Summary and Critique of Vasconcelos’s Phenomenological Study of The Effect of Prayer on Organizational Life


Dan Kuchinka

Keiser University

Research, Ethics, and Scholarly Writing

Daniel G. J. Kuchinka, Ph.D.

Week 3 Article Critique

January, 2017


Summary and Critique of Vasconcelos’s Phenomenological Study of The Effect of Prayer on Organizational Life

The following is a summary and critique of Vasconcelos’s (2010) phenomenological study of workers and their use of prayer to cope with common challenges in the workplace. Following a summary of the study, the information will be evaluated as strengths, limitations, and ethical considerations are addressed.

Article Summary

According to Vasconcelos (2010), empirical research on the topic of prayer in the workplace is limited. Vasconcelos examined prayer in the workplace using phenomenology as a qualitative approach, designed to explore the topic in-depth. In his study, Vasconcelos examined a diverse sample (= 28) of workers from Brazil. Data revealed 93% of participants prayed every day (61% many times during the day). A common theme that emerged was prayer varied by length, time of day, place, and circumstance. Vasconcelos (2010) found all participants agreed prayer brought a “pleasure or inner peace” (p. 374). It was discovered prayer was useful to help workers cope with the daily challenges in the workplace.

Article Critique

Like any other study, the research design and explanation of the study had several strengths, limitations, and ethical concerns.

Strengths and Limitations

Vasconcelos (2010) investigated a diverse sample in terms of age, education, and Christian affiliation (e.g., 74% of population is Catholic; p. 372). A limitation was the lack of participation from Jews and Muslims, which could have added significant breadth to the study. Prayer is part of the daily life of Muslims and could be viewed very differently.

Another strength of the study was the option to use email to respond to questions. This element of confidentiality may have helped promote honest and direct responses, without any fear of judgement. This strength of the study could also be viewed as a limitation. Prayer can be highly emotional and a lack of face-to-face interaction between the researcher and participant could have denied the investigator critical nonverbal and verbal, emotion-driven information.

Perhaps the most significant limitation of the study was the qualitative design. Although qualitative research can help understand a topic, the information cannot be generalized to the greater population. The same research design applied to a sample from a totally different population may have revealed dramatically different results.

Ethical Considerations

Vasconcelos (2010) appeared to have conducted the study and reported on the findings in an ethical manner. For example, the author clearly recognized the limitations of the sample. Although he did not recognize the lack of Jews and Muslims in the sample, which was not so much of an ethical issue but rather an oversight when discussing limitations. The author also valued privacy by allowing participants to respond using email. If data was collected in the workplace, workers may have endured negative outcomes from individuals or an organization that viewed negatively on prayer in the workplace.


The previous discussion addressed the strengths, limitations, and ethical considerations associated with Vasconcelos’s (2010) phenomenological study of prayer used in the workplace to help cope with common challenges. Consistent with a case study or phenomenological research design, the study opened doors for future research.


Vasconcelos, A. F. (2010). The effects of prayer on organizational life: A phenomenological study. Journal of Management and Organization, 16(3), 369-381. Retrieved from

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