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Disorganization as Religion: Managing the Danish National Evangelical Lutheran Church

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What happens when an organization, in this case the Danish National Evangelical Lutheran Church (the DNELC), does not want to be an organization? A Lutheran organization sees itself as founded in equality in explicit contrast to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Lutheranism's answer to organization is universal priesthood, but making everyone equal leads to organizational problems and often directly promotes disorganization because there is no structure to facilitate the equality. Instead, we see the emergence of overlapping authorities. The paper shows how the cultural values of the DNELC, in the shape of Lutheran theology, have a great impact on the self- description (Luhmann) of the organization as not being an organization. The systems-theoretical point on the self-description of social systems is related to Robert Cooper's reflections on the autopoiesis between absence and presence of meaning. The autopoiesis of the DNELC's preference to Lutheran values on God as absent leads to its self-description as being disorganization: When nobody knows what God knows, no human organization should pretend to take on the role to present order and organization.
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Keywords: Systems theory; autopoiesis; disorganization

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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