Adelaide Research and Scholarship
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|Title: ||Socialising accountability for the sacred: a study of the Sanitarium Health Food Company.|
|Author: ||Hardy, Leslie Harold|
|Issue Date: ||2008|
|School/Discipline: ||Business School|
|Abstract: ||Accounting and accountability researchers have shown new interest in the study of religious organizations by exploring how secular practices associated with accounting and accountability mesh with religious goals and activities. Despite
burgeoning research into accountability relatively little is known about the nature of accountability in religious organizations. The present study seeks to address this need
by exploring the accountability practices of a business entity owned and operated by an Australian religious minority.
This study focuses on the accountability practices of the Sanitarium Health Food Company (SHF), a food manufacturing business owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. SHF is a non-profit organization whose annual gross revenue is estimated at between A$300m to A$400m, making it one of Australia’s top earning charities. SHF provides no formal financial reporting to church members and only a handful of church elites know the financial details of this organization. As a charity SHF is not required to pay income tax; as a department of the Adventist Church it is subjected to minimal regulatory requirements and therefore justifies not disclosing its financial details to church members or the public. However, as a charity there is an expectation that the organization would detail how profits are used, the causes it supports and the extent of that support. This information has not been readily forthcoming from the organization.
Church members view SHF as being an Adventist organization upholding and promoting denominational teachings, values and practices; to the public the organization presents itself as a charity promoting disinterested humanitarianism. This case study combines historical and field research methodology. It draws on archival and published material relating to the SHF and Adventist community and data from interviews with a range of stakeholders. The primary focus of the study is the period between 1970 and 2005, during which time SHF grew significantly and underwent major restructuring of its operations, management and orientation.
The study reveals that while SHF presents minimal formal reporting, the organization has evolved a sophisticated socialising accountability, aimed at promoting the operation to church members as an Adventist institution and to the wider public as a mainstream charity. The study highlights that a feature of Adventist accountability relates to a unique interpretation of the notion of being accountable to God. Adventists believe in a literal investigative audit in heaven commencing in 1844. This teaching differentiates Adventists from other religious groups. The teaching provides the primary focus of Adventist accountability, motivates social action and regulates Adventist organizational behaviour.
The study of SHF provides a vantage point from which to examine the role that religious beliefs play in promoting commercial activities. In the study of SHF, religious beliefs and secular business practices overlap, each reinforcing the other. The evidence presented in relation to SHF highlights a meshing of religious values and secular operations in ways that make it impossible to compartmentalise sacred and secular activities within the Adventist organization.|
|Advisor: ||Lightbody, Margaret Gaye|
|Dissertation Note: ||Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, Business School, 2008|
|Subject: ||Seventh-Day Adventist Church -- South Pacific Division|
Sanitarium Health Food Company.
Nonprofit organizations -- Accounting.
Nonprofit organizations -- Finance.
Nonprofit organizations -- Evaluation.
Business -- Religious aspects.
|Keywords: ||accountability; stewardship; business; religious organisation; secular; sacred; Sanitarium Health Food Company; Seventh-day Adventist|
|Provenance: ||Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.|
|Call number: ||09PH H268|
|Description (link): ||http://proxy.library.adelaide.edu.au/login?url=http://library.adelaide.edu.au/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=1369252|
|Appears in Collections:||Research Theses|
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