Transpersonal business studies
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Transpersonal Business Studies is an area of interest within the field of transpersonal studies. It may be defined as businesses "in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos". Since the foundation of transpersonal psychology by Abraham Maslow in the late 1960s, other transpersonal disciplines have been considered.
Origins and Development
In view of the fact that some of Maslow's interests in psychology are related to the world of management, it is perhaps not surprising that transpersonal concepts have been applied to business studies and to the world of management. Transpersonal business studies is one of the disciplines considered by Marcie Boucouvalas (1999), which shows the practical utility of transpersonal themes.
There is now widespread recognition of the importance of transpersonal concepts in business studies and related fields such as management. This is evident from considerably large and growing literature dealing with spiritual aspects of the business world, management and economics. Boucouvalas cites Franklin (1981) and Pyle (1989) as examples of entrepreneurship with transpersonal themes. See also Corporate Social Entrepreneurship.
Related to this is the area of transpersonal management. Stretching things just slightly, although more relevant to humanistic psychology than to transpersonal psychology, the article by Schott (1992) on how the insights of both Abraham Maslow and Carl Jung can be applied to the field of management, organizations and leadership studies could be said to relate to this field.
Schott discusses self-actualisation in connection with management, noting Maslow's term "eupsychian managers" for managers who have reached self-actualisation, and also discusses why some self-actualising individuals may feel inhibited against aspirations to management positions. Schott also, in connection with Jung, discusses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in relation to management. The observation that self-actualisers may feel inhibited against moving into management positions has an especially acute implication for transpersonal management studies, since, in transpersonal psychology, self-transcendence rather than self-actualisation is frequently viewed as the apex of psychological health; the extent to which self-transcendence is incompatible with desire for management positions is a topic that awaits further research.
Examples and practical Application
Examples of how transpersonal concepts have practical utility in this field are considered by Cooper and Sauraf (1998), in their book on emotional intelligence in the workplace, in which they draw reference to states of consciousness such as the flow experience discussed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (see Flow). Their book quotes from the Japanese business strategist, Kerichi Omhae: "Successful business strategies results not from rigorous analysis... but from a process which is creative and individual rather than rational" (cited in Cooper & Sauraf,1998, p152). The work of Jean Henry in the management realm is also relevant to this field - her book includes a chapter by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (Henry, 1991; 2001).
A popular book on applications of intuition in the business sphere has been provided by Robinson (2006), who notes how people may use prayer to guide their decisions. Rigorous statistical empirical data germane to this field have been collected by Mirowsky and Ross (2007), including studies in creativity, a topic of importance in transpersonal psychology, in relation to health in an occupational setting. Their findings indicate that creativity "has an association with health]that exceeds those of education and household income" (Mirowsky & Ross, 2007, p398) and underscores the differences between creativity and autonomy (it is the former which they found to be more closely related to health).
An example of a movement which links the areas of spirituality, business and management is the Spirituality, Leadership and Management Network (SLaM Network). This movement lists its tenets on its website, stating that its members are guided by principles such as a belief in unconditional love, the belief that different spiritual pathways are possible and the commitment to the view that everything in the universe is ultimately interconnected with everything else. The movement also refers to its journal on its website.
Also of relevance to this field is the practice of Islamic Banking. This is a banking practice which has been influential in Indonesia, and combines the spiritual values of Islam with good banking practice. There is indication of phenomenal growth (over 80%) in assets in Islamic Banking since 2004.
Transpersonal Business Action Research Maria Rachelle's Embodied Action Research (EAR)
The newest publication based in transpersonal psychology is the online international peer reviewed journal beginning in June 2014 titled "The International Journal for Transformational Research" ISSN 2332-3736 published by Living Leadership Today, LLC owned by education entrepreneur and pioneer researcher, Maria Rachelle. Rachelle, a former Biotech leader in Silicon Valley, California, created a unique approach to transpersonal based action research called "Embodied Action Research" (EAR) focused on seeking understanding first from a phenomenological perspective based in the participatory action research approach (PAR) of Freire and body experience outlined by Merleau-Ponty (1945). The second stage of the EAR approach focuses on Feminist Pedagogy in the spirit of bell hooks (1994) and her book, "Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom" and liberation pedagogy/theology approach under the methodological umbrella of hermeneutics as professed by Gadamer (1960). The essence of the action research approach is a transpersonal knowing of business studies to embrace a holistic and intention sensitive approach to understanding and assessing business studies and leadership effectiveness.
Criticisms of the field
Ambiguity of what is meant by terms such as "transpersonal business" or "transpersonal management" can lead to criticisms of this field (cf. Boucovolas, 1999). It is not clear whether the term simply refers to conventional goals, such as economic profit, in business which are acquired by transpersonal techniques; or whether such a discipline really would mean a change of business aspirations, goals and values to become more spiritual and more altruistic. This relates to criticisms of the New Age as in danger of having a materialistic face.
- Walsh, R. & Vaughan, F.On transpersonal definitions. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 25 (2) 125-182, 1993
- (Conger, 1994; Dehler & Paradigm, 1994; Fogel, 2000; Neck & Milliman, 1994)
- Boucouvalas, M. (1999). Following the movement: from transpersonal psychology to a multidisciplinary transpersonal orientation. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 31 (1) 27-39
- Cooper, R. & Sauraf, A. (1998). Executive EQ: Emotional intelligence in business. London: Orion Business, 1998.ISBN 0-7528-1384-6
- Henry, J. (1991). Creative management. London: Sage in association with Open University Press.
- Henry, J. (1991; 2001). Creative management. London: Sage in association with Open University Press. (Second Edition). ISBN 0-7619-6610-2. ISBN 0-7619-6611-0 (pbk)
- Mirowsky, J. & Ross, C.E. (2007). Creative Work and Health. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 48 (4) 385-403
- Robinson, L.A. (2006). Trust Your Gut: How the Power of Intuition can Help your Business. Chicago: Kaplan ISBN 1-4195-8440-5 (hbk)
- Schott, R.L. (1992). Abraham Maslow, Humanistic Psychology and Organization Leadership: A Jungian Perspective. "Journal of Humanistic Psychology", 32 (1) 106-120