Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation investigates three organizational tensions that are most salient in Korean Buddhist temples: (1) finance versus religion, (2) change versus tradition, and (3) adaptation versus stability. Specifically, drawing upon paradox theory, my first essay examines how Buddhist monks address tension between business work to support the organization’s financial sustainability and Buddhist meditative practice to support their religious conviction. I report the findings at both organizational and individual levels of analysis, in an effort to unpack how an individual level paradox is manifested to an organizational level paradox. The second essay explores an enabling role of history in facilitating organizational change. Focusing on a Buddhist Master Monk’s historical narratives on changes, I analyze how the Master Monk selectively interprets the organizational history and develop it as a convincing storytelling tool to reduce organizational members’ cognitive resistance, thereby facilitating changes. The third essay investigates how Buddhist temples adapt to external environments while simultaneously keeping their core identity intact i.e., organizational resilience. The third essay aims to shed more light on a longitudinal process of organizational resilience.
Empirically, I have conducted multiple rounds of ethnographic fieldwork in Korean Buddhist temples to deeply immerse myself into the research context. Rich data from the fieldwork allowed me to develop the distinct essays on organizational tensions. In the end, the three essays characterize different methodological and theoretical colors. Each study aims to contribute to organizational paradox, history (and narrative), and resilience literature.
Summary for Lay Audience
This study investigates how Buddhist temples manage three types of organization tensions the temples face between (1) finance versus religion, (2) change versus tradition, and (3) adaptation versus stability. To deeply immerse myself into the context, I conduct ethnographic fieldwork in Korean Buddhist temples, living with monks, meditating together, and following all the monastic rules and Buddhist moral precepts. The findings of this study contribute to organization and management theory, specifically organizational paradox, history, and resilience.
Song, Hee-Chan, "Three essays on organizational paradox, history, and resilience: An ethnography of Buddhist temples" (2019). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6465.