Meaningful Work: Connecting Business Ethics and Organization Studies

Journal of Business Ethics 121 (1):77-90 (2014)
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Abstract

In the human quest for meaning, work occupies a central position. Most adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work, which often serves as a primary source of purpose, belongingness, and identity. In light of these benefits to employees and their organizations, organizational scholars are increasingly interested in understanding the factors that contribute to meaningful work, such as the design of jobs, interpersonal relationships, and organizational missions and cultures. In a separate line of inquiry, scholars of business ethics have examined meaningful work as a moral issue concerning the management of others and ourselves, exploring whether there are definable characteristics of meaningful work to which we have moral rights, and whether there are moral duties to ourselves and others to fulfill those rights. In this article, we examine contemporary developments in both disciplines about the nature, causes, and consequences of meaningful work; we explore linkages between these disciplines; and we offer conclusions and research opportunities regarding the interface of ethical and organizational perspectives on performing and providing meaningful work.

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