Spiritual Knowledge

Spiritual Knowledge

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8318-1.ch004


In this chapter, the author presents the third fundamental component of the triple helix of knowledge: spiritual knowledge. It is an emergent field of research, especially as an integral part of spiritual intelligence and spiritual capital. Spiritual knowledge is about the deep human concerns of our existence, and of our connection with the whole universe. From a more practical perspective, spiritual knowledge is about our values in society and organizations, and how these values influence managerial decision making. Promoting positive values, we realize business performance and affirm corporate social responsibility. Understanding spiritual knowledge becomes this way a key success factor in understanding the essence of the new business in creating value for society and not being trapped in profit maximization. Spiritual leadership incorporates spiritual knowledge and spiritual intelligence and shapes the vision and mission of any organization.
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Spiritual knowledge constitutes the third component of the triple helix of knowledge (Bratianu, 2013a). If rational knowledge reflects our understanding about the physical world we are living in, and emotional knowledge reflects our understanding about our bodily emotions and feelings, spiritual knowledge reflects our understanding about the meaning of our existence. It goes beyond the tangibility of our body and of external environment. It integrates at individual level possible answers to deeper questions concerning our existence: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my connection with the universe? Why do I die? As Gandhi states, “The purpose of life is undoubtedly to know oneself. We cannot do it unless we learn to identify ourselves with all that lives” (Fisher, 1962, p. 316). Integrating the rational knowledge, emotional knowledge and spiritual knowledge into the triple helix of knowledge it will help us to discover the richness and significance of what is of value in this life: “We have to learn to see aspects of the world around us: stones, people, trees, sky. Equally, we have to learn to see meaning and value in the world around us, in our environment, in events, in human actions and lives” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 274).

Also, spiritual knowledge reflects possible answers to questions concerning the meaning of people’s working life. Work has been central to our existence since ancient times. The meaning of work goes beyond the need for food and shelter. Work has more than just a biological dimension. It has also a psychological one. Work can be viewed as an extension of personality, and a tangible way in which an individual can measure his or her worth (Drucker, 1993a). If people don’t find meaning in what they are doing for their living, they will become dissatisfied and unproductive. People will come close to the perspective of the Old Testament that presents work as a curse laid on man, rather than a blessing or an opportunity. That may become critical especially for knowledge workers, since the essence of their work is quite different than that of industrial workers. A knowledge worker is thinking for his living. His business is thinking. The main tasks of a knowledge worker are related to creation, distribution, or application of knowledge (Davenport, 2005). Knowledge is an intangible asset that is processed by intelligence and not by technological equipments, like the physical raw materials. Individual knowledge cannot be owned by the company, and it cannot be controlled fully by the managers. Knowledge workers own and control their knowledge and the only way to make this knowledge productive is to motivate them (Davies & Ikeno, 2002; Drucker, 1993b; Kermally, 2002; Osterloh, 2007; Stam, 2007). As Peter Drucker remarks in his seminal book The age of discontinuity. Guidelines to our changing society, “Knowledge workers cannot be satisfied with work that is only a livelihood. Their aspirations and their view of themselves are those of the ‘professional’ or the ‘intellectual.’ If they respect knowledge at all, they demand that it becomes the base for accomplishment” (Drucker, 2008, p. 289).

Thus, a knowledge worker aspires to the top level of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is self-actualization. Assuming that all the other levels of needs have been achieved, self-actualization reflects the need for personal meaning and spiritual and psychological growth. “We know today that human beings are by definition primarily creatures of meaning and value (that is, of ‘self-actualization’). We need a sense of meaning and driving purpose in our lives. Without it we become ill or we die” (Zohar & Marshall, 2004, p. 17).

Living and working in a community generates questions of understanding social values and the value-congruent behavior (Moosmayer, 2012). Such a community develops in every organization, and it creates a specific organizational culture that reflects shared beliefs, values, traditions, success stories and aspirations. Organizational culture is an intangible phenomenon with a powerful influence on the decision making processes, especially in those organizations that have a significant history. Schein (2004, p. 17) defines the culture of a group as:

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