This week’s articles look at the influence of religion and spirituality in decision-making.

Do religious norms influence corporate debt financing?
Previous studies substantiate that religious social norms influence individual and organisational decisions. Using debt financing settings, the authors examine whether a firm’s religious environment influences outside parties’ perceptions in contracting with the firm. 

The authors document that firms located in the more religious areas use less debt financing and receive better credit ratings. Bond investors require lower yields and impose fewer covenants on such firms. Using the 2002 revelation of sex abuse by Catholic priests as an exogenous shock, the authors verify that these findings are not driven by endogeneity issues. This study highlights the role of social norms in financial transactions. 

Jay Cai & Guifeng Shi. 2019. Do Religious Norms Influence Corporate Debt Financing? 
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(1), 159–182.


Science commercialisation and religious traditions
Entrepreneurs of contested commodities often face stakeholders engaged in market excluding boundary work driven by ethical considerations. For example, the conversion of academic scientific knowledge into technologies that can be owned and sold (i.e., science commercialisation) is a growing global trend and key stakeholders have different ethical responses to this contested commodity. 

Commercialisation of science can be viewed as a good thing because people believe it bolsters economic growth and broadly benefits society. Others view it as bad because they believe it discourages basic research that ought to be freely shared without concern for profit.

Taking a descriptive sociological approach, the authors posit that the stance of a religious tradition toward capitalism will help shape individual scientists’ views on science commercialisation and test whether the religious tradition of scientists correlates with their attitude toward the commercialisation of science.

To maximise variance on the religious tradition dimension, the authors analyse pooled data from a cross-national survey of university biologists and physicists encompassing France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, UK and the USA. The authors indeed find religious tradition differences. Hindus and scientists with no religious tradition are more likely to agree that commercialisation of science “harms a university’s commitment to knowledge production” than Protestants.

The authors end with a discussion on business ethics and the moral limits of the market as well as implications for entrepreneurs of contested commodities. 

Jared L. Peifer & Elaine Howard Ecklund. 2019. The Moral Limits of the Market: Science Commercialization and Religious Traditions.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(1), 183–197.


Dynamic patterns of spirituality in Turkish organisations
This paper explores organisational spirituality, uncovers it as spiralling dynamics of both positive and negative potentialities, and proposes how leaders can shape these dynamics to improve the human conditions at the workplace.

Based on case study of five Turkish organisations and drawing on the emerging discourse on spirituality in organisations literature, this study provides a deeper understanding of how dynamic patterns of spirituality operate in organisations. Insights from participant observation, organisational data, and semi-structured interviews yield three key themes of organisational spirituality: reflexivity, connectivity, and responsibility. Each of these themes has been found to be connected to upward spirals (inspiration, engagement, and calling) and downward spirals (incivility, silence, and fatigue).

The study provides a detailed and holistic account of the individual and organisational processes through which spirituality is enacted both positively and negatively, exploring its dynamic and dualistic nature, as embodied in the fabric of everyday life and culture. 

Read this Open Access article online for free

Fahri Karakas, EmineSarigollu & Fahri Karakas. 2019. Spirals of Spirituality: A Qualitative Study Exploring Dynamic Patterns of Spirituality in Turkish Organizations.
Journal of Business Ethics156(3), 799–821.


Market reality versus religious morality
The paper explores Islamic morality within labour market realities. It presents Islamic moral axioms that are expected to guide employer–employee relationships. It provides an extensive review of Islamic moral ideals related to fairness in the labour market.

Based on survey data from 319 individuals in the Saudi labour market, it tests three hypotheses related to religiosity, secular aspirations, and perception and practice of fairness in the labour market. Using multinomial logistic regression, the findings from several models clearly support all three hypotheses.

They show that employers, owners and senior managers were more likely to consider market reality as their reference for describing fairness. Ideally speaking, the regression results confirm that being religious contributes positively to the sense of fairness even in a secular context. However, they also reveal that secular aspirations override religious ideals when it comes to market realities. In other words, when people place great importance on worldly outcomes, religious ideals have almost no impact on their labour market practices even if they ideally support fair practices.

The study concludes that religious morality does matter with regard to fairness in employer–employee relationships only if it is not superseded by secular aspirations. Those who have a high-level of religiosity consider themselves to be fairer. However, if they embrace secular aspirations, they are less likely to practice their moral ideals in the labour market. 

Necati Aydin & Aljawhara Ibrahim Alquayid. 2019. Market Reality Versus Religious Morality: Empirical Evidence from the Saudi Arabian Labor Market. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 156(3), 679–698.


Religion-based decision making in Indian multinationals: A multi-faith study of ethical virtues and mindsets
The convergence of India’s rich cultural and religious heritage with its rapidly transforming economy provides a unique opportunity to understand how senior executives navigate the demands of the business environment within the context of their religious convictions.

Forty senior executives with varying religious backgrounds and global responsibilities within Indian multinational corporations participated in this study. Drawing from virtue ethics theory and using systematic content analysis, several themes emerged for ethical virtues (empathy, sympathy, humanity, justice, fairness, temperance, integrity, transparency, governance, conscientiousness, transcendence, wisdom, moral fortitude and determination).

The analysis illustrates how these deeply seated ethical virtues helped to form and refine these executives’ ethical mindsets via guiding principles such as an ethical culture, environment, molding, education, commitment and leadership. In turn, these ethical mindsets influenced the executives’ ethical decision-making processes. The authors find that these executives’ ethical virtues and mindsets are inspired by their religious backgrounds.

In summary, a very complex mental tug-of-war appears to take place as these executives rationalise and negotiate unethical circumstances while being cognisent of personal religious beliefs. The authors contend that in a pluralistic multi-faith society such as India, it is critical for corporations to align the virtues of its senior executives with those of the corporation so that virtues are applied consistently when dealing with various stakeholders. The findings present several theoretical and practical implications, which are discussed. 

Christopher Chan & Subramaniam Ananthram. 2019. Religion-Based Decision Making in Indian Multinationals: A Multi-faith Study of Ethical Virtues and Mindsets. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 156(3), 651–677.


Workplace spirituality, ethical climate and outcomes
The role and influence of workplace spirituality on individual and organisational outcomes continue to draw attention among management scholars. Despite this increased attention, extant literature has yielded limited insights particularly into the impact and influence processes of workplace spirituality on performance outcomes at both the individual and unit levels of analysis.

Addressing this gap in research, the authors proposed and tested a multilevel model, underpinned by social cognitive theory, that examines the processes linking perceptions of workplace spirituality and performance outcomes at the individual and organisational level of analysis. Data were obtained from 51 branches of a retail organisation in the United Kingdom.

Results from structural equation modelling analysis revealed three salient findings.
First, workplace spirituality was positively related to ethical climate, prosocial motivation, and moral judgment.
Second, ethical climate partially mediated the relationship between workplace spirituality and prosocial motivation and moral judgment, respectively.
Third, aggregated ethical climate significantly relates to branch-level helping behaviour and service performance.

Lilian Otaye-EbedeSamahShaffakat & Scott Foster. 2019. A Multilevel Model Examining the Relationships Between Workplace Spirituality, Ethical Climate and Outcomes: A Social Cognitive Theory Perspective. 
Journal of Business Ethics, available online at