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Heather Vough McGill University. Framing a Story of Meaning Construction in the Architecture Industry. Terminology Method Findings Framing * this is where I need help!. Agenda of a backwards presentation.
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“I think meaning comes from ourselves, what level of importance we attach to something. Here’s an outrageous example: on Big Project doing the door hardware was huge, it was really meaningful, somebody had to do it and I did it… I’m going to make it important because I have ten thousand doors to do. So you can make it meaningful.Somebody who is doing toilet details: you’ve gotta assign some level of meaning to it, otherwise you’re just a robot” (Senior Vice President in Architecture Firm).
Meaning of Work: The degree of connection between one’s self-concept and elements of the work context that can potentially provide significance, purpose and fulfilment to the employee (Baumeister & Vohs, 2002; Pratt & Ashforth, 2003; Vough, 2006).
What are common obstacles that prompt the meaning-construction process?Research Questions
“Maybe you like hate the design or it’s not a great project or you hate working on the project, you still have to find something for yourself that you enjoy doing or else you wouldn’t be here. And for me, being young, a big part of that would be just the learning experience. And knowing that in the future, I’ll be all the better for it. I’ll be that much more experienced and hopefully that will make the design, my design, better” (Associate 86, 1).Findings: Connecting
Imposing-Goals-setting performance criteria in order to make work more meaningful
Informant: “I’m bored when I feel like I’m doing something really stupid and useless. That really bothers me.”
Interviewer: “What do you tell yourself to get through it?”
Informant: “Just they’re paying me, I gotta do it. Do what they say. I mean it’s true you know. You can either quit or you have to do it” (Associate 25, 2)Findings: Meaninglessness-Making
Well, let me just start by telling you what’s not meaningful. Working on a prototype police station for nine years and you build the same building and it looks the same over and over again, that’s not very meaningful you know. And the client is constantly changing, people are getting dismissed, new administration is being brought it, you know. And they’re never very appreciative of anything you do, no matter how hard you work, so that’s not very meaningful. (Eddie, Vice President, 3)Alienation
What I spend most of my time doing is reporting back on financial things, I’m looking at acquisitions of people and firms and I’m looking at opportunities for the global organization, but I’m not impacting the world. You know what I mean, it’s just impacting the firm. So I’m not, I can’t point to things and say you know there’s a project I did, I still talk about the stuff I did twenty years ago, and so there’s a little frustration there. (51, 2)Alienation
Obviously the job I had, I mean I knew it had meaning to somebody, but it had no meaning to me. That was my frustration. And I know it was absolutely a critical piece for a bank or for a lender to get my report every month and hear what I had to say about somebody else’s work but for my own edification, I don’t know if that’s the right word, it was kinda, I struggled with it and that’s why I left. (Frank, Senior Vice President, 3)Turnover
I can’t remember who I was talking to about it, and I said, ‘Well I’m not learning anything, it’s a bad project, and the guys a jerk.’ And they were like, ‘Wow you’re 0 for 3.’ And I was like, ‘I’m not getting anything I want out of this project.’ That was when I was kind of like wow, gotta move on. Either to another project or, if they’re not willing to do that, I was kind of going to start looking [for another job]. (Elizabeth, Associate, 2)Turnover
Professions (and the socialization process into professions) do not constitute meaning