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Meaningful work: differences among blue-, pink-, and white-collar occupations

Marjolein Lips-Wiersma (Department of Management, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland, New Zealand)
Sarah Wright (Department of Management, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Bryan Dik (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 12 September 2016




The purpose of this paper is to compare the importance currently placed on meaningful work (MFW), and determine the frequency by which it is experienced in blue-, pink-, and white-collar occupations.


Using the comprehensive meaningful work scale (Lips-Wiersma and Wright, 2012) with 1,683 workers across two studies, ANOVAs were conducted to examine differences in dimensions of MFW.


While unity with others and developing the inner self were regarded as equally important for white-, blue-, and pink-collar workers, the authors data suggest that white-collar workers placed more importance on expressing full potential and serving others than blue-collar workers. The frequency of experiencing MFW differed across the three groups with white-collar workers experiencing higher levels of unity with others, expressing full potential, and serving others; however no mean differences were found for developing the inner self.


This study is the first to empirically investigate an oft-discussed but previously untested question: does the experience of MFW differ across white-, blue-, and pink-collar jobs?



Lips-Wiersma, M., Wright, S. and Dik, B. (2016), "Meaningful work: differences among blue-, pink-, and white-collar occupations", Career Development International, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 534-551.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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