Dueto the increasing competitiveness of markets, complexity and dynamismhave become familiar concepts in the marketplace. Companies, as aresult, have realised the need to become more innovative to identifymore opportunities for sustained superior performance (Shalley etal., 2014). However, for a company to become innovative heavyreliance is usually placed on human capital thus, behaviour at workbecomes an essential input in the value creation process (Chen andHuang, 2009). Therefore, meaningful work is integral to shapingemployee behaviour: intrinsic motivation and innovative workbehaviour.
Beforedelving into the concept meaningful work and its impact on intrinsicmotivation and innovative work behaviour, in-depth insight intointrinsic motivation and innovative work behaviour is critical.Intrinsic motivation is perceivable as engaging oneself in anactivity with the intention of gaining satisfaction from it asopposed to a consequence that is separable from this activity(Ryan & Deci, 2000). In otherwords, intrinsic motivation can be viewed within the framework of arelationship between a person and a task being exciting. On the otherhand, innovative work behaviour can be viewed within the confines ofintentional promotion, generation, and realisation of fresh ideaswithin an organisation, work role, or workgroup, with the intentionof benefiting work performance, the organization, or the group(Dorner, 2012).
Withthe concepts mentioned above considered, organisations pursuemeaningful work to cater to their moral and ethical obligations(Steger, Dik, & Duffy, 2012). However, a more objective viewposits that meaningful work matters because it is consistentlyassociated with immense benefits to both workers and organisations.Studies (2012) have revealed that people who perceive their jobs asbeing meaningful have improved psychological adjustment, and, byextension, posses characteristics that are beneficial to theorganisation. Thus, individuals who feel their work is meaningfulview their work as important, report better well-being, value theirwork and are more satisfied with their jobs.
Meaningfulwork, therefore, can be defined as the extent to which a workerexperiences his job as one that is valuable, meaningful, andworthwhile (Steger, Dik, & Duffy, 2012, p. 4). Later studies haveused this viewpoint, at least in part, to advance a betterunderstanding of the concept. Arnold et al., for example, definemeaningful work as finding the reason, at work, which makes itgreater than the extrinsic upshots of employment (2012). Consequently, interest in meaningful work has elevated profoundlyover the past two decades through the advancement of theory intransformational theory, the culture of organisations, and, in recenttimes, employee engagement (Lips-Wiersma & Morris, 2009).
Inessence, people are motivated to search for meaning in their jobs(Wells-Lepley, 2013). Workers` need for feeling useful, worthwhile,valuable, and feeling as if they are part of a team that makes adifference inclines them to pursue meaning in their work. Researchconducted at the Boston and George Washington universities revealedthat a number of factors influence job meaningfulness. The firstfactor is the work role. This issue deals with matters such as howchallenging a job is and if it allows for variety, creativity,learning, and autonomy. Second is the sense of self. Employees, inthis regard, contend with the issue of whether they can offer andintegrate themselves fully into their work. Lastly, work interactionsalso contribute to meaningful work. Questions regarding the manner inwhich the relationship between co-workers and clients is rewarded andbased on appreciation and respect are considered (2013).
BillKhan contends that a balance between the work requirements of aworker and his values, interests, and purpose is critical todeveloping meaningful work (Wells-Lepley, 2013). Khan asserts thatwhen workers draw upon their true existence to perform organisationaltasks, their performances will be enhanced, and they will feel morecontented with what they do in the organisation. Employees becomedisengaged when the roles that they have been accorded do not connectwith them at a personal level, which, eventually, leads to poorperformance (2013).
ChristinePorath reiterates the above assertion (Wells-Lepley, 2013). Shecontends that when employees are given the opportunity to learn, andgrow, the business will thrive in the marketplace profoundly.Companies can support thriving by equipping employees withorganisational information, giving them the discretion to makedecisions, performance feedback, and getting rid of incivility in thework environment (2013).
Researchon meaningful work has suffered significant setbacks due to a lack ofconsensus regarding the experience of meaningful work, in addition toan accompanying explosion of strategies aimed at operationalisingmeaningful work (Steger, Dik, & Duffy, 2012). Also, the varyingconsensus on the meaning of meaningful work has led to significantcomingling between the causes of meaningful work and the experienceof meaningful work. For instance, the influential job characteristicsmodel posits that meaningful work is an integral psychological statethat mediates between the features of a job (task identity, skillvariety, and task significance) and the outcomes of the job. Also,later research shifted attention to task characteristics asalternatives for meaningful work. Recent studies have expounded onthis assertion. For instance, meaningful work was identified withengagement, identity, and importance in one study, but lateridentified with military pride, task significance, commitment, andchallenge. Also, spirituality, good reputation, and pay have beenassociated with meaningful work (2012). All these divergent argumentshave made understanding meaningful work and its impact on employeebehaviour more perplexing.
Thisthesis examines literature from diverse sources to develop aconclusive argument regarding the role of meaningful work inpromoting intrinsic motivation and innovative work behaviour. Anumber of hypotheses have been advanced to unearth the relationshipbetween intrinsic motivation, innovative work behaviour, andmeaningful work. The quantitative research process has been employedto investigate the relationship between three variables – intrinsicmotivation, meaningful work, and innovative work behaviour.
Thepaper has been organised in the following format. In the proceedingsection, an overview of existing literature will be developed. Later,hypotheses will be advanced with the intention of seeking themediating role of meaningful work in shaping intrinsic motivation andinnovative work behaviour.Finally, the methodology part will be used to develop a quantitativeanalysis of the theoretical information provided.
2.1Innovative Work Behaviour
Intoday`s work environment, businesses are attempting to enhanceemployees` innovative work behaviour (Shalley et al., 2014). Managersare working on this transition to survive and grow theirorganisations in a competitive business environment. This move hasbeen supported by Janssen et al. (2004). They contend that innovationis essential, regarding attaining competitive advantage and long-termsurvival. According to De Jong (2006), innovative work behaviour canbe defined as the development of new and valuable ideas, methods,products, or systems in a company. This behaviour may help create thedesired improvement in organizational performance by generating,promoting, and applying new and innovative ideas (Janssen, 2005).This process, of generating fresh ideas, captures employees`recognition of particular conditions or problems and the generationof technical ideas to address particular needs (Kanter, 1998). Theprocess of promoting new ideas is realised when individuals seeksupport for the notion they come up with and develop an alliance ofbackers and sponsors to acquire the required resources and legitimacy(Janssen, 2000). The application process emphasizes idea realization,where individuals apply various ideas (physically or intellectually)in a bid to transfer them to others (Kanter, 1988).
Scottand Bruce (1994) mention that the occurrence of the three phases ofinnovative work behaviour is dependent upon complete processes, whereindividuals, at every stage, engage with either one or a combinationof different behaviours at any one time. De Jong and Den Hartog(2007) explain that innovative work behaviour is generally aboutcritical problem thinking in existing working methods. Issues such asthe unfulfilled needs of people or the indication that trends may bechanging, the development of new solutions, communicating thesesolutions with colleagues, and, finally, solving the issue at handwith new and innovative ways usually emerge (Woodman et al., 1993).
Intrinsicmotivation can be defined as the ability of an individual to findpleasure and satisfaction while working on a task or activity for hislearning, exploration, or comprehension of something new (Vallerandet al., 1992). When a person is intrinsically motivated, he tends toput aside external prods, pressures, and even rewards (Barkoukis etal., 2008). Self-determination theory (SDT) suggests that greaterrewards do not necessarily affect one`s performance to a betteroutcome. Specifically, people are inclined toward intrinsicmotivation and the integration of goals (Olafsen et al., 2015).Various researchers have described the difference in intrinsicmotivation as it exists in the nexus between a person and a task.Intrinsically motivated workers view tasks as being interesting oracquire satisfaction from its engagement (Ryan & Deci, 2000).This understanding makes intrinsic motivation a practice that offersan individual the satisfaction of his innate psychological needs.Self-determination theory stresses that people, naturally, have threepsychological needs: the need for competence, relatedness, andautonomy. These needs require pro-activity, optimal development, andthe psychological health of all people. As stated by White (1959),the necessity of competence emphasizes people`s inherent desire todeal with their environment effectively. Throughout life, people tendto feel the need to master most of the activities that they engagein, and to feel the sense of efficiency when they do it. On the otherhand, the need for relatedness is the natural tendency to associatewith, be related to, and experience caring for other people(Baumeister & Leary, 1995), which can also be referred as a senseof belongingness. Lastly, the need for autonomy concerns itself witha person`s impetus to be a causal agent, to experience choice, tobehave in a manner that promotes his interests and values, and alsoto endorse his actions at the highest level of reflective capacity.Simply put, an individual feels a sense of willingness to act orchoose, whether the actions are generated from his initiation, or area response to a request from significant others (Chircov et al.,2003). Some people, specifically, do what they find important (at apersonal level), exciting, and satisfying as opposed to concentratingon satisfying their basic needs, which is energized by physiologicaldrive or its derivatives (Harlow, 1953 & White, 1959).
Rossoet al. (2010) identify four sources of meaningful work –" theself, others, the work context, and spiritual life." They alsooutline the seven categories – authenticity, self-efficacy,self-esteem, purpose, belongingness, transcendence, and cultural andinterpersonal sense-making, where people experience their career asbeing meaningful. According to Kantian theory (Bowie, 1998), sixcomponents describe meaningful work. a) Work that is freely enteredsubscribed to. b) Work that allows an individual to exercise hisautonomy and independence. (c) Work that enables an individual todevelop his rational capacities. (d) Work that provides a wagesufficient for a person`s physical welfare. (e) Work that supportsmoral development and (f) work that is not paternalistic.
Michaelsonet al. (2013) contend that when one experiences meaningful work, heis more likely to report overall well-being. For instance, studies(2013) reveal that meaningful work encourages greater well-being,helps people view their jobs as important, and impact theseindividuals as well as others positively. Also, workers startregarding their work as highly valuable this causes companyemployees to experience greater job satisfaction due to the feelingthat their jobs serve higher purposes (Sparks & Schenk, 2001).
3.1Intrinsic Motivation and Innovative Work Behaviour
Accordingto Gagne and Deci (2005), there is a relationship between workmotivation and creativity, which is based on insights from theintrinsic motivation perspective, and has been developed more broadlyinto the self-determination theory. The characteristics ofintrinsically motivated behaviour include curiosity, cognitiveflexibility, and risk-taking behaviour these components facilitatethe development of creative ideas (Zhou, 2003). Intrinsic motivationhas long been considered an essential element for employees`innovation as it results in innovative work behaviour (Woodman et al.1993). The reason for this occurrence is as interest in working on agiven task grows, the ability of a worker to come up with unique anddependable ways of solving a problem also grows (Jung et al. 2003).This assertion means that if employees perceive their work as beingvaluable and motivating, they are more likely to practice creativityin their work (Fuller et al. 2006). Employees who are intrinsicallymotivated tend to put more effort in their job. In other terms,workers are more likely to perform more productively, especially intasks that require them to be creative, have cognitive flexibility,and conceptual understanding (Kehr, 2004). This position has alsobeen supported by Parker et al. (2007) they assert that employeesleverage their existing knowledge and find alternative methods in abid to solve work related issues. Based on the current findings, wehypothesize that:
H1:There is a positive relationship between intrinsic motivation andinnovative work behaviour.
3.2Intrinsic Motivation and Meaningful Work
Meaningfulwork involves a number of core job dimensions one of them isautonomy. Autonomy means an employee`s opportunity to exercisediscretion in making work-related decisions. A different viewpointdescribes characteristics that constitute employees` perceived ofmeaningful work as "the opportunity for self-expression,sufficient challenges, and opportunities to develop one`s potential"(Bowie, 1998 Preatt and Ashforth, 2003). Thus, if a worker fails toexperience these characteristics, he is likely to suffer cognitiveharm, which may result in apathy, boredom, job dissatisfaction anddisengagement. This happenstance would also hurt an organization asit would lead to poor performance and turnover (Rich et al. 2010Thomas and Velthouse 1990).Meaningful work is also characterized by aperson`s engagement in work and finding job satisfaction from hiscareer. According to Hackman and Oldham (1986), greater autonomyplays an important aspect in enhancing job satisfaction.
Inthe theory of intrinsic motivation, therefore, supportive autonomytechniques afford people a sense of competence, which eventuallyleads them to become intrinsically motivated (Deci & Ryan, 1985).Thus, when workers are intrinsically motivated, they feel engaged intheir work and, by extension, perceive their work as being personallymeaningful (Fairlie, 2016). Intrinsic motivation inclines people toput aside outside urges, anxieties, and even remunerations (Barkoukiset al., 2008). In fact, the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) assertsthat greater rewards may not automatically impact an employee’sperformance positively. However, people who are intrinsicallymotivated are inclined to work toward the achievement of goals in amanner that exceeds expectation (Olafsen et al., 2015).
Moreimportantly, studies reveal that intrinsically motivated employeesbelieve tasks are interesting or accrue to them a particular type ofsatisfaction (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Reason being, such individuals,choose work objectives that are personally meaningful to them thus,they find work more satisfying (Judge & Kammeyer-Mueller, 2011).Ends that are tailed for intrinsic purposes offer employees moregratification as opposed to those that are pursued for extrinsicreasons. Based on the existing literature, a connection betweenintrinsic motivation and meaningful work exists. Therefore, thefollowing assumption is valid:
H2:There is a positive relationship between Intrinsic motivation andperceived of meaningfulness work.
3.3Meaningful Work and Innovative Work Behaviour
Interms of individual innovative work behaviour, according to CET, whensomeone views his job as being meaningful and having an impact onothers, he is more likely to increase his initial interest in thework. The reason for this is the sense of competence and autonomy arethe primary drivers of intrinsic motivation (Deci and Ryan, 1985Spreitzer et al. 1997). When employees feel that their work is moremeaningful, significant and challenging, their innovative workbehaviour increases profoundly. One of the upshots of havingmeaningful work is that employees tend to have higher workengagement, which often refers to positive, fulfilling,affective-motivational, and work-related state of mind (Salanova,Agut, &Peiró, 2005 Schaufeli& Bakker, 2004). Moreover, whenemployees are engaged, they become more proactive, show initiative,collaborate with colleagues effectively and invest positive energyinto their work (Rich et al. 2010).
Thus,De Jong and Den Hartog (2007) posit that innovative work behaviour isnormally about critical problem deliberation of existing workingmethods. Concerns such as the unfulfilled desires of persons, theadvancement of fresh solutions, conveying these clarifications withcolleagues, and, in the end, deciphering the crisis at hand withnovel and modern approaches usually emerge (Woodman et al., 1993).However, for the before-mentioned to be realised, employees must viewtheir work as being meaningful. Meaningful work encourages greaterwell-being, helps people view their jobs as important, and impactthese individuals as well as others positively (Michaelson et al.,2013). As a consequence, the ability of workers to come up withunique and dependable ways of solving a problem will grow, becausethese individuals will have developed an interest in working on giventasks (Jung et al. 2003). These behaviours are particularly relevantto innovative activities (Amabile, 1988). Therefore, based on theexisting findings, we hypothesize that:
H3:There is a positive relationship between Meaningful work andinnovative work behaviour
3.4Mediating the Role of Meaningful Work
Employees’perceived intrinsic motivations can be viewed as coreself-evaluations (Dörner, 2012). Simply put, core self-evaluationscan be viewed as the fundamental assessments of the worth, capacitiesand competencies of individuals. The concept captures theconventional elements that are entrenched in the four traits:self-esteem, emotional adjustment, generalised self-efficacy, andlocus of control. Self-esteem concerns itself with the evaluationthat an individual makes and maintains customarily in regard to hisexistence. Second, generalised self-efficacy is concerned with asense of general competence in a wide array of situations. Itcomprises self-evaluation since a person`s fundamental capacities tocope with the vicissitudes inherent in life are brought to life.Third, emotional stability reflects the ability of a person to remaincalm in the face of the everyday life occurrences. Individuals whoare emotionally calm are less inclined to recall negative informationor experience emotions that may impede their proper functioning. Lastly, locus of control focuses on the degree to which a personfeels or believes he is control of the events that transpire aroundhim or in his life (2012).
Sincetheir inception, core evaluations have been linked (empirically) tovarious outcomes, for instance, job satisfaction, organisationalcommitment, and motivation (Dörner, 2012). Furthermore, studies alsoindicate that core self-evaluations are predictors of jobperformance. Thus, with the before-mentioned considered, coreself-evaluations and job attitudes are connected in a relativelyclose manner (Judge & Kammeyer-Mueller, 2011). At the outset,core self-evaluations were focused more on job satisfaction. Theunderlying presumption was that people`s understanding of the worldwas shaped by how the viewed themselves, other individuals, and theworld in general. In essence, people who consider themselves good andcompetent react in a manner that is positive to job responsibilitiescompared to individuals who believe they are bad and incompetent.Also, people who perceive the world as a good place, in the samevein, make positive appraisals of the work environment (2011).
Afterthe connection between job satisfaction and core self-evaluations wasmade, subsequent investigations were conducted (Judge &Kammeyer-Mueller, 2011). People with high core self-evaluations havebeen found to find their jobs more satisfying because they opt tochoose goals that are personally meaningful. The self-concordancetheory posits that goals that are pursued for intrinsic purposesoffer the pursuant more happiness as opposed to those that arepursued for extrinsic reasons. Reason being, people with high coreself-evaluations, are more confident in who they are and theirviewpoints. Thus, they are less likely to pursue goals just becauseothers are pursuing those goals (2011).
Theimplications of the above assertions on businesses are immense (Judge& Kammeyer-Mueller, 2011). To begin with organisations thatexperience constant development and change find employee buy-incritical. Employees with greater job satisfaction are, therefore,less likely to lodge complaints when challenges arise, or changes inoperations are implemented. Thus, a mediation model, where coreself-evaluations lead to the development of more ambitious goals,and, by extension, improved work performance comes to being. Also,people who have positive views about themselves are more likely totake in criticism positively thus, allowing themselves to utilisefeedback in a manner that is more effective. Lastly, individuals whohave positive reflections of themselves are less prone to worry aboutthe negative consequences of their actions consequently, they willbe in a better position to develop innovative ideas or solutions inthe workplace (2011).
Workerswith the capacity to produce creative solutions are indispensable inareas of high growth, professional services, and research anddevelopment (Judge & Kammeyer-Mueller, 2011). Reason being, theseindividuals are in a position to present a creative performance atwork. Studies (2011) have revealed that people with negativeperceptions of themselves are less likely to be successful. Sincecore self-evaluations lead to heightened levels of generalisedself-efficacy, individuals with a positive outlook of themselves aremore apt to be more creative at work.
Thus,after extensive contemplation and literature review, one can assertthat workers` desire for feeling helpful, worthwhile, indispensable,and feeling as if they are part of a group that makes a differenceinclines them to pursue meaning in their work (Wells-Lepley, 2013).In the process of seeking meaning in their work, these individualsfind pleasure and satisfaction while working on tasks or activitiesthat contribute to their learning, exploration, or comprehension ofsomething new (Vallerand et al., 1992). As a result of their desireto work and learn continually, these workers make significantcontributions to the development of new and valuable ideas, methods,products, or systems in a company (Janssen, 2005).
Basedon the above viewpoints, it is prudent to conclude that:
H4:There is a positive relationship between Meaningful work andperception of intrinsic motivation and innovative work behaviour.
4.1Sample and Procedure
Datawas collected under a quantitative research method that aimed toinvestigate the relationship between three variables – intrinsicmotivation, meaningful work, and innovative work behaviour. Therespondents in this study are employees who occupy middle and lowerlevel position. The samples were picked regardless of their productor service sector affiliation, but limited to South East Asiacitizens, specifically, the Chinese and Indonesians. As this surveyintended to investigate innovative work behaviour among all theemployees, the work unit was not limited to any particulardepartment. Before distributing the questionnaire, we approach theemployees by sending an email to gain insights into their willingnessto participate in this research. We also asked several employees whoalready agreed to contribute in this research to spread thequestionnaire to other colleagues. The front page of the studyreveals the end of the study as well as providing assurance that theinformation acquired will be treated with confidentiality. Theparticipants were required to answer all questions, including theirperception of intrinsic motivation, work attitude, and innovativework behaviour.
Theexpected number of participants was 400 however, we got 376 intotal, both from Indonesia and China. That makes the overall responserate of 94%. Among the employees, 46% were men, and 70% of thempossessed a higher education certificate. The average age ofemployees was 31.7 years (SD 7.32), and their average organizationaltenure was 7.32 (SD 7.69).
Thesurvey was conducted in English but was translated into Indonesianand Chinese languages, which was distributed to China. All variablesin the study were measured with a 5-point Likert scale, and thescores ranged from ‘‘strongly disagree“ (1) to ‘‘stronglyagree“ (5). The variables used in this research were intrinsicmotivation, work attitude or meaningful work, and innovative workbehavior.
Weadapted four items from Amabile et al. (1994) instrument to measureindividual`s intrinsic motivation. The sample issue was, "Ienjoy tackling problems that are entirely new to me." Thereliability for the scale was .233.
Weadapted ten items from Steger and Duffy (2012) to measure employees`perception of meaningful work. The sample issue was, "The work Ido serves a greater purpose". The reliability for the scale was.387
4.2.3Innovative Work Behaviour
Weadopted six items from De Jong and Hartog (2010) to evaluate theemployees` innovative work behaviour. The sample issue was: "Ifind new approaches to executing tasks". The reliability for thescale was .837
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