Organizational sacralization and sacrilege

Spencer H. Harrison, Blake Ashforth, Kevin Corley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Organizations may commit deeds that are perceived by stakeholders and institutional actors as particularly heinous because they directly contradict sacred ideals, values, beliefs, and so on espoused by the organization. We refer to these deeds as sacrilege. To explain how sacrilege occurs, we develop a multi-level model of sacralization that argues that individuals, organizations, and institutions are motivated to construct a sense of the inviolable. Sacralization fosters strong normative control by generating a set of unique structural relationships among the individuals, organizations, and institutional context. We then use this model to explain how sacrilege undermines these structures and how organizations often attempt to recover from such violations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-254
Number of pages30
JournalResearch in Organizational Behavior
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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