Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Directions

I have all but finished my science & religion readings for the summer.  This involved quite a few journal articles, including Rational Choice literature.  It also included "Darwin's Cathedral", Kauffman's "Reinventing the Sacred", Givens' "A People of Paradox", and another attempt to force myself through the final chapters of Dennett's "Breaking the Spell".  Sometime I will have to add in Boyer's book, however, I have heard it is very similar to Atran's so I will probably hold off on that until I need to cycle back to this theme.

This sets me up for another theme: Relational (social) networks.  This builds on some of the topics in complexity based management I've been studying the last few years.  In particular I am hoping to explore some of the tools that could be used to study quasi-religious group dynamics.  I am limiting things to culturally significant moralistic organizations.  I think one should always be careful not to overextend the application of theory before solid cases have been made.  I think the application of group dynamics from religious perspectives, while valuable, requires quite patience & nuance if it is to break out of its pejorative box.

Network approaches to religion are old hat.  Network approaches to organizational management are currently in vogue, but, like most management memes, certain to fade.  As with education, widespread implementation tend to dull a theory's sharpness.  Late adopters tend to change their practices so as to combine the worst elements of old an new practice.  After all, the pieces that matter most are the ones that take the most time to grow and master.

With that in mind I suspect the relational networks in quasi-religious organizations may have some unique characteristics that relate to change management.  Ideally I would love to find some research on how perturbations affect the relational networks in moralistic and non-moralistic organizations. How would you design instruction concerning organizational protocols that maintain an awareness to the fitness landscape created by natural religious tendencies?

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