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Spirituality in the Workplace


Spirituality in the Workplace Katy Atkinson, OWT OWT 208 2005 Week 14 Lecture Notes Lecture Aims What is meant by spirituality in the work place? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Spirituality in the Workplace

Spirituality in the Workplace
  • Katy Atkinson, OWT
  • OWT 208 2005 Week 14 Lecture Notes

Lecture Aims
  • What is meant by spirituality in the work place?
  • Three levels of analysis
  • Mainstream management literature
  • Critique within management literature
  • Going further a field Rose, Roberts and Heelas

What does spirituality in the workplace encompass?
  • Self discovery, self development and self
  • Spiritual Techniques
  • e.g. corporate firewalking, meditation, yoga,
    outward bound activities, prayer groups,
    spiritual conferences, telekinesis, vision

What does spirituality in the workplace encompass?
  • Providing ultimate meaning and interconnectedness
    (Mitroff Denton 1999)
  • Inner peace and calm, an inexhaustible source of
    faith and power, tolerant and open-minded
  • Not to be confused with religion which is
    dogmatic, intolerant and divisive (Mitroff 2003)

Mainstream management literature
  • Spirituality as competitive advantage (Mitroff
    2003 and many more)
  • Spiritual happy employee more productive
    lower labour turnover
  • Links to organisational learning, HRD,
    leadership, empowerment, creativity

Mainstream management literature
  • Corporations becoming lean and meaningful (HR
    Magazine, August 199846) instead of simply
    lean and mean
  • Encouraging individuals to find meaning in work,
    cope with stress, encourage a democratic and
    community based organisation (Dehler and Welsh
    1994, Biberman and Witty 1997)

Mainstream management literature
  • Management as (secular) religion work as a
    calling (Pattison 1997, Ackers and Preston
    1997, Fox 1994).
  • Management seen as appealing to ideals of faith,
    self-discovery and commitment through religious
    language and prophet-like leaders.

Critique within management literature
  • No widely accepted definition of spirituality in
    the workplace
  • Is anything that is fun, team building or
    fulfilling to be classified as spiritual?
    (Benefiel 2003)
  • Conceptualisation through measurement? (Ashmos
    and Duchon 2000)

Critique within management literature
  • Paradox work as mystified and its meaning
    elusive vs. managing and quantifying spirituality
    and the self.
  • Route to self-discovery tightly circumscribed,
    organisation portrayed as depoliticised,
    individual has the burden of responsibility to
    find herself'
  • (Bell and Taylor 2003).

Critique within management literature
  • Scepticism
  • learning to sing the hymn, soon forgetting the
    words (Ackers and Preston 1997)
  • Moral implications devotion to org. and
    material gains
  • If profits suffer will the spiritual path be

Critique within management literature
  • Bell and Taylor (2003) draw upon Foucault to
    criticise spirituality
  • Pastoral power masquerading as pluralism
  • Salvation through examination, confession,
    guidance and correction
  • Reflects managerial ideology in general managing
    subjectivity engineering the soul

Heelas (1996)
  • The New Age origins in 60s, against capitalism
    and commercialism
  • est (Erhard Seminars Training)
  • Increasingly involved in mainstream business
    selling enlightenment
  • Self-spirituality the unifying theme behind
    these eclectic practices

Heelas (2002)
  • Soft capitalism
  • The turn to life
  • The self-work ethic and self-spirituality

Roberts (2002)
  • New Age management techniques
  • Self-development and HRM
  • Empowerment and self-supervision
  • Religiosity as a resource - problematic

Rose Townley
  • Power/knowledge and subjectivity
  • Technologies of the self
  • Techniques that permit individuals to work on
    themselves bodies, souls, thoughts etc in
    order to attain happiness, purity, wisdom,
    perfection or immortality (Foucault 1988)

Rose Townley
  • Rose - self fulfilment by means of, not in spite
    of work
  • Townley techniques of HRM (including
    spirituality) encourage self-knowledge, self-
    development in effect self-governance

To conclude
  • Aim was to encourage deeper reflection and
    analysis on organisational practices and HRM
  • Spirituality in the workplace represents one
    type of practice among many that can be analysed
    in this way.

References Bibliography
  • Ackers, P. and Preston, D. (1997) Born again?
    The ethics and efficacy of the conversion
    experience in contemporary management...,
    Journal of Management Studies, volume 34, issue
    5, pg. 677-702.
  • Ashmos, D.P. and Duchon, D. (2000) Spirituality
    at work a conceptualisation and measure,
    Journal of Management Inquiry, volume 9, issue 2,
    pg. 134-145.
  • Bell, E. and Taylor, S. (2003) The Elevation of
    work Pastoral power and the New Age work ethic,
    Organization, volume 10, issue 2, pg. 329-349.
  • Benefiel, M. (2003) Irreconcilable Foes? The
    discourse of spirituality and the discourse of
    organisational science, Organization, volume 10,
    issue 2, pg. 383-391.
  • Berman Brown, R. (2003) Organisational
    Spirituality the sceptics version,
    Organization, volume 10, issue 2, pg. 393-400.
  • Biberman, J. and Whitty M. (1997) A Post-modern
    Spiritual Future for Work, Journal of
    Organisational Change Management, volume 10,
    issue 2, pg. 130-38).
  • Bromley, D.G. (1995) Quasi-Religious
    corporations a new integration of religion and
    capitalism?, in Roberts, R. (ed.) (1995)
    Religion and the Transformations of Capitalism
    comparative approaches, London Routledge.

References Bibliography
  • Dehler, G.E. and Welsh, M.A. (1994) Spirituality
    and Organisational Transformation implications
    for the new management paradigm, Journal of
    Managerial Psychology, volume 9, issue 6, pg.
  • Fox, M. (1994) The Reinvention of Work, New
    York, Harper San Francisco.
  • Heelas, P. (2002) Work ethics, soft capitalism
    and the turn to life, in du Gay, P. and Pryke,
    M. Cultural Economy cultural analysis and
    commercial life, London, Sage.
  • Heelas, P. (1996) The New Age Movement The
    celebration of the self and the sacralization of
    modernity, Oxford Blackwell Publishers.
  • Heelas, P. (1992) The Sacralization of the Self
    and New Age Capitalism, in Abercrombie, N. and
    Warde, A. (eds.) Social Change in Contemporary
    Britain, Cambridge, Polity Press.
  • KFC bosses hot foot it to hospital, The Sun,
  • Krakhmalnik, A. New and Old An overview of
    (self)spirituality and (pseudo)religion in
    contemporary organisations. (MA Dissertation,
    Dpt OWT, 2002)
  • Lean and Meaningful A New Culture for Corporate
    America. (1998 August) HR Magazine, pg. 117.

References Bibliography
  • Mitroff, I.I. (2003) Do not promote religion
    under the guise of spirituality, Organization,
    volume 10, issue 2, pg. 375-382.
  • Mitroff, I.I. and Denton, E.A. (1999) A Study of
    Spirituality in the Workplace, Sloan Management
    Review, volume 40, issue 4, pg. 83-93.
  • Pattison, S. (1997) The Faith of the Managers
    When Management becomes Religion, Wiltshire
    Redwood Books.
  • Roberts, R. (2002) Religion, Theology and the
    Human Sciences, Cambridge Cambridge University
  • Rose, N. (1999) Governing the Soul The Shaping
    of the Private Self, Second Edition, London
    Free Association Books.
  • Rose, N. (1998) Inventing ourselves Psychology,
    power and personhood, Cambridge, Cambridge
    University Press.
  • Townley, B. (1994) Reframing Human Resource
    Management Power, Ethics and the Subject at
    Work, London, Sage.
  • Townley, B. (1993) Foucault, power/knowledge,
    and its relevance for Human Resource Management,
    The Academy of Management Review, Mississippi
    State, July, 1993.
  • www.firewalking.com/corporate.html
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