The Role of the Cellarer - What Can the Corporate World Learn from a Benedictine Abbey's CFO?
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
10th International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR) Conference
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
Benedictine abbeys are highly stable organizations that have existed for almost 1,500 years. Extant literature ascribes this stability in part to the Benedictine governance, which is centred on the Rule of St. Benedict (RB). An integral part of Benedictine governance is the cellarer, who obtains a role comparable to chief financial officers (CFOs) in corporations. Unlike corporations, in which the CFO has emerged into a more important role only in the last few decades, the cellarer has been an official position in Benedictine abbeys since the introduction of the RB in the 6th century. Based on a single case study in an Austrian Benedictine abbey, this paper aimed to investigate the cellarer's role and identify the parts of his role could be transferred to a corporate CFO's role. We found that the cellarer's behaviour shows strong signs of stewardship, which could serve as a role model for corporate CFOs. However, during a situation of financial distress, the cellarer studied in this paper also experienced severe role conflicts. We find that these conflicts are rooted in the high involvement of the abbey in the local economy and the cellarer's conscience as a Christian monk. Hence, we also show aspects of the cellarer's role, which should be avoided for corporate CFOs. We conclude with implications for practice and avenues for further research.