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Globe looks at Mormonism as a business model

Published: Sunday, Aug. 21 2011 4:28 p.m. MDT

Referring to Mormons as "the original organization men," Boston Globe columnist James Carroll looks at LDS history and doctrine today on the Globe's website and concludes that "outsiders attempting to understand the surprising arrival of the Latter-day Saints can do worse than to think of it as a business model — made perfectly, it turns out, for the 21st century. Made in America.

"The faith has found a way to make God and a genius for commerce work together," Carroll writes. "The reasons begin not in business but in theology."

He cites LDS belief that God did not create the world out of nothing, but "organized it out of chaos."

"The distinction between God as creator and God as organizer matters because the perennial religious call to imitate God made organizing a defining act of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Carroll said. "The Book of Mormon organizes a vast and disjointed history. Joseph Smith, and his main successor Brigham Young, who led the exodus to Utah, were men of high religious charisma, yet each had a gift for practical leadership that enabled the organizing of an historic movement."

This organization's philosophy, Carroll asserts, translated into an LDS penchant for success in business. By the late 20th century, he says, "Mormons were leaders in organizational development and other business-transforming fields."

The column also explores the organizational impact on the church of the its leadership structure, its early period of polygamy, its properties and holdings, the businesses of Mormon entrepreneurs like J. Willard Marriott and the continuing influence of church structure on tens of thousands of missionaries each year.

Through it all, Carroll says, the business ideal and the religious ideal reinforce one another.

Other recent stories to look at Mormonism through the business prism include "God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders" in Businessweek and "Mormons Wield Influence in Business" on CNBC.

EMAIL: jwalker@desnews.com

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