Soul in organizations LO1326

David E. Birren, MB/5, 608.267.2442 (
Sat, 20 May 1995 12:35 CST

Replying to Bernard Girard [...Your host thinks it's probably LO1236]

>I am very, very suspicious on all the discussions about spirituality and
>soul.... Is it of any use to understand organizations? I am not sure. Nobody
>ever caught spirit or soul. As said a famous surgeon last century : "I never
>found soul under my scalpel."

I think that to understand organizations one must also understand the
nature of the individuals who comprise them. When studying international
relations as an undergraduate, I quickly realized that nations behave just
like individuals, but they tend to function at the lower levels of
Maslow's hierarchy. In grad school studying organizational theory, I
noticed the same thing. It struck me that maybe the reason for this is
that nations and business organizations are human constructs and cannot
fail to follow rules of human behavior. This may not seem like a very
deep insight, but it led me to wonder why organizations (businesses,
countries, etc.) don't seem to behave with as much kindness as people do.
The answer, I believe, lies in the tendency to objectivize organizations,
effectively removing the soul from them. I refer here to a recent message
by Doug Seeley about this.

The point is that, without a sense of soul, organizations are seen as
non-human constructs, and this is contrary to their true nature. So it's
back to what I said before - to understand the whole one must know its

As an aside - I'm glad that surgeon never operated on me. I'd hate to go
to a doctor who didn't find soul under every bit of hir patients' skin and
hair and bone.


David E. Birren						Phone: (608)267-2442
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources			Fax:   (608)267-3579
Bureau of Management & Budget		    Internet:
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"To know, and not to act, is to not know."
--Wang Yang Ming, 9th-century Chinese general