International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Applying Meaning at Work: Effective Use of Meaning in the Workplace

Gerson F. M. Tuazon, MBA

University of Liverpool


In response to growing mechanistic perspectives of organizational behaviour and organizational psychology, a meaning-centred approach to work may be needed, which recognizes the importance of meaning-making processes and their correlations with job satisfaction and productivity. This paper builds on Wong’s (2007) call for the development of models that examine the dynamic relationships between meaning and work. Exploratory models of meaning are needed as it provides an infrastructure that assert meaning-making and sense-making processes as essential in their impact on worker beliefs and behaviours. To build the exploratory model, two management theories were examined: Freeman’s (1984) Stakeholder Theory and Hunt and Morgan’s (1996) Resource-Advantage Theory of Competition. The resultant exploratory model is comprised of Responsibility, Proactivity, Addressing External Stressors, Humane Orientation and Adaptation and Growth. For its contribution, the working model encourages enhances firm-level and individual-level performance and assesses the impact of a meaning-based methodology on corporate governance. As organizational behaviour and I/O psychology depend on both a posteriori and a priori methodologies, a monolithic mechanistic perspective of work may be deficient in integrating data inputs particularly as human capital, business relationships, real-time information, accounting and analytical information that contains disparate elements that can obstruct firm vision. This exploratory paper facilitates a working model of applying meaning of work and provides impetus for business management studies, organizational literature, leadership and I/O psychology for action-oriented research.

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