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Connecting the Individual and Cultural Level Value Analysis z 157

Individual Spirituality at Work and


Its Relationship with Job Satisfaction,
Propensity to Leave and Job Commitment:
An Exploratory Study among Sales Professionals

VAIBHAV CHAWLA∗
SRIDHAR GUDA∗

Spirituality is a hot topic of research in recent times in management arena. Though the organizational
researchers have intensely started exploring this area, the studies related to selling organizations are few,
and fewer are the studies related to selling organizations with individual (sales professional) as the unit
of theory. The present study explores the relationship between ‘individual spirituality at work’ and sales
professionals’ ‘job satisfaction’, ‘propensity to leave’ and ‘job commitment’. This work focuses on sales pro-
fessionals across various industries. A cross-sectional survey method is adopted. Correlation analysis is done
to reveal the hypothesized relationships. The results reveal that sales professionals’ spirituality at work is
positively related to job satisfaction and job commitment, and negatively related to propensity to leave. The
results provide the relevance of spirituality at work to salespeople. The selling organizations can also utilize
the information and promote the individual expression of spirituality at work.

Keywords: spirituality, sales, sales professional, job satisfaction, job commitment, propensity to leave

*The authors dedicate this research endeavor to Lord Shri Shirdi Sai Maharaj.

Vaibhav Chawla is a Fellow Program (Doctoral) Student in the Marketing Area at Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode
(IIMK), Kunnamangalam, Kozhikode, Kerala 673570. E-mail: vaibhav01fpm@iimk.ac.in
Sridhar Guda is Assistant Professor (Marketing Area) at Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIMK), Kunnamangalam,
Kozhikode, Kerala 673570. E-mail: drgsridhar@iimk.ac.in

JOURNAL OF HUMAN VALUES 16:2 (2010): 157–167


SAGE Publications Los Angeles/London/New Delhi/Singapore/Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/097168581001600203

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158 z VAIBHAV CHAWLA AND SRIDHAR GUDA

Introduction Why Study ‘Workplace Spirituality’


in Selling Organizations?
There is a growing interest among corporate,
academicians and researchers towards the topic The sales profession is characterized by high
of spirituality in the workplace. The benefits of degree of job-related stress (Moncrief, Babakus,
workplace spirituality are many. Spirituality in the Cravens & Johnson, 1997; Porter, Kraft &
workplace relates to the bottom line of business. Claycomb, 2003). The complexity of the sales
Research has shown that organizations that pro- profession is further increased by the work en-
vide their employees with the opportunities for vironment operating under the pressures of glob-
spiritual development are better in performance alization, downsizing, layoffs, terrorism and
than others (Konz & Ryan, 1999). In India many suspect organizational values (Badrinarayanan
& Madhavaram, 2008). ‘The demanding nature
a company follow the new-age principles (such as
of the sales profession coupled with the decline
Meditation to attain inner calmness, Purshartaa for
in the traditional forms of community indicate
the balance between personal and professional life,
that salespersons may strive for both meaning
yoga for healthy and disease-free life, etc.), which
and a sense of community at work’ (ibid., p. 425).
have their roots in Indian ethos for the spiritual
Cohen (1997) notes that around 40 per cent of
upliftment of an organization.1 At an individual the audience attending spiritual conventions
level, spirituality at work provides job satisfaction describe themselves as sales professionals. Sales
and reduces employee burnout as found in the case professionals’ do-anything-for-business mentality
of health care professionals (Komala & Ganesh, has been replaced by a search for self and inner
2007). Research on the topic of ‘Workplace peace (ibid.). Some of the sales professionals prac-
Spirituality’ is still in its early stages. This article tice meditation, Zen Reading, prayer to make them
takes an opportunity to contribute to the growing feel better about themselves. Cohen (1997) through
literature on the topic. the interviews finds that sales professionals who
have a spiritual mindset show greater performance
Objective of the Article and are satisfied with their jobs. Thus, spirituality
has a role to play in selling organizations.
The present study explores the relationship between
individual (sales professional) ‘spirituality at Literature Review
work’ and sales professionals’ ‘job satisfaction’,
‘propensity to leave’ and ‘job commitment’. The Spirit and Spirituality
sample consists of 101 sales professionals across
a number of different industries. A cross-sectional Indian sacred scriptures have examples of per-
survey method is adopted. Correlation analysis is sonalities who have attained oneness with the
done to reveal the hypothesized relationships. The other beings and the universe. These people have
results reveal the relevance of spirituality at work gone to the highest ladder of human evolution, i.e.,
to salespeople. spirituality. The word ‘spirit’ comes from the Latin

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Individual Spirituality at Work z 159

word Spiritus meaning breath—breath of life. and meaningful work in workplace spirituality.3
Vedanta teaches that spirit is all pervading. Spirit Fry (2003) includes the notions of calling and
is the life force or power. Parthasarathy in his book membership which is similar to meaning and
titled Vedanta Treatise says the following: sense of community (Duchon & Plowman, 2005).
Giacalone and Jurkiewicz’s (2003) definition
Spirit is related to body–mind–intellect just includes the aspects similar to the meaningful work
as electricity is to an electric bulb. The bulb and connection to others. Marques, Dhiman and
in itself has no light. Nor does electricity. But King (2005) mention the aspects of inner power,
when electricity contacts the bulb there is a interconnectedness with those involved in work
brilliant expression of life. Similarly, body, process and sense of purpose in work environment
mind and intellect have no life inherent in them. in their definition. Beyer (1999) mentions that
Nor does Spirit. But when Spirit combines with meaning in work and belongingness to community
body–mind–intellect there is a scintillating ex- nourishes the inner life of individuals and pro-
pression of life. (2002, p. 134) vides their work a spiritual dimension. Kinjerski
and Skrypnek’s (2006) conceptualization of indi-
Identifying oneself with the spirit is Spirituality. vidual spirituality at work has three of the four
The most prominent feature of spirituality is one- dimensions as follows: engaging work (mean-
ness with all beings in the universe, and therefore, ingful work), sense of community, and spiritual
Krishnan (2008) conceptualized spirituality as connection (inner life). Three common themes ap-
oneness with all other beings.2 pearing from the definitions as shown in Table 1
are the following: sense of community, meaningful
Workplace Spirituality work and inner life.
Ashmos and Duchon’s (2000) definition com-
One of the difficulties of doing research on the prises all the common themes: sense of community,
topic of ‘Workplace Spirituality’ is to provide meaningful work and inner self. They define ‘Spir-
a suitable working definition to it (Giacalone & ituality at Work’ as ‘the recognition that employees
Jurkiewicz, 2003). Owing to the subjective have an inner life that nourishes and is nourished
nature of workplace spirituality, the definitions by meaningful work that takes place in the context
are in plenty. Mirvis’ (1997) idea of workplace of community’ (ibid., p. 137). This definition is
spirituality includes notions of community and also utilized by Badrinarayanan and Madhavaram
meaningful work. Mitroff and Denton (1999, (2008) in the only conceptual study on work-
p. 83) in their study on workplace spirituality find place spirituality in selling organization context.
that the participants understand spirituality as They assert that ‘the definition and the dimen-
‘the basic feeling of being connected with one’s sions utilized in this paper are parsimonious and
complete self, others, and the entire universe’. explicit enough to assist in theory development’
This view is similar to the notion of inner life. (ibid., p. 425).
Milliman, Czaplewski and Ferguson (2003) Mitroff, as quoted in Dean’s article (2004,
include the aspects of the sense of community p. 13), argues that ‘[a]n obsession with finding

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160 z VAIBHAV CHAWLA AND SRIDHAR GUDA

Table 1
Common Themes among Definitions of Workplace Spirituality

Author Name with Year of Publication Dimensions of Workplace Spirituality


Mirvis (1997) Meaning in Work and Sense of Community
Mitroff and Denton (1999) Spiritual Identity (Inner Life)
Milliman, Czaplewski and Ferguson (2003) Meaningful Work and Sense of Community
Fry (2003) Notion of Calling Similar to Meaningful Work, and Membership Similar
to Sense of Community
Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (2003) Transcendence through Work Process Similar to Meaningful Work, and
Sense of Community
Marques, Dhiman and King (2005) Inner Power, Meaningful Work, Sense of Community and a few others
Beyer (1999) Inner Life, Meaningful Work and Sense of Community
Kinjerski and Skrypnek (2006) Spiritual Connection Similar to Inner Life, Meaningful Work, Sense of
Community and Mystical experience
Ashmos and Duchon (2000) Inner Life, Meaningful Work and Sense of Community
Source: Developed by the authors on the basis of published literature.

a single correct, overarching definition of work- employee perceptions of their individual spir-
place spirituality does not respect the myriad ituality at work. We will use the first-level measure
traditions and belief systems embedded in our for this article.
research arena’. Hence, though there may be other
ways to conceptualize the construct of ‘Workplace Inner Life (Inner Self)
Spirituality’, we proceed with the definition pro-
vided by Ashmos and Duchon (2000). Inner self refers to the viewpoint that ‘employees
have spiritual needs (i.e., an inner life), just as
Defining Individual they have physical, emotional, and cognitive
Spirituality at Work needs, and these needs don’t get left at home when
they come to work’ (Duchon & Plowman, 2005,
Individual spirituality at work is about expressing p. 811). The inner self (spiritual identity) is about
one’s inner self through meaningful work and feeling oneness with others and the entire universe
belongingness to the community at work. This (Krishnan, 2008).
definition is in accordance with Ashmos and
Duchon’s (2000) conceptualization of workplace Meaningful Work
spirituality. The conceptualization of workplace
spirituality consists of three components: inner The second component of workplace spirituality
life as spiritual identity, meaningful work and embodies the notion that people seek meaning at
sense of community. The scale for workplace work (Duchon and Plowman, 2005). Meaning at
spirituality consists of three levels of measures: work is the feeling of wholeness and harmoni-
individual, work unit and organization. The first- ousness with some animating (higher) purpose
level measure consists of items which denote the that gives direction to one’s work (Overell, 2008).

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Individual Spirituality at Work z 161

Meaning relates to whether purpose and signi- Job Commitment


ficance is felt (Overell, 2008).
Job commitment is defined as the extent to which a
Sense of Community person psychologically identifies with or absorbed
by their job (Lawler & Hall, 1970). Committed
The third dimension is based on the idea that spir- salespeople display greater performance, are
itual beings live in connection to other human willing to make sacrifices and are less likely to
beings and here community refers to ‘the notions leave the organization (Bashaw & Grant, 1994;
of sharing, mutual obligation and commitment C.E. Pettijohn, L.S. Pettijohn & Taylor, 2007).
that connect people to each other’ (Duchon &
Plowman, 2005, p. 814).
Hypotheses
Job Satisfaction Null hypothesis 1: There is no relationship
between sales professionals’ spirituality at
Job satisfaction is a multidimensional construct, work and job satisfaction.
including satisfaction with one’s job, supervisor,
co-workers, payment conditions, promotional Null hypothesis 2: There is no relationship
programmes, company policy and feelings of between Individual spirituality at work and
job security (Churchill, Ford & Walker, 1979). job commitment.
Job satisfaction lowers the turnover intentions of Null hypothesis 3: There is no relationship
salesperson (Chakrabarty et al., 2007; Jaramillo, between sales professionals’ spirituality at
Mulki & Solomon, 2006; Mulki, Jaramillo & work and propensity to leave.
Marshall, 2007) and also increases organizational
commitment (Chakrabarty et al., 2007; Jaramillo Methodology
et al., 2006). Thus, organizations need to pay
importance to salesperson’s job satisfaction be- Design and Sampling
cause of its strong associations with other critical
outcomes. Internet-based survey questionnaire is used to get
the responses. A request letter with the survey
Propensity to Leave link is e-mailed to some of the respondents, and
to the others the letter is posted to their orkut
Propensity to leave is the likelihood that an em- (social networking website) profile requesting
ployee will voluntarily end their relationship them to fill the survey. All the respondents are
with their employer in the near future (Bluedorn, sales professionals. By sales professionals, we
1982). Propensity to leave is an effective predictor mean the people who are either working or
of actual turnover in organizations (Johnston, have worked as sales executives or sales managers.
Parasuraman, Futrell & Black, 1990). Retention The respondents (sample) belonged to different
in selling organizations is a top concern as firms industries, and the sample is a convenient one.
invest a lot in selecting, motivating and training The total number of sample responses is 101. The
their salespeople. profile of the respondents is given in Table 2.

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162 z VAIBHAV CHAWLA AND SRIDHAR GUDA

Table 2 descriptive statistics are shown in Table 3. Each


Profile of the Respondents variable is constructed by computing the mean of
Personal Details Frequency (%) the items comprising the scale. The reliability of
Education the scales is provided in Table 4.
Undergraduate work 12 (11.9)
Graduate or postgraduate 89 (88.1) Job Satisfaction
Age
25 or less 33 (32.7) In this article, Job satisfaction is measured using
26 to 35 58 (57.4)
36 to 45 8 (7.9) seven selected items from the original 26-item
46 to 55 2 (2.0) scale provided by Churchill et al. (1979). These
Marital status items assess satisfaction with seven specific aspects
Married 40 (39.6) of the job: pay, opportunities for advancement, job
Not Married 61 (60.4)
security, company policies, boss, fellow workers
Gender and overall satisfaction. The response options for
Male 98 (97)
Female 3 (3.0) the items range from 1 for strongly dissatisfied to
Total business experience 7 for strongly satisfied.
1 year or less 15 (14.9)
2 to 5 years 56 (55.4) Job Commitment
6 to 10 years 18 (17.8)
11 to 15 years 8 (7.9)
16 to 20 years 1 (1.0) Job commitment is measured using three items from
21 years or more 3 (3.0) the scale provided by Lodahl and Kejner (1965).
Number of companies worked till date The response options for the items range from
1 30 (29.7) 1 for strongly disagree to 7 for strongly agree.
2 27 (26.7)
3 29 (28.7)
4 8 (7.9) Propensity to Leave
5 or more 7 (6.9)
Years with the current firm Propensity to leave was measured by a single item
1 year or less 44 (43.6) from Quinn and Staines (1979) that asks, ‘Taking
2 to 5 years 43 (42.6)
6 to 10 years 4 (4.0)
everything into consideration, how likely is it that
11 to 15 years 4 (4.0) you will make a genuine effort to find a new job
16 to 20 years 1 (1.0) with another employer within the next year?,’ with
21 years or more 5 (5.0) response options ranging from 1 for very likely to
Source: Developed by the authors using data from the 7 for very unlikely.4
respondents.

Measures Individual Spirituality at Work

Four measures, namely, individual spirituality The Meaning and Purpose at Work Questionnaire
at work, job satisfaction, job commitment and developed by Ashmos and Duchon (2000) consists
propensity to leave, are used in the study. The items of three levels of measures: individual, work
from each variable along with their corresponding unit and organizational. The individual measure

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Individual Spirituality at Work z 163

Table 3
Measures Along with Its Items Used in the Study

Item Mean Std. Dev.


A. Meaning and Purpose at Work Scale (Workplace Spirituality at Individual Level)
Sense of community
1. I feel part of a community in my immediate workplace (department, unit, etc.). 5.2277 1.69045
2. My supervisor encourages my personal growth. 5.2772 1.63780
3. I have had numerous experiences in my job which have resulted in personal growth. 6.0297 1.23657
4. When I have fears I am encouraged to discuss them. 5.0198 1.62469
5. When I have a concern I represent it to the appropriate person. 5.7426 1.30118
6. At work we work together to resolve conflict in a positive way. 5.4158 1.53145
7. I am evaluated fairly here. 4.8020 1.75511
8. I am encouraged to take risks at work. 5.2178 1.48731
9. I am valued at work for who I am. 5.0000 1.67929
Meaningful work
10. I experience joy in my work. 5.5050 1.76422
11. I believe others experience joy as a result of my work. 5.2277 1.59299
12. My spirit is energized by my work. 5.8317 1.40762
13. The work I do is connected to what I think is important in life. 5.2574 1.68317
14. I look forward to coming to work most days. 5.6337 1.44030
15. I see a connection between my work and the larger social good of my community. 4.8020 1.87627
16. I understand what gives my work personal meaning. 5.4455 1.25280
Inner life
17. I feel hopeful about life. 6.2574 1.30118
18. My spiritual values influence the choices I make. 5.3564 1.69460
19. I consider myself a spiritual person. 5.2079 1.74538
20. Prayer is an important part of my life. 5.2376 1.83384
21. I care about the spiritual health of my co-workers. 4.9010 1.72919
B. Job Commitment
1. I feel the most important things that happen to me involve my job. 5.0495 1.53868
2. I feel the major satisfaction in life comes from my job. 4.9406 1.65422
3. I live, eat, and breathe my job. 4.3564 1.83621
C. Job Satisfaction
How satisfied are you with...
1. Overall Job satisfaction. 5.0198 1.58733
2. My compensation (salary). 4.4851 1.79228
3. Opportunities for advancement. 4.7426 1.84203
4. Job security. 4.8911 1.73148
5. Company policies. 4.5149 1.79228
6. My supervisor overall. 5.0693 1.68082
7. My colleagues/workers overall. 5.1881 1.42627
D. Propensity to Leave
1. Taking everything into consideration, how likely is that
you will make a genuine effort to find a new job with
another employer within the next year? 3.4356 2.10910
Source: Developed by the authors using data from the respondents.

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164 z VAIBHAV CHAWLA AND SRIDHAR GUDA

Table 4
Reliability Analysis

Scale Name Coefficient Alpha Value Number of Items


Job Satisfaction 0.877 7
Job Commitment 0.799 3
Propensity to Leave — 1
Meaning and Purpose at Work 0.883 21 (Total)
(Workplace Spirituality; Individual Items)
Sense of Community 0.859 9
Meaningful Work 0.844 7
Inner Life 0.753 5
Source: Developed by the authors using data from the respondents.

captures individuals’ perception of their own it implies that the null hypothesis is rejected.
spirituality at work. We have used the individual Table 5 shows the results.
level measure with three sub-scales for the study. Hypothesis 2: The Pearson’s product moment
The response options for the items of the sub- correlation coefficient between individual spir-
scales range from 1 for strongly disagree to 7 for ituality at work and job commitment is 0.388
strongly agree. and the value is highly significant (p < 0.01).
Given the high significance of the correlation
Analysis and Results and sufficiently large coefficient value, it implies
that the null hypothesis is rejected. Table 6 shows
SPSS software (16.0) is used for the analysis. the results.
Hypothesis 1: The Pearson’s product moment Hypothesis 3: The Pearson’s product moment
correlation coefficient between individual spir- correlation coefficient between Individual spir-
ituality at work and job satisfaction is 0.651 ituality at work and propensity to leave is –0.454
and the value is significant ( p < 0.01). Given and the value is highly significant ( p < 0.01).
the very large positive value of the coefficient Given the sufficiently large negative value of
and the high significance of the correlation, the coefficient and the high significance of the

Table 5
Correlation of Individual Spirituality at Work and Job Satisfaction

Individual Spirituality at Work Job Satisfaction


Individual Spirituality at Work Pearson correlation 1 0.651∗
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000
N 101 101
Job Satisfaction Pearson correlation 0.651∗ 1
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000
N 101 101
Source: Developed by the authors using data from the respondents.
Note: ∗Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

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Table 6
Correlation of Individual Spirituality at Work and Job Commitment

Individual Spirituality at Work Job Commitment


Individual Spirituality at Work Pearson correlation 1 0.388∗
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000
N 101 101
Job Commitment Pearson correlation 0.388∗ 1
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000
N 101 101
Source: Developed by the authors using data from the respondents.
Note: ∗Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

Table 7
Correlation of Individual Spirituality at Work and Propensity to Leave

Individual Spirituality at Work Propensity to Leave


Individual Spirituality at Work Pearson Correlation 1 –0.454∗
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000
N 101 101
Propensity to Leave Pearson Correlation –0.454∗ 1
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000
N 101 101
Source: Developed by the authors using data from the respondents.
Note: ∗Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

correlation, it implies that null hypothesis is re- job. The result also provides that there is a strong
jected. Table 7 shows the results. negative relationship between sales professionals’
spirituality at work and his/her intentions to leave.
Discussion When there is belongingness, i.e., the feelings of
existing together in the community and when one
Correlation analysis provides that there is a strong is happy with the work then one may not intend to
positive relationship between sales professionals’ leave the job and the organization. For the future
spirituality at work and his/her job satisfaction. The research, one can develop the scale for meaning
result comes as expected. The sales professionals and purpose at work suitable specifically for the
who align their self-concept to their spiritual sales setting. The new scale for sales setting will
identity (inner life) express their spiritual identity be useful to confirm the relationships hypothesized
by meaningful work and by belongingness to the in the present study. Since the nature of the pre-
community. Thus, there is an alignment between sent study is exploratory, we used a general setting
who one is and what one does, then there comes scale for meaning and purpose scale at work.
the satisfaction. The same reason holds true for the Researchers can also look into the relationship
positive relationship between sales professionals’ for sales professionals between their spirituality
spirituality at work and his/her commitment to the at work and job burnout.

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166 z VAIBHAV CHAWLA AND SRIDHAR GUDA

Conclusion the community makes them feel satisfied with


their jobs, increase their commitment towards the
Sales professionals generally face extreme job and reduce their intentions to leave. The
pressures to produce sales which often leave workplace has a role to promote the notion of
them frustrated and burnout. Aligning one’s self- community among the professionals, to make the
concept to the spiritual identity (inner life) at individuals express part of their spiritual identity
workplace and expressing this spiritual identity through membership to the community.
through meaningful work and belongingness to

NOTES

1. See Aravamudhan (2010) for some information on the This definition is followed from Krishnan’s study (2008)
Indian companies that are reaching out for workplace on transformational leadership and spirituality.
spirituality. 3. The third dimension of workplace spirituality in the study
2. Although the word ‘spiritual’ appears in only two of the by Milliman et al. (2003) is ‘alignment with organizational
items in the survey, the authors have still provided the values’, which is similar to the meaningful work and sense
meaning of spirituality at the start of the survey so that of community dimensions of Ashmos and Duchon’s scale
respondents do not confuse it with religiosity. By spir- (2000) at the organizational level.
ituality, we mean that all that exists whether living or 4. The item is taken from Quinn and Staines’s (1979) study,
non-living are fundamentally connected to each other. where it is used to measure ‘Intention to Leave’. The two
There is oneness in all beings. The various beings in this concepts ‘Propensity to leave’ and ‘Intention to Leave’
world are like the branches and leaves of the same tree. have the same meaning.

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