Over the last decade or so, we have witnessed a growing interest in the role of spirituality within traditional management and organisation discourse and research – a move beyond focusing on rational and non-rational issues, including those of emotion and intuition, to something perhaps more encompassing and holistic, maybe best popularised initially by Zohar and Marshall’s monograph on Spiritual Intelligence (2000). Yet, the questioning of the legitimacy of the construct of spirituality and its appropriateness in organisation discourse continues. In light of this ongoing debate, we offer an evolutionary-frame perspective on the development of the construct of spirituality, to demonstrate that while the ideas of organisational spirituality became quite popular in the twenty first century, the origins of this construct are present in the longer evolution of organisation and management thought. The paper forms part of a broader study of spirituality within contemporary organisations, investigating the relationship between employees and organisations from a spiritual perspective. The question addressed here is how did interest about and an increased presence of spirituality in organisational life evolve, the answers to which should assist comprehension of the phenomenon and contextualise further research in the field. In answering within the scope of a paper, we have combined the work of Bolman and Deal (2008) who provide a frame (multi-perspective) model that summarises traditional management and organisation literature, and that of Wilber (1996, 2000), whose meta-framework offers an integrated, non-dual perspective on reality, where external and internal, collective and individual are part and parcel of each other. We focus on how organisational thought developing within broader societal development, scientific discoveries, and achievements in philosophy, spurred the evolution of the concept of spirituality as connected and opposed to religion. This crucial dimension in answering our question is explored by outlining the main trends in conceptualising spirituality and religion, and making our case for defining both in the context of organisation discourse.
Copyright Common Ground and The Author/s. Article originally published in The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Number 2, pp. 143-159. This version archived on behalf of the author/s and is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission must be sought from the publisher to republish or reproduce or for any other purpose.