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.
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.
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.