Research / Books

About My Research

As a psychology- and liberal arts-educated professional, I have developed a long-standing love affair with people and their life stories. I love to know where people come from, what are the most salient moments of their lives, what moves them to euphoria and tortures their soul.  When I began my human capital career in 1998 in Information Technology staffing, I got to add to that mix what is now a keen ability to interview people about their lives and work, teasing out the most tender of details. I developed a fascination with how people chose their careers and how they experienced them.  So, when it was time during my doctoral studies to choose a dissertation topic, it was easy to land on the research question of: What is the relationship between meaning in work and personal identity for high-performing Information Technology managers?

For that dissertation project, I conducted qualitative research with 25 male and female Information Technology managers between the ages of 22-65 (average age 43) across the nation to learn how they experience their work and its relationship to their personal identities. Using a hermeneutical, phenomenological, interpretative description method, five “modes of engagement” emerged to describe the relationship participants experience between their work and personal identities.  Since graduation in 2005, I’ve shared these results in various workshops and presentations, and participants readily understand and relate to one of these five “Modes of Engagement” for themselves.

After several years of people asking, “These are interesting results, what’s next, and how do I apply this stuff at work,” I finally decided in March of 2012 to embark on a much bigger research design to further validate and develop what I discovered in the dissertation research.  As such, I interviewed 115 men and women between the ages of 18 and 80, this time across 20 different industries that mostly fall into what Richard Florida terms “the creative class” — professionals, creative people, and service professionals. With this augmented data pool across diverse industries, this second research project yielded 15 “Modes of Engagement” (a large expansion from the 5 previously found in the smaller data set). Understanding the mode of engagement one is experiencing, in relation to the spectrum of possibility against the other 14 modes, gives individuals powerful access to self-awareness of the meaning they experience in work to begin taking steps to change their self-work relationship. Perhaps they are seeking more fulfillment or less demanding work that consumes their lives

Thought Leadership and Articles

  • Reverse Mentoring as a Key Component of Corporate Culture, Enterprise Transformation Results Blog, March 2017
  • Cortez, A. & Lynch, O. (2015) Zones of engagement: Where meaning in work meets personal identity, International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management
  • Cortez, A., & Lynch, O. (2014) Methodological Explorations on the Relationship Between Meaning in Work and the Self, Leveraging Human Factors for Strategic Change – An Organizational Culture Perspective / Bloomsbury India


Behind Her Brand: Expert Edition

Are you a budding entrepreneur, or somewhere along that long road to building your dreams into a viable business? I had the extraordinary opportunity to join this talented group of women entrepreneur authors to literally “talk shop,” that is – share how we got started, our lessons learned in building our businesses, how we developed our expertise, the advice we have for other women entrepreneurs to build their business and dreams. I can honestly say I found the collaboration with these amazing women well worth the effort to write my contributing chapter just to get to know them! I know you will find several pearls of wisdom to help you along your way.

Buy “Behind Her Brand” using Amazon  or order directly through my website with PayPal.