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Winter Issue, 2019
An Academy of Management Interest Group
A community engaged in interdisciplinary theoretical & applied research & pedagogy related to the relevance and relationship of spirituality and religion in management


The MSR Hall of Fame presents:

Charles Tackney, PhD.

Please introduce yourself? 

Greetings from Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, and Denmark. I’m typing this in the “in-between” year of the MSR leadership track, having been the Scholarly Program chair last year and anticipating the role of MSR Interest Group chair for a year this coming August, after the conference ends. I came to MSR because of the implications of my research in industrial relations. It is a curious, even odd set of developments, but goes to show what happens if a social scientist just follows the data, reflects on findings, and tries to contribute. 

In the early 1990s, I was doing dissertation field work in a machine tools firm in Nagoya, Japan, trying to resolve a long-standing research issue: does lifetime employment (終身雇用) exist or not? Economists tended to say no, sociologists yes. I found a court case about the firm that overturned a firing because, as the judge wrote, “Lifetime employment is our nation’s labor relations tradition.” One great irony in this finding is that the U.S. and Japan share nearly identical labor legislation texts, but U.S. labor law has never had a judge craft a decision like this in that singular private sector nation of “at will” employ.


Law derives from assertions about the nature of culture, society, and markets, and the civil arrangements of power concerning these assertions. Japan’s adaptive appropriation of European and certain US approaches to law – both legislation and judicial reasoning - reflects a fascinating self-evangelization of their workplace. Japan is not known to be a Christian nation historically. However, the adapted assertions that define their post-World War II workplace come from a complex influence of European and U.S. Judeo-Christian judicial interpretations, not the U.S. legislation. Once this point is grasped, the potential implications for the modern workplace, particularly the U.S. workplace of “at will” employment, cascade – like watching a waterfall of notions in the mind. Dealing with that waterfall brought me to MSR within the Academy. 

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment so far?

I would not point to one accomplishment, rather to several related developments.
After taking an Associate Professor position at Copenhagen Business School, I spent five or six years as the Study Board Chair and Program Director of a program originally taught in Danish at lower levels. I was tasked with converting it into an English language curriculum. This was so successful in terms of increased applicants and better applicant grade averages that we then added Chinese and modified the curriculum into the Asian Studies Program.
For Asian studies, I brought insight-based critical realism into the interdisciplinary research methods curriculum due to the need for integrated quantitative and qualitative methods. This step, one small piece in the evolving Bologna Process / European Higher Education Area, contributed to the subsequent methods insight for criterion-predictor inquiry in social science method. Of course, none of this works if it cannot be taught and taken on by students, so the teaching and group-based project advisement of CBS has been instrumental.
That waterfall of implications and inquiry from dissertation continues for understanding lifetime employment. But attention to the greater good had me take up a new academic field: a theology of the workplace. This is the study of legal norms and societal parameters that can enhance prospects for authenticity in the workplace. After a first publication on the topic in Theoforum (2012), I began attending MSR events. I soon recognized it as the better path to pursue scholarly developments for this topic. I’ve produced conference papers and journal articles on different aspects of this domain. Each of these “pieces” were the better for MSR reviewer and conference feedback. Attending the MSR Retreat enabled me to meet and learn more about the Interest Group members. For MSR itself, we identified aspects of the Interest Group that could benefit from some reflective, inclusive research. This resulted in two papers in the Journal of Management, Spirituality, and Religion. One describes the ways and means of the Interest Group. The other looks to MSR founding and conference paper award history.

MSR explores how spirituality and religion can influence organizational dynamics and affect management outcomes. How do you see your beliefs aligned with this focus?

MSR-related research isn’t always easy, because it goes to ultimate human meanings and values in society. This is what makes the Interest Group members and community so important. My research involves the parameters, legal and cultural, that condition the range of organizational behaviors within society. As I’ve discovered, this level of scholarly / practitioner engagement can also be part of the Academy’s overall profile. It reflects one feature of the Academy’s founding intent: to identify and legitimize a proper political philosophy of democratic capitalism. In the theology of the workplace, support is readily found in different religious and spiritual traditions. For example, John Paul II wrote extensively about the role of the “indirect employer” in society (Laborem Exercens, 1981, P: 17-18). I have co-authored with Imran Shah on correlations between Roman Catholic and Sunni Islam. Elsewhere, I’ve written about similar links to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
As for my own role and beliefs in devoting time and energy to this research field, I’ve just kept following the data and research conclusions, wherever they lead. My “beliefs alignment” in your question tends to simply follow the lyrics of Robert Hunter: “Thought I heard a jug band playin’ / ‘If you don’t - who else will?’ / Over on the far side of the hill” (“So Many Roads”).

The most important task of MSR is to actualize the Domain statement in all its aspects: living and reporting on practice, research, and teaching. We’ve made significant progress in coming to understand ourselves over the years through our research, practice, and conference activities. Perhaps our talents and abilities to properly and successfully benchmark the effects of our work, our praxis, is going to be our next right thing to do. Our current Chair, Michael Pirson, has encouraged a greater vibrancy in the Interest Group over the year. Tracking this increased vibrancy matters next; it legitimizes our Interest Group.

If we help to explore and explain MSR’s emergence as a historically significant and necessary step within the Academy’s metascience, we’ll be at the forefront of disclosing the future of management studies – simply from doing the next right thing. I am optimistic that correctly developed and deployed social science research method can effect significant social change. I know that sounds dry, but carefully crafted social science process may also have its moments of dramatic achievement.

What is your message to management scholars and practitioners, especially to those just starting their career?

If you’ve taken the time to read this far, you are certainly interested in management, spirituality, and religion - its practice, research and teaching. A little more than 19 years ago, MSR began as an Interest Group within the steadily expanding research interests of the Academy, taking up management topics connected to ultimate human values and meaning. If we can count on your active support, this Interest Group will be here to stay, particularly if we become better at benchmarking how we serve to improve management studies and practice throughout our varied cultures and societies in the modern world.

MSR Interest Group References

Tackney, C. T., Chappell, Stacie, and Sato, Toyoko (2017). MSR Founders Narrative and Content Analysis of Scholarly Papers: 2001-2015. Journal of Management, Spirituality, and Religion.14:2. 135-159.
Tackney, C. T., Stacie Chappell, Eleftheria Egel, Mary Finney, Daniel E. Harris, Richard J. Major, Kathryn Pavlovich, and James Stoner (2017). Management, Spirituality, and Religion (MSR) Ways and Means: A 2016 working paper to encourage quality research. Journal of Management, Spirituality, and Religion. 14:3. 245-254.

Theology of the Workplace

Tackney, C. T. (2018). Authenticity in employment relations: a theology of the workplace analysis. Journal of Management, Spirituality, and Religion. 15:1. 82-104.
Tackney, Charles. T. and Imran Shah (2017). Authenticity / الصحة (as-sehah) in Employment Relations: Theology of the Workplace Comparative Analysis of Islam and Roman Catholic Social Teaching. Management Research Review.40: 8. 907-932.
Tackney, C. T. (2012). A Theology of the Workplace: Adaptive Appropriation in Post-World War II Japanese Labor Law and the Roman Catholic Social Question. Theoforum, 43:1-2. 107-134.
Tackney, C. T. (2009). “Ye shall know them by their fruits:” American workplace evangelization and the continental European jurisprudence origins of Japanese management practice. Journal of Management History. 15:2. 178 – 197.

AOM Boston 2019 MSR Research Consortium
The AOM Management, Spirituality and Religion (MSR) interest group executive committee invites you to attend our Research Consortium panel in Boston, Thursday August 8th the day before the Academy of Management annual meeting.

AOM Boston 2019 MSR Research Consortium Theme:
Qualitative methodologies as inclusive approaches to develop high quality Management, Spirituality and Religion research.

The AOM MSR interest group counts 600 active members across the world.
As an emerging and growing field of research, our strategic directions for the coming five years are:
  1. Developing quality of Research and Teaching;
  2. Connection, Network, Community and Outreach; and
  3. Develop MSR into an attractive, thriving DIG organization.
To develop the quality of research, for the past 4 years MSR has organized a full-day research Consortium that brings together 35 to 50 colleagues the day before AOM, to learn, share and connect.

Given this year’s focus on qualitative research, we welcome all scholars and practitioners to join us to learn and share your personal views and experience on well-established or more original qualitative methodologies and on qualitative research publication strategies.

MSR Outreach and Connection Opportunities

In the past months, the outreach and communication representatives of the MSR executive team have initiated zoom sessions with mixed outcomes. Participants from India, Europe, the Philippines, and the US have been and are still communicating about ways to expand the MSR interest group. A recurring issue in attending the zoom meetings has been the major time differences between the various regions. Yet, this will not be a deal breaker, so the efforts toward getting this collective outreach undertaking off the ground will continue. MSR members and other individuals (from anywhere in the world) who are interested in joining the zoom conversations can contact Dr. Joan Marques and Dr. Ginger Grant for more information.

In February, Dr. Charles Tackney initiated a Europe regional network. Launching of this network is planned for March 6th through a zoom meeting. Interested MSR members and friends may register for the meeting. More information on registering and participating can be found here.

Transformation Summit - Montpellier, France

Over the past months a "Transformation Community" has emerged from meetings in Chicago (August 2018) and New York (February 2019). Participants are current and potential authors of the Handbook of Personal and Organizational Transformation, members of the Edgewalker community, members of MSR and IAMSR, and other leading scholars and practitioners in the field. Based on the rich and inspiring nature of the Chicago and New York meetings, the spearheading team is now organizing a one-day Transformation Summit, planned to be a pre-conference session before the Spirituality, Development and Transformation Conference held in Montpellier, France on June 28th and 29th.  The purpose of this gathering is to continue the work done at the New York Transformation Summit, with greater input from our European colleagues. 

The organizers invite everyone interested to come and share their latest thinking and big questions about the field of transformation on June 27, 2019.

Interested individuals can email Dr. Judi Neal at by February 28th .   

There is also still time to submit paper or workshop proposals for the Spirituality, Development and Transformation Conference. Details can be found here The deadline for paper and workshop submissions to the conference is February 28th.

At the Transformation Summit prior to the conference, an Open Space Technology approach will be used to the design of the day, as this allows for greater participation and deeper sharing and exploration of important ideas and approaches. 

Date: June 27, 2019

Location: Montpellier, France

Costs: Will be kept reasonable

Transformation Summit Organizing Committee:

  • Judi Neal
  • Richard J. Major
  • Kathrin Fox (tentative)
  • Ruediger Fox (tentative)

 Dr. Payal Kumar was invited and delivered a talk on December 17th, 2018, at the United Nations Development Program  consultative workshop at UN House, Delhi. The topic was, "Mentoring woman entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid."  A long-time  MSR member and inspirational presenter, Dr Payal Kumar is Professor & Chair (OB/HR),  and Head of Research & International Collaborations at BML Munjal University, India. She has published several books with  major publishers such as Palgrave MacMillan and Emerald.  Payal is also an editorial board member of several prestigious international journals. Dr Kumar has rich leadership experience in Multi-National Corporations, including as Vice President Editorial and Production, SAGE Publications Pvt Ltd. 

In early March 2019, Routledge (Taylor & Francis) will be publishing its first major reference work on workplace spirituality. “The Routledge Companion to Management and Workplace Spirituality”, an editorial project from Dr. Joan Marques, provides readers with a broad, cutting-edge overview of the discipline of management, spirituality and religion (MSR).

A total of 41 scholars and workforce coaches from six continents, have shared their insights and research on important topics such as linking spirituality and religion, cultural influences on workplace spirituality, mindfulness, and managing spiritually-averse people. The volume also covers major religions from East and West, leadership and spirituality, and issues related to linking spirituality to ethics, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility.

Dr. Marques, who is currently a member of the MSR executive board, recently published a short article titled “Flawed Organizational Purpose? Changing the Narrative in Management Education and Practice” in Development and Learning in Organizations, a peer review Emerald journal that focuses on both the theory and practice of organizational development (OD) and learning.  This article challenges organizational managers to reflect on the purpose of their performance and the purpose of the organizations they serve. The article further invites management educators and coaches to reflect on how they train those who will soon join the workforce.
Dr. Satinder Dhiman, one of the early course facilitators on workplace spirituality in the US and a long-time member of MSR, has made a series of contributions to the scholarly database of spiritual management.

His single-authored book, "Bhagavad Gītā and Leadership: A Catalyst for Organizational Transformation" was published through Palgrave MacMillan. This work employs an inside-out leadership development approach based on Self-knowledge and Self-mastery, the two highly important areas for practicing effective Self-leadership.
 Satinder also published an anthology, titled “Managing By the Bhagavad Gītā: Timeless Lessons for Today’s Managers” (Dhiman, S. & Amar, A.D. [Eds.] – Springer, 2019). This work applies the timeless wisdom of the Bhagavad Gītā to management in order to address modern management dilemmas.

Dr. Dhiman further served as the lead author in a scholarly article, published in The Journal of Values-Based Leadership: 12(1), Article 6, titled, "Celebrating Diversity through Spirituality in the Workplace: Transforming Organizations Holistically." Co-authors to this work are Sanjay Modi and Varinder Kumar.

In December 2018, Dr. Dhiman also engaged in a series of presentations and panel discussions in India, pertaining to topics varying from spirituality and management to the Bhagavad Gītā.

Reflection: A Step toward Interconnectedness
in the Higher Education Classroom

Dr. Elva Resendez House

Studying spirituality and incorporating/realizing its benefits can pose challenges and opportunities.  First, the challenges.  While researching for and narrowing my dissertation topic, an interesting quote in a paper by Astin & Astin, 1999, caught my attention  “substantial numbers of third-year college undergraduates express a strong interest in spiritual matters (p. 1)”. 

Interestingly enough, after teaching thousands of third-year college undergraduates over the years, this aspect of an undergraduate’s development had been lost on me to that point.  After reading and considering the article, I briefly considered integrating some aspect of spirituality into the classroom, maybe it could help students retain information or be more conscientious about their coursework?  I quickly dismissed the thought though due to the potential legal implications, issues, etc.  As I continued to research, in a different direction of spirituality, I stumbled upon yet another article dealing with spirituality in higher education, interestingly; the topic was not only being researched, but was also being explored for development.  I now felt a personal challenge to develop the idea of spirituality in the classroom to the benefit of my students. 

My previous apprehension was informed by a more recent article by Lowery in 2005 who reiterated a lack of discussion of spirituality being a potential “capitulation to mediocrity” in the classroom by todays learners.  After more consideration and thought, I decided that someday I would take a step toward integrating spirituality into the classroom, yet, didn’t know when that day would be.  Three years later, I decided the time had come to accept the challenge, but how and why? 

The why occurred during Summer 2018.  After attending the AOM 2018 MSR pre-conference workshop and listening to our MSR thought leaders talk about the concept of spirituality…an epiphany (pardon the pun) struck.  Instead of integrating the very large, often intimidating, challenging, and sometimes uncomfortable topic of spirituality into my curriculum, I decided an incremental step would suffice to incorporate spirituality by adding the concept of personal reflection as a component of my coursework.  My opportunity had arisen.  Students were given the opportunity, optional, to reflect on their learning in the classroom.  I asked for a set number of reflection papers in two of my courses throughout the semester on their personal learning journey.  Students were welcome to share their learning, their feelings and anything else to document their learning experience throughout the semester. 

As the semester ended, I feared no students would take me up on my offer.  Fear not!  At the end of the semester, a handful of students in my courses took up my optional offer and submitted their reflection papers.  Their writings showed conscientious thought, a high degree of mindfulness in the classroom and personal development.  While seemingly a small step towards greater spirituality in the classroom, I felt it was a giant leap in nurturing the spiritual lives of my third-year students.  Students were more engaged in their learning and had taken a greater interest in personal development through academia.  For the future, perhaps we may start to bridge the gap between higher education and the workplace in creating a stronger interconnected workforce who recognize the impact of spirituality.


Astin, A. W., & Astin, H. S. (1999). Meaning and spirituality in the lives of college faculty: A study of values, authenticity, and stress.

Gilley, D. V. (2005). Whose Spirituality? Cautionary Notes about the Role of Spirituality in Higher Education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning104, 93-99.

Lowery, J. W. (2005). What higher education law says about spirituality. New directions for teaching and learning2005(104), 15-22.

Dhiman, S., & Marques, J. (2011). The role and need of offering workshops and courses on workplace spirituality. Journal of Management Development30(9), 816-835.

Tisdell, E. J. (2007). In the new millennium: The role of spirituality and the cultural imagination in dealing with diversity and equity in the higher education classroom. Teachers College Record109(3), 531-560.


Dr. Elva A. Resendez is currently an instructor in the Department of Management at Texas A&M University-Commerce.  Her dissertation entitled "Exploring Affective Commitment and Workplace Spirituality as Antecedents to Organizational CItizenship Behavior" won 2nd place in the 2018 AOM Dissertation of the Year competition through MSR.  She earned her PhD through The University of Texas at Tyler. 

Please feel free to share this news blast with associates, friends, and others who may have an interest in MSR. Consider becoming a member of the MSR Interest Group of the Academy of Management if not done so yet. Also, feel free to share your accomplishments, publications, and other noteworthy activities with the editors for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue.
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