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The Call of the Wild: Work as a Calling and the Captivity of Zookeepers

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Title: The Call of the Wild: Work as a Calling and the Captivity of Zookeepers


1
The Call of the WildWork as a Calling and the
Captivity of Zookeepers
  • J. Stuart Bunderson
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Jeffrey R. Thompson
  • Brigham Young University

2
A Little Background Ideology in the Employment
Contract
  • People will work hard for money they will
    work harder for other people. But people will
    work hardest of all when they are dedicated to a
    cause.
  • - Harry Emerson Fosdick
  • (author, teacher, religious leader)

3
A Little Background Ideology in the Employment
Contract
Economic Incentives (pay, benefits)
  • People will work hard for money they will
    work harder for other people. But people will
    work hardest of all when they are dedicated to a
    cause.
  • - Harry Emerson Fosdick
  • (author, teacher, religious leader)

4
A Little Background Ideology in the Employment
Contract
Economic Incentives (pay, benefits)
  • People will work hard for money they will
    work harder for other people. But people will
    work hardest of all when they are dedicated to a
    cause.
  • - Harry Emerson Fosdick
  • (author, teacher, religious leader)

Socio-Emotional Incentives (esteem,
recognition, status, friendship)
5
A Little Background Ideology in the Employment
Contract
Economic Incentives (pay, benefits)
  • People will work hard for money they will
    work harder for other people. But people will
    work hardest of all when they are dedicated to a
    cause.
  • - Harry Emerson Fosdick
  • (author, teacher, religious leader)

Socio-Emotional Incentives (esteem,
recognition, status, friendship)
Ideological Incentives (conviction,
purpose, mission, values)
6
Developing this Basic Premise
  • Thompson Bunderson (2003, AMR)
  • Explores ideology as a third currency in the
    psychological contract
  • Considers the implications of ideological
    currency for the experience of breach/violation.
  • We then set out to find a sample where we could
    test these hunches, where ideological incentives
    (and not others) were paramount

7
So We Went to the Zoo
  • Zookeeping lacks strong economic incentives
  • Average income is under 25,000 per year
  • About 63 rely on another source of income (e.g.,
    second job, family)

8
So We Went to the Zoo
  • Zookeeping lacks key socio-emotional incentives
    (e.g., status, opportunities for advancement,
    etc.)
  • You dont really move up as a zookeeper
  • Kookeeping is dirty work (Ashforth Kreiner,
    1999)
  • A nun came by with a school group and the nun
    said, See the kind of job that you get when you
    don't finish your education! This was within
    ear shot
  • Note About 73 of
  • zookeepers have a
  • BS or higher!

9
And Yet, Zookeepers AreHighly Committed
  • Most zoos have more keeper applicants than they
    can hire turnover is low
  • Many keepers volunteer for months or years before
    getting hired.
  • There's not much that they could do to get me
    to quit.
  • I can't think what would cause me to leave.
  • I don't think there's anything that they could
    do to me that would make me leave.

10
You know, Ned, youre my best friend, and I just
gotta tell someone. Its time I come out of this
closet and stop living this lie I hate animals.
11
Interviews
  • We started by conducting in-depth interviews with
    23 keepers at a leading public zoo in the
    Midwest.
  • Questions focused on
  • Why zookeeping and how they got there
  • Thoughts and feelings about their work the zoo
  • Interactions with others at the zoo
  • Interviews were tape recorded, transcribed, and
    coded using an emergent coding scheme.

12
Work as Calling Emerged as Key
  • Comments suggesting a view of work as a calling
    emerged as the most frequent theme (21 of 23
    interviews).
  • I knew this is what I was meant to do
  • It's kind of like my calling I think
  • It's a calling for me
  • I've found my little niche
  • It became clear that we needed to understand the
    concept of calling and how it was informing the
    way these keepers thought about their work.

13
Classical Conceptions ofWork as a Calling
  • In Greek and Medieval thinking, work was a
    necessary evil which kept humankind from the more
    noble pursuits of the mind (philosophy) or spirit
    (religion).
  • Protestant Reformation (Luther Calvin)
  • Work is a vocation, a station in life through
    which one serves God and humankind
  • One is obligated to faithfully execute duties
    within that vocation (cobbler monk are both
    called)
  • As there is a distinction of several creatures,
    so among men there are several inclinations and
    several abilities, as donations from God, for the
    common advantage of human society (Puritan
    Theologian Stephan Charnock, 1680).

14
Contemporary Conceptions ofWork as a Calling
  • Weber argued that a secular version of the
    calling notion became bound to the technical and
    economic conditions of machine production and
    provided an ethical justification of the modern
    specialized division of labour (Weber, 1930).
  • Modern view of calling work is an application of
    ones particular talents for the greater good
  • Bellah, et al. (1985 66) A calling links a
    person to the larger community, a whole in which
    the calling of each is a contribution to the good
    of all

15
Contemporary Conceptions ofWork as a Calling
  • Weber argued that a secular version of the
    calling notion became bound to the technical and
    economic conditions of machine production and
    provided an ethical justification of the modern
    specialized division of labour (Weber, 1930).
  • Modern view of calling work is an application of
    ones particular talents for the greater good
  • Bellah, et al. (1985 66) A calling links a
    person to the larger community, a whole in which
    the calling of each is a contribution to the good
    of all

How were callings experienced by these keepers
and how did callings matter?
16
The Experience of Calling at the ZooSome
People Are Just Wired this Way
  • It's a part of who I am and I don't know if I
    can explain that. When you use that expression
    it's in your blood, like football coaches and
    players can never retire because it's in their
    blood. Whatever my genetic makeup is I'm geared
    towards animals.
  • Zookeepers relate better to animals than they
    do to people. But then sometimes I think you're
    just born an animal person.
  • It's funny some people you can tell they could
    care less. They just aren't animal people.

17
The Experience of Calling at the ZooIve
Always Been Wired This Way
  • It's a calling for me just because my whole life
    I've just been interested in animals. So looking
    back I should have known at some time I would be
    working with animals
  • I was always interested in animals ever since I
    was a kid. I drove my mom nuts catching bugs,
    and worms, and frogs, and salamanders, bringing
    home anything I could find butterflies, stuff
    like that.
  • I always did like animals and was known in the
    neighborhood as the guy who always had animals.
  • Ive always loved animals (7 interviews), Ive
    always wanted to work with animals (7 interviews)

18
The Experience of Calling at the ZooThis is
How I Make the World Better
  • My little way of preserving what we have left is
    taking care of these animals. I'm not one of
    those people to go out in the jungle and tell
    people don't do this, this is bad, that's not me.
    This is my life.
  • Most people think, oh you should just turn
    these animals loose in the wild...Well, hey,
    there is no wild for a lot of these animals
    none whatsoever. The habitat is gone. Weve
    got to do something and if captive breeding is
    the one thing I can do to stop extinction then
    I'm fine with that.

19
The Experience of Calling at the ZooUnderlying
Assumptions
I am hard-wired in a particular way (e.g.,
passions, endowments) which predisposes me for a
particular occupational niche
20
The Experience of Calling at the ZooUnderlying
Assumptions
I am hard-wired in a particular way (e.g.,
passions, endowments) which predisposes me for a
particular occupational niche
  • Implication 1 A calling is enacted against the
    backdrop of the societal division of labor it
    locates the individual within society and links
    the person to some societal purpose.

21
The Experience of Calling at the ZooUnderlying
Assumptions
I am hard-wired in a particular way (e.g.,
passions, endowments) which predisposes me for a
particular occupational niche
  • Implication 2 Individuals have a duty to find
    that place and to serve the greater good within
    that place.
  • Among the most incontestable of moral rules is
    that which orders us to specialize since
    specialization is essential to social cohesion
    (Jones, 1986 interpreting Durkheim, 1893).
  • Calvin (1574) For as God bestows any ability or
    gift upon any of us, he binds us to such as have
    need of us and as we are able to help.

22
The Experience of Calling at the ZooThis Was
Meant to Be
  • I was here two days and I knew this is what I
    was meant to do. There's people that have
    volunteered here for years and they don't get a
    job and I worked here a month and a half. So
    it's kind of like my calling I think.
  • Ive always read a lot about all different kinds
    of things and it kind of led me here. It was
    magical in a way
  • So things kind of worked out the way they
    should. I kind of fell into this. Things
    just worked out real well.
  • I just fell into the right places. I mean
    that part time job I got when I first came here I
    had nothing to do with it.
  • Three months before I graduated I was offered a
    full time job in my department. I understand
    that's the only time that department has ever
    been offered in that way.

23
The Experience of Calling at the ZooUnderlying
Assumptions
The winds of fate (destiny, divine intervention)
conspired to lead me to this particular
occupation
  • Implication 1 Callings are largely outside the
    realm of individual agency (given personal
    wiring, winds of fate).
  • Implication 2 To do anything but faithfully
    embrace ones calling is to be untrue to both
    yourself and society.
  • If my personal wiring, the winds of fate, and the
    requirements of society have led me here, who am
    I to oppose it?!

24
The Experience of Work as a Calling
  • To feel called is to feel that one is meant to
    work in a particular occupational niche because
    of passions, endowments, and/or life history
  • Involves a sense of personal and moral imperative
  • This is different from related concepts like
    occupational identification.
  • Duty (push) vs. affinity (pull)
  • Need for personal meaning vs. need for
    esteem/belonging
  • Moral beings vs. social beings
  • What consequences does this have for work-related
    attitudes and behaviors?

25
A Calling Work Outcomes Toward a Research Model
Work as a Moral Duty
Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
Work Rigidity
Job Satisfaction
26
A Calling andWork as a Moral Duty
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
These animals have basically given up their
freedom in order to educate people So we have
the responsibility to provide the best care for
them. So that kind of is my motivation.
Work as Calling
I know when I'm there I do the best job I can to
take care of my animals and I can't necessarily
say the same for somebody else.
27
A Calling andWork Sacrifices
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
I also owe something more for the animal's sake
To be willing to come in here in the middle of
the night if something is going on and be willing
to skip a break or two and be willing to not call
in sick as much as somebody might at some other
job.
We don't get paid very well here But I guess
that's the pay off for doing what you love.
28
A Calling andWork Flexibility
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
One of the most rewarding things for me is the
fact that I can touch the animals and interact
with them on a daily basis and I can see what I'm
doing is how it makes a difference to them in
their lives It's the most important thing. I
don't think I could be happy pushing papers in an
administrative position.
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromises (H9)

Work Rigidity
29
A Calling andMeaningful, Satisfying Work
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromises (H9)

Work Rigidity
H11
Job Satisfaction
Meaningful Work
30
Testing these Hypotheses
  • Joined forces with the American Association of
    Zoo Keepers (AAZK)
  • Conducted a pilot study with 200 AAZK members to
    validate our survey (105 responded, 52.5)
  • Sampled all remaining AAZK members and solicited
    participation from directors of American
    Zoological Association (AZA)-accredited zoos.
  • Overall director response 70 zoos (45.2
    participation)
  • Overall keeper response 1201 keepers (41.6)

31
Testing these Hypotheses
  • Sample characteristics (n 1201)
  • 72 female
  • 92 caucasian
  • 10.8 yrs. in the profession, 7.4 yrs. at current
    zoo
  • 72.1 had bachelors degree or higher
  • 33.1 union members
  • Represent 230 different zoos

32
Some Measures
Work as a Calling (6 items) I was meant to work
with animals Working with animals feels like my
calling in life It sometimes feels like I was
destined to work with animals I am definitely
an animal person My passion for animals goes
back to my childhood Working with animals feels
like my niche in life Cronbachs Alpha .92
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromises (H9)

Work Rigidity
H11
Job Satisfaction
Meaningful Work
33
Some Measures
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
Moral Obligation (4 items) I have a moral
obligation to give my animals the best possible
care I consider it my sacred duty to do all I
can for my animals Cronbachs alpha .88
(ind), .88 (org.) Note This was adapted for the
organization as the target.
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromises (H9)

Work Rigidity
Moral Superiority (4 items) I get frustrated
sometimes because some keepers act like this is
just a job Some other keepers here arent as
committed to their animals as they should be
Cronbachs alpha .80
H11
Job Satisfaction
Meaningful Work
34
Some Measures
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
Non-Work Time self-ratings Effort Director
ratings Money 1. How much of your prize (if
you win) will you donate to an animal
cause? 2. Self-reported income
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromises (H9)

Work Rigidity
H11
Job Satisfaction
Meaningful Work
35
Some Measures
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
Occupational Thoughts of quitting
occupation Job Willingness to switch to
non-keeper job Work Compromises (3 items) -
Species preservation goals justify moving
animals between facilities even if they suffer
hardship
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromises (H9)

Work Rigidity
H11
Job Satisfaction
Meaningful Work
36
Control Variables
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromises (H9)

Work Rigidity
Age Gender Yrs. experience Education Union
member Association member Supervisor Job
orientation Career orientation Occupational
identification
H11
Job Satisfaction
Meaningful Work
37
Results
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromise(H9)

Work Rigidity
Age Gender Yrs. experience Education Union
member Association member Supervisor Job
orientation Career orientation Occupational
identification
H11
Job Satisfaction
Meaningful Work
38
Results
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
Occupational Identification
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromise(H9)

Work Rigidity
Age Gender Yrs. experience Education Union
member Association member Supervisor Job
orientation Career orientation Occupational
identification
H11
Job Satisfaction
Meaningful Work
39
Results
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
Occupational Identification
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromise(H9)

Work Rigidity
Age Gender Yrs. experience Education Union
member Association member Supervisor Job
orientation Career orientation Occupational
identification
Job Satisfaction
Affective Commitment
40
Results
  • My duty (H1)
  • Moral superiority (H2)
  • Orgs duty (H3)

Work as a Moral Duty
Occupational Identification
  • Non-work time (H4)
  • Effort (H5)
  • Money (H6)

Work Sacrifices
Work as Calling
  • Occupational (H7)
  • Job (H8)
  • Work compromise(H9)

Work Rigidity
Age Gender Yrs. experience Education Union
member Association member Supervisor Job
orientation Career orientation Occupational
identification
Job Satisfaction
Affective Commitment
41
Some Conclusions
  • A calling links the individual to society in a
    profoundly meaningful way.
  • Passions endowments ?? Occupational niche
  • I was meant to do this sort of work
  • A calling is binding as well as ennobling
  • This is my duty (to self and society)

42
The Costs of Calling for the Individual
  • Work-life balance
  • Working here at the zoo has cost me a marriage.
  • Most of the zoo's employees are very dedicated.
    Most of them put their charges or animals or
    plants right up there with their family.
  • I have back problems, arthritis, knee problems.
    So I give up a lot to work here.

43
The Costs of Calling for the Individual
  • Exploitation
  • Those with a calling earned less
  • I love the zoo. I would not tell management
    that because they can get a strong hold on you
    that way. If management knows you love your job,
    they'll try to do things to undercut your pay and
    stuff like that.
  • Even if I wasn't getting paid I would still be
    here.
  • How many people in the world get to work with
    gorillas? There are other people that would give
    their eye teeth to be headkeeper of the primate
    center at the ____ Zoo.

44
The Costs of Callings for the Employing
Organization
  • Heightened vigilance
  • A calling puts the employee-organization
    relationship on moral grounds (we share a moral
    duty) and therefore opens the door for feelings
    of moral violation (Thompson Bunderson, 2003).
  • Callings promote a stewardship orientation
    (Davis, Schoorman, Donaldson, 1997).

45
The Power of KnowingWhy Youre Here
  • I understand why I'm here and, quite frankly,
    you give up a lot to be in the animal field. I'm
    not going to be rich. I'm not going to get a
    major award and I'm not going to be on parade
    someplace. So I know why I'm here.
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