Searching for meaning and purpose in human action. Work and working context.

Rita Bissola, E. Cori, L. Mizzau, T. Torre

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


A large number of organizational scholars has devoted attention to the topic of meaning and purpose in human action, as an occasion to deepen the question about the scope and motives of organizational action. Such questions deal with a central question in organization design and behavior, but they also get to the core of organization studies, characterized by a strong disciplinary pluralism that comprises many possible perspectives and levels of analysis (Podolny et al. 2004). Within this large field, a specific stream focuses on the attitudes workers have toward their organizational contexts in contemporary work settings. On the one hand, organizations look for motivated and positive employees, who deliver better performance, display collaborative behaviors, and ultimately improve team and organizational climate; on the other hand, people strive to find jobs that offers them a meaningful endeavor, from which they derive positive effects both on and off work. In fact, the valence (e.g., positive, negative or neutral) and amount (i.e., intensity) of meaning that people find in their work shape their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors related to both work and life dimensions (Rosso, Dekas, and Wrezesniewski, 2010). Importantly, meaning may stem from objective characteristics of jobs and organizational contexts, but it is also subjectively construed by people in the process of making sense of their working experiences. Work meaningfulness and meaningful work are thus related to work that is considered personally valuable, thus being related to a positive personal experience (Lysova et al., 2019).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • meaningful work
  • purpose
  • self-identity


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