Mark R. Gasta


A significant challenge for growing businesses is maintaining the culture that made them successful. An organization’s culture is manifested through rewards systems, values, rituals, stories, and celebrations. Vail Resorts’ mission is simple: to create the experience of a lifetime for their employees so they can, in turn, provide exceptional experiences for their guests. Vail Resorts faces a challenge: how to grow without becoming disconnected from the heart and soul of skiing and disenfranchising those that have joined the industry for the same purpose-driven reasons upon which the company was founded. This case study explored the specific actions taken by Vail Resorts to help its 24,000 employees identify how their own individual sense of purpose was directly aligned with the organization’s greater purpose. Employee survey data (EES) gathered over a 5-year period was examined along with various organizational artifacts in determining which processes and efforts were effective in driving employee engagement through the establishment of greater purpose. The 5-year analysis highlights strong and consistent positive movement with regard to driving employee engagement through creating greater purpose by all measures. The eight EES questions considered in the research increased 7.1% during the 5-year period, on average. Through a triangulation process of quantitative data and analysis of organizational artifacts, four conclusions were reached. First, purpose engages employees. Second, answers for engaging employees are found within the system. Third, an integrated, holistic, systemic approach is needed to create organization change. Lastly, employees must take ownership of their own sense of purpose as well as the organization’s purpose and mission. Implications and recommendations for practitioners are presented to help others in key positions within their organizations enhance employee engagement while also strengthening the organization’s sense of purpose. A final recommendation suggests that organization executives need to take the time to compile, review, and reflect upon all of the workforce data available to them in order to make fully informed decisions. Employees want to believe in their organization and that they are part of something bigger; employers have a unique and powerful opportunity to capitalize upon this potential.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational change; Employee motivation; Work environment -- Psychological aspects -- Case Studies; Organizational effectiveness -- Social aspects -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Davis, Kay D.;