Freemasons and Entrepreneurial Networking

By John Dudovskiy
July 22, 2012

FreemasonsBusiness researchers and practitioners agree on the idea that “successful entrepreneurship relies heavily on access to social networks, which provide both, information and trust. Membership of a network not only provides useful contacts that can be trusted – it can also enhance an entrepreneur’s own reputation for trustworthiness” (Casson and Buckley, 2010, p.150).

There are many global and local networks with a strong entrepreneurship focus such as Chambers of Commerce, Trade Unions, Freemasons, Trade Associations, Quakers, Business Incubators and others. Each of these networks has its own admission rules, structure, customs etc. and offer business, social and economic values in a unique manner.

This article represents a brief analysis of Freemasons, one of the most secret organisations in the world, with the focus on the value the organisation offers in terms of entrepreneurial networking.  There are more than six million Freemasons with more than quarter of million Freemasons under United Grand Lodge of England alone (FAQ, United Grand Lodge of England, 2011, online). The popularity of topics associated with Freemasons are increasing in the media for the reasons covered further in this paper.


A Brief History of Freemasons

There are contradictory opinions in various sources about the origins of Freemasons. It has been stated that “one of Freemasonry’s alleged origins dates back to the building of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem from 970 to 931 B.C.” (Karg and Young, 2009, p.13). According to Jacob (2007) Freemasonry has started by labour leaders and stonecutters in the Middle Ages. Men who were the representatives of other professions than workers in stone stated to be admitted into the organisation starting from 1640s in English, later in Scottish Lodges, and they were referred to as admitted or accepted Masons (Hodapp, 2007).

Ridley (2011) informs that the first Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of England has been formed in 1717 as a result of four London Lodges joining together. However, they faced opposition from a range of other Lodges for the innovations introduced that included the creation of the Third Degree. Consequently, most of the competing London Lodges joined together and formed the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) that is considered to be one of the most influential Lodges globally.

There is a popular opinion among Mason researchers that the boom of Freemasonry corresponds to the period of time known as The Age of Enlightenment. “Many of the philosophers, scientists, and the artists of the Age of Enlightenment were drawn to Freemasonry in the early-and mid-1700s, including the French author Voltaire, the German poet Goethe, the English philosopher John Locke, the American statesman and philosopher Benjamin Franklin, and the Austrian composers Haydn and Mozart” (Hodapp, 2005, p.36)


Main Characteristics of Freemasons as a Fraternal Organisation

Jacob (2007) maintains that Masonry is not a religion and the representatives of various religions can be accepted into the organisation. Individual chapters or units of Freemasonry are known as lodges. Regular meetings are conducted in Lodges during which the minutes of the previous meeting are read and new members are initiated into the Freemasonry.

One of the specific characteristics of Freemasonry is that “there is no national or international governing organisation for Freemasonry. In North America and Australia, each state or province has its own organisation, called a Grand Lodge that claims “sovereignty” over the lodges in its territory. Outside of North America and Australia, most countries have their own governing grand lodge” (Hodapp, 2007, p.12).

Requirements for candidates to become a Freemason include being a free man of good morals and good reputation, believing in a Supreme Being, to be born free and to have characteristic references from a specific numbers of current Masons, depending on the rules of a specific Lodge (Reynolds, 2006)

Jeffers (2007) informs that in Freemasonry members are initiated using three ceremonial rituals, known as degrees: the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason. These degrees are progressed in given order and members have to prove their proficiency in their current degrees in order to progress to the next one. This would involve learning a specific part of a ritual or conducting a research on an important aspect of the fraternity.


The Value of Freemasonry in Entrepreneurial Networking  

Freemasonry, as any other networking organisation offers specific benefits for its members on several levels. Officially, Freemasonry texts state that “the benefits of Freemasonry are moral and intellectual study, the cultivation of social intercourse, the promotion of brotherly love” (Martin, 2003, p.91).

However, the most important benefit of Freemasonry from the perspective of this paper is a chance of entrepreneurial networking the members of the organisation are presented with.  Because Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation there is strong bond between its members that might positively impact the achievement of business interests of specific members of the organisation through attracting the influence of other members of the organisation to the issue.

Specific examples may include members of the same Lodge sharing valuable business intelligence, or contracts being granted to the fellow Lodge members etc. On this ground Freemasons have faced intensive criticism from various fronts for positioning their Masonic rules and the value of their brotherhood above the jurisdiction of the country. However, a range of researchers including Ridley (2011) oppose this viewpoint and state that “during 250 years of wars, revolutions and political upheavals, Masonic brothers, except in a very few cases where special circumstances existed, have counted for nothing when they have to come into conflict with national allegiance, class interest, ideological zeal, or the personal ambition of the mason” (Ridley, 2011, p.3).



Freemasons represent a unique institution that has great influence on various aspects of lives of its members and it has been subjected to extensive speculation on a global level. Freemasons have existed for several centuries during which period its initial concept and rules have been modified due to a range of factors and historical events.

The potential for entrepreneurial networking in Masonic Lodges is significant. This potential is derived from the strong bond among the members of the Lodge and the set of principles shared by Freemasons belonging to the same Lodge.



  • Casson, M & Buckley, PJ, 2010, Entrepreneurship: Theory, Networks, History, Edward Elgar Publishing
  • FAQ, 2011, United Grand Lodge of England, Available at:  Accessed July 26, 2011
  • Hodapp, C, 2005, Freemasons  for Dummies, John Wiley & Sons
  • Hodapp, C, 2007, Deciphering the Lost Symbol: Freemasons, Myths and the Mysteries of Washington, D. C., Ulysses Press
  • Jacob, MC, 2007, The Origins of  Freemasonry: Facts and Fictions, University of Pennsylvania Press
  • Jeffers, HP, 2007, The Freemasons in America: Inside the Secret Society, Citadel Press
  • Karg, B & Young, JK, 2009, 101 Secrets of the Freemasons: The Truths Behind the World’s Most Mysterious Society, F+W Media
  • Martin, GM, 2003, British Masonic Miscellany, Part 2, Tingling & Co
  • Reynolds, JL, 2006, Secret Societies: Inside the World’s Most Notorious Organisations, Arcade Publishing
  • Ridley, J, 2011, The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society, Arcade Publishing


Category: Management