Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Finkelstein, Lisa M.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


High-potential programs are becoming increasingly popular in organizations, and the academic literature lacks research to inform the structure of these programs. Participants in these programs are often selected from the broader organization and then are put through a series of developmental activities (such as mentoring and stretch assignments). These programs are time-consuming for both the employee and the organization. Therefore, the organization must be selecting individuals that genuinely want to be a participant. It is also essential to understand the individual differences that make an individual more likely to succeed in a high-potential program. These individual differences include managerial aspirations and leader development efficacy. This research has two main goals: 1) test a theoretical model of supporting constructs that may increase an individual's drive upon being designated and 2) determine different reasons individuals desire to participate in high-potential programs or not. The first goal was investigated through study 1, using an online survey design with 545 full-time employees. Participants were given a task that purportedly measured potential but were then randomly designated as high potential or not. Study 1 found that there were no significant relationships between this manipulated designation and leader developmental efficacy, managerial aspirations, and performance. The results indicate that being informed of designation status might not influence an individual’s desire to perform at a higher level. However, when the manipulation check was used in place of the random designation (self-identified designation) several hypotheses were supported. The latter goal was achieved through study 2, a qualitative study that asked for individuals' reasons for participating in a high-potential program. Content analysis procedures revealed several different thematic codes for both those individuals who did and did not want to participate in high potential research. Across both groups it was clear that career motivations were a deciding factor in whether an individual wanted to participate in a high-potential program. This dissertation sets to add to the high potential literature in two significant ways: informing reasons as to why individuals may desire to participate in a high-potential program or not and determining individual differences that positively impact one's performance.


154 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type