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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: December 2009

7 - Comparative contexts: India and Singapore


Which dimensions of negotiating religion are specific to the US workplace and which are common to companies in any diverse society? Is it possible to gain constructive insights by viewing other societies' struggles with religious diversity? Conversely, can we also avoid pitfalls by studying governmental or organizational policies in other nations? As with most contextual analyses, the examination of US workplaces will be sharpened by the comparative examinations of other national contexts.

This chapter analyzes the implications of religious diversity and governmental policies toward religion for workplaces in India and Singapore. These strikingly dissimilar countries have national policies and ongoing public discourse about the role of religion in public life, including its roles at work. Although vastly different in terms of population statistics and religious and ethnic composition, India and Singapore are similar in the sense that both have cultivated a long-standing, intentional, and, at times, creative public effort to understand religious diversity among the population. In distinct ways, each nation has designed official approaches to managing religious and spiritual diversity. At the same time, significant practical and moral problems plague both countries' official efforts. These two comparative examples, not typically cited as models for US public policies or workplace institutions, include both highly problematic features of addressing religious diversity as well as some positive components.

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