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Dissertation Abstract

The Relationship of CEO’s and Top Leadership Teams’ Hope With Their Organizational Followers’ Job Satisfaction, Work Engagement, and Retention Intent

Stephen L. Mansfield
April 2007

This study posits the existence of a leadership variable that both correlates with and predicts greater levels of follower satisfaction, engagement, and retention likelihood, secondary to the level to which this variable—leader hopefulness or hope index—is present in the positive psychology armament of the leader or leaders. Quantitative research methods were used to assess the hypotheses that higher leader and top leadership team hopefulness correlates with and predicts higher levels of employee job satisfaction, work engagement, and retention likelihood or intent. The independent variable in the research design was the chief executivce officer (CEO) and top leadership team hope indexes and the associated hypotheses were tested using data generated via surveys of CEOs, chief operating officers (COOs), chief financial officers (CFOs), and chief nursing officers (CNOs) comprising the Catholic Health Initiatives health care system. These leaders’ organizational follower satisfaction, engagement, and retention likelihood were assessed via analysis of employee climate surveys completed by followers of the executives; as such, these results provided data on the three dependent variables. While the study failed to confirm support for the belief that higher hope in CEOs and top leadership teams yields higher work engagement among their employees, it supported a positive correlation and predictive relationship between CEO and top leadership team hopefulness and their employees’ job satisfaction and retention likelihood. This fact is significant to the fields of organizational effectiveness and leadership given the emerging existence of literature supporting the assertion that hopefulness, in organizational as well as other contexts, is a learnable skill. Through focused training, it has been demonstrated that leaders can elevate their hope indexes. This study is timely given that the dependent variables of job satisfaction and retention likelihood are in multiyear declines at the very time that those factors have been emphasized in the literature as being critically important to overall organizational effectiveness. While the role of leader hopefulness is a comparatively nascent concept, the results of this study clearly demonstrate its utility in an organizational setting and underscore the need for additional scholarly research on the subject.