Assessing Meaning and Value in the Workforce: A Comparative Study Between the United States and the Netherlands

Author: Kaitlin Busse
Major: Psychology
Approved: Fall 2016
Status: Completed

The aim of this project is to explore personal values of individuals in the workforce and to understand how meaning is attached to work in both the United States and the Netherlands. My inspiration for this project was initially guided by the composure of a literature review on organizational culture with job satisfaction, which led to my decision to study organizational psychology and human resource management in the Netherlands. I decided to study in the Netherlands because it is consistently ranked for its high quality of life (World Happiness Report), and the university I chose produces strong research in the field organizational psychology and cultural differences. During my experience abroad, I became fascinated with the differences of cultural values between the United States and the rest of the world. In the Netherlands, I observed that the Dutch perceive themselves to be very egalitarian, very direct in their lines of communication, and place less of an importance on work compared to Americans. From my own experiences as an American, Americans are less confrontational in their interactions, face conflict balancing work and family-life, are more competitive in work, focus on succeeding in their jobs. As a Psychology major, Sociology minor, and Human Resource Management concentrator, I plan to do a mixed-methods study that will combine all of my academic interests with my passion for learning about other cultures. Through this project, I would like to gain a better insight into the differences of how cultures attach meaning to their lives, which is then reflected in their feelings and attitudes about work.  Furthermore, I would like to become more aware of the ways in which different cultural values impact decision-making and motivation towards work.