The Eldest Multinationals

Catholic Orders and their Monasteries

project period: 2012-2018

The Roman Catholic Church is among the oldest and biggest global institutions in the world offering salvation, guidance and hope for almost two millennia. Starting in 500 the Roman Catholic Church came up with the formation of Religious Catholic Orders and their monasteries (Schmidtchen, and Mayer, 1997). The friars of these new institutions could, by their way of life, rapidly gain a reputation. This outstanding success allowed the Religious Catholic Orders with their monasteries to spread in a short period of time throughout the world and to become one of the first multinational enterprises. Catholic Religious Orders and their monasteries offer an excellent example to study (multinational) organizations in order to contribute to organization and management theory. They are highly robust institutions, which survived external shocks and which were usually able to persist for generations and centuries, so that they provide an interesting environment to deepen the understanding of organizational behavior and sustainable governance in stable and turbulent environments. Our data comprise 4,606 monasteries and 89 Catholic Religious Orders over a period of 1,483 years which allows an extensive longitudinal analysis and the identification of factors being critical for organizational survival and success.