Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Member

Fred Switzer

Committee Member

Patrick Raymark

Committee Member

Mary Anne Taylor

Committee Member

Patrick Rosopa


Employee engagement continues to be one of the most popular topics in the organizational sciences over the past few decades. Despite this popularity, however, the antecedents of employee engagement and its underlying motivational framework are still unclear and unavailable to guide organizational interventions (Macey & Schneider, 2008). Using data from a sample of 518 employees in a southeastern university, this study investigated the work environment antecedents of job demands-abilities fit, transformational leadership, and corporate social responsibility and found positive significant relationships with employee engagement. Additionally, in a time where an increasing number of workers are searching for more meaning and purpose from their jobs (Avolio & Sosik, 1999; Gallup, 2016), this study operationalizes a sense of purpose and demonstrates how fulfilling a sense of purpose at work relates to employee engagement and self-determination theory’s psychological need satisfaction (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Using a structural equation modeling approach, the results of this study found both a sense of purpose at work and psychological need satisfaction to be significant predictors of employee engagement. Additionally, adding an indirect effect between need satisfaction and engagement, through a sense of purpose, was found to be the best fitting model. This overall theoretical model provides initial support for a self-determination theory framework for the study of employee engagement with the addition of a sense of purpose at work.



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