The aim of this article is to find out whether or not there are meaningful connections between the core religious experience of selected New Catholic Communities (NCCs) born in the wake of Vatican Council II and some of their organizational aspects. Because the NCCs are not only extremely varied, but are also extremely numerous, we chose the research strategy of theory-building from multiple cases, examining ten NCCs based in Piedmont, North-West Italy. Adopting the Neo-institutionalist approach, we claim that NCCs operating in the same organizational field demonstrate important organizational differences. More specifically, we argue that these differences originate from the basic religious experience which inspires a community’s raison d’être. As a consequence, we maintain that communities born out of different religious experiences demonstrate different organizational structures. The article is divided as follows. Using a classical Weberian distinction, we construct a typology of NCCs dividing communities according to the twofold criteria of, first, ascetic and mystical and, second, this-wordly and other-wordly. Later we illustrate our findings from the multiple case study. After that we discuss the form and extent to which relevant organizational differences correspond to NCCs’ different core religious experiences. Finally, we identify some theoretical questions which could be answered by further research.
Keywords: Religious Experience, Mission, Organization, Emerging Field, New Catholic Communities, Vatican Council II.