For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Fostering the Human Spirit: A Positive Ethical Framework for Experiencing Meaningfulness at Work"

by May, Douglas R; Chen, Jiatian; Schwoerer, Catherine E; Deeg, Matthew D (2019)


This chapter introduces a positive ethical framework for supporting the experience of meaningfulness at work. Three specific virtues are conceptually linked to meaningfulness (humanity, courage, and transcendence) and a number of character strengths that these encompass (such as morality, gratitude, and spirituality). It is argued that experiencing meaningfulness is more likely to result in the experience of positive emotions, contributing to a positive ethical culture at work and producing a “virtuous upwards spiral” of positive agency. Positive emotions attract more support and facilitate positive social relations inside and outside the workplace. Evidence about the links between meaningfulness and volunteering are explored in turn to consider what organizations might do to foster positive work culture. The chapter recognizes the potential for conflict and paradox between virtues and character strengths. However, even paradoxes and conflicts of this kind can generate positive experiences.


Meaningful Work, Virtue, Ethics, Agency, Volunteerism, Culture


Meaningful Work

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