Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Business Administration

Major Professor

Dennis Duchon

Committee Members

Donde Plowman, Randal Pierce, Daniel Flint

Abstract

Spirituality has received increased attention in the management field over the past few decades. However, there has been little empirical work supporting the benefits of bringing spirituality to the workplace. This dissertation aims to examine the effectiveness of an intervention (the Buddhist Mind Development Program (BMDP)) that is designed specifically to promote spiritual well-being in an Eastern context. First, workplace spirituality was defined to be grounded in the literature. Second, a workplace spirituality measurement was developed relying on conventional psychometric approaches. Third, a quasi experimental study—a pretest and a posttest with nonequivalent comparison groups design—was employed.

The data were collected at a large Thai company (S&P) who employs the BMDP for the purpose of enhancing spirituality in the workplace. The sample consisted of 60 S&P employees: 30 in the experimental group and 30 in the control group. Subjects in the experimental group attended the BMDP, and the control group consisted of people who never attended the BMDP but worked in the same unit and had jobs similar to the experimental group subjects. The participants in the experimental group completed spirituality assessments before the BMDP, one week after the BMDP, and one month after the program. The participants in the control group also completed spirituality assessments at the same times as the experimental group (before and one month after the BMDP). Supervisors completed performance evaluations one month following the employees’ attendance at the BMDP.

While the findings did not reveal an effect for the spiritual intervention (BMDP), workplace spirituality was positively and significantly associated with work performance. Indeed, this dissertation filled a gap in the literature by providing an empirical link between spirituality and work performance. Additionally, the findings revealed that meditation practice was the mechanism that explained the positive relationship between spirituality and work performance. The findings suggest that to promote positive work performance, organizations should encourage employees to continuously practice meditation and create spirituality in terms of compassion, mindfulness, meaningful work, and transcendence. Future research is needed to determine whether the different contexts, in terms of different samples and across the times, yield similar results.

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