How the contextual constraints and tensions of a transitional context influence individuals’ negotiations of meaningful work – the case of Vietnam

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Abstract

This study explores meaningful work in the transitional context of Vietnam under Đổi Mới–the renovation policy implemented in 1986. Based on 60 in-depth interviews with participants from various industries, the study emphasises how features of a transitional context can deeply influence the way people make sense of meaningfulness in the workplace. Institutional constraints (institutionalised corruption and lack of institutional support), social constraints (low social trust and sense of insecurity), spiritual yearnings (engaged Buddhism) and other tensions relating to occupational, gender and age differences are found to influence and shape participants’ distinctive views of the qualities of meaningful work (pragmatic, reflexive, self-transcendent, and ethical). These views differ from Western ways of conceptualising meaningful work, and affect individuals’ negotiation of meaningful work. This study contributes a non-Western perspective on meaningful work, introducing meaningful work through the lens of Buddhist principles and offering a contextualised framework.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Human Resource Management
Early online date2 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2020

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