The search for meaningful work: A network analysis of personality and the job characteristics model

Daniel V. Simonet, Christopher M. Castille

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Meaningful work has increasingly been identified as a source of personal fulfillment, a protective factor against daily stress and adversity, and a key mediator linking job characteristics to important organizational outcomes. However, to date, positive organizational scholarship has neglected the role of individual differences in understanding how organizational work becomes more fulfilling. More broadly, there is limited consensus with respect to which traits, actions, or job features sustain meaning, and whether specific pathways may account for these associations. To address such limitations, we applied a regularized partial correlation network and directed acyclic graph to estimate the functional relations among multidimensional measures of these phenomena in a national dataset of workers (n = 570). Results highlight numerous situational and personality effects on work meaning and possible causal pathways linking various traits to experienced meaningfulness at work. Cumulatively, our findings suggest that interventions to encourage long-term changes in work meaning (e.g., job redesign, career coaching, job crafting) may require individuals to undergo changes in how their personality is structured (e.g., adjustment to the work environment and integrations with other aspects of the personality system). However, future experimental and longitudinal research is needed to test our propositions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109569
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Cybernetic Big Five theory
  • Job characteristics
  • Job performance behavior
  • Meaningful work
  • Personality change


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