Kent – Giving Meaning to Everyday Work After Terrorism

Global terrorism in the early 21st century appears to be an inevitable part of organizational life. Even among people not personally injured in an attack, the immediate aftermath can be a period of hardship, stress and sensemaking. This paper develops theory about how people give meaning to their work after terrorism. In contrast to views of everyday work as something that loses significance in times of such tragedy, I outline the conditions under which individuals are also likely to find positive meaning in it. Doing so, I integrate varied findings about workplace responses to terrorism and provide a basis for empirical testing rooted in theories of work meaning, sensemaking and the cultural response to disaster. The paper concludes with implications for research and practice.