Original Research

‘Visionaries … psychiatric wards are full of them’: Religious terms in management literature

Volker Kessler
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 2 | a1649 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i2.1649 | © 2017 Volker Kessler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 May 2016 | Published: 31 March 2017

About the author(s)

Volker Kessler, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa; Akademie f


Contemporary management literature often makes use of strong religious vocabulary. This article will provide a critical analysis of this practice. It especially analyses the usage of three religious terms in management circles: ‘vision’ – a term omnipresent in leadership literature, ‘metanoic organisations’ – a notion found in books about change management, and ‘evangelists’ – a job title mentioned in job advertisements by companies such as Apple and Microsoft. This phenomenon goes hand in hand with the megatrend ‘workplace spirituality’, which started in the 1990s. In addition, it can be observed that religious vocabulary has found its way into ordinary current management literature, even if this literature does not show any overt link to spirituality. The article lists some negative side effects of this use, such as confusion of terms, manipulation of people and inappropriate pathos.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: It is important for both Theology and Management Theory to be critical of the use of religious terms in non-religious contexts.


Workplace Spirituality; vision; metanoic organisations, evangelists


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Crossref Citations

1. Workplace Spirituality: Sustainable Work Experience from a Human Factors Perspective
Ricardo Fernandes Bella, Osvaldo Gonçalves Quelhas, Fernando Toledo Ferraz, Marlene Soares Bezerra
Sustainability  vol: 10  issue: 6  first page: 1887  year: 2018  
doi: 10.3390/su10061887