In this paper we begin to address the topic of researching spirituality in the workplace. The notion of spirituality at work has been an increasing focus of attention in the academic literature over the last 10 years or so, with several special editions of journals being dedicated to the topic. However, we find at least two areas of this work so far to be problematic. One aspect relates to the apparent ambiguity relating to the term 'spirituality' in itself and, especially, in comparison to the use of the word 'religion'. Another aspect refers to the motives and drivers behind the study of workplace spirituality and the search for 'higher meaning'. In essence, we find the predominant objectives behind the research to be highly instrumental. Sometimes this seems to be deliberately espoused but sometimes it is more hidden. This paper attempts a preliminary critical review of the field with a special emphasis on the issues it raises for the researcher. In particular, we seek to show how the way in which 'spirituality' is conceived and constructed directly affects decisions related to methodological choice and (ultimately) to research design itself. We close the paper by reflecting on the importance of the topic and yet the dangers inherent in appearing to trivialise its nature.
Keywords: organisations, spirituality, critical management, meaning and work, religion, research methods, protestant ethic, essential self, methodology