Making a difference in the world = work devotion 24/7?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


“You can either finish doing your job and make a difference in the world or you can choose to go home”. A manager in a non-profit purpose driven organization founded on democratic and humanist values uses this phrase to demonstrate the work intensification dilemma faced by knowledge workers. The analysis is based on a case study consisting of in-depth interviews and focus group interviews with management and employees. A governmentality studies approach is used to investigate how employees’ narratives of doing greater good in the world also becomes a productive self-disciplining strategy that potentially increases work intensification and simultanously result in an instrumentalization of working for greater sustainability. The intersection between doing greater good in the world and the self-disciplining that comes along with it, in some situations creates dilemmas that may decrease well-being of employees, as it demands a continuous negotiation of boundaries between paid work and free time, meaningfulness and work devotion, self management and work intensification. The paper raises a discussion on how purpose driven organizations with a sustainability focus should be concerned about internal (social) sustainability in order to maintain consistency between external purpose and internal well-being of staff.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date20 May 2020
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2020
Event15th Organization Studies Summer Workshop 2020: Organizing for Sustainability - Online
Duration: 20 May 202023 May 2020
Conference number: 15


Workshop15th Organization Studies Summer Workshop 2020
Internet address


  • Work intensification
  • Knowledge work
  • Purpose
  • sustainability
  • Technologies of the Self

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