Emerging research on meaningful work in educational workplaces

Vivek G. Nair, Hayuta Yinon, Shiri Lavy, Jennifer Lauren Nelson, Elina Riivari, Beth Bechky, Anne-Laure Fayard, Priyanshu Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


'Meaningful work' has been defined by Rosso et al. (2010: 95) as ""work experienced as particularly significant and holding more positive meaning for individuals"". Previous studies have shown that meaningful work is beneficial for employees. For example, meaningful work has been found to be related to employees' well-being (Arnold et al., 2007), job satisfaction (Scroggins, 2008; Steger et al., 2012), and work engagement (Olivier & Rothmann, 2007; Steger et al., 2013). Meaningful work has also been associated with reduced burnout (Malach Pines, 2002) and less intentions of quitting (Scroggins, 2008). Due to the great impact of education on society (Brown & Lauder, 1991; Feinstein et al., 2006; Ozturk, 2001), and in line with the theme of this year’s annual meeting, ""creating a better world together"", the proposed symposium focuses on meaningful work in educational workplaces (i.e., kindergartens, schools, and higher education institutions). More specifically, it concentrates on the perspectives of the employees (i.e., teachers and academic staff). Recent research on educational workplaces shows that educational workplaces are perceived as stressful (Lensen et al., 2021; Olsen, 1993). They are also experienced as insecure (Bristow et al., 2017; Rosenblatt & Ruvio, 1996). Educational workplaces are also characterized by high rates of burnout and attrition (Agarwal & Bansal, 2021; Friedman, 1991; Shub & Maaz, 2021). Furthermore, research demonstrates that educational workplaces affect the well-being and job satisfaction of employees (Aelterman et al., 2007; Bahtilla & Hui, 2021; Kinman et al., 2006; Olsen, 1993; Toropova et al., 2021), which in turn influence students' well-being and academic outcomes (Harding et al., 2019; Jennings & Greenberg, 2009). These troubling findings may indicate employees' difficulties in achieving meaningful work. Despite the importance of educational workplaces and the growing body of research on meaningful work (see Bailey et al., 2019 for a recent review), less research has been devoted to examining meaningful work in educational workplaces. The proposed symposium strives to fill this gap in the literature by addressing emerging research on meaningful work in educational workplaces. More specifically, the proposed symposium attends to a wide range of educational workplaces: kindergartens, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools (in the first two presentations), colleges and universities (in the last two presentations). The symposium also maintains an international nature, with each presentation relating to a different country: USA (in the first presentation), Israel (in the second presentation), Finland (in the third presentation), and India (in the fourth presentation). Finally, contrary to the few studies that have examined meaningful work in educational workplaces, and used quantitative methodology, the four studies presented in the symposium utilized qualitative methodologies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2022


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