Work-related stress continues is the largest contributor to the rise in insurance cost for most organizations (Dewe, O'Driscoll, & Cooper, 2010). The biopharmaceutical industry is no exception. Today's leaders must focus on efficiencies, cost reduction, and organization performance while restructuring the organization to do more with less, which can create tremendous stress. This research explored coping strategies practiced by executive leaders in the biopharmaceutical industry. The overarching research question was: How do senior leaders confronted by work pressure attempt to cope, and are the coping strategies practiced effective at reducing and deflecting stress in a way that doesn't adversely affect leadership effectiveness? The mixed method design included the use of the COPE instrument, the Life Orientation Test (LOT-R), and interviews. Forty executives completed phase one and ten from the sample participated in follow-up face-to-face interviews intended to elicit additional information on how these executive's cope with work related stress. Findings from phase one indicated that all participants across all roles engaged in some level of emotion and problem focused coping practices. The highest score for emotion-focused strategy was instrumental social support (M = 12.40). The highest score for problem-focused strategy was for active coping (M = 13.67) and positive reinterpretation and growth (M = 13.20). Although there was no statistically significant difference by role as determined by the ANOVAs, LOT-R, in some cases, shows coping disposition and optimism were significantly and positively correlated with problem-focused coping. The interview data from phase two provided insights into how leaders navigate major work related stressors and coping strategies. The findings support phase one; however the more senior leaders senior seem to be more adept at recognizing when proactive coping is required.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational change; Pharmaceutical biotechnology industry -- Management; Executives -- Job stress; Stress management

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Davis, Kay D.;