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 Research Projects at the MPIfG

The Organizational Ecology of Consecrated Life: The Spread and Viability of Christian Orders

Nico Sonntag (doctoral project)


 
The emergence of Christian religious orders had a transformative impact on the Western world. Coming from an organizational ecology standpoint, this dissertation project investigates the diffusion of religious and organizational innovations. Statistics on the various orders’ historical development serve to explain recurring patterns in the life cycles of religious orders as well as their different rates of growth and expansion, with their monasteries being founded or closed. In keeping with the sociological concept of "religious economy," the project understands orders and their monasteries as organizations competing for resources. Organizational characteristics and environmental factors influence the orders’ varying success in securing those resources. Empirically, the project draws on standardized histories of some 2,000 monasteries belonging to 60 orders in Central Europe that will be particularly suited for studying how different religious orders interacted. A second, Europe-wide dataset of 700 Cistercian abbeys will be the basis of a case study that focuses on the entire diffusion process of a single order and the stabilizing role of the organizational network among the Cistercian houses. Project duration: October 2015 to March 2019.
 

 
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