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Positive Organizational Ritual: Awakening the Positive Potential of Organizations through Symbols and Ceremony

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by Katie Wallace

This paper introduces positive organizational ritual – defined as a formalized and enduring intervention that utilizes symbolism and collective experience to elevate individuals and unite them under a shared life-giving purpose and organizational identity. The positive use of ritual in organizational settings might offer value to businesses who hope to increase revenue and profitability while benefiting the lives, communities, and ecosystems they impact. Through its deeply meaningful and experiential nature, collective ritual can elevate individuals and build organizational cohesion and momentum. The first part of the paper provides an overview of relevant insights into individual and organizational flourishing drawn from the fields of positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship. In this section, a model for whole-system flourishing and excellence among individuals, organizations, and other life-systems is proposed as it provides a foundation that ritual will build upon. In the second part, positive organizational ritual is defined and its ability to weave whole-system flourishing is reviewed. Characteristics of positive organizational ritual are outlined in this section, possible varieties of rituals are suggested, and future directions for research are identified. Finally, because ritual has historically woven cultures that were disempowering and even potentially dangerous, cautions for applying ritual in the workplace are provided.

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