How is work-relationship conflict experienced by people in deeply meaningful work, those who experience both self-actualization and self-transcendence through work? Drawing upon in-depth interview data with 82 international aid workers, I uncover two distinct mechanisms. First, people who find their work deeply meaningful experience more boundary inhibition around work practices than their colleagues, increasing their absence and unreliability to close others (e.g. spouse, family, friends). However, when close others similarly perceive deeply meaningful work as important – what I call occupational value homophily – it fosters an emotional connection that ameliorates the strain of time-based and trust-based conflict. Conversely, contexts of occupational value heterophily engender an emotional distance that exacerbates the strain of time-based and trust-based conflict, resulting in a torturous situation I call work-relationship turmoil. These findings highlight the crucial roles played by boundary inhibition and relationship context in moderating the experience of work-relationship conflict for those in deeply meaningful work.
Tipping the Scales: How Deeply Meaningful Work Increases Work-Relationship Conflict and the Moderating Role of Occupational Value Homophily with Close Others.
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