Spirituality, Inc: Religion in the American Workplace

Spirituality, Inc: Religion in the American Workplace

Spirituality, Inc: Religion in the American Workplace

Spirituality, Inc: Religion in the American Workplace


For many Americans spirituality and business seem to be polar opposites: one is concerned with lofty questions of ultimate significance, the other with mundane matters of the daily grind. Yet over the last two decades the two have become increasingly linked, and as the barriers between them are broken down, many see this as a revolutionary shift in American business culture.

Lake Lambert III provides a comprehensive examination of the workplace spirituality movement, and explores how it is both shaping and being shaped by American business culture. Situating the phenomenon in an historical context, Lambert surveys the role of spirituality in business from medieval guilds to industrial "company towns" right up to current trends in the ever-changing contemporary business environment. Using case studies from specific businesses, such as Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby, he analyzes the enhanced benefits and support that workplace spirituality offers to employees, while exposing the conflicts it engenders, including diversity, religious freedom, and discrimination issues.

The American workplace today is experiencing dramatic upheaval and change. Spirituality, Inc. offers important insights into the role of religion in this transformation. With employees seeking new ways to strike a proper life-work balance and find meaning in their everyday lives, spirituality in the workplace is a trend that will become increasingly important in the American business landscape. Spirituality, Inc. provides a critical overview of this phenomenon that does not ignore the movement's many positive contributions to the workplace, yet does not overlook the potential for abuse.


When Patricia Aburdene issued her latest book in the Megatrends franchise, she and her sometime partner, John Naisbitt, had been offering their prophecies on American business culture for almost twenty years. The newest edition was unique, however, because it blurred the line between religion and commerce in a way unexpected for a business best seller. Megatrends 2010 promised to reveal “the rise of conscious capitalism” as the new revolution in corporate operations, consumer behavior, investing, business leadership, and work itself. Filled with interviews, anecdotes, and predictions in bold face, Megatrends 2010 concluded that capitalism was being transformed from an egoistic survival of the fittest built around greed to a new vision of commerce grounded in compassion and enlightened self-interest that is, at its heart, a spiritual phenomenon. No longer would God and mammon be separate, and the path to enlightenment would no more require the renunciation of worldly possessions. Instead, they were coming together in new and creative ways. The “power of spirituality,” Aburdene asserted, was making an impact and demanded notice as the next big trend in American business.

What Aburdene predicted is today not hard to see. At the food giant Tyson Foods, workplace chaplains roam the corporate halls and processing floors. Corporations like Ford and Xerox sponsor spiritual retreats to spark creativity, and small businesses include Bible verses and Christian symbols on their advertising. In the fast-food industry, Chick-fil-A honors the Sabbath by closing on Sunday, and amid rapid growth they dedicate each new store to Gods glory. Prominent business theorists like The One-Minute Managers Kenneth Blanchard write books about Jesus as a leader, and even Wal-Mart sells the publications. At the same time, major American universities including Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Columbia University offer courses touting the value of spirituality to future business managers, and in Washington, DC, public policy makers wonder how to respond to a rising tide of religious discrimination complaints.

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