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Religious Organizations Crossing Boundaries: The Centrifugal Expansion of U.S.-based Mission Agencies

Bok, Jared (2016)
Dissertation (-1 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Lechner, Frank
Committee Members: Dowd, Timothy J ; Idler, Ellen ; Swaminathan, Anand
Research Fields: Sociology; Religion; Organizational behavior
Keywords: Religion; Protestantism; Missions; Neoinstitutionalism; Organizational Ecology; Social Movements; Transnationalism
Program: Laney Graduate School, Sociology
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rnfx4

Abstract

This dissertation explores the expansion of transnationally centrifugal Protestant Mission Agencies operating out of the U.S. I investigate expansionary behaviors by drawing on a range of theoretical approaches including neoinstitutionalism, organizational ecology, vicarious learning, religious identity, and social movements. Using event history analysis, I investigate rates of initiated engagement in activity sectors and rates of founding new international ministries, focusing on 1970 to 2008 for the former and 1982 to 2007 for the latter.

Concerning activities, heterogeneity between activity sectors determines the extent of influence of external environmental processes, such as density dependence and sector exits, and internal factors, such as size and religious identity. Only sector exits has a consistently negative effect on transition rates, and only in the five sectors where its effects are significant. In addition, I find that declining sectors do not exhibit anticipated ecological density-dependence and vicarious learning effects through sector exits. Religious identity, between Evangelical and non-Evangelicals, plays an important role in rates of initiated engagement but, as with other factors, the direction of its effect depends on the sector.

Rates of founding new international ministries more consistently fit neoinstitutional and ecological expectations. Density has a curvilinear inverted U-shaped effect on founding rates, age has a negative effect, and size a positive one. Vicarious learning from exits has no effect, however, suggesting that founding rates are independent of ministry failures. Internationally, agencies involved in evangelism tend to found ministries in countries with low proportions of Protestants, while agencies involved in relief and development gravitate towards underdeveloped countries. Additionally, agencies tend to move towards rather than away from countries suffering from wars, religious polarization, and government restrictions on religious freedom.

Collectively, these results contribute: 1) empirically to a better understanding of Christian organizations operating transnationally, 2) theoretically by demonstrating the extent to which organizational and environmental processes typically used to explain secular organizational behavior can also be used in studying religious organizations, and 3) practically, by helping agencies situate themselves within the broader picture of Christian missions and by informing political leaders and decision-makers of the international locations where American Christians tend to operate.

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................................1
The History of Centrifugal Religious Organizations in the U.S................................................................6

II. THE ORGANIZATION OF CENTRIFUGAL RELIGION: CHARACTERSTICS, ACTIVITIES, AND

INTERNATIONAL MINISTRIES OF U.S. MISSION AGENCIES.......................................................13
Organizational Data......................................................................................................................14
International Data........................................................................................................................58
III. CENTRIFUGAL FORCES: A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK OF ORGANIZATIONAL, RELIGIOUS,

AND INTERNATIONAL-LEVEL FACTORS UNDERLYING AGENCY DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES..77
Neoinstitutionalism........................................................................................................................78
Vicarious Learning.........................................................................................................................89
Organizational Ecology...................................................................................................................92
Religious Identity..........................................................................................................................101
Social Movements.........................................................................................................................106
Control Variables..........................................................................................................................115

IV. EXPANDING CHRISTIAN REPERTOIRES: HOW PROTESTANT MISSION AGENCIES INITIATE

ENGAGEMENT INTO NEW ACTIVITY SECTORS............................................................................121
Setting the Stage: Event-History Methodology and Descriptives..........................................................121
Pulling Back the Curtain: Event-History Results and Discussion...........................................................133
V. THE GLOBAL EXPANSION OF CENTRIFUGAL RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS: HOW

PROTESTANT MISSION AGENCIES FOUND NEW INTERNATIONAL MINISTRIES..........................160
Setting the Stage: Event-History Methodology and Descriptives..........................................................160
Pulling Back the Curtain: Event-History Results and Discussion...........................................................169
VI. CONCLUSION........................................................................................................................188

VII. REFERENCES.......................................................................................................................199

Appendix A: Data and Variables.................................................................................................218

Appendix B: Categorization of 143 Agency Activities into 9 Sectors...........................................225

Appendix C: Comparison of Data Years as Reference Points for MCA..........................................229

Appendix D: Comparison of MCA Coordinates for Different Time-Interval Models.......................230

Appendix E: Wars in Top 5 International Ministry Countries, 1951-2007....................................231

Appendix F: Religious Freedom in Top 5 International Ministry Countries, 1981 to 2008............232

Appendix G: Hypotheses and Variables.......................................................................................233

Appendix H: Initiated Engagement in Activity Sector(s) Causal Diagrams..................................234

Appendix I: Founding of New International Ministries Causal Diagrams.....................................235

Appendix J: Summary Statistics for Initiated Activity Sector Engagements................................236

Appendix K: Correlation Tables for Initiated Activity Sector Engagements.................................240

Appendix L: Event History Models for Initiating Engagement in Activity Sectors........................247

Appendix M: Event History Models for Initiating Engagement in Activity Sectors (Single-

Imputed Data)...........................................................................................................................249

Appendix N: Event History Models for Initiating Engagement in Relief & Development..............251

Appendix O: Summary Statistics for Founding New International Ministries..............................252

Appendix P: Correlation Tables for Founding New International Ministries (by Sample)............254

Appendix Q: Event History Models for Founding New International Ministries...........................257

Appendix R: Event History Models for Founding New International Ministries with Decade

Fixed Effects.............................................................................................................................259

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