Patching Meaningfulness: How Early Career Scholars Construct Meaning in a Pluralistic Work Context

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Despite an increasing interest in the concept of meaningfulness at work, so far, relatively little research has been conducted on how the construction of meaningfulness evolves in pluralistic work contexts. We explore the construction of meaningfulness in pluralistic contexts by drawing on the case of academia, particularly the experiences of early career scholars (ECS) in Germany. We found that ECS draw on three competing discourses about legitimate academic work: the “performance discourse”, the “intellectual discourse” and the “engagement discourse”. The competing nature of these discourses generates tensions for ECS and the need to engage in a practice that we label patching meaningfulness. Our study contributes to the emerging stream of research that conceptualizes meaningfulness as a constant tension between the “self” and “others”. We show that work roles pose an important channel enabling scholars to perpetuate multiple valued self-definitions in a context of conflicting ideals about academic work. Similarly, we contribute to the literature that understands meaningfulness as inherently temporal and episodic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11432
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2022
Event83. Jahrestagung des Verbandes der HochschullehrerInnen für Betriebswirtschaftslehre 2022: BWL.Weiter.Denken. Aus der Wissenschaft – für Unternehmen – in die Gesellschaft - Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
Duration: 03.03.202211.03.2022
Conference number: 83