The Human Side of Spirituality

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  • 8/13/2019 The Human Side of Spirituality


    HandbookofWorkplace SpiritualityandOrganizationalPerformance

    edited yRobert A Giacalone and

    Carole L Jurkiewicz

    c?v1 E harpeArmonk ew YorkLondon England

    ITP LIBR RYInstitute of Transpersonal Psychology1069 East Meadow CirclePalo Alto CA 94303

  • 8/13/2019 The Human Side of Spirituality


    Copyright 2003 by M E. Sharpe, Inc.All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form

    without written permission from the publisher, M. E. Sharpe, Inc.,80 Business Park Drive, Armonk, New York 10504.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataHandbook of workplace spirituality and organizational performance / edited byRobert A. Giacalone and Carole L. Jurkiewicz.

    p cm.Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 0-7656-0844-8 alk. paper)1 Work-Religious aspects. 2 Employees-Religious life. 3. Management

    Religious aspects. I Giacalone, Robert A. II. Jurkiewicz, Carole L., 1958-BL65.W67 H36 2002291.1 785-dc21

    Printed in the United States of America


    The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements ofAmerican National Standard for Information Sciences

    Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,ANSI Z 39.48-1984.

    BM (c) 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2


    . . \

  • 8/13/2019 The Human Side of Spirituality





    Many of us want to infuse our lives with deeper meaning. We want to be of service, to feelconnected to one another and to our Mother Earth. We want deeper relationships and a sense ofgreater purpose. These are some of the motivations behind the talk today about imbuing our life,and our work, with spirituality.

    But what does spirituality mean? Does it mean going to synagogue on Friday or church onSunday, or alternately, going to New Age workshops to learn meditation, chanting, or otherspiritual practices? Is the talk about spirituality in the workplace just anther fad? Or does it signala potentially important development for business and, beyond this, for society?

    The answers to these questions largely depend on how spirituality is defined and applied. Inthis chapter, we propose that spirituality is defined and applied very differently depending on itslarger cultural and social context.

    Specifically, we place spirituality in the larger context of what one of us (Eisler 1987, 1995,2000) has identified s a partnership or dominator model of beliefs, structures, and relationships.We propose that-although most of us are still used to thinking of the choices for our future interms of right versus left, capitalist versus communist, or secular versus religious-underneaththe currents and countercurrents of human history lies the dynamic tension between these twobasic possibilities for structuring relations. However, the distinction between the dominator andpartnership models is not only a matter of politics and economics. t is a matter of how relationsare structured in all spheres of life-from our intimate parent-child and gender relations to ourworkplace relations to our relations with our Mother Earth. And it is a distinction that plays out intwo very different ways of conceptualizing and applying spirituality. '

    In the dominator view, spirituality is abstracted from daily life. It enables people to withdrawfrom what is happening around them. This kind of spirituality may help individuals cope withthechronic injustices and miseries that are inherent in a dominator model of relations-in the fearand-force-backed ranking of man over woman, man over man, race over race, and nation overnation, which can only be maintained by inflicting or threatening pain. But it does not changemuch, if anything, in real life.

    By contrast, the kind of spirituality that is appropriate for a partnership model of relations isnot only transcendent, but also immanent. t is a spirituality that informs our day-to-day lives withcaring and empathy. t does not place man and spirituality over woman and nature-or vice versa.And it provides basic teachings about empathy, respect, and nonviolence as alternatives to both alack of standards and the use of spirituality to incite hate, scapegoating, and violence.This is very important today. On the one side-as in earlier times when the dominator model,with its holy wars, witch burnings, and other barbarities, was more firmly in place-we still


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    THE HUMAN SIDE OF SPIRITUALITY 47have those who incite hate, scapegoating, and violence under the guise of spirituality. On theother, we have those who contend that there are no real standards of conduct, that we should notbe judgmental, and that all standards are merely cultural constructs that vary from time to timeand place to place.

    This second view is justified by some proponents of postmodernism, deconstructionism, orcultural relativism, as well as by some New Age teachings that we should not judge what isgood or evil. t reflects a rebellion against moral rules that frequently have been unfair andall too often have been inhuman-rules developed in earlier times that were more oriented tothe dominator model of society. t also reflects the fact that there are indeed cultural variationsin what is considered moral and right, and that much blood has been shed in the name ofmoralrighteousness.

    But we humans need standards. Even arguing that all standards are relative is articulating akind of standard, negative though i t may be.

    Distinguishing between the kind of standards appropriate for partnership or dominator relations can help us navigate through much of the moral confusion of our time. t can also help usintegrate spirituality into our day-to-day lives-into the world where we relate and live-includingour workplaces.

    Indeed, to even talk about bringing spirituality into the workplace is an important part of themovement toward a partnership way of working and living.

    But how can we prevent this talk about spirituality in the workplace from being diluted into nomore than another diversion, an entertainment? How can we imbue the workplace and the waybusiness is done with partnership spirituality7 And if we do, will this really have positive effectsnot only on how we feel and how we relate to one another and to nature, but also on economicproductivity and business effectiveness?

    Montuori and Purser (2001) have ~ v i e w e the applications of humanistic psychology (HP) inthe workplace. They found that despite the great importance placed on concepts originating inHP, and particularly the work ofAbraham Maslow (in organizational development, for instance),the concepts have been used in such a way that their deeper underlying implications have beenignored. They argue that in some ways HP has been co-opted to fit into a larger corporate philosophical framework to which HP itself was quite opposed. Some aspects of HP have been appliedvery extensively, but very often almost as a feel-good smokescreen, given that the deeper implications of HP, such as the importance of a democratic workplace, have by and large been completely ignored. In other words, the surface elements ofHP, and of human relations approaches ingeneral, have been used, but the HP philosophy has not impacted the overarching level of strategic decision-making, where, as Montuori (2000) argues, the fundamental paradigm is still rational economic with strong-man implementation (cf. Pfeffer and Vega 1999). Furthermore, theexcessive focus on the psychological aspects of HP, understood as a series of tools or processes for personal development, occurred at the expense of the structural changes required tomake deeper changes. For instance, a technique such as active listening could be applied as a toolto give the impression that one was listening, rather than a profound attempt to democratizecommunication in the workplace (Montuori and Purser 2001).

    Spirituality in the workplace runs the same risk as HP. While it is impossible to prevent ideasfrom being misused or trivialized, we propose that the dominator/partnership continuum represents a framework that can help us avoid this. We believe that unless there is more of a changefrom a dominator to a partnership model, there is a much greater likelihood that spirituality in theworkplace will suffer the same fate HP-and all the other movements that addressed the so-calledsoft side of management and business operations.

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    Let us begin by outlining what forms the core of our argument, namely the implications for theworkplace and all other aspects of our lives of two modes of social relations the partnershipmodel and the dominator model.An age-old distinction in thinking about organizations is between tasks and relationships. Every organization has certain tasks to perform and certain relationships to foster and maintain.

    In recent years, increasing importance has been placed on the development and maintenance ofrelationships. One ofthe most important trends today---drawing from systems and complexity theories, creativity research, psychology, and organizational and management theories is a shift fromfocusing on isolated objects to looking at their context, from examining separate parts to focusingon relationships. There is a growing recognition that life and culture exist in and s a web of interrelationships. In business too there is a growing focus on relationships, both relationships insideorganizations and relationships between businesses and their social and natural environment.

    On the old assembly line, r