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Nurturing the Whole Person: The Ethics of Workplace Spirituality in a Society of Organizations


  • Mathew Sheep



In a world which can be increasingly described as a “society of organizations,â€\x9D it is incumbent upon organizational researchers to account for the role of organizations in determining the well-being of societies and the individuals that comprise them. Workplace spirituality is a young area of inquiry with potentially strong relevance to the well-being of individuals, organizations, and societies. Previous literature has not examined ethical dilemmas related to workplace spirituality that organizations might expect based upon the co-existence of multiple ethical work climates, nor has previous literature accounted for the relevance of the cosmopolitan (external, societal) source of moral reasoning in the ethical treatment of workplace spirituality. The purpose of this paper is to address these gaps by articulating two such ethical dilemmas related to workplace spirituality: the “quiet desperationâ€\x9D dilemma and the instrumentality dilemma. Moreover, I propose two theoretical contexts that foster “both-andâ€\x9D rather than “either-orâ€\x9D thinking, thereby mitigating (moderating) the relationships between climate combinations and conflictual aspects of the ethical dilemmas. For the “quiet desperationâ€\x9D dilemma, I propose a person–organization fit perspective to emphasize diversity of individual preferences instead of a managerially prescribed uniformity of spirituality. For the instrumentality dilemma, I propose a multiparadigm approach to workplace spirituality research to avoid the privileging of one research interest over another (e.g., instrumentality, individual fulfillment, societal good). I conclude with suggestions for future research. Copyright Springer 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Mathew Sheep, 2006. "Nurturing the Whole Person: The Ethics of Workplace Spirituality in a Society of Organizations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 66(4), pages 357-375, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:66:y:2006:i:4:p:357-375
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-006-0014-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tirole, Jean, 2001. "Corporate Governance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 1-35, January.
    2. Elaine Sternberg, 1997. "The Defects of Stakeholder Theory," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(1), pages 3-10, January.
    3. Hsieh, Nien-hê, 2004. "The Obligations of Transnational Corporations: Rawlsian Justice and the Duty of Assistance," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(04), pages 643-661, October.
    4. Phillips, Robert & Freeman, R. Edward & Wicks, Andrew C., 2003. "What Stakeholder Theory is Not," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(04), pages 479-502, October.
    5. Orts, Eric W. & Strudler, Alan, 2002. "The Ethical and Environmental Limits of Stakeholder Theory," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(02), pages 215-233, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Kolodinsky & Robert Giacalone & Carole Jurkiewicz, 2008. "Workplace Values and Outcomes: Exploring Personal, Organizational, and Interactive Workplace Spirituality," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 81(2), pages 465-480, August.
    2. Kathryn Pavlovich & Patricia Corner, 2014. "Conscious Enterprise Emergence: Shared Value Creation Through Expanded Conscious Awareness," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 121(3), pages 341-351, May.
    3. repec:kap:jbuset:v:145:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3117-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Matthew Brophy, 2015. "Spirituality Incorporated: Including Convergent Spiritual Values in Business," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 132(4), pages 779-794, December.


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