Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2019 Volume 15 :: Article 1
2019 Volume 15, Article 1
Religious Capital Specificity: Predicting Member Retention

Author: Katie E. Corcoran (West Virginia University Morgantown, West Virginia)

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Most research on congregational membership dynamics focuses on recruitment or commitment with considerably less attention paid to congregational or denominational exit. I propose that human capital theory, typically used to theorize employee turnover, can also predict membership turnover in voluntary associations, including religious ones. Members in voluntary associations learn their associationís organizational culture, knowledge of which is a form of capital that makes participation in the organization more enjoyable and thereby increases an individualís likelihood of remaining with the organization. Because some organizations have similar cultures, organizational cultural knowledge may be transferable to other organizations. I argue that individuals who have more organizational cultural knowledge specific to their organization should be less likely to leave, because they maximize their capital by remaining where it can be used. To test these hypotheses, I use survey data from current and past members of twelve congregations. The findings support the hypotheses and contribute to research on religious capital and member retention.

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