This paper explores the transition of the theological and philosophical concept of theoria – contemplation - to the modern notion of theory. Theory derives linguistically from theoria and retains a connection with knowledge. However, it has lost and, moreover, typically excludes theoria’s focus upon the direct experiential knowledge of the divine. In keeping with the thrust of this Special Issue, we focus on how the secularization of the theological concept of theoria defines in a profound manner the limits and possibilities of thinking and theorizing work and organization. We examine the nature of theoria and the transitions that have led to its metamorphosis. It is suggested that dominant forms of theorizing work and organization are typically performative. This is illustrated, somewhat ironically, through a review of Spiritual Leadership Theory, which appears to promote spiritual leadership without contemplation.
Case, P., French, R., & Simpson, P. (2012). From theoria to theory: Leadership without contemplation. Organization, 19(3), 345-361. https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508412437072