Does meaning‐making help during organizational change?

Machteld van den Heuvel (Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Evangelia Demerouti (Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Bert H.J. Schreurs (Centre for Corporate Sustainability, Hogeschool‐Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)
Arnold B. Bakker (Institute of Psychology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Wilmar B. Schaufeli (Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 30 October 2009



The purpose of this paper is first, to test the validity of a new scale measuring the construct of meaning‐making, defined as the ability to integrate challenging or ambiguous situations into a framework of personal meaning using conscious, value‐based reflection. Second, to explore whether meaning‐making is distinct from other personal resources (self‐efficacy, optimism, mastery, meaning in life), and coping (positive reinterpretation, acceptance). Third, to explore whether meaning‐making facilitates work engagement, willingness to change, and performance during organizational change.


Cross‐sectional survey‐data were collected from 238 employees in a variety of both public and private organizations.


Confirmatory factor analyses showed that meaning‐making can be distinguished from other personal resources, coping and meaning in life. Regression analyses showed that meaning‐making is positively related to in‐role performance and willingness to change, but not to work engagement, thereby partly supporting the hypotheses.


The paper focuses on meaning‐making that has not yet been studied empirically in organizational change settings. It shows that the new construct of psychological meaning‐making is related to valuable employee outcomes including in‐role performance and willingness to change. Meaning‐making explains variance over and above other personal resources such as self‐efficacy, optimism, mastery, coping and meaning in life.



van den Heuvel, M., Demerouti, E., Schreurs, B., Bakker, A. and Schaufeli, W. (2009), "Does meaning‐making help during organizational change?", Career Development International, Vol. 14 No. 6, pp. 508-533.

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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