Unlocking resources with a positive lens

May 20, 2020

Center for Positive Organizations Research Spotlights

Unlocking resources with a positive lens

Shirli Kopelman

“Applying a positive lens has enriched my research, fueled my teaching, and distinguished my impact on practice.”

Shirli Kopelman has contributed significantly to the work of the Center for Positive Organizations (CPO), most recently as a co-author of a pivotal new conceptual article. “The Conceptual and Empirical Value of a Positive Lens: An Invitation to Organizational Scholars to Develop Novel Research Questions” demonstrates how research through a positive lens can be used to unlock resources in any type of organization. It assumes that people have the potential for good and want to behave in ways that lead to improved well-being.

“The significance of the article is that it demonstrates how a positive lens can be applied to any discipline to help researchers see phenomenon from a different perspective and explore their research domain in an entirely new way,” Shirli said. It offers guidance for prospective researchers that advances the field of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) and engages a whole new group of scholars.

A lot of research is about fixing things that are broken. Research with a positive approach focuses not only on how it works right, but how it can be extraordinary. It can help foster improved well-being of people, organizations, and their work environment. “Resources are abundant in organizations, yet there’s a constant challenge in recognizing them, engaging in collaborative strategies to put them into practice, and mobilizing them in a way that benefits everyone,” Shirli noted.

Contributing to the leadership of CPO has inspired her over the years. As the Center’s former research director, Shirli said leading the biennial POS Research Conference was a high point. The conference brings together people from around the world to present and discuss their research and energizes them as they continue to pursue it. “Our Community of Scholars helps researchers articulate, design, develop, and empirically test new ideas,” she said, “and it provides a great resource to receive feedback on ideas and engage in new collaborations.”

Shirli is best known for her groundbreaking work on negotiations. Her research has uncovered insights into the way emotions—even those perceived to be negative—can be a beneficial resource, and how a cultural lens is beneficial for promoting cooperation in competitive settings. After distilling years of research, teaching, and coaching into an integrated framework, Shirli authored the book, Negotiating Genuinely: Being Yourself in Business, which applies a positive lens to the field of negotiations.

“Applying a positive lens has enriched my research, fueled my teaching, and distinguished my impact on practice. I believe the Center for Positive Organizations helps people have the courage to look at things they care about and to conduct meaningful work,” Shirli remarked.

Shirli Kopelman is a clinical professor of management and organizations at Michigan Ross and a core faculty member of the Center for Positive Organizations.

This story and others appear in the Center for Positive Organizations 2020 Impact Report.