Meaningful work for a meaningful life? Work alienation and its effects in the work and the family context
Abstract. The notion of work alienation and its consequences has fascinated scholars and practitioners for a long time. But most research focused on passive performance indicators (such as job satisfaction), while the effects on work alienation on active performance (work effort) and outside work are understudied. This paper therefore examines the impact of work alienation on passive performance (organizational commitment), active performance (work effort), and its impact outside work (workfamily enrichment). Hypotheses are formulated based on two research streams: sociology of work and organization in relation to work alienation and work-family literature in relation to enrichment. Two dimensions of work alienation are considered: powerlessness and meaninglessness. Both literature streams expect a negative impact of work alienation on employee outcomes. Hypotheses are tested on survey data collected among a national sample of midwives in the Netherlands (respondents: 790, response rate 61%). Findings indicate that work alienation does not only have an impact on passive performance, but also on active performance and outside work. In particular work meaninglessness is relevant for outcomes. This underscores the importance of lowering the degree of work alienation, which has effects inside and outside the work context.
|Keywords||Work alienation, organizational commitment, organizational sociology, work effort, work-family enrichment|
|Note||Abstract for IRSPM 2012. Panel: HRM in Volatile Times: the paradoxical challenges facing Human Resources in Public Service Organisations (PSOs)|