Academy of Management, 76th Annual Meeting
Anaheim, California, United States
August 5 - 9, 2016
Organizations occupy a central role in the ways we live our lives, for better and for worse. They enable us to be more efficient, to access goods and services faster than ever before, and to share information and experiences across the globe. And yet, they are not unproblematic. Recently, there have been highly publicized corporate scandals, Wall Street corruption, and failures of government to meet the needs of its citizens, with a resulting rise in public distrust and questioning of organizations’ reasons for being. We often take as given that an organization’s purpose to produce economic value; and, although economic value can often add to social value, sometimes it does not. This disjuncture raises the question of meaningfulness.
The meaningfulness of an organization is its expression of purpose, values or worth. It involves a sense of significance that goes beyond material success or profitability; rather, it highlights how organizations can play a larger and more positive role in the world. It is an approach embraced by the next generation of workers, the millennials (in their mid-to-late 30s), who often focus on making a positive difference in the world and a contribution to society -- with organizations, not in spite of them.