Accounting for meaningful work

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Although the concept of meaningful work has not been addressed in accounting research, accounting scholars and practitioners have long grappled with how to reflect the value of employees and human capital in organizational accounts. This chapter examines how the features of a typical accounting system are likely to impact the treatment of meaningful work in organizations, including consideration of only its potential financial value, the exclusion of unpaid forms of meaningful work, and the limits on recognizing meaningful work as an organizational asset because quantifying its value is typically considered too subjective. It also examines how internal accounting and control practices, such as performance measurement and reward systems, tend to either ignore the possibility of meaningful work or focus on controlling and harnessing its instrumental value to improve organizational performance, thus downplaying its role in expressing values, fulfilling personal needs, and generating and sustaining meaning in our lives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Meaningful Work
EditorsRuth Yeoman, Catherine Bailey, Adrian Madden, Marc Thompson
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780198788232
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • accounting
  • meaningful work
  • values
  • human capital

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