Date of Submission
Li Lin, C. K. (2017). The church and management: Synthesis of a reorientation framework for management theories through a theological engagement with management science (Thesis, Australian Catholic University). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.4226/66/5a9dbc3833628
This doctoral project is an inter-disciplinary study that brings together theology and management science. Its goal is to synthesize, through an appropriate theological method, a framework to reorientate management theories so as to render them more suitable for management in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as more conducive for human flourishing in all organizations. It is hoped that this project will contribute towards the theological scholarship that is much needed amidst an increasing influence of the managerial culture in both Church and society. Chapter 1 begins with a survey of pastoral management literature in the Catholic Church, noting the ways in which theories from management science have been applied. The survey reveals that much of the pastoral materials adopt business management ideas in a direct and uncritical manner, leading to conflicts with the Church’s values, ecclesiology, and worldview. A key issue highlighted in this thesis is the need for proper methodology in inter-disciplinary work. Based on current debates regarding theological and pastoral engagement with the social sciences, Chapter 1 argues that management theories need to be reoriented with the aid of theology before they can be fruitfully applied in church management. It proposes that a reorientation framework can be synthesized for this purpose, and that the synthesis can aim more broadly at a framework which would reorientate management theories to better promote human flourishing in all types of organizations, without compromising its suitability for church management. In this way, the internal challenge of management in the Church can be turned into an opportunity to collaborate with others towards improving management in society as a whole. Chapter 2 proceeds with the framework’s synthesis by conducting a critical examination of the management field. It analyzes the historical development of the field as well as its current internal debates. The analysis reveals that the main problems in the field include its lack of normative values, its reductionist assumptions about the human person, the organization, and society, its over-optimism about technique, its top-down nature, and its current fragmentation and lack of integration. Although alternative principles for management have been proposed by scholars within the field, Chapter 2 points out that these alternatives lack an adequate account of the human person and society, human flourishing, epistemology, and the religious horizon. The chapter proposes that these gaps can be fruitfully addressed through dialogue with a faith tradition. To this end, Chapter 3 examines the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church and the World Today, Gaudium et Spes (hereafter GS), to draw insights and principles for management. After outlining the document’s suitability for this project and 9 establishing principles for its interpretation, the chapter discusses GS’s teachings on the human person and society, the nature and purpose of human work, and the Church’s vision of human finality. It also examines GS’s view of truth and human knowledge, and draws implications for management theories. The analysis reveals that GS’s teachings have much to contribute to management science. Nevertheless, like the management field, the document is also not without internal conflicts, nor does it provide a full account of management. Hence, a central argument of this thesis is that resources from the secular sciences and the faith tradition do not function directly as foundations but as data, in the dialogue between both sides. The resolution of this dialogue requires a higher viewpoint that would provide the foundational criteria with which to evaluate resonances and conflicts emerging from the dialogue. Chapter 4 establishes that this higher viewpoint can be found in intellectual, moral, and religious conversions as expounded by Bernard Lonergan. The chapter points out the suitability of these conversions for management science, and their ability to provide objective and normative foundations for management. It highlights that the implications of intellectual, moral, and religious conversions include adoption of a critical realist stance in management, incorporation of a normative teleology, replacement of the deterministic and empirical approach in management science with a probabilistic and heuristic one, and inclusion of the religious horizon. These implications are then used to evaluate the resonances and conflicts arising from the comparison of management science with the teachings of GS. Based on this evaluation, normative principles for management are identified and consolidated to form the reorientation framework. The chapter also points out how this framework is suitable for management in the Church as well as in all other organizations. The workings of the reorientation framework are illustrated in Chapter 5 by applying it to two management tools which are frequently recommended in Catholic pastoral management literature: performance management systems, and marketing and customer service strategies. It is shown that the reorientation results in adjustments being made to these tools such that they better align with the nature and mission of the Church, while also facilitating more effective management and human flourishing when applied in all other organizations. The practical viability of the reoriented tool is also pointed out. Thereafter, based on the reorientation framework, a revised topical structure for Catholic pastoral management materials is proposed. Finally, a self-evaluation of this research project is presented, underscoring not only its contribution of the reorientation framework but also its demonstration of a systematic and fruitful inter-disciplinary method.
School of Theology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Faculty of Theology and Philosophy