University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business


The overall purpose of the Spiritual-Based Leadership (SBL) Research Program is to contribute to the emerging field of, and the consciousness about, spiritual-based leadership in work organizations worldwide.

Through practical examples and inspiring stories on the perspectives and practices of spiritual-based leaders around the world, this program makes high quality information and knowledge about spiritual-based leadership easily accessible.

The research program was launched in 2002 by the Global Dharma Center (GDC), which focuses on spirituality and human values as the basis for leadership and work. GDC was co-founded by: Debra R. Miller, a business coach with executives and entrepreneurs, and former executive for two oil and gas firms; and William C. Miller, an internationally recognized expert on Values Centered Innovation.

The SBL research was initiated in partnership with Dr. Peter Pruzan, professor emeritus at the Copenhagen Business School and his wife, Kirsten Pruzan Mikkelsen, a journalist and former editor who worked for almost 30 years at Det Berlingske Hus, a major publishing house in Denmark.

Unique Focus

While consciousness about spiritual-based leadership is relatively new in the work world and as a field of study, it has gained a strength and momentum such that it deserves a focus of research. This research program is unique in four ways:

  • The research is focused on leaders who have a consciously-held spiritual view of life and who are willing to speak about how they lead from that basis.
  • Participation in this program is an opportunity for everyone involved to grow in their spiritual character, knowledge, and practice in the world.
  • The program includes spiritual-based leaders that are leading in work organizations in a variety of cultures and traditions around the world.
  • The Program directors, researchers, and spiritual-based leaders will contribute their time, energy, and talent on a voluntary basis. All findings, information, and publications (other than published books) will be available at no cost.

The knowledge contains full-length interviews with spiritual-based leaders from countries on six continents. It can be sorted by specific search criteria and is now available for researchers, teachers, students, consultants and leaders.


The vision of this research program is:

  1. To provide the leaders who participate, the program directors and researchers, and those who access and utilize the findings and publications with the opportunity for spiritual growth and development.
  2. To conduct research on four fundamental inquiries:
    • What are the leadership perspectives, attributes, competencies, and experiences of spiritual-based leaders?
    • What are the successes, results, and impacts of spiritual-based leaders in traditional work organizations?
    • What are the learnable methods, practices, and processes of spiritual-based leadership?
    • What are the similarities and differences in spiritual-based leaders from the perspectives of leadership styles, country and organizational cultures, etc.?
  3. To document the research findings by developing a knowledge base and website with interviews, stories, cases, and data about spiritual-based leadership for anyone who requires such current and reliable information.
  4. To analyze the research findings and establish a typology / learning model for spiritual-based leadership.
  5. To disseminate the research findings with the intention of increasing awareness of, and knowledge about, the effectiveness, practicality, demands, limitations, and success of spiritual-based leadership in various types of work organizations.
  6. To publish executive-development materials, based on the findings of the program, to assist leaders in developing the confidence, qualities, and competencies of spiritual-based leadership.