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Journal Articles Employee Relations Year : 2020

Religious accommodation in France: decoding managers' behaviour


Purpose This research aims to explain, in the secular French context, the intention of managers to accommodate religious expression at work (REW) when they are not obliged to do so. This paper seeks to understand the determinants of managerial positions on REW. Building on previous studies on how organisations and managers deal with religious expression, this research seeks to extend the evidence on this important aspect of managerial behaviour in relation to accommodating REW. Design/methodology/approach The hypotheses were tested using a structural equation model based on the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) in diversity management (N = 151 French managers). This method highlights attitudinal and organisational determinants favourable to the intent to accommodate. Findings The present research provides new insight by identifying two main direct factors affecting managers' accommodation, namely, organisational flexibility (flexible hours, autonomy) and perceived consequences (advantages, disadvantages) and one indirect factor, religiosity. In line with the contradictions within diversity management, the perceived consequences are ambivalent and highly context dependent. One issue to explore is that managers seek to deal with religious expression by making it invisible. Research limitations/implications In the French context, the explanatory social norm might not be “religiosity” but rather “perceived secularity”. The authors recommend that future studies use qualitative methods with interviews and photo elicitation to extend this first study. Indeed, the complexity of the managerial position requires an in-depth understanding of managers' attitudes and behaviours with regard to religion. How do managers apply a common ground strategy and create unity despite differences? Is the desire to make arrangements invisible with a view to inclusive neutrality specific to France, or can it be generalised to managers in other countries? Does the intention to accommodate not essentially depend on the manager-employee relationship dynamic? This research raises questions for scholars about the relationship with the other and ethical managerial conduct. Practical implications France is a secular country where a debate is emerging on cases of discrimination due to REW. The results contribute to approaches to drafting company guidelines for managers and may help organisations anticipate the risks associated with REW. The discussion of the results reveals the importance of social norms in the sense of hypernorms (religiosity) and undoubtedly of secularism, nondiscrimination and gender equality in the decision-making process on accommodation. These inclusive norms should therefore be handled with care in the various guidelines that have been developed. Originality/value REW is increasing but is a neglected dimension of diversity management. This study helps explore this new field by promoting an understanding of managers' intention to accommodate in a specific secular context.

Dates and versions

hal-03168396 , version 1 (13-03-2021)



Caroline Cintas, Yingfei Héliot, Pierre-Antoine Sprimont. Religious accommodation in France: decoding managers' behaviour. Employee Relations, 2020, 43 (1), pp.83-107. ⟨10.1108/ER-02-2020-0050⟩. ⟨hal-03168396⟩
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