Call for Papers: Applying the Evolution of Religion and Morality Perspective to Management Research


Dear ISBE members

I am writing today about our planned research call, and our ideas for a Symposium at the 2019 AoM that we are in the process of organizing. The Symposium will be about the role of religion in the creation of competitive advantage in family firms. The research call will, therefore, be of interest to both those experienced in Applying the Evolution of Religion and Morality Perspective to Management Research and to those interested in finding out more and/or attending the Symposium.

The last decade has witnessed the emergence an important new theoretical framework that can help us to understand the role of religious beliefs in creating competitive advantage. The theory in question has recently been developed by an interdisciplinary group of scholars that is centred on the University of British Columbia but which includes researchers in many countries. The theory was produced and refined by the joint efforts of psychologists, anthropologists, biologists, and others. The researchers associated with this theory include Joseph Henrich, Jon Haidt, and Ara Norenzayan. (This website can act as a gateway into the theory: The theory teaches that the organizations that are informed by religions most strongly promote prosocial behaviour and the playing of positive-sum games will acquire a net competitive advantage. The paradigm is utilised by researchers with a wide variety of personal religious beliefs.

In our view, the theory will be of particular interest to ISBE members who do research in the following areas: moral foundations theory, family business studies, business ethics, and business history.

To date, this theory developed by Henrich et al  has been applied to studying various macro and micro level phenomena but it has not yet really been brought into debates about the foundations of competitive advantage in firms. A few scattered management academics are using the important new theory described, but management researchers have, in general, arguably paid insufficient attention to the potential utility of this powerful theory.

In addition to hearing about our ideas in this call – as currently applied to a Quaker organization – we are also planning to organize an AoM Presenter Symposium on “Applying the Evolution of Religion and Morality Perspective to Management Research.”

Presenter Symposia involve a series of authored papers that the organizers structure around a theme of interest to them.  This Presenter Symposium will take place at the next AoM August 9-13, 2019 in Boston. In organizing this symposium, we would welcome expressions of interest from management researchers who are interested in applying this theory to understand firms shaped by non-Abrahamic religious traditions as well as by scholars who are researching how religion influences Christian, Jewish, and Muslim firms. We are particularly interested in hearing from management researchers who are seeking to synthesize/reconcile the theory developed by Henrich et al. with the Economics of Religion approach exemplified by Iannaccone (1998) and which continues to be used by scholars who are part of Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture (ASREC).

If are interested in learning more, or being part of a Symposium on this subject, we look forward to meeting you on this call.

Nicholas Wong
Andrew Smith
Allan Discua Cruz
Nicholas Burton

For more information please contact Allan Discua Cruz at


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