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                     Is Task Identity Associated with
                Perceived Meaning in Work?

     
Imagine that your boss has asked you to write a new training manual.   However, after you have written about half of the manual, your boss suggests that a coworker write the rest of the manual.  You ask your boss if you can write the whole manual.  You feel that your work would be more meaningful if you are able to work on projects from start to finish.  You wish to have a sense of task identity.    
     
What is task identity?  Task identity involves doing an entire piece of work.  You are able to do a task or project from start to finish.  We may find more meaning in a job if we can work on projects from start to finish.  Some findings suggest that greater task identity is associated with greater perceived meaningfulness of work (e.g., Hackman & Oldham, 1975; Renn & Vandenberg,1995). (1)
     These correlational findings do no allow us to make causal conclusions.  Nonetheless, it may be good for companies to design jobs with significant task identity.

Notes

1.  Task identity is one factor in the job characteristics model that influences the experienced meaningfulness of work.  See Hackman and Oldman (1980) for a description of the job characteristics model.

References

Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1975).  Development of the job
    diagnostic survey. 
Journal of Applied Psychology, 60, 159-170.
Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1980). 
Work redesign.  Reading,
    MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Renn, R. W., & Vandenberg, R. J. (1995).  The Critical Psychological
    States:  An Underrepresented Component in Job Characteristics
    Model Research. 
Journal of Management, 21, 279-303.