Organizational ethnography and religious organizations: The case of Quaker decision-making

Nicholas Burton*, Juliette Koning, Rachel Muers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

How should we study the management practices of religious organizations to do justice to their distinctive religious motivations and traditions? In this article, we articulate how a specific research approach–organizational ethnography–may enable a deeper understanding of religious and/or spiritual organizational practice. We approach our methodological research questions by engaging with the literature on the distinctive decision-making practices of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), commonly known as the Quaker business method. Having shown that the Quaker business method destabilizes a simple binary between “insider” and “outsider” and between believers and nonbelievers, we bring the theory and practice of organizational ethnography into conversation with Quaker accounts of decision-making. We conclude with pathways for future research in the space this destabilization creates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-367
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Management, Spirituality and Religion
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • decision-making
  • organizational ethnography
  • Quaker business method
  • Quakers
  • spiritual/religious organizations


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