The Five Paradoxes of Meaningful Work: Introduction to the special Issue ‘Meaningful Work: Prospects for the 21st Century’

Catherine Bailey*, Marjolein Lips-Wiersma, Adrian Madden, Ruth Yeoman, Marc Thompson, Neal Chalofsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this introduction to the Journal of Management Studies Special Issue on Meaningful Work, we explain the imperative for a deeper understanding of meaningfulness within the context of the current sociopolitical environment, coupled with the growing use of organizational strategies aimed at ‘managing the soul’. Meaningful work remains a contested topic that has been the subject of attention in a wide range of disciplines. The focus of this Special Issue is the advancement of theory and evidence about the nature, causes, consequences, and processes of meaningful work. We summarize the contributions of each of the seven articles that comprise the Special Issue and, in particular, note their methodological and theoretical plurality. In conclusion, we set forth a future research agenda based on five fundamental paradoxes of meaningful work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-499
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies


  • employee engagement
  • meaningful work
  • paradox
  • temporality
  • volunteers
  • worthy work

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