Victor Frankl (1969, 1972, 1975, 1984a, 1984b) postulated that man’s search for meaning is the primary motivational force in his life. If this postulation is true for life in general, it was expected that this would also be true for a person’s work life. The objective of the present research was to explore whether relationships exist between man's "will to meaning" as defined in Frankl’s logotherapy, with work aspects such as work commitment and work motivation. The present research also investigated the relationships between meaning and certain work related biographic/lifestyle variables. Survey research was conducted with a sample of 458 management level employees from six large companies from different industrial sectors in South Africa. Seven standardised, well-validated instruments were used to measure the respective constructs. The following constructs were measured: meaning, work involvement, work commitment (represented by work values, job involvement and career commitment), and work motivation (represented by intrinsic motivation and goal orientation). The data was analysed by means of Principal Factor Analysis, Non-Parametric Analysis of Variance, Partial Correlation Analysis, Stepwise Multiple Regression Analysis, and Structural Equations Modelling. These instruments were revalidated as part of the present study. The results of this research indicated that meaning was significantly associated with career commitment. The results also indicated that meaning was significantly associated with work motivation, as measured through intrinsic motivation and goal orientation. Furthermore, meaning generally showed statistically significant relationships with work orientation and lifestyle related variables. In contrast, meaning did not show statistically significant relationships with work values, job involvement or work involvement. Meaning also did not show statistically significant relationships with Biographical/demographic type variables. These findings deepened the understanding of some of the origins of work commitment and work motivation. The findings from this study also pointed to a deeper and more fundamental source of work motivation and work commitment than those sources covered in the existing work motivation and commitment theories; an existential source. This study also attested to the significant role that meaning plays in a person’s work and in his worklife.
Thesis (PhD (Organizational Behaviour))--University of Pretoria, 2006.