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Religion As A Base For Business Theology Religion Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Theology
Wordcount: 3337 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Let me begin by saying that if we use the words business and religion in one statement, there is a sure certainty, that many would take offence. There is however a strong passion among most western countries and societies that they do not and also that they (business and religion) should never be mixed (Lagace 2001). But on the other hand this journal states and also provides information on how religion controls the connections and methods applied in areas of the global economy and trade. It also helps in providing knowledge on ethics in business and economic and socio cultural responsibility from a religious perspective. However after further discussion and analysis it was found that there was a lot of anguish about the state of affairs, as well as confusion and anxiety among the formal leadership and the executives with regards to the relationship between religion and business.


Religion, Islam, Christianity, World Economy, Competition, Ethics, International

Business, Social Responsibility.


The analysis and literature written in this journal is from about 15 different journals and internet sources.


This paper illustrates that there is a relationship between religion and business, whether it be Christianity or Islam and also religion has a great influence towards the management’s behaviour and decision making when doing business in countries where religion has an influence.


On a much larger scale it has been observed, that the tradition of separating, the institute of religion and business has been explained many times, as stated by Nash that the two, must always be kept apart, because if the rules of faith were applied to any business, the religion would suffer and also if the rules of business were applied to religion, the faith would suffer (Nash and McLennan 2001). There is however another perspective stating that one of the most followed principles in the world of religion is the Ten Commandments. Christians, Jews and Muslims respectively have their own different Ten Commandments which influence the views and conduct of different organisations and individuals which in turn has an effect on business. Further we are going to discuss how religion has an effect on business looking at two major religions in the world Muslim and Christianity. Also using the 4 E’ derived by Miller we will understand how Faith and Work are integrated by individuals at their workplace.

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It has been noticed that some scholars have actually ignored and sidelined the relationship between religion and business, while some say that religious teachings still have a huge impact on humans, in terms of human behaviour, general attitudes and motivations, including on ethics and values in business which in turn have an effect on the market place. Further to explain the relationship between religion and business the following famous theoretical model developed by Miller in 2007 called the ITB (The Integration Box) can be used to explain how women and men wish to live an integrated life where work and faith are concerned. People generally are no longer willing to lead a life of bifurcation where their faith and work life have been divorced. For many people however living a holistic and healthy life means combining the mind, spirit and body in all walks of life including work. This model however states that people who wish to live an integrated life irrespective of religious faith, caste, creed, race or civilization always follow one of the four E”s (Ethics, Expression, Experience and Enrichment) (Miller 2007) as mentioned in the ITB. The 4 E’s are generally determined by the individuals desire to incorporate work and faith. Furthermore it is stated that everyone has an inclination towards the 4 E’s as their primary expression of living to the concept of combining work and faith. Relating to the ITB theory is that the 4 E’s are valid, and that no one expression is good or bad or better or worse than the other. Each has their own features of good and bad points. The diagram however explains the 4 E’s with its definition and some motivations mentioned below which will help you better understand the integration between faith and work.

Definitions of the manifestations and their corresponding motivations:THE FOUR E’s.png

Source: (Miller 2007)

Motivations of the 4 E’s:

Ethics Type: Guides, compels and also motivates one to take moral actions with regards to faith and spirituality.

Expression Type: Using the freedom of expression they convince others to join their belief and believe their view with regards to religion.

Experience Type: They generally search for some value in the work they do, they also search for some meaning and purpose for the work they conduct.

Enrichment Type: Using the enrichment type it helps them gather comfort and energy for work; it also helps them manage the work pressure and problems at work and helps them find knowledge and growth from work (Miller 2007).

There is however a critical view to the TIB theory that it is very broad in nature in its views whether it is religious or secular. The TIB theory generally applies itself so it can be applied to an organizational environment with different faiths, whether it is an educational trust, a publicly listed company or if it a privately owned business or even a non-profit organization. It however directs its theory at individuals so that they become more aware and generally respect others at their workplace and also their religious traditions. At an organizational level the owner might make changes in their organization so that they can keep a check on certain patterns, maintain a balance with people from different cultures or races, policy congruency, and also to guide and set some managerial decisions (Miller 2007). However the TIB theory helps both individuals and the organizations understand how both work and faith are deeply integrated by people, and for organizations who would like to be able to manage the phenomena of faith and religious values at work. We further require an authenticated appraisal without which, neither managers nor employees will not be able to recognize and understand useful business proposals of work and faith which generally provides the foundation for the 4 E’s at work. Recognizing the relationship between work and faith is very important and timely as it includes issues such as business ethics, human rights, managerial leadership, and doing business internationally. At a corporate level if the organization has enough information about the 4 E’s and the general patterns of work and faith, it will definitely bring benefits to business which will include a more diverse organization, there will be lesser discrimination and harassment at workplace, there will be respect for people from different cultures, faiths, worldviews which will lead to a positive effect on business ethics, the relationship between employees, less retention and more recruitment. However if this theory can be assessed further the employees and managers will definitely benefit on a personal level, and on a corporate level as well (Miller 2007).

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We will further analyze how religion has an effect on the global economy and economies of countries. It has been stated that pre 9/11 some scholars did not pay much attention to religion in context to the growth of the economy (Philpott 2002). However a more recent study on globalization shows that business has been influenced by some religious beliefs and changing degree in an economically based system (Pipa 2000). Many however are of the view that foreign values will take over the local values because of globalization (Foreign Policy 2004).

When we compare the wealth of the two most influential religions of the world, the wealth of the Catholic Church and Saudi Royalty it is very clear that the Catholic Church is far wealthier than the Saudi Royalty, which also happens to be only one of the many Christian churches today. Also stating how the Hindus donate money to the temple, the Buddhist support Buddhism, Muslims donate huge amount of money for Islam to grow, and also the Jews support Judaism, it is clear that religion would have a great degree of influence on business ethically and socially (Brown 2011). We will now discuss the same by comparing the two major world religions and how they affect the global business and how religion has a grave influence on business and management.

Islam and business:

Today one fifth of the world population follows Islam with its faith and behaviour, which includes some who are into business, and which is spread across 50 countries in the world and some of whom, are in control of the world’s energy resources (Jamaluddin 2003). It is very important however as stated by (Jensen 1980, 13) for the managers of today that they must have an understanding of Islam not only to increase his/her intellectual knowledge but as a general practical business need. The managers also need to understand the position of Islam in its environmental and past context for many reasons, firstly because of the huge global interdependency economically, politically and culturally and also the coming together of the Muslim and non Muslim countries globally to do business (Pryor 1985, 222). Secondly a huge amount of the world’s fossil fuel comes from Muslims countries which are of grave importance to the west. Thirdly many Muslim nations who belong to the OPEC group are of strategic military importance to many western countries. Fourth is because of the economic boom in oil flow of the 1970’s led many Arab and Islamic nations to gain a huge increase in their nations income, which left them with huge amount of cash ready for them to invest worldwide (Moore 1980, 93). The results of which if measured economically on the world is enormous. Therefore we can state that it is important for managers to know and understand Islamic economics so as to be able to continue to do business with them.

However we will further look at how managers conduct business using the ethical values and social responsibility which is derived from Islam.

For Muslims generally business ethics is acquired only if an individual has total faith in God (Almoharby 2011, 97). Further stating that learning from the Quran it is also clear that Islam teaches social morals and ethics in work life and also gives solutions for general ethical problems. Speaking about business ethics let me give you a brief definition as stated by (Jaques 2003) who defined Business ethics, as an ability to display good values in corporate decision making so as to decide how these certain ideas and values can effect different shareholders, and also to determine how business managers can apply these ethical values in their daily management of corporations. However Mittelstaedt further argues that religion stamps its authority by influencing the behaviour of exchange of goods in the market, and the only way to understand this type of authority is through Business Ethics, which has made it easier for us to understand the relationship between religion and markets (Mittelstaedt 2002). On the other hand corporate social responsibility as defined by Baker states that CSR has a continuous commitment to behave in an ethical manner towards business and definitely contribute to the economic development by giving a better life to the work force and their families not forgetting the local community and the society as a whole (Baker 2007).

Islam preaches and teaches us that making money and doing business must include social, economic and religious functions. Hence am going to further mention certain elements that help shape business ethics from an Islamic perspective (Almoharby 2011):

Halal (lawful) and Haram (prohibited): In business they imply to being honest, morally responsible and true in their trade. Accountability: it basically covers all the 4 purposes of business economic, political, religious and social aspects. Social responsiveness and responsibility: Generally encourages Muslims to exhibit value and good organisation in daily life and to display social responsibility when working together with society. Social power: This generally teaches Muslims to take care of each other and to look out for one another. Reward and punishment: Muslims are constantly remind about Islamic teachings that every action is being monitored and they will be rewarded or punished depending on their ethical behaviour or if they go against the ethical code of Islam. Fraud and cheating: Islam dismisses the deliberate twist of the truth i.e. fraud and cheating which directly oppose the ideals such as honesty, being straight forward, being sincere and fair. Islam also dismisses robbing, stealing, lying, hypocrites and dishonesty.

Islam also teaches that all human beings are equal irrespective of their caste, colour or race and states that a poor man who has great ethical values is more respected than a rich human being with no moral and social values.

Therefore from the above we can derive that Islam, from the teachings of the Quran has given answers to solve ethical problems and that the Islamic religion preaches good ethics and morals to humans who in turn incorporate them in their business.

Christianity and business:

Christianity in the past has been recognised as a one of the essential determinants of economic behaviour. In the world of Christianity, the bible and the Ten Commandments have a great influence in the way the Christian religions or the Catholic Church relates itself to its followers around the world, which comprises nearly 60% of the world’s population. Hence it was stated by (Johnson 1990), that in this piece of work (the world) created by God, business is one major part. Christianity generally helps to shape the managerial skills of those individuals who follow the faith (Delbecq 1999). Further am going to state 4 principles that have been mentioned in ‘The Bible’ as proposed by (Marr 2001) whereby Christians generally incorporate these same values at their place of work: Firstly: ‘The Golden Rule’ states that Christians should always make decisions that are impartial and fair. Secondly: they should follow the rule of giving more than receiving which would only help them build goodwill and increase regular business by giving the shareholders value for their investments. Thirdly: they should always be judgemental in the right way, instead of assuming and jumping to conclusions. Fourthly: They should also make it a habit of knowing the facts and the truth before taking decisions. Finally they should live a pure life which will help them live life to the fullest and help them raise the standard of every aspect of their life.

However one of the most influential and guiding principles of the Christian religion is the Ten Commandments which makes a difference to the behaviour and the viewpoint of individuals. Many scholars also acknowledge the influence that the Ten Commandments have in an organization mainly on the ethical behaviour and policy making of the management and organization. Therefore one of the purposes of this article also is to further analyze the relationship between Christianity and business from some of main principles of the Ten Commandments which have a grave influence on the application of business organisations. In order as mentioned in the TC’s have stated implications on business activities. 1) Always try and negotiate to solve problems, which help maintain good business relations 2) Understanding the requirements and purpose will ensure lasting relationships in business. 3) Deals and contracts between individuals should be broken only through mutual consensus, which leads to sin and also in turn causes unhealthy business culture. 4) Always build confidence and trust of other individuals which helps smooth business relations. 5) Always avoid a clash between business and work, cooperate and understand to improve work environment and survival of business (Ali and Gibbs 1998).

These were some interpretations that are mostly true in the world business environment derived from the Ten Commandments in the same order in which it has been stated. The interpretation of some of the Ten Commandments is useful and mostly set the rules for managerial and individual behaviour in an organisation. Therefore organisations conducting their business worldwide should show genuine response to the Ten Commandments.


Similar to the Bible the Quran is mainly concerned to matters of spirituality which are nonrepresentational in nature. In contradiction, the bible focuses on teachings that are related to the social wellbeing of individuals and the Quran teaches how their followers should conduct their day to day lives. With the Muslims no business, travel, no job or mission and any pledge given to someone will be carried out without Allah. To conclude about Islam and Christianity and how their teachings have a great deal of effect on the mindset of Muslim and Christian managers in their day to day business dealings around the world, (Mittelstaedt 2002) stated that the influence of religion on business also has an effect on various market actions which include political, social, competitive and institutional, which further affect the economic development.

I would like to conclude by giving some examples of how religion has had an effect on some managerial decisions. During the tenure of the Madeleine Albright as the US secretary of state an American Christian Mr Zogby was removed as soon as he was hired by the state department because of his ancestral Arabic origin. And similarly Ms Laila Al-Marayati was nominated to serve on the White House’s Commission on International Religious Freedom and was also removed after a strong opposition of her Muslim connections and from her bias speeches (Birnbaum 1999). I would also like to mention the ethical failures in one of the world’s largest business disasters Enron, also not forgetting WorldCom, Tyco, Adelphia and

Arthur Andersen. They have definitely got the attention of the many, who blame these disasters on them not being able to follow good business ethics and morals. The discussion however about this debacle has lead to the speculation about the relationship between religion and managerial decisions and behaviours, which were not complied with (Longenecke, McKinney and Moore 2004).

Would also like to state a couple of quotes that support the facts mentioned in the article:

Religious teachings are not often seen as the only factor that influence managerial practices and also making business decisions, but they can definitely make a huge impact by providing a border of reference which will enable better individual behaviour and support better business decision (Johnson 1957).

Business is generally made up of plenty of bonds and actions that symbolize most human emotion that there is and every individual motivation which is directly or indirectly related to religious beliefs (Nash 2001).

Therefore I conclude by saying that religion is a sufficient base for Business and Management.


The question that was asked if religion is a sufficient base for business and management however requires a much larger understanding in terms of business ethics and social responsibility and its applicability. A future research should be conducted to address the relationship between religion and business as mentioned in this journal in greater detail.


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