Ethics and the Future of Meaningful Work: Introduction to the Special Issue

J Bus Ethics. 2023 Apr 17;1-11. doi: 10.1007/s10551-023-05345-9. Online ahead of print.


The world of work over the past 3 years has been characterized by a great reset due to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving an even more central role to scholarly discussions of ethics and the future of work. Such discussions have the potential to inform whether, when, and which work is viewed and experienced as meaningful. Yet, thus far, debates concerning ethics, meaningful work, and the future of work have largely pursued separate trajectories. Not only is bridging these research spheres important for the advancement of meaningful work as a field of study but doing so can potentially inform the organizations and societies of the future. In proposing this Special Issue, we were inspired to address these intersections, and we are grateful to have this platform for advancing an integrative conversation, together with the authors of the seven selected scholarly contributions. Each article in this issue takes a unique approach to addressing these topics, with some emphasizing ethics while others focus on the future aspects of meaningful work. Taken together, the papers indicate future research directions with regard to: (a) the meaning of meaningful work, (b) the future of meaningful work, and (c) how we can study the ethics of meaningful work in the future. We hope these insights will spark further relevant scholarly and practitioner conversations.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; Business ethics; Corporate social responsibility; Future of work; Meaning in work; Meaningful work; Technological unemployment.