Entrepreneurs Pray More, See God as Personal, Baylor Researchers Find

Entrepreneurs and prayer
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June 4, 2013

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WACO, Texas (June 4, 2013) -- American entrepreneurs pray more frequently, are more likely to see God as personal and are more likely to attend services in congregations that encourage business and profit-making, according to a study by Baylor University scholars of business and sociology.

Their research, published in the current issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, is an analysis of data from the ongoing Baylor Religion Survey. A total of 1,714 adults chosen randomly from across the country answered more than 300 items in the survey, designed by Baylor scholars and administered by the Gallup Organization in 2010. The study is part of a larger research project on religion and entrepreneurship funded by the National Science Foundation.

Entrepreneurs are categorized in the study as those who have started a new business or who are trying to do so, said Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

When it comes to entrepreneurs' concept of God, "they tend to think of God as a more personal, interactive being, and that is tightly related to why they pray more frequently," Dougherty said.

That finding raises interesting questions, said Mitchell J. Neubert, Ph.D., associate professor and Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business.

The study raises interesting considerations for faith communities. Because of the country's "competitive religious market," congregations specialize to attract and retain individuals. Catering to entrepreneurial individuals may offer "a competitive advantage," the researchers wrote.

Other questions the study raises are whether entrepreneurs pick a congregation that matches their entrepreneurial orientation -- and whether a faith community can help prepare someone for entrepreneurship.

Neubert noted that entrepreneurs are critical to communities in terms of jobs and stimulating the economy. Both entrepreneurs and churches share goals of reaching out to the community, and they might benefit from partnering.

"How is religion related to entrepreneurial behavior? And more importantly, why?" the article asks. "Equally fascinating, how do religious individuals engaged in business creation reconcile the teachings of their faith on material gain with their entrepreneurial endeavors? Prompted by these initial findings, we hope others will join us to expand understanding of if, how and why, religion and entrepreneurial behavior intersect."

*The research is part of the "National Study of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Religion." Funding for the research came from the National Science Foundation. Other researchers were Jerry Z. Park, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology at Baylor, and Jenna Griebel, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Baylor.

The article, "A Religious Profile of American Entrepreneurs," is published in the current issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, volume 52, issue 2.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES

The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University's oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 26 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit www.baylor.edu/artsandsciences

ABOUT HANKAMER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective. Recognized nationally for several programs, including Entrepreneurship and Accounting, the school offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study. Visit www.baylor.edu/business and follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Baylor_Business.

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