Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Work Volition and Job Satisfaction: Examining the Role of Work Meaning and Person-Environment Fit

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Work Volition and Job Satisfaction: Examining the Role of Work Meaning and Person-Environment Fit

Article excerpt

Building on core principles within the Psychology-of-Working Framework (PWF; Blustein, 2006, 2008), the authors examined mediators that may explain the link between work volition and job satisfaction among employed adults (135 women, 145 men). A structural equation model was tested hypothesizing that person-environment fit and work meaning would fully mediate the work volition-job satisfaction link. Results suggested that the reason work volition related to job satisfaction was because of stronger perceived fit with one's work environment and greater perceived meaning at work. In total, the predictor variables accounted for 82% of the variance in job satisfaction. Based on these findings, clinicians are encouraged to help clients understand the unique factors that may be limiting their work volition and to specifically target barriers that are amenable to change.

Keywords: work volition, job satisfaction, fit, work meaning

The Psychology-of-Working Framework (PWF; Blustein, 2006, 2008; Blustein, Kenna, Gill, & DeVoy, 2008) has expanded the focus of career decision-making science and practice from the narrow perspective of the well educated and affluent to the more inclusive perspective of those from marginalized and/or less privileged backgrounds. The central tenet of the PWF asserts that the majority of workers do not have complete freedom of choice in their career decision making, herein referred to as work volition. A number of financial, structural, and social barriers often exist that prevent individuals from making career decisions that are most in line with their personal interests, skills, and values, and that lead to the experience of meaningful work (Duffy & Dik, 2009). In particular, Blustein (2006) identifies the confluence of lower socioeconomic status, racism, sexism, homophobia, and disabling conditions as factors that can increase one's experience of barriers and decrease a sense of volition in choosing and pursuing a career path.

Blustein (2006) and Duffy and Dik (2009) proposed that people who experience fewer constraints and increased volition are likely to sense heightened work-related well-being. This proposition is supported by multiple research findings. With diverse samples of working adults, previous research found that feeling more volitional in one's career decision making is positively correlated with increased work locus of control, job search self-efficacy, work self-efficacy, perceived organizational support, and, most notably, job satisfaction (Duffy, Bott, Allan, & Torrey, 2013; Duffy, Bott, Torrey, & Webster, 2013; Duffy, Diemer, Perry, Laurenzi, & Torrey, 2012). Even when controlling for the type of job that is attained, findings suggest that people who sense more volition experience more satisfaction with their work, whereas those with less volition sense hopelessness, frustration, and a view of their work as a means to survive (Blustein et al., 2002). Simply put, individuals who feel more choice in the jobs they wish to pursue tend to be more satisfied at work. But why does this connection exist? In the current study, we build on the central tenets of the PWF and the developmental contextual framework (Lerner, 2002) to examine variables that may explain the relation between work volition and job satisfaction. In particular, with a sample of working adults, we tested a model hypothesizing that work volition links to increased job satisfaction because of increased feelings of work meaning and person-environment (P-E) fit.

Work Volition and Job Satisfaction: A Psychology-of-Working Perspective

The PWF (Blustein, 2001, 2006) is grounded in the assumption that working has the potential to fulfill three basic human needs: (a) survival and power needs (e.g., food, water, physical safety, prestige), (b) relational needs (e.g., connectedness to other individuals in the workplace and to the broader society), and (c) self-determination needs (e.g., expression, engagement in intrinsically rewarding tasks; Blustein et al. …

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