Meaningful Circular Economy Jobs: Does Circular Economy Awareness Enable the Experience of More Meaningful Work?

dc.contributor.authorCricco Doldan, Aida Isabellaen
dc.contributor.committeechairRussell, Jennifer Dianneen
dc.contributor.committeememberKline, David E.en
dc.contributor.committeememberHall, Ralph P.en
dc.contributor.committeememberCarlson, Kevin D.en
dc.contributor.departmentForest Resources and Environmental Conservationen
dc.description.abstractThe circular economy (CE) is increasingly recognized as a pivotal driver for achieving sustainability. Nonetheless, it has been criticized for neglecting the social dimension of sustainability. While job creation is often touted as a significant social benefit of the CE, there is a conspicuous gap in discussions about the quality of the jobs it generates. By drawing on organizational behavior theory, this study investigates the quality of jobs in the CE with a specific focus on meaningfulness. The research questions explore the key factors contributing to job meaningfulness in CE roles, the impact of heightened awareness of the CE on workers' perceived meaningfulness, and the mechanisms through which such awareness affects meaningfulness. To address these questions, a pre-test post-test quasi-experimental study was conducted, involving employees from two CE companies in the United States. The study assessed factors such as autonomy, skill variety, co-worker relations, knowledge of the CE, perceived social impact, perceived social worth, and experienced job meaningfulness. An intervention was then implemented on a treatment group, consisting of a five-minute training video explaining the CE concept, its benefits, and the role of workers in the CE. The findings reveal that the video intervention effectively increased employees' perception of task significance, perceived social impact, experienced meaningfulness, and awareness of the CE's impact on society and environment, as well as their perception of their contribution to the CE, the organization's contribution to the CE, and the societal value of the CE. This study highlights the importance for CE companies to provide employees with general training on the CE. Additionally, it provides initial evidence of the potential of a CE to increase human well-being, especially when considered from the eudemonic perspective of what gives life meaning rather than purely economic measures of well-being.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralThis study looks at the kind of jobs created by the circular economy (CE) and how they affect sustainability and well-being. The CE is about making the best use of resources and, as a consequence, to reducing waste, but it has been criticized for not paying enough attention to how it affects people's lives and jobs. This research focuses on understanding what makes a job in the CE meaningful and how CE knowledge may affect how workers feel about their jobs. To do this, employees at two CE companies in the U.S. were studied. The research looked at how much control employees have over their work tasks, the variety of skills that are demanded by their work, and how they get along with their co-workers, as well as their familiarity with the concept of the CE. The sampled workers were separated into two groups (treatment and control). The treatment group watched a video that explained what the CE is and how their work contributes to it and to a better world. The study found this video made these workers feel that their work had a bigger impact and that their jobs were more meaningful. It also made them see the CE as something that helps society and the environment. The main research contribution is that companies in the CE should give their employees training and lessons about what the CE is. By doing so, workers may increase their experienced meaningfulness on the job, which could enhance an individual's overall happiness and productivity at work. This research also shows the need for discussions on sustainability and the CE to include what gives meaning to our lives when we are thinking of human well-being.en
dc.description.degreeMaster of Scienceen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 Internationalen
dc.subjectcircular economyen
dc.subjectmeaningful worken
dc.subjectjob designen
dc.titleMeaningful Circular Economy Jobs: Does Circular Economy Awareness Enable the Experience of More Meaningful Work?en
dc.typeThesisen Productsen Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen of Scienceen


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