Interviewing High Hope Leaders

Why do some people approach the future with a positive emotional state, a sense of challenge, and expect success?

Do these high-hope people end up accomplishing more in life? If so, what can we learn from these lifestyle leaders?

The tendency to view life positively has long been associated with mental and physical health (Fromm, 1968). Yet the scientific study of hope was not introduced until the 1960s (Steed, 2002). Today there is an increased emphasis in psychology on defining and measuring positive constructs such as hope and optimism (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). This new work in cognitive psychology complements existing research in organizational psychology, including goal-setting theory (Locke & Latham, 1990), expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964), self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977) and future time perspective (Jaques, 1990).

Hope theory has become well-known in this stream of quantitative research. Snyder defines hope as “a cognitive set that is based on a reciprocally derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed determination) and (b) pathways (planning of ways to meet goals)” (Snyder et al, 1991, p. 571). Quantitative definitions, conceptualizing, and measuring have been central to Snyder’s work (1995). Snyder claims:

Higher as compared to lower hope people have a greater number of goals, have more difficult goals, have success at achieving their goals, perceive their goals as challenges, have greater happiness and less distress, have superior coping skills, recover better from physical injury, and report less burnout at work” (p. 357-358).¬†

Hope theory, as quantitatively defined by Snyder is a cognitive disposition (1994). Emotions are considered a byproduct of how effective people pursue their goals. While Snyder considers his conceptualization of hope “phenomenological in nature” (1995, p. 355), no qualitative studies of hope have been done in the workplace.¬†

Snyder has demonstrated that the construct of hope can be understood externally using quantitative methods. However, “qualitative research aims at understanding the phenomenon or event under study from the interior” (Flick, 2002, p. 25). In keeping with the recent philosophical developments in poststructuralism (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998), this paper proposes that a qualitative study of hope in the workplace be undertaken.

To support this qualitative research on hope, this proposal will: (a) summarize the results of a recent quantitative study on hope theory, (b) explain why quantitative research might provide new insights into leadership, and (c) outline a qualitative research design that addresses the setting, the participants, the data collection processes, and the data analysis procedures.

You have just read the introduction to this paper. I’d like to carry out this qualitative hope research. I am looking for¬†organizations where interviews like this might make sense, (ie. insurance industry, customer service industry, self-help industry). If you are in management of a mid-size organization that depends upon your workers growth in personal goal-setting and persistence, then I’d like to send my full proposal to you. I am looking for a setting to administer 100 Hope Surveys, along along with a dozen or so opened ended interviews. The surveys could be a personal growth opportunity for your colleagues and help my research.

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