Aim/Purpose This paper presents a quantitative investigation of the organizational factors predicting the attrition of doctoral students’ experience of meaning and how meaningful experience and meaningless work affect doctoral students’ mental health and achievements. Background Today’s academic environment subsumes neoliberal principles of individualism, instrumentality, and competition. Such an environment can harm doctoral students’ meaningful experience. Universities’ market-driven practices, indeed, can lower doctoral students’ motivation and affect their mental health. Methodology In this paper, we referred to empirical knowledge to identify the ways through which today’s academia erodes doctoral students’ meaningful experiences. We hypothesized that environmental sources of meaning (e.g., coherence, significance, purpose, and belonging) become subsumed under neoliberal principles of individualism, instrumentality, and competition. Lower levels of sources of meaning directly predict the experience of meaningless work, which is linked to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and intention to quit among doctoral students. We conducted a cross-sectional study on a sample of N = 204 doctoral students who volunteered to participate by completing a survey with self-reported measures. We analyzed data collected via structural equation modelling to test the associations among the variables. Contribution The present paper represents one an attempt attempts to investigate doctoral students’ experience as subsumed to market-driven principles of the neoliberal ideology. Findings Results of structural equation modelling show that higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms and intention to quit are associated with the lack of external supporting factors (i.e., PhD support), the perception of broad-based managerial practices as meaningless and instrumental, and a general sense of emptiness at work (i.e., meaningless work). Ultimately, doctoral students may strive to have a meaningful experience in today’s academic environment. The experience of meaningless work leads to the risk of mental illness symptoms and quitting intention.

Meaningful or Meaningless? Organizational Conditions Influencing Doctoral Students’ Mental Health and Achievement

Francesco Tommasi
;
Andrea Ceschi;Riccardo Sartori;Johanna Lisa Degen
2022

Abstract

Aim/Purpose This paper presents a quantitative investigation of the organizational factors predicting the attrition of doctoral students’ experience of meaning and how meaningful experience and meaningless work affect doctoral students’ mental health and achievements. Background Today’s academic environment subsumes neoliberal principles of individualism, instrumentality, and competition. Such an environment can harm doctoral students’ meaningful experience. Universities’ market-driven practices, indeed, can lower doctoral students’ motivation and affect their mental health. Methodology In this paper, we referred to empirical knowledge to identify the ways through which today’s academia erodes doctoral students’ meaningful experiences. We hypothesized that environmental sources of meaning (e.g., coherence, significance, purpose, and belonging) become subsumed under neoliberal principles of individualism, instrumentality, and competition. Lower levels of sources of meaning directly predict the experience of meaningless work, which is linked to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and intention to quit among doctoral students. We conducted a cross-sectional study on a sample of N = 204 doctoral students who volunteered to participate by completing a survey with self-reported measures. We analyzed data collected via structural equation modelling to test the associations among the variables. Contribution The present paper represents one an attempt attempts to investigate doctoral students’ experience as subsumed to market-driven principles of the neoliberal ideology. Findings Results of structural equation modelling show that higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms and intention to quit are associated with the lack of external supporting factors (i.e., PhD support), the perception of broad-based managerial practices as meaningless and instrumental, and a general sense of emptiness at work (i.e., meaningless work). Ultimately, doctoral students may strive to have a meaningful experience in today’s academic environment. The experience of meaningless work leads to the risk of mental illness symptoms and quitting intention.
doctoral students, meaningless work, mental health in academia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1072766
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