Original Research

Exploring a model for finding meaning in the changing world of work (Part 3: Meaning as framing context)

Daniel H. Burger, Freddie Crous, Gert Roodt
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 39, No 2 | a1022 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v39i2.1022 | © 2013 Daniel H. Burger, Freddie Crous, Gert Roodt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 October 2011 | Published: 20 March 2013

About the author(s)

Daniel H. Burger, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg; Accenture South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
Freddie Crous, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Gert Roodt, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: This article, the final in a series of three papers, locates organisational change, specifically within the context of individuals’ experience of ‘meaning’, as conceptualised in Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy.

Research purpose: The purpose of this theoretical paper is to investigate the context of meaning in organisational change by exploring the relationship between meaning and change.

Motivation for the study: Although literature on change management is available in abundance, very little research has been focussed on the micro-level issues pertaining to organisational change, and virtually no research relating to the ‘existential meaning’ context of such change could be found.

Research design, approach and method: The study was conducted by means of a review of literature, guided by the theoretical perspectives of logotherapy.

Main findings: Whilst systems to which individuals traditionally turned for meaning decline, organisations become increasingly important for employees’ experience of meaning. As organisational change threatens such meaning, resistance to change may occur, which inhibits organisations’ ability to change. Logotherapy provides a useful framework for understanding this meaning context, which could be utilised to inform frameworks to guide change implementation more successfully.

Practical and managerial implications: An understanding of the role that meaning can play in causing − and hence reducing − resistance to change may be of great value to organisations attempting to implement change initiatives.

Contribution: The value-add of the article is grounded on its exploration of the relatively uncharted territory of how the experience of meaning by employees may impact organisational change. This article therefore provides a novel perspective for conceptualising change. In addition, it suggests specific recommendations for utilising an understanding of the meaning change relationship with the objective of optimising change initiatives.


Keywords

Organisation development (OD); Viktor Frankl; logotherapy; Literature review

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1. Organisational commitment, work engagement and meaning of work of nursing staff in hospitals
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SA Journal of Industrial Psychology  vol: 39  issue: 2  year: 2013  
doi: 10.4102/sajip.v39i2.1144