Organizational control and the Catholic Church: A case study

Julian Randall, Craig Littler

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper presents an analysis of the problem of child-abusing priests in the Catholic Church using data from the USA, UK and Ireland. The apparent scale of this issue raises crucial theoretical as well as policy issues. This paper explores various organizational explanations, linking it to traditional methods of ‘confessional control’ of organizational members. This is a novel concept which brings the issue into a wider organizational lens. Confessional control creates a series of guilt-laden identities that serve to maintain hierarchical control as well as social inclusion. Thus the process of recycling priests was part of a long-persisting pattern applied to child abuse cases. The theoretical implications of this are explored. The data consists of a series of cases across the three countries, partly drawn from a data-base of 4,000 alleged cases.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2006
EventAcademy of Management 2006: Knowledge, Action and the Public Concern - Atlanta, United States
Duration: 11 Aug 200616 Aug 2006
Conference number: 66


ConferenceAcademy of Management 2006
Abbreviated titleAOM 2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • organizational control
  • confession
  • church organization


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