in key variables over time, partic-
ularly as relating to performance. Studies incorporating more ob-
jective performance measures from multiple sources are also
needed, including profitability, sales growth, and market share
(Podsakoff et al., 2003). Qualitative studies that explore the lived
experience of SRW are warranted both for leaders, followers, and
the dyadic relationship between them. Finally, the conceptual
distinction between spiritual leadership theory and other values-
based leadership theories, such as transformational leadership,
authentic leadership, ethical leadership, and servant leadership, in
relation to SRW should also be refined (Fry, 2003;Fry, Matherly,
Whittington, & Winston, 2007;Fry & Whittington, 2005). Further
research might investigate whether these theories are perhaps
mutually reinforcing or serve to moderate the effects of one
In sum, SRW is an emerging area of scholarly inquiry that has
an atypical history in that it has its roots in philosophy and
theology rather than in a more established field of social science
such as, in this case, the psychology of religion and spirituality.
However, since the landmark study by Mitroff and Denton (1999),
SRW has begun to experience some convergence, both theoreti-
cally and empirically, on the importance of an inner life or spiritual
practice in fostering a vision and set of altruistic values that satisfy
fundamental spiritual needs for calling and community, which in
turn positively influence important individual and organizational
outcomes. This is an important beginning. However, the field of
the psychology of religion and spirituality has much to offer that
can be applied to the workplace. It is our hope that this article can
be a springboard for such an integrative endeavor.
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Received March 1, 2013
Revision received February 17, 2014
Accepted February 26, 2014
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... There is no clear identification of the official starting date for the introduction of spirituality into the workplace. The antecedents can be linked to religion in the workplace and the works of St Benedict, who connected work and prayer back in the sixth century and later on during the Industrial Revolution, the protestant work ethic, and especially with the Faith at Work Movement in the 19th century (Benefiel, Fry & Geigle, 2014). Still, from a modern perspective, spirituality at work needs to be differentiated from religion. ...
... The ever-changing social, political, and economic conditions have led to continuous research in the relations between faith/spirituality and work. The faith at work movement emphasized the importance of spirituality, its potential value for business and society and offered new arguments for the depth and breadth of spirituality at work, having positive implications at the personal level, in corporate ethics, and in the economy as a whole (Benefiel, Fry & Geigle, 2014). ...
... The Positive Leadership Assessment Scale (Cameron, 2008) alongwith Positive Leadership Questionnaire (Barua, 2020) used to measure positive leadership. Studies of Gotsis and Kortezi (2008) Benefiel et al. (2014) can be used to assess Workplace Spirituality. The practice of meditation assessed through five questions (Barua, 2020). ...
... Leaders and workers often refer to religion and spirituality as sources of making sense, connection, and personal support (Benefiel, Fry and Geigle, 2014). In addition, results from a study of 186 senior executives from business and education show that religious orientation enhances the partnership between spirituality and transformational leadership (Twigg and Parayitam, 2007). ...
... According to Long and Mills (2010), spirituality is required in the workplace for the success of organisations and individuals. Leaders and workers often refer to religion and spirituality as sources of making sense, connection, and personal support (Benefiel et al., 2014). A study of 186 senior executives from business and education shows that religious orientation enhances the partnership between spirituality and transformational leadership (Twigg and Parayitam, 2007). ...
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... Leaders and workers often refer to religion and spirituality as sources of making sense, connection, and personal support (Benefiel, Fry and Geigle, 2014). In addition, results from a study of 186 senior executives from business and education show that religious orientation enhances the partnership between spirituality and transformational leadership (Twigg and Parayitam, 2007). ...
... According to Long and Mills (2010), spirituality is required in the workplace for the success of organisations and individuals. Leaders and 8 workers often refer to religion and spirituality as sources of making sense, connection, and personal support (Benefiel et al., 2014). A study of 186 senior executives from business and education shows that religious orientation enhances the partnership between spirituality and transformational leadership (Twigg and Parayitam, 2007). ...
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... The sense of community and meaningful work variables are loosely aligned with job involvement and work satisfaction. The reason supporting the fact could be that workplace spirituality is in the early phase of development (Benefiel et al., 2014;Roof, 2015).Thus, it can be concluded that employees work with high spirit and morale if supported by a conducive organizational culture. ...
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... Spirituality has been a well-researched construct in various contexts for many years. It has been explored and extensively modeled in several domains such as medical health, nursing, work environment, employee happiness, and well-being (Benefiel et al., 2014;Giacalone & Jurkiewicz, 2003;Hafeez & Rafique, 2013;McSherry et al., 2002). For example, the use of spirituality in the treatment of fatal patients is an active area of research (Delaney, 2005;Khanna & Greyson, 2014;West, 2012). ...
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Consumers get irritated and distracted while watching the Ramadan TV commercials due to the non-availability of the consumers' religio-spiritual insights and this irritation can sometimes create a negative brand image. Marketers have 'christmasised' this spiritual month of Ramadan as they are considering Ramadan a seasonal shopping festival like other western festivals. Marketers reserve almost half of their annual budget for advertising during Ramadan but they are not considering the spiritual aura during this spiritual month when the spiritual contemplations of Muslims are higher than any other Islamic month. This study provides a comprehensive framework that will help marketers to incorporate consumers' religio-spiritual insights in Ramadan TV commercials so that consumers cannot be irritated and distracted. Some of the important constructs explored in this study include spirituality, religiosity, entertainment, information, and credibility of the source. This exploratory research is conducted by following the guidelines of grounded theory. 25 in-depth semi-structured interviews have been conducted from the consumers having religious, non-religious, and sports/yoga orientations to understand the consumers' spiritual insights and propose a comprehensive framework.
In this empirical study, we aim to explore how organizations can be targets of hope during COVID-19. More specifically, we ask: how do managers create spaces of hope, and what are the underlying mechanisms facilitating these processes of hope in a crisis situation? Based on an investigation of essays written by managers prior to and during the COVID19 pandemic and drawing on analyses from a focus group interview with managers, this article shows how creating organizational spaces of hope is part of a dynamic, relational and spiritual process. The managers are working on recognizing and affirming the organizational members' situation, helping them envision hope through a process of noticing despair, searching for meaning, and creating actions of hope to establish a horizon of possibilities. This hope process is facilitated through group reflection in safe spaces as well as times of slow-thinking, enabling hope practices in organizations to be part of viewing future horizons.
Purpose The study considers how entrepreneurship and its leaders need to adapt to address the sustainability challenge. Design/methodology/approach It adopts a grounded theory style approach and is based on a case study derived from non-participant observation and secondary data. Findings The research findings suggest that to address the sustainability challenge requires a new approach to entrepreneurship that is based on systems thinking and the principle of harmony. It suggests the need for less emphasis to be placed on “making as much money as possible” and that there should be broader focus on the development of community entrepreneurship and the creation of civic entrepreneurs. Research limitations/implications The research introduces a new approach to entrepreneurship in order to address the sustainability challenge and this has implications for entrepreneurial leadership. Practical implications The concept, known as Harmonious Entrepreneurship, requires the integration of the four main approaches to entrepreneurship (economic, eco, humane and social), abandonment of the Friedman (1970) mantra that the responsibility of business is to make as much money as possible and a change in the mindset and competence requirement of the entrepreneurial leader. Social implications The findings imply the need to change the way entrepreneurship is taught and entrepreneurial leaders are trained and developed. Also they suggest the need to focus on community entrepreneurship and the creation of Civic Entrepreneurs. Originality/value The article introduces a new, more holistic approach to entrepreneurship in order to address the sustainability challenge. It is based on a study of the vision and achievement of an Islamic entrepreneur and has implications for entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial leadership and entrepreneurship education and training. It will be of interest to entrepreneurship scholars, educationalists and those concerned with the promotion and development of entrepreneurship, as well as all agencies and individuals concerned with the future of the planet and its people. Recommendations are made for further research and verification.
In an organisational context, we find numerous expressions of human values. A key expression of such values is in communication, both formal and informal. It can be assumed that forms of communication that integrate stakeholders’ perspectives and purposes will result in integrative or coherent outcomes. One such integrative communication method inspired by Bhāratīya culture (Ancient Indian culture) is the method of Śāstrārtha (also called Vāda-kathā). Śāstrārtha is an approach to communication where the process of reconciling different positions happens naturally because the aim is to understand the truth through dialogue, and where the result is transformational thinking. Such a method can have applications in action research because of its transformational potential. This chapter outlines the fundamentals of the approach and its implications for applying human values in a management context. In addition, it applies the theory of proper argumentation (Paṃcāvayava Prakriyā) to several perspectives on human values in organisations. It explains how the means to gain right knowledge (Pramāṇas) and the process of logical reasoning (Tarka) are used by participants in a process of dialogue that employs the Śāstrārtha approach. Śāstrārthas stress the importance of collective thinking and allow space for both objective and subjective realities, because they focus on intellect and wisdom. The Śāstrārtha approach may be considered as a method that includes both ‘doing’ (a materialistic focus) and ‘becoming’ (a spiritual focus), and for considering values not as ends but as means to achieving higher purposes in organisations.
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Global business today (Lawler and O’Toole,1 Hitt,2 Stead, Stead, and Starik3) calls for every worker to set goals, influence other people, and create and implement process innovations that are cognizant of organizational systems, customers, and the natural environment—in effect, it calls for every member of the organization to be a leader. Can we rely on the leadership training and development programs today to cultivate such leaders? Despite society’s investment in the multibillion dollar leadership training industry, relatively little research exists on the effectiveness of leadership programs.4
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A person’s spirit is the vital principle or animating force traditionally believed to be the intangible, life-affirming force in the self and in all human beings.1 Now people, as part of their spiritual journey, are struggling with what this means for their work.2 Some are calling this trend “a spiritual awakening in the American workplace.”3 Patricia Aburdene in her recent book Megatrends 2010, states that the focus on spirituality in business is becoming so pervasive that it stands as “today’s greatest megatrend.” She contends that more and more people are making choices in the marketplace as “values-driven consumers” and the power of spirituality is increasingly impacting our personal lives and spreading into organizations to foster a moral transformation in them.
To date, most work conducted in the spirituality and religion in the workplace (SRW) domain has adopted a “positive” tone regarding its role within organizations. Extant research by and large has accepted that SRW is good for organizations without examining where and how it might go awry—that employees will simply be spiritually expressive without threat or interference from either the organization or peers. The newest wave of SRW experiences, however, shows increasing disputes about SRW and how it is practiced. In this chapter, we argue that there is a practice of accepting and including spiritual selves into organizations and thus there must be an ethical means by which to do so. We define “inclusion” in this context as enabling different spiritual or religious expressions while being part of an organizational whole, and believe that inclusion in organizations is an ethical practice that requires tolerance, flexibility, and an orientation toward community.
There's a new connection happening in many organizations between employees and management that is resulting in a happier workforce and real bottomline improvements. Here's a look at who's doing it, why, and to what benefits.