The purpose of this dissertation is to illuminate the connection between workplace relationships and meaningful work. This goal is accomplished through two papers. The first paper adopts a social networks lens to develop a process model explaining how the strength of intraorganizational network ties may influence meaningfulness. Ties of different strengths are expected to influence work meaningfulness through the mechanisms of individuation, contribution, and unification. Rather than one type of tie being superior in terms of its impact on meaningfulness, the theory explains the importance of maintaining a diverse network portfolio that includes both strong and weak ties. The second paper explores how people actively construct the interpretations of their interactions with others in a way that impacts the experience of meaningful work. By conducting an ethnographic study of veterinary workers, the concept of cognitive relationship crafting and its three dimensions of contact, character, and impact crafting are introduced. The data is used to explain how these different forms of cognitive relationship crafting link to meaningful work, as well as the possibility of virtuous cycles of meaningfulness when mechanisms of agency are combined with the mechanisms of unification and contribution enabled by cognitive relationship crafting.
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Thesis advisor: Hannah, David
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