Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Meaning in Life and Meaning of Work: Relationships with Organisational Citizenship Behaviour, Commitment and Job Satisfaction

Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Meaning in Life and Meaning of Work: Relationships with Organisational Citizenship Behaviour, Commitment and Job Satisfaction

Article excerpt


The present study investigated, within a public accounting organisation, the relationships between meaning (both of work and experienced in life), job satisfaction, organisational commitment and Organisational Citizenship Behaviour (OCB). A sample of 102 trainee and qualified Chartered Accountants (CAs) were surveyed. Significant positive correlation coefficients were found among all the constructs. Meaning, therefore, was found to have direct and mediated relationships with OCB. The correlations between the three constructs (i.e. job satisfaction, organisational commitment and OCB) and the two meaning constructs i.e. Meaning of Work (MOW) and Meaning in Life (MIL), were compared by transforming them to Z-scores. These two sets of correlations were not found to be significantly different from one another. The results highlight the importance to the organisation, of meaning, as derived from both work and other sources, as a significant driver of success.


The emerging school of Positive Organisational Behaviour or POB (Luthans, 2002), also referred to as Positive Organisational Scholarship or POS (Cameron, Dutton, and Quinn, 2003), is based on the premises of positive psychology (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), which focuses on enhancing human and organisational performance by emphasising positive characteristics. Within this paradigm, so-called "positive" constructs are being investigated that may provide various benefits to firms and their employees. Meaning is one such construct that has more recently become a salient area of study within the field of (positive) organisational behaviour (Mohan and Uys, 2006; Pratt and Ashforth, 2003; Wrzesniewsk, 2003; De Klerk, 2001; Gardner, Csikszentmihalyi and Damon, 2001; Sosik, 2000; Debats, 1999; Wrzesniewski, Mccauley Rozin and Schwartz, 1997).

Meaning has been found to be positively related to organisational commitment and job satisfaction (Fox, 1980), as well as Organisational Citizenship Behaviour or OCB (Schlechter and Engelbrecht, 2006). Positive relationships between OCB and organisational commitment (Silverthorne, 2005; Meyer and Allen, 1997; Hackman, Oldham, Janson, and Purdy 1995), and OCB and job satisfaction (Pratt and Ashforth, 2003; Murphy Athanasou, and King, 2002) have also been found, confirming the importance of meaning as a construct capable of directly and indirectly affecting organisational effectiveness and performance.

This study is an attempt to contribute to the growing body of meaning literature, in particular within the field of POB (i.e. meaning in a work context). As far as it could be established, meaning has not been investigated within a sample of accounting professionals. More importantly for the further development of meaning research, a distinction has not really been made between meaning of work (i.e. the role and importance of work in an individual's life) and the level of meaning experienced in life (i.e. meaning experienced through work, but derived from other sources than work). No research could be found that investigated these two related, but different, constructs within one study and further, that investigated how they are independently related to these organisational outcome variables.


The aim of this study was, therefore, to answer the following two research questions. Firstly are there substantive, positive relationships between Meaning of Work (MOW), Meaning in Life (MIL), OCB, organisational commitment and job satisfaction? Secondly, are there differences in the strength of association between each of the two meaning constructs (i.e. MOW and MIL) and these organisational behaviour constructs? In other words, should a distinction be made in terms of their relative importance within a work setting, or are they equally important?


The present study chose to focus on accounting professionals working within the public accounting sector. …

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