Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 357–376 | Cite as

Meaning-Based Job-Related Well-being: Exploring a Meaningful Work Conceptualization of Job Satisfaction

  • Teresa J. RothausenEmail author
  • Kevin E. Henderson
Original Paper


An alternative conceptualization for job satisfaction, the most commonly measured variable in organizational, vocational, and work psychology literatures, is explored in 3 differing samples totaling 811 working adults. Eudaimonic, meaning-based job-related well-being (MJW) predicts job and life outcomes just as well as the more commonly measured hedonic, pleasure-based job satisfaction (JS), and MJW relates to outcomes above and beyond JS. MJW locates a new origin of job satisfaction in the person, in a life situation, in a community and social relations, rather than in the work organization. Our findings demonstrate that MJW is distinct from but related to JS and other job attitudes, and that facets of MJW exist that have been excluded from job satisfaction research, including satisfaction with the impacts of the job on family, life, and standard of living, how the job facilitates expression and development of the self, and sense of transcendent purpose through job role. These facets are important to individuals, the practice of management, organizational design, and society. MJW derives from the impact of jobs on workers’ larger worlds and on the fulfillment of their basic human needs from work. Thus, the causes of job satisfaction broaden from enjoyment of work in isolation, to its contextualized meaning and impact in workers’ lives. This is the first study in many decades, of which we are aware, to broaden the conceptualization of the origins of work attitudes beyond the confines of the workplace.


Job satisfaction Well-being Meaningful work Work-life Hedonic Eudaimonic 



We are grateful to colleagues who were helpful as the ideas in this research developed, and would especially like to thank John Budd, René Dawis, Angelo DeNisi, and Paul Sackett. We are also grateful to Chad Brinsfield, Sara Christenson, Jennifer George, Theresa Glomb, Annelise Larson, Christopher Michaelson, Anne O’Leary-Kelly, Ramona Paetzold, Caleb Williams, and members of the research workshop series at the Carlson School, University of Minnesota and Opus College of Business, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, for helpful comments on earlier versions of this work. Separate elements of this paper were presented in August 2012 at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association and in April 2013 at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of St. Thomas-MinnesotaSt PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of ManagementUniversity of St. Thomas-MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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