Publication Details

Fernando, M. (2005). Religion’s influence on decision-making: evidence of influence on the judgment, emotional and motivational qualities of Sri Lankan leaders’ decision-making, 21st European Group of Organization Studies (EGOS) Colloquium (pp. 1-17). Berlin, 2005. Germany: Freie Universitat Berlin.


The study compares and contrasts thirteen interfaith case studies of prominent Sri Lankan business leaders drawn from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Muslim religious traditions. The primary data for the study are in-depth interviews with the leaders, supplemented by documentary sources. When the participants were asked why they engaged in religious practices at work, their responses were often associated with decision-making. Although they had an array of management tools with which to deal with day-to-day management situations, they suggested that, in ‘difficult’ moments, these tools needed to be complemented with the participants’ connecting with the ultimate—variously identified as the transcendent reality, god, or truth that is more powerful, better, and good. The outcomes of decisions, both good and bad, were usually attributed to the connecting experience. The findings suggest that religion plays a significant role in influencing the judgment, emotional and motivational qualities of Sri Lankan leaders’ decision-making—in that a frame of reference based on a connection with a transcendent and ultimate reality is likely to be a source of solace, guidance, and inspiration to leaders in making critical decisions. Although the findings are unique to the historical, geographical, and cultural specificities of the participating Sri Lankan business leaders, this study provides early empirical evidence of the influence of religion on the judgment, emotional and motivational qualities of business leaders’ decision-making.

Link to publisher version (URL)

European Group for Organizational Studies