Happiness in general and at work: A phenomenological study with U.S. southern professional African American women

by Thomas, Lorna, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2014, 245 pages; 3635933


The pursuit of happiness has been an age-old quest for many people and has become a topic of repeated interest in recent years. At a time when depression, sickness, and high suicide rates have been presented as some of the negative side effects of unhappiness, the study of happiness has become an issue of importance for organizational leaders and society as a whole. The research problem for this study was the decline in happiness for women in the United States, even though the lives of women have improved over the past 35 years. Previous research indicated that African American women were not experiencing the same levels of decline in happiness as women of other races. Fifteen professional African American women from a U.S. southern state were interviewed for this phenomenological study. The data were analyzed from the transcripts from each interview using the modification of the van Kaam method of analysis of phenomenological data. Eleven core themes emerged from the data; the findings indicated these professional African American women were happy in general and at work when they felt supported, had good work–life balance, were self-aware, held a strong religious belief, experienced feelings of thriving and appreciation, and had opportunities to perform altruistic acts. Also, the women were happy when their work was meaningful and challenging and when they were able to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships at work and in their social lives. The findings further showed that women who are happy at work are usually happy in their personal lives and vice versa. The researcher concluded when the needs of the organization's human resources are met and employees are happy in general and at work, the business will function efficiently and effectively and will ultimately thrive. Future research in the study of happiness among women is recommended to examine women who are unhappy at work and in general, men who are happy at work, and women who do not work in a professional field but claim to be happy.

AdviserRubye Braye
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAfrican American studies; Black studies; Women's studies; Management; Occupational psychology; Personality psychology
Publication Number3635933

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