Research / Books

About Alise’s Research

About Dr. Cortez’s Research

As a psychology- and liberal arts-educated professional, Dr. Cortez has developed a long-standing love affair with people and their life stories. She loves to know where people come from, the most salient moments of their lives, and what moves them to euphoria and tortures their soul – in short what deeply matters to them, especially at work.  When she began her human capital career in 1998 in Information Technology staffing, she added to that mix a keen ability to interview people about their lives and work, teasing out the most tender of details. She developed a fascination with how people choose their careers and experienced them.  So, when it was time during her 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, Alise 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, she has 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?” Alise finally decided in March of 2012 to embark on a much bigger research design to further validate and develop what was discovered in the dissertation research.  She interviewed 115 men and women between the ages of 18 and 80, this time across 20 different industries that mostly fell 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” (an expansion from the 5 previously found in the smaller data set and this time included the nuance of meaning type). 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 and insight of the kind and level of meaning they experience in work to begin taking steps to change that self-work relationship toward an alternative, preferred mode. Perhaps they are seeking more fulfillment or less demanding work that consumes their lives; or maybe, it’s time to begin discovering how to “Live My Purpose,” one of the 15 modes.

Thought Leadership and Articles

  • Modes of Engagement research results,
  • Reverse Mentoring as a Key Component of Corporate Culture, Enterprise Transformation Results Blog, March 2017
  • This second research project yielded 15 “Modes of Engagement”
  • 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


Purpose Ignited Chapter Workbooks & Videos

What kind of a difference could you make to each member of your team if you saw them not as who they are today, but who they could become? That is, who could they grow into and become – the person they cannot even see for themselves? Enhance your awareness of self and those around you by leveraging these videos and workbooks!

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.

Purpose Ignited: How Inspiring Leaders Unleash Passion and Elevate Cause

This book was written to turn you ON – to ignite you from the core of your being! The contents are designed to vitally inspire you to cultivate meaning, passion, and purpose in the everyday moments, unleashing the very best version of you, every day. And then, in the second part of the book, you start a journey to become an inspirational leader who enlivens the workplace and elevates the contribution of your business with and through its stakeholders.