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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Strategic Behavior and Organizational Structure in Religions

  • Author(s): Wittman, Donald
  • et al.

Religions are organized in a variety of ways. They may resemble an elected autocracy, aparliamentary democracy, or something akin to a monarchy, where heredity plays aprimary role. This variation allows for a comparative study of their organization.These differing power arrangements call for different types of strategic behavior in thefight for control over church doctrine and finance. And they also induce different institutional responses. I show where screening is highly institutionalized and when the age of a person may be an important strategic factor in choosing a leader. I am thus able to explain what otherwise would be very puzzling differences in the age of appointment across religions and within a particular religion, overtime.

In a nutshell, this paper is about politics and strategic behavior in the large (democracyversus autocracy) within the context of the small (religious institutions).

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