Department of Undergraduate Studies - Worldwide
College of Aeronautics
The Effectiveness of the United States Air Force Developmental Teams Jason Michael Newcomer Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, [email protected]
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Walden University College of Management and Technology
This is to certify that the doctoral study by
has been found to be complete and satisfactory in all respects, and that any and all revisions required by the review committee have been made.
Review Committee Dr. Sandra Kolberg, Committee Chairperson, Doctor of Business Administration Faculty Dr. Jon Corey, Committee Member, Doctor of Business Administration Faculty Dr. Richard Snyder, University Reviewer, Doctor of Business Administration Faculty
Chief Academic Officer Eric Riedel, Ph.D.
Walden University 2013
Abstract The Effectiveness of the United States Air Force Developmental Teams by Jason Michael Newcomer
MAS, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 2008 BSPA, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 2004 AAS, Community College of the Air Force, 2003
Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Business Administration
Walden University November 2013
Abstract The Results-Based Leadership Group surveyed 470 companies and discovered that the top 25 companies with effective leadership practices dedicated twice as much effort to leadership development as did other companies, indicating a strong relationship between success and leadership development. The problem explored in the current study was the lack of qualitative analyses of the U.S. Air Force Development Team processes. The purpose of the case study was to survey Development Teams at the U.S. Air Force in Washington, DC to explore how effectively the teams’ processes resulted in identification, selection, and/or development of leaders who meet strategic needs of the service. Elements of Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory, Fayol's theory of management, Friedman’s theory of differentiated leadership, and Lewin's change theories were combined with Cohen’s leadership development framework to drive the investigation. Fourteen teams completed anonymous online questionnaires during purposefully and snowball sampled data collection. Qualitative data were analyzed, coded, and grouped into themes. The Development Teams’ processes produced leaders to meet strategic needs of the service, and the program’s objectives aligned with national strategy. Other findings led to specific recommendations, specifically, that teams needed reevaluate their ability to assess past decisions, and that teams’ developmental processes needed more standardization among all career fields. The implications for social change are enhanced leadership development for the service and the development of a leadership assessment model that can be used by any organization in the private or public sector. Improved leadership can allow the service to be postured better to protect the United States and to conduct humanitarian relief efforts.
The Effectiveness of the United States Air Force Developmental Teams by Jason Michael Newcomer
MAS, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 2008 BSPA, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 2004 AAS, Community College of the Air Force, 2003
Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Business Administration
Walden University November 2013
UMI Number: 3602504
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Dedication I dedicate this milestone of my academic career to significant individuals and organizations from my past, present, and future. To the past, I dedicate this project to Jeffrey Craig, a dear friend who fell to cancer long before his time. He left behind three wonderful sons, Jeffrey, Bradley, and Mitchell, and a lovely wife, Lisa. He shared with me the same love and compassion he shared with his family and, for that, I can never thank him enough. Jeff helped strengthen my spirit, aided in my transition from a boy to a man, and demonstrated the importance of putting those one cares about above all else. To the present, I dedicate this effort to the United States Air Force (USAF) as it currently stands—strong, resolved, and manned by a force of the world's finest Airmen, who continually work toward excellence while maintaining integrity and putting the needs of the United States before their own. May the study help educate USAF leaders, improve development processes, and strengthen the national security of the United States of America through a more effective officer corps. Finally, to the future, I dedicate this achievement to my baby cousin, Deryk Morales. Since his infancy, Deryk has been there for all of my military and academic achievements. May this project challenge him to strive for excellence, understand the importance and power of education, and achieve the highest level of scholarship so that he might one day contribute to positive social change.
Acknowledgments I thank the many personal, professional, and spiritual entities who helped make this academic and professional milestone possible. It was through strong faith, learned values, shared experiences, and seasoned mentorship I was able to come this far. I will never forget those who have played such critical roles. The love and support I have received gave me strength throughout every hurdle of this project. For all of this, I thank God and praise Him for the strength He has given me, the cries for help He has answered, and the unconditional love He has provided to me all of my life. I thank my mother for the love, motivation, and financial support she provided me throughout my life and this program. Finally, I am grateful to my friends and family who stood by my side and granted to me pardon for the many events and quality time I missed in pursuit of this degree. I thank my committee, Dr. Sandy Kolberg, my project chair and source of inspiration; Dr. Jon Corey, my mentor and friend; and Dr. Richard Snyder, for their guidance throughout this process. I would also like to acknowledge all of my college and grade school instructors for mentoring (and not suspending) me as the "class clown" who matured into who and what I am today. Finally, I owe thanks to the many warriors of the Armed Forces who served as my followers, supervisors, and commanders while I worked on the study. Of particular mention is Mr. Steven Pennington, who supported me at every turn; Brigadier General Tom Sharpy, who helped me select a topic; and Colonel Elisabeth Auld and Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Paul Valenzuela, who both fought to get my permission letter approved.
Table of Contents List of Tables .......................................................................................................................v List of Figures .................................................................................................................... vi Section 1: Foundation of the Study......................................................................................1 Background of the Problem ...........................................................................................2 Problem Statement .........................................................................................................4 Purpose Statement ..........................................................................................................5 Nature of the Study ........................................................................................................5 Research Question .........................................................................................................6 Questionnaire Questions ......................................................................................... 6 Conceptual Framework ..................................................................................................7 Definition of Terms........................................................................................................8 Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations..............................................................10 Assumptions.......................................................................................................... 10 Limitations ............................................................................................................ 11 Delimitations ......................................................................................................... 11 Significance of the Study .............................................................................................12 Reduction of Gaps................................................................................................. 12 Implications for Social Change ............................................................................. 12 A Review of the Professional and Academic Literature ..............................................13 Leadership Theories .............................................................................................. 14 Strategy ................................................................................................................. 18 i
Developing and Alignment Objectives ................................................................. 24 Talent Management .............................................................................................. 28 Performance Management .................................................................................... 34 Program Assessment ............................................................................................. 36 Organizational Behavior and the Development Teams ........................................ 41 Transition and Summary ..............................................................................................44 Section 2: The Project ........................................................................................................46 Purpose Statement ........................................................................................................46 Role of the Researcher .................................................................................................47 Participants ...................................................................................................................48 Research Method and Design ......................................................................................51 Research Method .................................................................................................. 51 Research Design.................................................................................................... 53 Population and Sampling .............................................................................................55 Ethical Research...........................................................................................................58 The Consent Process ............................................................................................. 59 Participant Protection ............................................................................................ 60 Project Transparency ............................................................................................ 61 Incentives .............................................................................................................. 61 Data Collection ............................................................................................................61 Instruments ............................................................................................................ 62 Data Collection Technique ................................................................................... 63 ii
The Pilot Case Study............................................................................................. 65 Data Organization Techniques.............................................................................. 66 Data Analysis Techniques............................................................................................67 Questionnaire Questions ....................................................................................... 67 Reliability and Validity ................................................................................................70 Reliability.............................................................................................................. 70 Validity ................................................................................................................. 71 Transition and Summary ..............................................................................................73 Section 3: Application to Professional Practice and Implications for Change ..................75 Overview of Study .......................................................................................................75 Presentation of the Findings.........................................................................................76 Theme 1: Strategy ................................................................................................. 79 Theme 2: Objective Alignment............................................................................. 80 Theme 3: Talent Management .............................................................................. 81 Theme 4: Performance .......................................................................................... 82 Theme 5: Assessment ........................................................................................... 83 Theme 6: Impact to Organizational Environment ................................................ 84 Theme 7: Effect on Organizational Balance ......................................................... 85 Summary of Findings ............................................................................................ 87 Applications to Professional Practice ..........................................................................88 Implications for Social Change ....................................................................................91 Recommendations for Action ......................................................................................91 iii
Recommendations for Theme 5: Assessment ...................................................... 92 Recommendations for Theme 7: Effect on Organizational Balance ................... 93 Recommendations for Further Study ...........................................................................94 Reflections ...................................................................................................................96 Summary and Study Conclusions ................................................................................96 References ..........................................................................................................................98 Appendix A: Reduction in Gaps Verification .................................................................121 Appendix B: Permission to Conduct Research ...............................................................122 Appendix C: Consent Form ............................................................................................124 Appendix D: Permission to Use Table 2.........................................................................125 Appendix E: Case Study Protocol...................................................................................126 Appendix F: USAF DT Survey.......................................................................................127 Appendix G: Invitation E-Mail ........................................................................................130 Appendix H: IRB Exemption and Approval Letter .........................................................131 Appendix I: USAF Research Oversight Approval...........................................................132 Curriculum Vitae .............................................................................................................133
List of Tables Table 1. Sample Objectives ............................................................................................. 25 Table 2. Five Questions to Select the Color to Paint a Qualitative Design ..................... 55 Table 3. Comparable Qualitative Leadership Studies and Their Sample Size ................ 57 Table 4. Qualitative Advantages and Disadvantages ....................................................... 63 Table 5. Sample Qualitative and Quantitative Data Layout and Organization................ 69 Table 6. Themes and Responses Received ...................................................................... 78 Table 7. Investigative Questions to Support the LIFE Model ......................................... 90
List of Figures Figure 1. Depiction of United States federal spending in fiscal year 2010 ....................... 4 Figure 2. The literature review map ................................................................................. 14 Figure 3. A side by side comparison of Fayol and Porter’s theories. .............................. 16 Figure 4. A cross-reference of the Harvard (2005) and Chu (2010) strategy models ..... 19 Figure 5. CFMs vs. Air Staff personnel ........................................................................... 43 Figure 6. The data collection process flow chart. ............................................................ 65 Figure 7. Sample bar graph visual representation for exploring qualitative data ............ 70 Figure 8. Frequencies of positive and negative responses for each theme. ..................... 79 Figure 9. The leader-input framework for evaluation (LIFE) model............................... 89
Section 1: Foundation of the Study Brigadier General Thomas Sharpy identified the need for an assessment of the United States Air Force’s (USAF) leadership development process, also known as the Developmental Team, to determine the effectiveness of the process to create excellent leaders to meet current and future challenges (T. Sharpy, personal communication, April 7, 2011). The Development Teams are part of the USAF’s overarching Force Development program, a mission-driven initiative to train and to educate USAF active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel through a purposeful, career-long process of personal and professional development (USAF, 2008a). The USAF leaders use Force Development to engender organizational and occupational competencies through education, skills training, and practical experience. According to the USAF (2010), Development Teams are the conduit within the USAF that aligns Force Development systems with frameworks, and organization policy and the USAF Force Developers use them to generate career paths for personnel. Development Team membership includes a general officer (i.e., chair), a career field manager (CFM), an assignments team representative, and other senior officer (or civilian equivalent) stakeholders from the Air Staff or major command (MAJCOM) headquarters. The USAF Development Teams that guide the development of officers to meet strategic objectives were the target of exploration in the study. The exploration involved a review of literature, coupled with online questionnaires completed by members of the Development Teams. Findings were cross-referenced with the USAF 2011 Development Team survey to validate both studies and also to provide USAF leadership a comprehensive study on the status of their leadership development program. The big picture provided by the study might enable
USAF leaders to make adjustments to the program where required to produce more effective officers and ultimately a more competent and effective military force. Background of the Problem Some previous authors of leadership studies focused on studies of traits and skills that measured leadership effectiveness (Yukl, George, & Jones, 2009). Yukl et al. (2009) identified assertiveness, persistence, self-confidence, and decisiveness as leadership traits perceived to be necessary. Though traits are more personality focused, skills represent the ability to successfully perform a task or act. These skills range among interpersonal, technical, and conceptual attributes. Interpersonal skills reflect a leader’s ability to understand human behavior and interactions and to communicate effectively (Yukl et al., 2009). Technical skills reflect leaders’ understanding of procedures, techniques, and processes. Conceptual skills reflect a leader’s ability to logically analyze a situation or problem and to creatively develop a solution (Yukl et al., 2009). Examples of interpersonal skills are cleverness, creativeness, speaking ability, tact, and social ability. Many researchers believe traits and skills are developed through a combination of learning and natural ability (Bouchard, Lykken, McGue, Segal, & Tellegen, 1990; Rath & Conchie, 2008). The Results-Based Leadership Group (2011) surveyed 470 companies to determine effective leadership practices; leaders of the top 25 companies with effective leadership practices dedicated twice as much effort to leadership development as other companies, indicating a strong relationship between effective leadership practices and leadership development. USAF leadership development programs focus on each of these areas to build organizational and occupational competence through education, skills training, and practical
experience (USAF, 2010). The Development Teams are part of the process. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) budget makes up 23% of the U.S. federal budget (see Figure 1). The DoD has been criticized by some as inflated due to poor financial controls and unnecessary spending (Congressional Budget Office, 2011). The USAF convenes 32 Development Teams, twice a year, to vector officers and civilians (Air Force Personnel Center, 2011b). The average cost of a temporary duty (TDY) to the Development Team averages $1,400 per person (Defense Travel System [DTS], 2011). With each Development Team consisting of 15–20 personnel, the associated travel costs range from $1.3 to $1.8 million annually and salaries specific to the Development Team range from $1.1 to $1.5 million annually (Defense Finance and Accounting Service [DFAS], 2011). Total expenses associated with the development team process range from $2.4 to $3.2 million dollars a year, and yet no thorough research has been conducted on the effectiveness of the program (DFAS, 2011; DTS, 2011). The previous expense calculation does not include policy development, program administration, or intangible costs associated with maintaining the Development Team program. Brigadier General Thomas Sharpy, the former director of the Air Force Senior Matters Office, identified the research gap regarding the effectiveness of the Development Teams. An important part of strategy, military or corporate, is performance measurement (Parnell, 2010); to date, there have been no significant studies on the effectiveness of the Development Team on leader development.
Medicare & Medicaid
23% 20% 16%
Figure 1. Depiction of United States federal spending in fiscal year 2010. Adapted from Congressional Budget Office report Budget and Economic Outlook: Historical Budget Data (2011, pp. 9–10). Problem Statement Graduates from poor or inadequate leadership development programs (LDPs) negatively impact many organizations and are often accompanied with greater operating costs (Clevette & Cohen, 2007; Kaminsky, 2012). Effective leaders are typically a key foundation for organizational success and growth, making the need for mature LDPs a general business problem that both the private and public sectors must address aggressively (Amagoh, 2009; Hotho & Dowling, 2010). A major finding from a United States Army survey indicated 39% of leaders rated developing others as the lowest rated core competency (Hinds & Steele, 2012). In 2007 and 2010, the USAF conducted baseline and follow-up studies on the Development Teams. The authors of these studies focused on the service members' understanding of the program, not the program's ability to develop leaders that meet strategic objectives. The specific business problem is the a lack of analysis of the USAF LDP as to how effective the program is meeting
current and future leadership needs of the service (Guerci & Vinante, 2011). Purpose Statement The purpose of the qualitative case study was to explore the influence of the Development Teams’ processes on USAF field-grade officers worldwide to determine the efficacy of the Development Teams' processes for identifying, selecting, and/or developing leaders who meet current and future needs of the service. The USAF (2008a) defined the development team processes as the conduits between USAF policy, force development systems, and organizational frameworks used to generate career paths for personnel. A total of 14 Development Team representatives, in the form of general officers or their delegates, completed questionnaires to contribute feedback to the study. The knowledge gathered through the study might allow current business theories and practices, as they pertain to leadership development, to be applied to the USAF leadership development problem. An improved leadership development program might help the U.S. military protect the American people and maintain regional stability (Korb, Singer, Hurlburt, & Hunter, 2010). As an added benefit, the results of the study might not only help the USAF, but other business as well due the generalizability of many LDP analysis results (Preece & Iles, 2009). Nature of the Study Case study research is a research design that researchers use when attempting to explore a problem using a case as the focus (Bansal & Corley, 2012; Yin, 2009). Data collection, interviews, observations, audiovisual material, and documents or reports can comprise the analysis for developing findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Bansal and Corley (2012) noted that case study design is efficacious in the fields of law, social sciences, medicine, and
psychology. When researchers use case studies as a research design for organizational leadership, qualitative research can provide a detailed description about the atmosphere of the organization and the myriad of relationships that affected it (Yukl et al., 2009). A qualitative case study was the most appropriate method for the study because it provided an in-depth analysis of the USAF officer-development process to determine its effectiveness. Both McCaslin (2003) and Yin (2009) indicated answering the how of a particular lived event is most effectively accomplished by a case study. Because the purpose for the research was to explore the Development Team process and attempt to answer how the Development Teams develop leaders, the qualitative method was selected. Research Question One of the most difficult aspects of a case study design is creating the appropriate research question (Vissak, 2010; Yin, 2009). In qualitative research, researchers use a broad central question as the basis for data collection. An overarching question replaces the quantitative hypothesis of the study. Where quantitative research data are derived from specific questions that typically answer yes or no, qualitative research data originate from a broad central research question so as not to limit the scope of the questioning (Fortune, White, Jugdev, & Walker, 2011). The central research question for the study was the following: How effective are the USAF Development Teams at developing leaders to meet current and future needs? Questionnaire Questions x
How do the USAF Development Teams posture (or fail to posture) leaders to meet national and military strategic objectives?
How do the objectives of the USAF Development Team program align (or fail to
align) with the strategic objectives of the USAF? x
How do the USAF Development Teams adequately posture (or fail to posture) officer talent capable of filling talent gaps within the service?
How do the USAF Development Teams measure (or fail to measure) officers’ past performance when determining assignments, developmental education, and command?
How effective (or ineffective) are the USAF Development Teams at assessing the results of boards’ decisions once they have been implemented?
How do the USAF Development Teams' processes affect (or not affect) the overall organizational environment of the USAF?
How do career-centered Development Teams (rather than a “Big Air Force” Development Team) impact the overall USAF? Conceptual Framework
A theoretical framework, sometimes referred to as the conceptual framework or a paradigm, is the process through which people understand phenomena by applying a set of concepts that form a systematic construct to explain why things occur (Paranjpe, 2010; Yukl et al., 2009). For many doctoral leadership studies, a single theory was insufficient to cover the breadth or depth of the issues, and the integration of various leadership theories became necessary (Caruthers, 2011; Guilleux, 2011; Hoffschwelle, 2011; Kao, 2011). In some cases, the authors synthesized the theories into concise narratives (Guilleux, 2011; Hoffschwelle, 2011); in other cases, the authors discussed each theory individually, distinguishing clear lines among them and explaining how each applied to the authors’ particular studies (Caruthers, 2011; Kao,
2011). The four key theories that relate to the study of the evaluation of the USAF Development Teams include: (a) Hersey and Blanchard’s (2012) situational leadership theory, (b) Fayol’s (1949) theory of management, (c) Friedman’s (1985) theory of differentiated leadership, and (d) Lewin’s (1947) change theory. Each theory connects to Cohen’s (2011) leadership development model that was the framework for the analysis of the USAF Development Teams. Hersey and Blanchard (2012) outlined the importance of assessing performance and using the results of that assessment to properly align and lead subordinates for success. Fayol (1949), having a rich military background, described the deeply rooted connection between strategy and objective alignment to organizational success. Lewin (1947) and Friedman (1985) both described the relationships between organizational dynamics, change, and successful leaders, a subject of significant importance to the organizational balance section of the current study. Cohen’s framework and each supporting theory are further developed in the review of professional and academic literature. Definition of Terms Air Staff: Headquarters USAF staff members assigned to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to develop policy and to interact with congressional and other DoD services (USAF, 2009). Assignment: A duty position/location for military members (USAF, 2011b). Brigadier General: The first pay grade (O-7) of a military executive assigned to the USAF, Army, or Marine Corps, often referred to as general or a one star (Air Education & Training Command, 1995).
Collectivism: The concept surrounding behaviors that focus on the entire organization, such as providing ideas to benefit the organization (de León & Finkelstein, 2011). Developmental Team: USAF leadership development teams that guide officer and civilian careers to develop organizational and occupational competence through education, skills training, and practical experience (USAF, 2008a). Doctrine: A declaration of fundamental principles and beliefs that military forces use to guide their actions in support of national objectives (USAF, 2011e). Individualism: The concept surrounding behaviors that focus on specific individuals or groups within an organization (e.g., providing ideas to benefit one person or group of persons within an organization; de León & Finkelstein, 2011). Major Commands (MAJCOMs): Functional units that are subordinate to the Air Staff (USAF, 2011a). Military (or desired) End State: A set of conditions that result in the achievement of all military objectives (CJCS, 2001a). Objectives (application): Accomplishments required declaring a project successful (Phillips & Phillips, 2010). Objectives (impact): The result of actions on operations measures, to include time, quality, cost, and productivity (Phillips & Phillips, 2010). Purposive Sampling: Participants with specific expertise are deliberately recruited to guarantee their familiarity with the subject (Leahy, 2013). Questionnaire: An instrument researchers use to collect information from participants through a series of questions (Tonkovic & Vranic, 2011).
Regional Stability: The state of geographically co-located nations when economic and military power is balanced (Russell, 2009). Snowball Sampling: A sampling method where a smaller sample of participants lead a researcher to a larger group of participants, usually through referral. He and Li (2011) used snowball sampling when they e-mailed a questionnaire to 10 participants who further distributed the e-mail to other qualified participants. The total participation for the study went from 10 to 268 respondents (He & Li, 2011). Strategy: Managing resources within a nation or organization to promote and secure vital interests (Nandakumar, Ghobadian, & O’Regan, 2010). Temporary Duty (TDY): A military-funded business endeavor where members perform duties in a location other than their normal work location. During this effort, military members accrue allowances or entitlements (USAF, 2011c). Think Tank: A group of experts who convene to solve a single problem, or set of problems, in a given sector (Brodeski, Beall, & Larson, 2012). Vectors: A career path recommendation for officers and civilians based on past experience and potential to develop in a future position (USAF, 2008a). Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations Assumptions The following assumptions underlay the research design: 1. Due to the anonymity afforded by the online questionnaire process and protection of participants required by the Walden University Institutional Review Board (IRB), participants provided honest answers when they completed the questionnaire.
2. Participants, being board members, understood their roles in the process, possessed a strategic view of a Development Team's intent, and had seen the impacts Development Teams have had on the officers affected by them. 3. Prior knowledge and USAF affiliation of the researcher did not bias the results of the completed study. Limitations Given the size of the USAF, the number of officers, and the single investigator conducting the research, the study only included feedback provided by 14 participants of the larger pool of officers. The study was limited to those individuals who are recent or present Development Team chairs and accessible to complete the online questionnaire. The data collected represented the results of a sample of USAF field-grade officers, all of whom are responsible for overseeing their individual portion of the Development Team program, and these data might not necessarily reflect an accurate picture of the entire USAF officer population opinion. Delimitations The limited scope of the study included senior leaders who serve as Development Team panel members, thus excluding more junior company grade officers. Other protected classes could not be entirely excluded due to the anonymous data collection technique, so the entire research process was low risk to protect participants. The measures are explained in detail in Section 2.
Significance of the Study Reduction of Gaps It was important for the USAF leaders to obtain an outside objective view on the effectiveness of the Development Team process to address any shortcomings or flaws that might be inherent to it (J. Knight, personal communication, July 13, 2011). Within the education and development community, managers use assessments to evaluate a program's effectiveness and to identify areas for program improvement (Stassen, Doherty, & Poe, 2012). Similarly, leadership development program assessors within profit and not-for-profit industries attempt to assess effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, examine customer relations, improve decision making, and examine internal process (Hannum & Martineau, 2008). In 2007, the RAND Corporation conducted a quantitative study to examine officer awareness of the Development Team and how it functioned, but a thorough examination of program objectives versus outcomes was missing (Moore & Brauner, 2007). The USAF Chief of Force Development Policy and Integration identified the need for such an examination and said the current study would be both needed and valuable (see Appendix A). By following the value chain model presented by Cohen (2011), the method used in the current study can be adopted by administrators of any organization wishing to conduct a leadership development assessment (S. Cohen, personal communication, July 24, 2011). Implications for Social Change The U.S. military is responsible for numerous initiatives and acts that have inspired positive social change, not only among American forces, but also around the world in a myriad of venues. These changes range in type and intensity based on locations, scenarios, and available
resources but, typically, they involve humanitarian relief efforts, political reforms, and the liberation of nations from oppression (Brookshire, 2009; East, 2010; Hadley & Podesta, 2012). The importance of the armed forces’ influence over a nation’s economy, political practices, social orders, and cultural values cannot be denied (Lynn, 2008). Yukl et al. (2009) stressed the importance of leadership, especially good leadership, because leaders can promote the prosperity and survival of an organization. Section 3 contains recommendations to help the USAF refine its program and enhance the quality of the leaders it produces. The future stability of the United States depends upon the development and thorough education of an intelligent military that will help to ensure regional stability and quality of life (Korb, Singer, Hurlburt, & Hunter, 2010). A Review of the Professional and Academic Literature Leadership has a variety of influences on an organization’s strategy, ethical behavior, organizational culture, transformations, and productivity (Yukl et al., 2009). For this reason, training management (TM) or leadership development (LD) programs (TMPs/LDPs) have become a core part of executive strategies (DeFilippo & Arneson, 2011). Cohen (2011) confirmed, “The most effective leader development requires an organizational commitment to giving leaders the tools for success and ensuring alignment with business goals” (p. 54). A challenge of any LDP is ensuring the program is part of the strategic guidance, aligns with that strategy, develops necessary talent, and ensures leader performance meets organizational needs (Cohen, 2011). Assessment programs exist to ensure the improvement and effectiveness of the LDP (Clevette & Cohen, 2007; Gabel, Harker, & Sanders, 2011). The literature review for the study covers a detailed exploration of the leadership theories surrounding the study, then focuses on the areas critical to LDPs. Finally, per the request of the USAF (P. J. Valenzuela, personal
communication, August 28, 2011) and to strengthen the credibility of the literature review, the literature review contains content regarding organizational behavior and how it relates to the areas above. The literature review contains references in the form of (a) books, (b) journals, (c) websites, and (d) peer-reviewed government regulations from the USAF publication website and the Walden University library. Leadership Development
Figure 2. The literature review map. The map serves as a visual representation of the literature review section and it is intended to portray the relationships among the professional and academic literature and how these tenets tie into the study. Leadership Theories Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory. To understand the assessment portion of the research and traditional USAF training practices, it is necessary to review Hersey and Blanchard’s (2012) situational leadership theory. Developed in the 1970s, the theory divides leadership tasks into two categories: directive task-oriented and supportive relationship-oriented (Caruthers, 2011). The situational leadership theory’s corresponding model, the situational leadership II model, is used by the USAF during professional military education (PME) courses as part of its leadership development training (USAF, 2011d). Based on a quantitative study conducted by Thompson and Vecchio (2009), three versions of the theory exist, with each varying slightly based on leadership/employee interactions. Regardless of the version, the general concept of the situational leadership theory model is that for each employee’s readiness
and behavior level, there is an associated and prescribed leadership behavior to best support productivity (Thompson & Vecchio, 2009). The situational leadership theory suggests four styles of leadership based on the directive/supportive matrix: telling, coaching, supporting, and delegating (Fisher, 2009). The style selected by the leader is based on employee willingness and ability (Fisher, 2009). Situational leadership theory is an excellent model to understand one-onone leader/follower relationships within the USAF. To understand and to examine the USAF leadership style on a more macro level, Fayol's (1949) theory of management will follow. Fayol’s theory of management. Fayol, one of the most authoritative management theorists of the 20th century, developed the theory based on the belief management should be approached as a system (Anderson, 2012; Gonzalez-Serna, 2012). Fayol’s (1949) systematic theory was key to management being established as its own discipline, but, perhaps more importantly, it inspired management education (Pryor & Taneja, 2010). Pryor and Taneja (2010) compared Fayol’s principles and Porter’s 5Ps, a popular strategic leadership model, and found them to be strikingly similar. Fayol’s theory assigned six functions to management. Those six functions were forecasting, planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling and Fayol combined these functions with equity, morality, and courage (Pryor & Taneja, 2010). Pryor and Taneja described Porter’s 5Ps as purpose, principles, processes, people, and performance. Figure 3 depicts the similarity between Fayol and Porter’s theories. Because of its strong relationship to strategic leadership, and the study’s focus on strategy as a subcompartment of leadership development, understanding Fayol’s theory is fundamental to understand the scope of the research.
Figure 3. An original, side by side comparison of Fayol and Porter’s theories. Friedman’s theory of differentiated leadership. Directly tying into the research study, Friedman's (1985) work was focused on making leaders more effective. The mechanism for the theory is regulation of one’s own emotions, such as anxiety (Robinson, 2002). Differentiated leadership, unlike quick-fix leadership, does not focus on data and technique (Stone, 2008). As with Fayol’s (1949) theory, Friedman’s theory is a systems perspective on leadership (Hauschildt, 2012). Friedman's theory is better understood by comparing a human to a biological cell. Each cell is differentiated, in that it knows its own distinctive function but it still works as part of a larger group (Robinson, 2002). Humans are also part of a larger group, be it an organization, a family, or a social gathering. Like cells in the body, a differentiated leader can stay connected to the organization, without losing his or her identity (Robinson, 2002). Differentiated leaders can be unbiased when they make decisions because they do not take on the emotional anxiety of the group. Robinson (2002) also discussed poorly differentiated individuals and compared them to viruses that destroy a community by contaminating the rest of the organization with their anxiety. Examining the theory was important due to the importance of military leadership to remain above the fray. Lewin’s Change Theory. To create a leadership development program capable of training critical thinkers, the curriculum planners must understand how to effectively educate
students on change management. One of the most popular change theories to date is Lewin’s (1947) change theory (Maon, Lindgreen, & Swaen, 2009). Lewin’s change theory is centered on the concept of doing away with past processes to allow for new processes to become the norm. The process of change occurs in three stages (Maon et al., 2009). First, an organization undergoing change must forget the status quo and allow old processes to be viewed from fresh standpoints. The unfreeze stage affords employees the opportunity to confront the unchallenged practices of the past (Burke, 2011; Maon et al., 2009). Second is the move stage, which describes the phase in a given point in time where an organization is receptive to fresh ideas and is able to transition from old processes to new practices (Burke, 2011; Moan et al., 2009). Finally, when new cultural norms are established, management must refreeze those norms into place. During the refreeze stage, organizations might be required to develop or restructure internal functions to support the new mode of thinking. Once the change process is complete, an organization would have gone through an unfreeze, a move, and a refreeze stage as it transitioned from one organizational structure to the next (Burke, 2011; Moan et al., 2009). Burke (2011) claimed that these stages occur in every organization that undergoes change; however, the length of each stage varies depending on the organization. U.S. national defense budget cuts continually force military services to undergo change by streamlining processes, reducing manpower, and eliminating nonessential functions (Levesque, 2011; Scales, 2012). In some cases, military leaders are forced to restructure their organization to support 30% reductions in personnel (Levesque, 2011). With such drastic force reductions, and no foreseeable stability within the U.S. budget, understanding Lewin's change theory could become increasingly more important to develop military leaders.
Strategy Strategy, in the business sense, is an analogy the business world adopted from the military description, the process of managing and using the resources of a country, or group of countries, including its military, to promote and secure its vital interests (Sedysheva, 2012). Although most businesses do not possess a nation, or coalition of nations, the concept of controlling resources to meet an objective remains the same (Sedysheva, 2012). Developing and executing strategy is both an art and science (Rueschhoff & Dunne, 2011). There are strategy diagrams in both Eastern and Western traditions that include five elements (or areas) for success (Chu, 2010; Harvard Business Press, 2005). Among the elements of Western strategy are mission, goals, strategy creation, implementation, and performance measurement (Montana & Charnov, 2008). An Eastern strategy model identifies five elements: ethics, timing, resources, leadership, and management (Chu, 2010). Although they might seem quite different, a crossreference of both theories as seen in Figure 4 reveals how intertwined these models really are
ͻ A function of management
ͻ Ethics driven
ͻ Executed by leadership ͻ Based on timing
ͻ Developed by leadership ͻ Based on available resources
Figure 4. An original figure - designed to cross-reference the Harvard (2005) and Chu (2010) strategy models. Strategy has a proven importance to an organization and it is not under the same scrutiny strategic leadership is, which is still an area of controversy among authors (Yukl et al., 2009). Yukl et al. (2009) insisted strategic leadership is necessary even though the importance of specific top executives as strategic leaders is dependent on their situations. Some authors emphasize the importance of top executives (McGee, 2006), while others insist top executives have minimal impact on employee performance (Meindl, Ehrlich, & Dukerich, 1985). In either case, the development of the skills necessary to be a strategic leader below the executive level will ensure the skills are present at the appropriate time. National Security Strategy. If one is to understand DoD strategy, it is necessary to review the overarching guidance that drives it, the National Security Strategy. Further supporting the need for leadership research within the U.S. government is the number one priority of the National Security Strategy, which is renewing American leadership (The White House, 2010). The White House (2010) used the catch phrase “building at home, shaping abroad” to explain the president’s commitment to develop a more robust foundation for American leadership within the United States, thus improving the nation’s effectiveness on an international level (p. 2). White House leaders identified American interests that leaders must focus on to ensure the national security of the United States. The first interest identified was U.S. security. Particularly, the White House (2010) was referencing the physical and economic security of the United States and allied nations. Second was the importance of a strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy that promotes opportunity and prosperity. Third was to establish respect
for universal values at home and around the world. The fourth was to develop an international order advanced by U.S. leadership that promotes security, peace, and opportunity for citizens through relationships that enable them to meet global challenges. National Military Strategy. The National Military Strategy (also referred to as the joint strategy) is provided by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and it bridges to the National Security Strategy by the national defense strategy, joint strategic capabilities plan, and contingency planning guidance (CJCS, 2008, 2011b). The National Military Strategy is responsible for aiding the president and the Secretary of Defense by delivering strategic direction to the Armed Forces. The National Military Strategy also translates into implementable direction for operational activities and it gives military commanders strategic and operational guidance based upon current military capabilities, personnel being one of those capabilities (Gregg, 2011). Admiral Mullen (2011), former Chairman, described the National Military Strategy vision as maintaining a Joint military presence capable of defending the United States and U.S. allies and promoting peace, national security, and prosperity in line with the expectations of the American people. U.S. Air Force strategy. In the words of General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold, “We must think in terms of tomorrow” (as cited in Air University, 2011, para. 1) Though Arnold's quote might seem relatively straightforward, it actually refers to long-term strategic planning, usually with a focus of 5 years or more (Montana & Charnov, 2008). A simple way to understand the concept of strategic planning is by using an Alice in Wonderland excerpt: Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I should go from here? Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to go.
Alice: I don’t care where. Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go. (Montana & Charnov,
p. 119) Unlike Alice, the DoD knows where it needs to go because the National Security Strategy provides such guidance. Based on National Security Strategy guidance, the CJCS (2011a) determined military leaders should understand America’s national and military strategy and how to utilize that understanding to meet military end-states and objectives. These end-states include achieving military objectives abroad instead of waiting for the enemy to bring a conflict to the United States (Borer, 2011). The USAF is key to the National Security Strategy because of its ability to provide the United States with global mobility, reach, and power (Mosser, 2009). To align with the National Security Strategy and help meet USAF strategic goals, Air University created a number of schools and centers for development and education (USAF, 2010): The Center for Strategy and Technology, the Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education, the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education, and the Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development Center for Strategy and Technology (CSAT). Holtzman (2011) argued that businesses should maintain a robust research and development department to meet short term goals and secure long-term survival. The CSAT was created in 1996 by the USAF Air War College to conduct strategic research and critical analyses of the long-term implications of technology on United States national security (USAF, 2010). It is an academic support organization that specializes in strategic research, education, and publications that integrate technology with national strategy. CSAT’s primary customers are think tanks, educational institutions, and
political and military executives (USAF, 2010). The alignment between the recommendations of Holtzman (2011) and the USAF's implementation of CSAT represents another similarity between corporate and military strategic similarities. Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education. Corporate leaders have an important need for professional development due to the relationship between leader professional development and organizational success (Davis & Callahan, 2012; Roberts & Sampson, 2011). The Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education serves as the USAF consolidated education institution for providing professional military education to commissioned officers. Four schools within the center educate officers on strategy, history, and the profession of arms: Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, Squadron Officer College, and International Officer School (USAF, 2010). An understanding of each of the following schools reveals different levels of development where officers are provided education on national and military strategy. Air War College: The USAF’s senior school annually provides strategic-level education to over 250 colonels, foreign senior officers, and equivalent government civilians. Air Command and Staff College: The USAF’s intermediate level school awards a master’s degree in military operational art and science to entry-level field grade officers and equivalent grade foreign officers and government civilians. Squadron Officer College: The USAF’s entry-level school focuses on junior officers on military history, teamwork, accountability, and leadership. Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education. An organization's vision is typically translated into some form of doctrine, or publication of the company's values and beliefs (Rahimnia, Moghadasian, & Mashreghi, 2011). The Curtis E. LeMay Center for
Doctrine and Development and Education creates, publishes, and educates leaders on USAF doctrine (USAF, 2011e). McRitchie (2011) has written about the quality of USAF doctrine, and he emphasized the strong presence of USAF language in joint doctrine. “The Air Force has a good doctrine system down. A great deal of joint doctrine has an Air Force flavor because many Air Force officers are dedicated to writing joint doctrine” (McRitchie, 2011, p. 4). The intent of McRitchie's comment was to identify how the various branches of the armed forces all turn to USAF style doctrine, because the LeMay Center does it so well. Ira C. Eaker College for Professional Development (CPD). The mission of the CPD is to provide professional, multidiscipline, high-quality education and technical training to USAF, DoD, and foreign students (USAF, 2010). The CPD was founded in 1986 and renamed in 1993 to honor General Eaker’s significant contributions to the USAF, professional development, and the advancement of aviation. The CPD consists of five schools that focus on leadership development in special fields across the USAF: Defense Financial Management and Comptroller School, National Security Space Institute, Air Force Human Resource Management School, USAF Chaplain Corps College, and Commander’s Professional Development School (USAF, 2010). Be it on the battlefield or in a business’s conference room, the development of strategic processes, proper plans, and well-founded vision are important to organizational success (Robinson, 2012). The president of the United States provides strategic vision in the form of the National Security Strategy, which feeds into the National Military Strategy and USAF strategy. To provide strategic leadership, training, and development, Air University’s president operates a number of colleges and centers, each focusing on different elements or dynamics required by
USAF personnel. Developing and Alignment Objectives Educating future leaders on strategy exclusively is not sufficient for the creation of an effective leadership development program (Cohen, 2011). A robust leadership program must develop learning objectives and align them with an organization’s strategy to produce leaders with competencies that enable them to satisfy strategic goals and produce desired results (Cohen, 2011). An empirical study conducted by Oltra and Flor (2010) further supported claims by Cohen (2011) by demonstrating a positive relationship among factors such as operations, strategy, performance, cost priorities, and quality. In contrast, Oltra and Flor noted a negative relationship among operations strategy and flexibility and delivery. Because of the observed imbalance resulting from aligning strategy to meet organizational objectives, a deeper review of the related literature was appropriate and required. Additional studies demonstrated positive relationships between aligning objectives with an effective strategy and results (Carman, 2010; Tehrani, 2008). Carman (2010) urged developers to prioritize the alignment of learning and development objectives with organizations’ business objectives. With so many scholarly sources proving the need for learning objective/strategy alignment, the next step became a focus on how to create objectives. Developing learning objectives. Aligning learning objectives with corporate strategy requires leadership development program administrators to develop suitable objectives for alignment. Development projects and programs in today’s highly competitive environment require sufficiently designed impact and application objectives (Phillips & Phillips, 2010; Towns, 2010). The development process requires strict criteria and a fundamental understanding
of benefits, returns on investment (ROI), and the importance of objectives under development (Phillips & Phillips, 2010). It is important to explore objective development criteria to fully understand how the critical development process can make or break and entire program or even an organization. Objective criteria. Developing objective criteria is an important aspect of developing learning objectives and is an art that largely rests in the hands of classroom teachers, not technicians or businesspersons (Watson, 2010). It is important objectives are specific and they clearly quantify goals (Carman, 2010; Phillips & Phillips, 2010). To provide clarity, Table 1 depicts some examples of specific objectives and it also provides examples of possible objectives with clear, measurable outcomes. Table 1 Sample Objectives Sample measurable objective Increase customer volume by 7% in three months. Review 100 claims within 8 hours, error free.
Type Marketing Performance
Make 100% contact with the population.
Destroy 90% of planned targets.
Pass a written exam with an 80% or better in less than one hour.
With most leadership development programs, objectives will be based on performance or learning outcomes. In the case of performance, Phillips and Phillips (2010) recommended criteria be performance or time-based. For learning objectives, the objective criteria should be concrete and accurately reflect a student’s understanding of the material (Rochelle, Umans, & McCarter, 2010). Phillips and Phillips (2010) argued most objectives (of all types) tend to be
time-based. Developers can represent time-based criteria in performance objectives by setting deadlines as demonstrated in the performance example in Table 1. Developers can apply timebased criteria to learning objectives through timed performance measurements or via timed exams that test knowledge and speed at which students can recall information as demonstrated in the education example within Table 1. According to Phillips and Phillips (2010), failure to develop clear criteria is caused by a number of issues. These issues include incomplete development, unclear objectives that leave goals open to interpretation, lack of specificity on certain details, and missing objectives. Stokes, Rosetti, and King (2010) concluded there are various techniques developers can use to create effective objectives. A common mistake, is designing the objectives for the wrong purposes. Well-developed objectives are written to facilitate and enhance student learning, not to assist faculty with the presentation of the information (Stokes et al., 2010). Action verbs are used to describe objectives; however, well written objectives do not include words that are difficult to quantify, such as appreciate, learn, and understand (Stokes et al., 2010). It is important for learning practitioners to focus on desired knowledge, attitude, and skill outcomes instead of simply presenting topics. Finally, Stokes et al. (2010) emphasized the importance of ensuring course objectives are aligned with activities, to preclude inadvertently training students on the wrong skills. The importance of developing precise objectives. Leadership program developers need to understand the importance of the objectives they develop if they are to be successful (Phillips & Phillips, 2010). Properly developed objectives provide a number of benefits. One obvious benefit of properly developed objectives is the strong relationship between materials developed
and intended learning outcomes (Stokes et al., 2010). A second benefit of properly developed objectives is the guidance they provide to program administrators and faculty to keep their actions aligned with intended learning outcomes (Phillips & Phillips, 2010). Finally, well developed objectives provide an exact measurement for both student outcomes and program impacts on organizations (Phillips & Phillips, 2010). Poor objective development cannot guarantee these benefits and doing so will likely result in opposite effects or outcomes. Return on investment (ROI) to the organization. Determining the actual value of a leadership development program is both extremely difficult and extremely important (Peters, Baum, & Stephens, 2011). Some claim that billions of dollars are spent on programs that provide little return (Miller, 2005), while others claim their leadership programs are worth the investment (Mansor, 2010). A survey of business executives, including chief financial officers, revealed the number of U.S. organizations that know the ROI for their human capital programs is less than 20% (Lawler, 2008). Peters, Baum, and Stephens (2011) urged the application of a financial construct for ROI calculation for leadership development programs. The recommendation to use a financial construct was echoed by Mansor (2010) and Phillips and Phillips (2010), who agreed on the following formula for ROI calculation: ROI = [(return – investment) ÷ investment] x 100 Under the above financial ROI construct, (Peters et al., 2010) insisted developers assume development programs must have direct, positive economic impacts. Program results must mature during the time frames analysts’ measure such economic outcomes (Peters et al., 2010). Outcomes must have statistical reliability and this reliability must include isolation from other organizational factors that could have had confounding effects on outcomes (Peters et al., 2010).
Finally, developers must assume the graduates of leadership development programs must be employed with the same organizations, in the same positions, long enough to affect measured outcomes (Peters et al., 2011). If all above assumptions are correct, with regard to a given leadership development program, then ROI calculations will be relevant. With human capital development costs high and continuing to rise, executives continue to ask for evidence their expenditures are worth the ROI (Peters et al., 2011). The development of effective objectives produces results that enable companies to adequately measure the impacts their programs have on their corporations (Phillips & Phillips, 2010). Leaders at all levels of an organization need to be involved with organizations’ human capital investment activities (Peters et al., 2011). Talent Management Once organizational objectives are developed and aligned with business strategies, development programs need to focus on filling personnel gaps within organizations with those with appropriate skills sets (Cohen, 2011). Highly competitive organizations can only remain competitive when they have superior talent to fill those gaps (Lawler, 2008). Talent management, more recently referred to as workforce planning, is the art of aligning personnel who possess the necessary skills sets in positions critical to their organizations (Shen, 2011). Talent management was defined by Tansley (2011) as employing the appropriate number of adequately qualified personnel necessary to effectively run an organization. Several experts even hypothesized talent management will become a key factor for success, more important than what are considered the more traditional elements for success, such as capital and technology (Lawler, 2008; Srinivasan, 2011). To achieve a desired level of aptitude adequately, Lawler
(2008) recommended leaders spend 30 to 50 percent of their time on talent management. Business executives' foci on human capital are even more important than those on their financial capital (Lawler, 2008). With little variance, related literature on talent management agreed senior leadership should place equal, if not higher, emphases on talent management than on financial management. Most of the reviewed talent management literature was centered on manifest talent, or talent that already exists within an organization (Lawler, 2008; Merlino, 2011). Little research has been devoted to unmanifest talent, or talent that remains hidden within average employees (Srinivasan, 2011). In the case of the USAF Development Teams, it is entirely concerned with the more traditional focus, the redistribution (or vectoring) of military personnel who already possess talent (USAF, 2010). A shift in focus of talent management has led many human resources (HR) specialists to lean toward developing long-term, high-performance human capital models, much like those in engineering, supply-chain management, and finance (Agrawal, 2010; Grobler & Zock, 2010; Shen, 2011). Prior to the current model, many organizations used short-term workforce planning techniques that produced less satisfactory results (Grobler & Zock, 2010; Shen, 2011). Other talent management models integrated talent management and technology innovation models due to their close relationships and emerging innovative trends on both fronts (Merlino, 2011). Integrated models such as this would allow government and corporate policy makers to more effectively understand and manage talent and technology to maximize their competitive advantages (Merlino, 2011). Capabilities and competencies. Whatever model is implemented, the best talent
management systems empower personnel with experiences that positively impact key capabilities and (in the case of the USAF) core competencies of the organization (Lawler, 2008). The USAF focuses its mission on dominance in air, space, and cyberspace, as reflected by the competencies and capabilities noted below (USAF, 2011). The USAF’s core competencies are developing Airmen, bringing technology to war fighting, and integrating operations (USAF, 2011). Because the Development Teams are an essential part of the USAF’s development program, the study was used to explore whether or not the Development Teams’ produces the talent necessary to meet these competencies. The USAF’s core competencies enable the USAF to execute six distinctive capabilities (USAF, 2011): (a) air and space superiority, (b) global attack, (c) rapid global mobility, (d) precision engagement, (e) information superiority, and (f) agile combat support. Air and space superiority allows joint forces to maintain control of friendly and hostile airspace, thus protecting allied land, sea, and air forces. Global attack capabilities represent the USAF’s ability to engage a target anywhere, anytime, through the use of resources and technology. The ability to mobilize anywhere in the world within a matter of hours or days demonstrates the USAF’s rapid global mobility. A well-known characteristic of the USAF is its ability to employ specific force against selected targets to achieve desired effects, with minimal collateral damage. Precision engagement was extremely useful during the Gulf War. The ability to leverage information superiority in a combat environment enables commanders to maintain situational awareness, command, and control over a battle area. Finally, agile combat support allows deployed units to remain sustainable and flexible, whether they are temporary or permanent locations.
Obtaining talent. Obtaining the right talent for an organization is critical. Organizations are constantly competing to obtain the talent they need (Lawler, 2008). The USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services published the importance of accessing highly qualified Airmen who can, in turn, train others that can be provided to field commanders without diminishing the quality of support or adding further stress to careers that are already undermanned to compensate for talent gaps (USAF, 2008). The particular type of high-performance talent, which many development programs hope to produce, is not a resource that loses its demand during a recession (Lawler, 2008). Although the USAF bases its accessions on the service's needs (USAF, 2008), it does not limit the percentage of highly qualified personnel it takes in. In fact, professional military education programs exist for all development levels of Airmen (USAF, 2010). Obtaining talent is difficult, and when done improperly, it can be costly (Bottger & Barsoux, 2012). Personnel, especially leaders, must be placed where they fit. Bottger and Barsoux (2012) have explained the four dimensions of fit as: fitting with the position, fitting with the team, fitting with the leader, and fitting with the organization. The concept of fitting the right leadership into the right circumstance coincides with the conceptual framework for the study, because it is nearly an exact modeling of Blanchard’s and Hersey’s situational leadership theory. In order to make these fits, organizations develop hiring criteria (Bottger & Barsoux, 2012; USAF, 2008b). Within the USAF, Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) scores measure aptitude for enlisted personnel and Air Force Officer Qualify Test (AFOQT) scores fulfill the same requirement for officers (USAF, 2008b). The USAF requires some accessions to possess specific degrees to be hired into a field, such as nurses, physicians,
lawyers, meteorologists, and several others. Once accessed, USAF Airmen are sent to various technical and professional development schools throughout their careers to acquire necessary talent for their career field and rank (USAF, 2010; USAF, 2008b). Because of the job placement function of the USAF Development Teams, it is important to note Bottger and Barsoux’s (2012) recommended three steps for senior leaders to ensure proper fit. First was the need to identify high performance individuals who are in need or ready for a position change. Second was the recommendation for leaders to investigate candidates’ team potential, assessing how easy or difficult they are to work with or work for. Third, Bottger and Barsoux encouraged leaders to develop interview criteria that dived into the essence of the ideal candidate. Retaining talent. Little attention has been given to talent retention, and more importantly, its relationship to performance (Kontoghiorghes & Frangou, 2009). Kane (2011) argued the U.S. Armed Forces create the most entrepreneurial and innovative leaders, but then they waste the talent in bureaucracies that are overly risk-adverse. According to Kane, the Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute conducted a 2010 retention survey that revealed declining retention rates for company grade officers in the military, many of them highperformance officers. Claims by Kontoghiorghes and Frangou (2009) that autonomy is an important factor in retaining talented employees are consistent with Kane’s conclusions, and they added additional factors that help retain talented entrepreneurs, such as tolerating subordinates' mistakes and allowing them to take risks. Leaders need to invest in their human capital to develop employee commitment (Kontoghiorghes & Frangou, 2009). Enhanced employee commitment not only helps retention, but it also positively affects performance (Elmadag, Ellinger, & Franke, 2008). Kontoghiorghes
and Frangou (2009) described three types of organizational commitment: affective, normative, and continuance. Affective commitment refers to the kind of commitment powered by emotional attachment to an organization. Normative commitment is used to describe an employee’s obligation to maintain membership in the organization. Continuance commitment refers to commitment measured by the perceived costs of leaving an organization. According to Kontoghiorghes and Frangou, understanding the different types of commitment and how to instill them into employees helps managers more effectively retain talent. USAF talent retention and promotion. Within the USAF, a number of measures are employed to retain talent. One measure, the force shaping board, aims to minimize the force to the appropriate number of officers by selecting the best qualified officers for retention on active duty (AFPC, 2011a). Similarly, USAF officers are selected for promotion based on their potential to succeed in higher grades on a “best qualified” basis (USAF, 2009a, p. 18). For enlisted Airmen, talent and promotion potential area measured through the weighted airman promotion system (WAPS), which assigns points to an Airman's score based on the following factors (USAF, 2009b): (a) time at current grade/rank, (b) time in uniformed military service, (c) performance report ratings, (d) scores from skills knowledge tests that measure job knowledge, (e) scores from professional development guide tests that measure military knowledge, and (f) the number and type of decorations awarded. A consistent pattern throughout the review of talent management literature was the lack of attention this area receives from the professional fields. Companies where management has well employed talent management practices succeed, while those that have not struggle to assess the reasons for their failures (Bottger & Barsoux, 2012; Kontoghiorghes & Frangou, 2009).
More and more organizational leaders are beginning to value human capital and the benefits that come with effectively managing talent; however, managing talent is not enough (Montana & Charnov, 2008). Employers are determining the need to have a metric in place to measure the performance of their leadership development program graduates to ensure program effectiveness (Montana & Charnov, 2008). Performance Management To develop a metric for program management, it is first necessary to understand what performance management is. When discussing the goals of leadership development programs, the performance management aspect is intended to develop leaders who produce goods and/or services capable of meeting or exceeding the needs of organizations’ customers (Cohen, 2011). If the ultimate customer of the U.S. military is the American people, and the service it provides is national defense, then the objective of a military leadership development program should be to produce leaders who are able to meet or to exceed the requirements necessary to effectively and efficiently defend the citizens of the United States. One of the factors used to measure the effectiveness of leaders’ performance is the performance of their teams. Houldsworth and Machin (2008) claimed the ability to manage teams effectively set employees’ experience, which later translated into improved business climates and higher performance levels for entire teams. Once higher performance standards have been reached, it is the role of leaders and managers to maintain the momentum within their teams (Vasilaki & O’Regan, 2008). Establishing and maintaining a high performance atmosphere is not the only measure of leader performance, as Vasilaki and O’Regan (2008) identified a number of objectives to be met for a leader’s performance to be acceptable.
One of these objectives is the ability to effectively lead organizational change (Vasilaki & O’Regan, 2008). One of the earliest theorists of organizational change was Kurt Lewin (Maon et al., 2009). When developing the theory, Lewin was primarily concerned with abolishing former processes and implementing new processes (Maon et al., 2009). Yukl et al. (2009) deemed task delegation, follower motivation, positively affected organizational culture, organizational change, diversity management, and behavior as the responsibility of leadership and management. Of those responsibilities identified, leading organizational change was said to be the most challenging of all to accomplish successfully (Yukl et al., 2009). Organizations that fail to adapt to dynamic environments do not survive (Kotter, 2007). Lucey (2008) described an early organizational change study that found “leading practitioners of corporate re-engineering report that success rates in Fortune 1000 companies are well below 50%; some say they are as low as 20%” (p. 11).” Several years afterward, another change study claimed 75% of organizational transformations would fail (Lucey, 2008). Developing a vision to promote change and inspiring, motivating, and enlisting employees to see that change through is the responsibility of leaders (Vasilaki & O’Regan, 2008). Strategic performance management is similar to change management. Ultimately, the management of an organization is important because it directly relates to the competitive advantage of that organization (Chau, 2008). Chau (2008) defined strategic performance management as “the steering of the organization through the systematic definition of mission, strategy and objectives in order to be able to take corrective actions to keep the organization on track” (p. 115). Strategic performance management is present at all levels of an organization; operational managers up to top executives and strategic leaders are required to oversee strategic
performance management of a company (Chau, 2008). Through the study, there are inquiries into the methods by which Development Team members assess the performance of the officers they develop. The inquiry, as it relates to the topic, focused on how the Development Teams identify and develop high-performance, transformational, and strategic leaders capable of taking the USAF to the next level and meeting the current and future needs of the American people. Program Assessment A number of important factors were addressed in the preceding literature review. Among them were the importance of understanding several elements, including what well designed leadership development programs entail, the benefits of strategic leaders, the increased performance that comes with properly aligned objectives, the capital gains of effective talent management, and the role of performance management. Of equal importance is the ability to assess a program and its graduates, a cornerstone to rendering a complete analysis (Bunker & Cohen, 1978). Proper program assessment provides feedback to determine if programs are meeting organizational needs, if organizations are meeting the educational needs of their programs and if they are identifying areas for improving the costs-benefits of their development programs (Bunker & Cohen, 1978). The following section explores the importance of program assessment at macro- and micro-levels. A broad view of program assessment will describe the importance of the assessment, the actions the USAF has recently taken to assess the Development Team program, and the role the study plays in validating the USAF study. Subsequently, a more in-depth look at assessment, with regard to each of the areas highlighted in the literature review will follow.
The program. Leadership is not a position, a job, or a task, it is a personal journey, and reflection and evaluation are necessary to ensure growth (DeRue, Nahrgang, Hollenbeck, & Workman, 2012). Refining the process requires 360-degree feedback to ensure leaders achieve a comprehensive, honest look at where they stand and what they have achieved, and still need to achieve (Jantti & Greenhalgh, 2012). As of 2006, many organizations, including 90% of Fortune 500 firms, had adopted 360-degree feedback system to improve the performance of their leaders, achieve strategic goals, and ultimately improve the quality of their human capital (Rehbine Zentis, 2007). The highly effective process involves supplying leaders with anonymous feedback gleaned and compiled from peers, subordinates, superiors, and customers. The results yielded highlight strengths and weaknesses in the areas of leadership skills, knowledge, and behaviors (Rehbine Zentis, 2007). While this comprehensive, 360-degree examination works well for individuals, the technique is not limited to that use alone. Massingham, Nguyen, and Massingham (2011) also emphasized the importance of 360degree peer review as a means of validating the findings of leadership studies. In 2011, the USAF conducted a quantitative survey to assess its Development Team program (Valenzuela, 2012). The survey yielded both quantitative and qualitative feedback and opinions of the USAF officer respondents who were part of the program. To complement the 2011 USAF Development Team study, the foci of the doctoral study were centered on the administrators of the Development Team program, the Development Team members, rather than customers of the program. By doing so, the study not only provided additional data for 360-degree peer review theory development, it also served as a method for validating 2011 USAF Development Team survey results (Massingham et al., 2011). It is important for the USAF to understand this 360-
degree feedback, by itself, is not sufficient for refining the program. Feedback from 360-degree programs needs to be combined with other critical leadership development elements and measures, such as education, training, performance feedback, and coaching to maximize the effectiveness of programs being evaluated and refined (Rehbine Zentis, 2007). Assessments are key elements for growth and success (Jantti & Greenhalgh, 2012). The preceding section explained the overarching importance of assessment and how 360-degree feedback plays a role. The following sections will describe how to assess each of the four areas that Cohen (2011) deemed critical to leadership development programs (i.e., strategy, alignment, talent, and performance). Assessing strategy. One of the ways Allio and Fahey (2012) insisted leaders can assess their understanding of strategy is by going back to the basics. Revisiting the teachings of Michael Porter is where leaders need to start (Allio & Fahey, 2012). Interestingly enough, one of the ways of assessing strategy (at the organizational level) is also one of the recommendations for developing it. Parnell (2010) encouraged those in the strategy development phase to include operational-level managers in the strategic planning process. Inclusion educates managers on the strategy, thus developing and encouraging them to think on a more strategic level, while using their expertise to quality-check the sanity and efficacy of a proposed strategy. Cross-referencing a strategic plan also allows senior managers to assess a level of understanding that lower level managers have of an organization’s strategy (Parnell, 2010). Assessing objectives and alignment. As made evident in the literature review, many of these concepts are interrelated. The same cross-referencing method used to assess strategy, is also used as a means of assessing alignment. There is a positive relationship between
performance and aligning learning objectives to organizational strategy (Cohen, 2011; Flor, 2010). Given that proven relationship, senior managers and lower-level organizational leaders are encouraged to discuss strategy with each other as a way of verifying everyone’s idea of the corporate strategy is aligned with organizational objectives. In the military environment, it is important to align objectives from which strategy is developed and education programs because both are the beginning and the end of a six-step development cycle. Borer (2011) emphasized the importance of aligning education, tasks, and strategy with the objectives set forth by a commander. The fifth part of the six-step process is to assess those objectives, that might or might not have been met, to ensure results meet objectives set forth in step one (Borer, 2010). The completed study, coupled with the 2011 USAF Development Team survey, will provide sufficient data to USAF commanders to determine if their program objectives were met, and if the product (its graduates) is properly developed to meet higher-level strategic objectives. Assessing talent. Possessing the means to accurately assess talent, especially during a weak economy, is one of the most vital tools an organization can have at its disposal (Stam, 2010). With the downturn of today’s economy, both businesses and government organizations are downsizing due to budget constraints (Cupps & Olmosk, 2008; de Bruin, Bekker, van Zanten, & Koole, 2010). High-end talent is in very limited supply, both within companies and in hiring pools (Stam, 2010). As the economy becomes healthier, talent pools are unlikely to shift very quickly, so companies that are effective at assessing talent will benefit the most from improved organizational performance (Stam, 2010). To successfully assess which talent to hire and which talent to retain, organizations’ leaders must ensure their assessment processes meet fundamental guidelines. First, an
organization must be utilizing an appropriate competency framework that highlights the skills and behaviors an employee needs to be effective in a given job (Bottger & Barsoux, 2012). Second, a hiring process needs to be put in place that assesses a person’s talent respective to the position sought, as well as to his or her fit within the organization (Williams, 2010). Finally, Williams (2010) encouraged organizations to incorporate assessment tools into their hiring processes to ensure they receive thorough, objective assessments of potential candidates. When it comes to assessing the right talent for retention and hiring, organizations must not underestimate the importance of effectively accomplishing this task. Assessing performance. Assessing talent and assessing performance have many aspects in common. One of the similarities is the direct relationship on business outcomes when assessing performance (Cohen, 2011). Earlier, objective alignment was discussed in great detail. Cohen (2011) emphasized the importance of considering alignment along with strategy, talent, and leaders’ performance when measuring the effectiveness of leadership development programs. In order to achieve desired business outcomes, standards (objectives) must be set (Montana & Charnov, 2008). Until standards of performance are developed, it is impossible to adequately assess performance. Montana and Charnov described performance standards as statements of the results that will exist when a task is completed satisfactorily. Performance standards must meet four basic criteria to be measurable. First, performance standards must apply to the job's responsibilities (Montana & Charnov, 2008). It is poor practice to measure employees' performance based on something outside of their assigned duties. Second, standards must be specific (Long, Bendersky, & Morrill, 2011; Montana & Charnov, 2008). As with the objective writing mentioned previous, ambiguous performance standards are difficult for
employers to measure and difficult for employees to follow. Just as a performance standard must be specific, it must also contain a realistic suspense (Appelbaum et al., 2004; Montana & Charnov, 2008). Finally, performance standards must be achievable (Montana & Charnov, 2008). Failure to set realistic deadlines and achievable tasks might result in a mass exodus of talent that cannot be easily replaced within a company (Appelbaum et al., 2004). Routine performance reporting is a common method used by organizations to measure and to report the performance of their employees (Dogarawa, 2011; USAF, 2009b). Within the USAF, reporting is conducted annually in the form of officer performance reports (OPRs), enlisted performance reports (EPRs), and performance management plans (PMPs) for civilians (USAF, 2009b). The system works well, except when it is highly inflated, like that of the USAF system, or when an employee transfers or switches among multiple supervisors during the same evaluation period (Dogarawa, 2011). To address the issue, Dogarawa (2011) designed a performance measurement system that utilizes a tool called the public service performance measurement model (PSPM Model). The design of the PSPM model accounts for inconsistent supervision and provides monthly updates on an employee’s projects, challenges, and accomplishments (Dogarawa, 2011). A tool such as the PSPM Model, if implemented within the USAF, might help supervisors ascertain a more accurate record of employee activities, bring balance to an inflated system, and allow for fair performance assessments across the board. Organizational Behavior and the Development Teams Empirical studies of organizational behavior have proven repeatedly that organicism, the theory that components in an organization work in a system to function as a whole, has practical application in many organizational environments (Barton, Stephens, & Haslett, 2009). USAF
officials at The Pentagon have expressed concerns of organizational behavior concepts surrounding the Development Teams as they currently function, and how these interactions might have a negative impact on the organization as a whole (P. J. Valenzuela, personal communication, August 28, 2011). To examine the relationship more closely and to develop any recommendations from these concepts, it is necessary to examine briefly the literature concerning organicism, group dynamics, individualism, and collectivism. In a discussion about the project, Lieutenant Colonel Valenzuela expressed a concern about the systematic threats generated by the Development Teams being administered by specific career fields, rather than the USAF as a whole (P. J. Valenzuela, personal communication, August 28, 2011). To explore the concern, a review of collectivism vs. individualism is necessary. In a collectivist culture, a member of an organization will generally act in a manner that benefits the entire organization due to that member’s identification with the organization (de León & Finklestein, 2011; Taras, Kirkman, & Steel, 2010). Empirical research demonstrated a relationship among the economic downturn, organizational downsizing, and members being more prone to act in an individualistic manner for job security and because of their increased workload (de León & Finklestein, 2011). Since the 1990s, all branches of the United States Armed Forces have been experiencing mandatory downsizing to achieve target budgets (Moser & Bailey, 1997). These cuts have resulted in an ever-shrinking group on the Air Staff at The Pentagon to oversee the Development Teams (P. J. Valenzuela, personal communication, August 28, 2011). Figure 5 depicts the effects of Air Staff downsizing on the staff, responsibilities, program input, control, and oversight of the Development Teams. The continual HQ-level cuts put the program administration largely in the hands of the career field managers.
¾ ¾ ¾ ¾
Staff Responsibility Input Control
Figure 5. The original image above depicts the disproportionate number of CFMs vs. Air Staff personnel to oversee the Development Team program creates a situation where the Development Teams are largely career-field run. Houston, Edge, and Anderson (2012) developed a similar relationship in their research. In a study comparing competition and individualism-collectivism, Houston et al. (2012) discovered a positive relationship between competition and collectivism when the competition was healthy and balanced. When the competition was either unbalanced or unhealthy, it had a negative impact on collectivism (Houston et al., 2012). Because the intent of Development Teams is to develop their respective officers and make them competitive for command, there is a concern individualistic efforts of the Development Teams, not considering the USAF as a whole, have a negative impact on the USAF (Valenzuela, 2012). When surveyed in the 2011 USAF Development Team survey, officers responded with both positive and negative comments in response to the issue. According to Valenzuela (2012), the negative comments described a lack of consistency across career fields, indicated there were more aggressive Career Field Managers garnering more benefits for their respective field, and Development Team functionality was career-focused, thus lacking what is best for the USAF in its entirety. Positive comments about the individualist design of the Development Teams included mentions of newsletter summary
updates on their respective career fields; one respondent even felt Development Teams’ efforts were in the best interest of the USAF, contrary to most opinions (Valenzuela, 2012). The overall comments about the career-field-focused Development Teams were not balanced, with the negative comments tripling the positive comments. In general, Houston, Edge, and Anderson (2012) found Americans are more inclined to partake in unhealthy competitiveness than other cultures, and the results of the USAF 2011 Development Team survey appear to validate their findings with regard to the USAF personnel. Scholarly literature surrounding organizational behavior is consistent with the findings of the USAF 2011 Development Team survey. The downsizing of the USAF is generating a cultural movement from collectivist to individualist, and continually shifting the administration of the Development Team process from headquarters to individual career fields (de León & Finklestein, 2011; P. J. Valenzuela, personal communication, August 28, 2011). USAF leadership should be cognizant of the implications that surround downsizing of the Air Staff and decentralization of the Development Team administration to individual career fields. If left unbalanced, the decentralization could have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the Development Teams with regard to USAF-level benefits to the service. Transition and Summary There is a great deal of research available on leadership development theory and practice. The combined conceptual frameworks supported both the literature review and the work of Cohen (2011), Bunker and Cohen (1978), and Gabel et al. (2011). Ultimately, a sound leadership development program relies heavily on the support of top executives to emphasize the importance of the program, ensuring the program aligns with
organizational strategy, develops the appropriate set of skills for leaders to be productive, and improves performance to meet leadership objectives. Administration must assess leadership development programs continually to ensure compliance with each of the literature review topics. Section 2 re-introduces the purpose of the study and describes my role in the data collection process and in relation to the topic. Participant descriptions include (a) the population, (b) sampling method, and (c) sample size. Finally, a more detailed description of the research methodology, design, data collection and analysis information, and a means of how reliability and validity are preserved during the study is presented.
Section 2: The Project Section 2 describes the method and design of the study. More specifically, Section 2 recapitulates the purpose of the research, identifies the research methodology, explains the processes for completing the study, describes the role of the researcher, and illuminates the strategy used to select participants and population sample size. Finally, a thorough step-by-step description of the data collection, analysis, processes, and organization to ensure valid and reliable data is developed. Purpose Statement The purpose of the qualitative case study was to explore the influence of the Development Teams’ processes on USAF field-grade officers worldwide to determine the efficacy of the Development Teams' process for identifying, selecting, and/or developing leaders who meet current and future needs of the service. The USAF defined the development team process as the conduit between USAF policy, force development systems, and organizational frameworks used to generate career paths for personnel (USAF, 2008a). A total of 14 Development Team representatives, in the form of general officers or their delegates, completed questionnaires to contribute feedback to the study. The knowledge gathered through the study might allow current business theories and practices, as they pertain to leadership development, to be applied to the USAF leadership development problem. An improved leadership development program might help the U.S. military protect the American people and maintain regional stability (Korb et al., 2010). As an added benefit, the results of the study might not only help the USAF, but other business as well due the generalizability of many LDP analysis results (Preece & Iles, 2009).
A considerable amount of money is spent each year to conduct the boards for the USAF Development Teams. Board members travel to Texas and spend several days reviewing paperwork and records that have to be prepared ahead of time. Board membership (usually 10 or more individuals) consists primarily of officers who are full colonels (pay grade O-6) or civilians in the pay grade of general schedule (GS) - 15. According to the DFAS (2012), a colonel’s annual salary averages around $132K before taxes. With each Development Team Board convocation, U.S. taxpayers pay these colonels to participate in a program that has yet-to-be proven effectiveness. The completed research could be valuable to the USAF. No one has conducted a case study on the question or concept prior to the research study (T. Sharpy, personal communication, April 7, 2011). The 2011 USAF Development Team Survey was a quantitative, USAF-wide study that did not encompass the perceived target audience or have the depth of a qualitative case study; thus, the dynamics of these studies will complement each other (P. J. Valenzuela, personal communication, August 28, 2011). Several authors recommended in professional and academic literature that managers rigorously evaluate leadership programs to determine their effectiveness (Atwood & Mora, 2010; Cohen, 2011; Gowing, Morris, Adler, & Gold, 2008). The combination of practical and theoretical justifications further validated the need for the study. Role of the Researcher Having served in the USAF since 1998, I have a solid foundation of the rules, regulations, protocols, and staff processes for ensuring ethical and legal execution and safeguards of the study. As a company-grade officer, I have not yet personally experienced the full Development Team process, although I have been familiarized with it. The mix of moderate
understanding and minimal personal experience with regard to the Development Teams' processes affords me an optimum, yet nonbiased, basis to conduct the research. I am able to understand fully the processes taking place, but had no preconceptions or opinions of the Development Team’s program effectiveness. Finally, to gain a better fundamental understanding of Development Team board inputs, outputs, and processes, I attended the May 28 - June 1, 2012 USAF Airfield Operations Officer Development Team board at Randolph Air Force Base, TX as a student observer. My first role in conducting the study was to determine participant selection and sample size. Once I identified the participants, I conducted a pilot study to test and confirm the questionnaire and data collection techniques. After a successful pilot study, I made necessary question corrections and distributed the questionnaire to gather data, organize the retrieved data into themes, code the data, and present an analysis of the findings. My final role in the study was to translate the findings into constructive recommendations to the USAF, and to recommend areas for future research. I have presented these findings and recommendations in Section 3 of the project. Participants When conducting research, it is important to understand participants are critical elements of the research process whose collective protection must be a top priority (Juritzen, Grimen, & Heggen, 2011; Largent, Grady, Miller, & Wertheimer, 2012). Recruiting the appropriate participants for a research study is as important and impactful as the failure to do so, as both dynamics open possibly vulnerable research to threats of internal and external issues of validity (Gul & Ali, 2010). Section 2 outlines the strategy for selecting and recruiting participants,
determining the appropriate sample method and size, and planning measures to ensure participant protection. As agreed by the USAF cooperation memorandum (see Appendix B), I limited the sample population for the study to chairpersons of the USAF Development Teams (Sitterly & Auld, 2012). It is important researchers select appropriate participants to provide opinions from qualified experts; otherwise, an audience might dismiss their testimonies (Sapire, 2007). According to the USAF (2010), Development Team chairpersons are general officers, but many of these general officers often delegate these positions to career field managers (CFMs). The USAF (2010) affirmed CFMs are senior members in their respective fields and they are responsible for the development of personnel within their scopes of operation. Expertise, coupled with their Development Team board experience, made them qualified candidates for the participant sample. There are multiple methods for sampling available to researchers. For the study, I selected a combination of purposive and snowball sampling strategy. Patton (1990) recommended a number of situations for purposive sampling. Maximum variation is a justification for using purposeful sampling when researchers aim to select varied ranges of dimensions of interest, and stratified purposeful sampling is a method researchers use to facilitate comparisons (Patton, 1990). Employing a purposive sampling method enables researchers to identify information-rich cases that afford the most opportunity to gain a meaningful comprehension of an issue (Korns, 2009). Because the study is an opportunity to compare a wide range of career-field managed Development Teams, a purposeful sampling method was deemed necessary. At the end of the questionnaire, I provided participants with the
option to forward the questionnaire hyperlink to other Development Team members that may not have seen the original message I sent with the questionnaire link. Coupling the purposive and snowball sampling methods gained at least two additional respondents as verified by e-mail feedback from participants. Determining the correct sample size is critical when calculating cost and feasibility of a study (Ye, 2010). For the study, the minimum selected participants sample size was 10 individuals, 20 preferred. Multiple sources justify smaller sample sizes in qualitative research. These sources include Boyd (2001), who recommended a minimum of 10, and Moustakas (1994), who argued a set criteria for qualitative study participants does not exist. More recent authors even recommended as few as six, or as many as 30, participants (Bangerter, 2012; May, 2009). With the total number of functional Development Teams averaging 20 at any given time, I aimed to sample as many of the different functional areas as possible. I distributed the questionnaire link to all known possible participants with the goal of receiving between 10 and 20 responses and actually received 14 responses. To ensure the anonymity of all participants, an ordinal number (e.g., “Participant 1”) replaced each participant’s name if the participant divulged such information in his or her questionnaire responses. Due to the purposive sampling method and existence of only one CFM per career field, professional details of each participant—such as which career field the participant discussed—could have inadvertently revealed his or her identity. Therefore, I replaced each functional career field with a letter (e.g., “Career Field A”). Censoring participant details ensured compliance with the Walden University Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the
aforementioned USAF cooperation memorandum. Prior to the start of each questionnaire, I presented information to all participants to inform them of the measures for protecting their privacy and their opting out of the study cannot affect their job statuses or security clearances. An online consent form contained this information (see Appendix C). Once reviewed, members clicked a “next” button to confirm they have read and understand the consent form. During the study, no procedures existed that threatened participant safety or health, but the possibility existed for participants to become stressed, fatigued, or upset during the data collection process. To protect participants as much as possible from emotional distress, and to protect potential pregnant participants, I provided participants with sufficient information about the research benefits and risks so they could determine if they were willing to participate. The consent form (see Appendix C) outlined the potential risks and benefits, and the participants. In the event that a participant did not wish to consent to the research, or if he or she wished to withdraw during the data collection process, I thanked them for their time and excused them from the research. Research Method and Design Research Method When studying organizational leadership, qualitative research is most appropriate if an in-depth, information-rich understanding of a subject is desired (Yukl et al., 2009). In addition to depth, qualitative researchers bring an immersed experience to the study, illustrate context, and allow readers to view the world through an author’s eyes (Bansal & Corley, 2011, 2012; Thomas & Magilvy, 2011). Nalbone (2012) posited the same intimate involvement that proves so beneficial to qualitative research is also the method’s largest flaw in that an author’s
interpretation or clarification of a subject could misrepresent what the participants actually meant when they provided their individual or collective feedback for transcription. Scholars and practitioners accept qualitative research as being rigorous enough for acceptance into scholarly and professional publications (Leitner & Hayes, 2011). Quantitative research is less subjective, but it often lacks the contextual detail of qualitative research, which, in some studies, is essential (Neil, 2007). Because I conducted the study to address how the USAF Development Teams' processes develops leaders to meet current and future needs, an in-depth understanding was desired; thus, qualitative research was the most appropriate method for the study. The nature of the problem researched was not the exclusive reason or rationale for selecting a particular approach. In qualitative research, researchers play unique, personal roles (Bansal & Corley, 2011). Because of the intimate relationship among research and researchers, researchers’ cultural histories, education levels, economic statuses, and political views can play significant roles in the outcome of their research (Bansal & Corley, 2012; Koltko-Rivera, 2004). The circumstances surrounding researchers’ perspectives on the way things are is termed a worldview or a paradigm (Cassell, Buehring, Symon, & Johnson, 2006). My worldview falls most in line with that of social constructivism. Creswell (2009) described the constructivism worldview as pertaining to people who desire a deeper understanding of the environments in which they exist. Researchers of these worldviews see many possibilities within each meaning; thus, they often search for complex explanations, rather than simple, narrow meanings (Koltko-Rivera, 2004). Friends, family, and colleagues have always criticized me for being too analytical. I often seek complex, in-depth understanding of things that many people around me care little about. I wonder why people ask
certain questions, where certain figures of speech originated, how the elements of the universe formed in their current proportions. My insatiable curiosity, far more than just a proven or disproven quantitative answer, aligns my worldview with qualitative methods. Research Design When selecting a research design, the researcher must select the most effective design to support a research question and appropriately fit a methodology. Within the qualitative method, several experts consider five research designs as typical (Bansal & Corley, 2012; VanderStoep & Johnson, 2009): (a) case study, (b) ethnography, (c) grounded theory, (d) narrative, and (e) phenomenology. Bansal and Corley (2012) identified a number of similarities among these methods that include: (a) researcher immersion, (b) codification of data, (c) an inquiry approach, and (d) an approach more subjective in nature. There are also distinct differences among the designs. Researchers conduct case study research to answer the question of how and it focuses on the qualitative examination of a case (Vissak, 2010; Stake, 1995; Yin, 2009). Researchers conduct ethnographic research to study the lived experiences of multiple participants, focusing on language, patterns of behavior, and beliefs (Willig, 2008). Unlike any of the other qualitative methods, researchers use grounded theory research to create or to discover a theory (Cahill, Turner, & Barefoot, 2010; Willig, 2008). Narrative research is a means for researchers to explore experiences and stories as expressed by one or two individuals and psychology researchers accepted it in their field as early as 1926 (VanderStoep & Johnson, 2009; Leitner & Hayes, 2011). Most closely related to case study research is phenomenology research in which researchers explore the experiences of multiple participants in reference to particular events or phenomena (Willig, 2008). One major difference between a case study and phenomenological
research is the additional sources of data from which a case study researcher gathers data to examine the case or system (McCaslin & Scott, 2003). Another major difference is that case studies encompass one or more bounded units, from which the case is, or cases are, drawn, whereas researchers use phenomenology to focus on the lived experience of interviewees with a particular phenomenon. These differences were the primary criteria for selecting the appropriate qualitative design for the study. For my research, I chose a case study research design. A case study design was selected over a phenomenological study for several reasons, but the final methodology paradigm was primarily based on the number of sources of information beyond lived experiences and selection questions proposed by McCaslin and Scott (2003). Vissak (2010) and Yin (2009) recommended using case studies when research questions require explanations in order to be answered. The answers stem from questions that begin with how and why, as opposed to who, what, and where. Because I focused the research question for the study focused on how the USAF Development Team process develops leaders, I deemed a case study was best suited to address the problem. Given that the Development Team is a bounded unit, and that is the focus of a case study, a case study design was more appropriate. Table 2 lists a series of questions a researcher can consider when deciding upon the appropriate qualitative method for his or her problem.
Table 2 Five Questions to Select the Color to Paint a Qualitative Design Question to ask to discover the preferred approach
1. If I could discover the meaning of one person’s lived experience, I would ask _________ (individual) about _______.
2. If I could discover the shared lived experiences of one quality or phenomenon in others, I would want to know about _______.
3. If I could experience a different culture by living/observing it, I would choose to experience ________.
4. If I could discover what actually occurred and was experience in a single lived event, that event would be ________.
5. If I could discover a theory for a single phenomenon of living as shared by others, I would choose to the theory of ________.
Note. Table 2 identifies the number of ways a particular study can be “colored” to fit a specific research design. Adapted from “The Five-Question Method for Framing a Qualitative Research Study” by M. L. McCaslin and K. W. Scott, 2003, The Qualitative Report, 8, p. 450. Reprinted with permission (see Appendix D). Population and Sampling I used a combination of purposeful and snowball sampling methods as a means of producing new knowledge on the field of leadership, and included a thorough literature review, an observation, and a seven-question questionnaire. As Suri (2011) recommended, I conducted the data collection and sampling in the same manner as the literature review: (a) purposefully selected, (b) thoroughly reviewed, (c) properly analyzed, and (d) fully synthesized. It is often recommended a smaller, purposefully selected sample is more desirable than a larger sample that
might or might not contribute to the purpose of the study (Suri, 2011). Vissak (2010) elaborated on the sample selection dynamics more than Suri and further explained small, purposefully selected samples are best for case studies because the benefits of information-rich feedback outweigh the abstract, thin, and superficial responses often derived from widely disseminated questionnaires. Zhang and Shaw (2012) encouraged the use of snowball sampling to gain additional participants in a single wave of data collection. I added snowball sampling to my method by providing participants with the option to forward the questionnaire link to other qualified Development Team members in order to gain as many participants as possible from the limited sample. Researchers require access to expert informants in appropriate fields to underscore and to clarify research problems, as well as to validate findings when employing purposeful sampling (Suri, 2011; Vissak, 2010; Willig, 2008). I selected Chairpersons/members of the USAF Development Teams as the sample for the study, because they must be qualified members in their fields of expertise, senior officers with experience necessary to make management decisions and to be familiar with the inner workings of the Development Teams' processes (USAF, 2010). Between six and 30 participants are the norm for conducting qualitative research (Morrow, 2011), with 20 participants comprising a very large sample (Nalbone, 2012). To further establish a justifiable sample size, I compared six recently published (within the last 5 years) qualitative dissertations concerning leadership, along with professional texts, such as those of Cassell, Buehring, Symon, and Johnson (2006), VanderStoep and Johnson (2009), Morrow (2011), Vissak (2010) and Yin (2009). Table 3 lists the authors, dates of publication,
titles, and sample sizes used in comparable, published doctoral dissertations. The average sample size among the six related studies is what I used to select the minimum sample size for the study. As seen in Table 3, that average is 10 participants, which is 50% of the possible participants for the study. Table 3 Comparable Qualitative Leadership Studies and their Sample Size
May, W. P.
Senko, K. A.
Thornhill, K. L.
Williams, V. E.
Title of dissertation An exploratory qualitative case study of leadership practices within Iranian private companies. Student governance: A qualitative study of leadership in a student government association. A qualitative study examining leadership characteristics of Mexican leaders. Qualitative phenomenological study of leadership perspectives in commercial airlines. Authenticity and female leaders: A qualitative study exploring the leadership practices of female university administrators. Organizational change and leadership within a small nonprofit organization: A qualitative study of servant-leadership and resistance to change.
Sample size 10
Note. The average sample size for the six comparable doctoral studies is 10 participants. As determined by the USAF (2010) and by Sitterly and Auld (2012), study participants were to be (a) members of a USAF Development Team, (b) senior officers (general officer or selected delegate), and (c) responsible for the development of officers within their fields. The
USAF Directorate of Force Development (AF/A1D) maintained a list of current USAF Development Team chairs. I only selected candidates on the list or a previous list as participants. The USAF Force Development office distributed the online questionnaire hyperlink to Development Team members to keep their identities anonymous from the research team. To minimize complications with research approval, the protected research classes outlined by the National Institute of Health (2011), such as diminished autonomy, children, and prisoners, were excluded from the study as participants. The only protected class that I sampled was active duty military members. I complied with Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulation and USAF regulations when conducting the research. See the Participant Protection section for more detail on how I assured the protection of the study participants. Due to the geographical dispersion of the participants, online questionnaires were paramount to the data collection. The USAF Research Oversight Office encouraged online questionnaires versus personal interviews to protect the identity of the participants. Because the USAF Survey Office prohibited surveys or interviews that are solely for degree requirements to be conducted during participant duty time, the consent form I distributed with the online questionnaire encouraged participants to complete the questionnaire during their lunch break or off-duty time. Ethical Research Some authors believed the approval processes set forth by ethical research/ institutional review board requirements constrain social scientists (Sikes & Piper, 2010; Tracy & Carmichael, 2010; Whitemarsh, 2009). However, there were many who believed the value of research ethics outweighs the burdens of the review process, and they advocate on behalf of increased ethics
education for scholars (Perez & Treadwell, 2009; Regmi, 2011; Willig, 2008). Willig (2008) highlighted the importance of researchers understanding they cannot solve all ethical issues related to their proposed studies during their planning stages, as many such concerns surface during the execution of a study that will have to be resolved as they emerge. An overarching goal while conducting the study was to address the research question while simultaneously maintaining integrity within the process, and proceeding in a manner that would reflect credit upon Walden University and the U.S. Air Force. The Consent Process Prior to the start of each questionnaire, participants were provided with an electronic copy of the IRB-approved consent form. As Willig (2008) suggested, the consent form, located in Appendix C, addressed the following key consent requirements: x
Provided the identity of the researcher
Provided the identity of Walden University as the research institution
Explained the participant selection process
Explained the purpose of the research study
Explained the benefits for participating
Outlined participant involvement
Identified participant risks
Identified measures taken to protect participant confidentiality
Informed participants they may freely withdraw from the study at any time
Provided contact information for both the researcher and IRB contact
Participant Protection Stakeholders of corporate and educational institutions worldwide recognize the importance of protecting human research subjects and participants and they see these practices both practically and ethically necessary in every type of research in which humans serve as a source of data collection (McDonald & Cox, 2009). Willig (2008) more clearly expressed a concern for protecting participants during and after data collection. Air Force Instruction (AFI) 40-402, paragraph 3.2.1, identified Active Duty Personnel as Human Subjects a protected class as well as additional instructions for conducting research within the USAF (USAF, 2011f). To remain in compliance with the requirements of AFI 40402, I ensured each subject was provided a detailed list of risks within the online consent form to determine if their participation in the study will affect their ability to (a) mobilize, (b) perform duties, or (c) be available for duty. Because Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulation part 219.101(b) and DoDI 3216.06 paragraph 2.b.1 exempt research designed to study/evaluate possible changes or alternatives to nonmedical programs, an Assurance of Compliance was not required and there were no additional federal, DoD, or Air Force requirements to consider for IRB approval (USAF, 2011f). To ensure participant protection, I put the following measures in place: (a) all data collected were stored on my password-protected hard drive or placed in a combination safe under my exclusive control and access; (b) questionnaire responses, analyses, findings, and recommendations that mentioned participants referred to them only by their coded names (e.g., Participant 1, Participant 2, etc.); (c) references to actual career fields managed by participants when related to collected data were coded (e.g., Career Field A, Career Field B, etc), and (d) all
collected data were stored on a password-protected hard drive and I will not release it outside of the research team. For the purpose of the study, the research team consisted of the researcher and the members of the researcher's committee. Any data that contained personally identifiable information (PII) was omitted in the actual doctoral study. Finally, all data concerning the study will be maintained in the manner described above for a minimum of 5 years to protect the rights and privacy of the participants. Project Transparency To establish and to maintain relationships of trust among myself as the researcher, the USAF, Walden University, and participants, project transparency was one of the primary foci during the course of the study. Establishing rapport with the participants; keeping them informed of the research purposes, and clearly outlying the purposes, processes, and measures to protect them was critical to establish this transparency (Willig, 2008; Saunders & Thornhill, 2011). Sitterly and Auld (2012) identified the requirement for me to submit quarterly updates to AF/A1D. The update process promoted communication, ensured transparency, and afforded the research team and the USAF an opportunity to clarify any concerns about the study. Incentives No compensation in the form of recognition, currency, goods, or services were offered or rendered to participants for their participation in the study. Data Collection The goal of the data collection process was to gather sufficient information to generate findings that contributed to development of a response to the research question. I used Yin (2009) as the primary methodology source for collecting qualitative data during the study.
Walden University recommended Yin to its Doctorate in Business Administration students and this source contained a wealth of information on case study design, data collection, analyses, and reporting. Finally, I used recommendations from Vissak (2010), Stake (1995), and Yin to support the data collection process. Yin (2009) identified six sources of evidence for data collection for qualitative case studies: (a) documentation, (b) archival records, (c) participant feedback such as interviews or questionnaires, (d) direct observation, (e) participant observation, and (f) physical artifacts. Both Vissak (2010) and Yin (2009) recommended collecting data from multiple sources, then crosschecking to validate the data. The aforementioned method of data collection is known as triangulation and I used this technique to cross-reference questionnaire responses, scholarly and professional literature, previous Development Team studies, and regulatory documentation during the current study. Instruments I created a case study protocol (see Appendix E) to guide the data collection process (Vissak, 2010; Yin, 2009). During qualitative research, researchers are immersed within their studies and immersion presents a number of advantages and disadvantages that are important to note. Table 4 lists the advantages and disadvantages that relate to the methodology/instrument combination.
Table 4 Qualitative Advantages and Disadvantages Advantages Participants are able to supply the researcher with historical data.
Disadvantages Coding is time consuming and often extend the research timeline.
Participants are able to explain why or how a phenomenon exists.
Responses are subject to bias, poor recall, and flawed articulation.
The researcher is able to gain detailed information from the participant.
The process or setting of the may affect the participants’ responses.
Note. The comparative advantages/disadvantages table provides an effective comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative case studies. Adapted from narrative information in Yin (2009). Ultimately, the benefits of an in-depth understanding, problem immersion, and detailed participant responses afforded by qualitative case studies determined the final decision to choose the research method, design, and data collection techniques. As suggested by Yin (2009), questions began with how instead of why to prevent the participant from growing defensive. Data Collection Technique During an empirical study to test a questionnaire as a means of measuring leadership development, Patterson et al. (2013) determined that questionnaires provided a systematic method for measuring the development of leadership skills. Similarly, Popper and Amit (2009) employed a qualitative questionnaire to query leadership development based on experiences and found that the design allowed them to highlight core traits that affected leaders' development.
Muller and Turner (2010) used a leadership development questionnaire to explore the competency profiles of managers that oversaw successful projects and programs and produced results that were generalizable throughout business organizations. A leadership development questionnaire was the best choice to explore the effectiveness of the USAF Development Teams in order to have results that are generalizable. Figure 6 illustrates the process by which data collection took place. To minimize risk to the participants, the AF/A1DI office distributed the www.surveymonkey.com questionnaire link to the possible participants on the most current USAF Officer Stakeholder List. If the participant candidates clicked the link, they were sent to the online consent form where they could review the purpose, risks, and benefits of the study prior to agreeing to participant. Those that chose to participate were directed to the seven question questionnaire where they completed the questions. I avoided partial response data by encoding the questionnaire to only allow the participant to submit the questionnaire once all of the fields were completed. Following completion of the questionnaire, the participant was invited to share the link to other known current or recent Development Team chairs. Zhang and Shaw (2012) reported that additional participants were the primary advantage of such snowball sampling. Once the minimum 10 responses was surpassed, I organized the data into themes and coded prior to analysis (Vissak, 2010; Yin, 2009). Figure 6 is a visual representation of the process and was designed to assist me in the tasks and conditions necessary to conduct data collection.
Figure 6. The study’s data collection process flow chart. The Pilot Case Study Pilot studies help researchers distill protocols, refine processes, and improve questions, and are considered by many investigators to be essential in developing valid research (Schmader, 2011; Yin, 2009). Schmader (2011) urged researchers to keep pilot studies small with regard to budget, scope, duration, and overall size. Yin (2009) identified two distinct and opposite reasons for selecting a particular pilot study. The first option is a pilot study that is convenient, which would allow the study to be conducted quickly and efficiently while examining all processes supporting the study. The second option is conducting a pilot study that is complicated, beyond
the expected complication of the real study, to present all possible challenges. The pilot study for the research project was small in scope because it (a) supported the short time constraints of a dissertation, (b) was significantly less costly than a large scale study, and most importantly, (c) still provided adequate testing of the data collection plan. In a similarly designed dissertation, Pomponio (2008) was able to sufficiently test the reliability of a data collection plan with a small-scope pilot study using two participants who represented the real sample. I selected five purposefully selected field- grade officers in the Washington, DC area who were not part of the limited study sample, but were familiar with the USAF Development Teams' processes to allow for all portions of the data collection plan to be tested with the most realistic sample possible. I then used feedback from pilot study participants to refine the questionnaire, data collection process, and data collection decision flow chart shown in Figure 6. The pilot participant recommended modifications were to add examples that help clarify each question in the questionnaire. Four out of five pilot study participants stated that this modification was necessary if the open-ended questions were to be understood clearly by the participants of the main study. I therefore added to the online questionnaire to provide question clarity. No other recommendations were made regarding the questions, process, or flow chart. Data Organization Techniques I stored data in accordance with best practices proposed by Yin (2009). Yin recommended maintaining two separate storage locations for qualitative case study data: the actual coded data and the narrative data. Both Pomponio (2008) and Hoffschwelle (2011) used electronic databases to store data using a similar methodology. Hoffschwelle, a Walden University graduate, organized her data into themes that aligned with the main headings in the
literature review. Her method added a logical base to her analysis and reinforced the legitimacy of a thorough literature review. I stored the data for the study in a similar manner as those noted above. Narrative data were stored using the Microsoft Windows 7 filing system. All files were stored under a master “DSP” (for Doctoral Study Project) folder, with the raw data stored in my private www.surveymonkey.com user account. Because Survey Monkey was used as the collection interface, data were automatically backed up on the www.surveymonkey.com password protected webserver. The electronic data will be maintained for 5 years. As suggested by Bansal and Corley (2012), all collected data, study drafts, references, and related files are backed-up on separate, secure drives in different locations. The research data were backed up every day at 4:00am (EST) to a file storage folder located at www.godaddy.com. Finally, I maintained a chain of case study evidence to increase case study reliability (Yin, 2009). The chain of evidence included the actual report, related database(s), references, the case study protocol, and the list of questions (Yin, 2009). I backed up the chain of evidence daily in accordance with the previously noted back-up strategy. Data Analysis Techniques Questionnaire Questions x
How do the USAF Development Teams posture (or fail to posture) leaders to meet national and military strategic objectives?
How do the objectives of the USAF Development Team program align (or fail to align) with the strategic objectives of the USAF?
How do the USAF Development Teams adequately posture (or fail to posture) officer
talent capable of filling talent gaps within the service? x
How do the USAF Development Teams measure (or fail to measure) officers’ past performance when determining assignments, developmental education, and command?
How effective (or ineffective) are the USAF Development Teams at assessing the results of boards’ decisions once they have been implemented?
How do the USAF Development Teams' processes affect (or not affect) the overall organizational environment of the USAF?
How do career-centered Development Teams (rather than a “Big Air Force” Development Team) impact the overall USAF?
Unlike statistical data for quantitative studies, a rigorous qualitative study requires data to be coded and organized into themes that then require researchers to use their own analytical talents to translate the data into meaningful and applicable knowledge for an audience (Vissak, 2010; Yin, 2009). Bansal and Corley (2012) argued the first step of data analysis is to describe, in rich detail, the setting of the case study due to the significance it will have on interpreting the results. Yin (2009) recommended the following steps, which were utilized in the study to analyze the respective data: (a) data was organized into themes or categories; (b) the study contained graphical displays, such as flowcharts, to examine the data; (c) frequency tables listed recurring codes and themes; (d) calculated, complex data was displayed to show means and variances, and; (e) triangulated coded data results were cross-referenced with scholarly and professional sources. Hoffschwelle (2011) used NVivo software because of NVivo’s superior capability to
code, theme, organize, and analyze qualitative data (Onwuegbuzie et al., 2012). The NVivo software program automatically generated the raw database for the study. I used Hoffschwelle’s study process for the Nvivo software program and broke the data into themes to match the logical organization referenced in the literature review and to resonate with the mixture of conceptual frameworks tied together during the development of the study. The themes I used to organize the data were strategy, objective alignment, talent areas, performance, assessment, and organizational behavior. Yin (2009) recommended using both quantitative and qualitative data to support findings as being a robust analytic strategy. Given the foregoing, I compared data collected from the questionnaires within each theme and recorded the frequencies of codes or recurring opinions among the participants as qualitative statements and quantitative numbers (see Table 5 and Figure 7). Those data were compared across each category using Predictive Analytics Software (PASW) to generate descriptive statistics and graphs that provide a visual representation to support the findings (Drummond, Paterson, McLoughlin, & McGarth, 2011; Golafshani, 2003; Yin, 2009). Table 5 Sample Qualitative and Quantitative Data Layout and Organization Qualitative Data Strategy Positive comment Negative comment Positive comment Positive comment
Alignment Negative comment Positive comment Negative comment Positive comment
Talent Negative comment Negative comment Negative comment Negative comment
2 Positive Responses Negative Responses
Figure 7. Sample bar graph visual representation for exploring qualitative data responses and their relative frequencies. A general strategy for analyzing the data is important to avoid delays in qualitative case studies (Yin, 2009). Once properly coded and analyzed as described above, I compared the data with and contrasted to general themes in the literature review (Bansal & Corley, 2012). I then used the data analysis to address the central research question (Yin, 2009). Reliability and Validity Reliable and valid instruments are necessary for rigorous, credible case study research (Vissak, 2010; Yin, 2009). Reliable instruments will yield similar results with each use and valid instruments will measure intended objectives (Golafshani, 2003). One of the objectives for the study was to make it both reliable and valid by (a) identifying threats to reliability and validity, (b) taking proven measures to minimize those threats, and (c) ensuring threats, controllable or not, are transparent to the readers in this section and when presenting the findings. Reliability To ensure the data were reliable: First, and most importantly, I tested the data collection plan using a pilot (or feasibility) study (Schmader, 2011). I then used feedback from the pilot study to refine the protocol and steps within the data collection plan to ensure they are sufficient
to support the real study. Yin (2009) asserted by maintaining case study databases, researchers increase their case studies’ reliability. I created a case study database within NVivo 10 to catalog coded data under each of the themes discussed in the literature review. Validity Internal validity. Several authors have described internal validity as the overall quality of the study (VanderStoep & Johnson, 2009; Thomas & Magilvy, 2011; University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey [UMDNJ], 2012; Yin, 2009). Internal validity is affected by the research design, variables measures, and by the level of confidence one can deduct or determine the findings were accurate. To improve validity, I used triangulation to cross-reference questionnaire responses, scholarly and professional literature, previous Development Team studies, and regulatory documentation (Vissak, 2010; Yin, 2009). UMDNJ (2012) identified eight factors that can affect internal validity: history, maturation, testing, instrumentation, statistical regression, selection, mortality/attrition, selection interactions. Historians refer to the impact of circumstances on participants among periods where measurements are taken, or in this case, questionnaires distributed. UMDNJ (2012) warned that longer studies are more susceptible to the threat more than shorter studies. The short sampling period of 30 days for the study mitigated the threat to validity. Maturation is the threat against internal validity that results from participants changing over time (UMDNJ, 2012). Maturation generally applies to long-term experiments where participants are observed or sampled repeatedly. The one-time data collection with each participant mitigates this threat. Testing is a threat to validity when a pretest can contaminate a study. The pilot study for
the project did not sample the same participants as the real study. Additionally, the location where the pretest was conducted was not at the same location where the main study took place. Instrumentation refers to collection methods that might lack objectivity and contaminate the results with biased information (UMDNJ, 2012). Qualitative studies are often affected by this threat because researchers are immersed in their studies to gain understanding and they are also the collection instruments (Vissak, 2010; Neil, 2007; Yin, 2009). To minimize the impact of bias in the study, I: (a) used a pilot study to test the data collection process, (b) compared findings with peer-reviewed publications for consistency, (c) clarified the potential for researcher bias early in the study, and (d) provided rich descriptions of the collected data to allow readers to make decisions with reference to transferability (Bansal & Corley, 2012). Statistical regression, selection, and mortality/ attrition largely pertain to quantitative studies and they do not impact the current study. Statistical regression refers to the impact of retesting samples, which, in turn generates an unwanted change in the mean. Selection is the negative impact on a study due to the imbalance between the control group and the experiment. Mortality/ attrition is a threat when multiple groups are compared for research and members of one group withdraw from a study and upset the experiment (UMDNJ, 2012). These threats do not exist to qualitative studies, and since I only sampled participants once. Finally, selection interaction refers to the impact the selection method has on maturation, history, and instrumentation to bias the findings of a study. I selected participants for the study using a combination purposeful and snowball sampling from current and past lists of USAF Development Team members. I informed participants of the criteria used to select them during the online consent process. I selected all participants using the same process.
External validity. External validity refers to the ability for one to generalize the findings of the study to other people or settings (Golafshani, 2003; VanderStoep & Johnson, 2009). Many of the four threats to external validity do not apply to the research. Pretests did not interfere for reasons previously noted; questionnaires were only distributed one time per participant; and Development Team observations were not part of the official data collection process. Vissak (2010) urged qualitative researchers to provide rich, descriptive explanations of collected data to allow external readers to interpret findings and to apply them to individuals and settings outside of the studies. The data participants provided within the study were rich with content. Transition and Summary Section 2 covered the key components necessary to understand, recreate, and validate the study. Opening with a restatement of the project’s purpose properly positioned readers as they examined the details of the study. My role as the researcher was described to familiarize readers with my perceived roles and responsibilities within the data collection process, my worldview, and relationship to the study topic. I described participants by identifying the population, sampling method, sample size, and consent process. Section 2 continued with my identification and justification of the selected qualitative research method and case study design. After a review of ethical considerations, I provided a detailed overview of the data collection instrument, processes, storage, and organization was addressed, followed by an analysis of the techniques. Finally, I explained the various threats to internal and external validity, as well as the steps taken to mitigate those threats. Section 3 continues with a presentation of the findings, a description of how the collected
data can benefit professional practice, and implications for social change. Recommended areas for future study are provided based on what was learned during the research process and gaps observed in the reviewed literature. I conclude the study with a reflection on the researcher’s experiences and closing comments.
Section 3: Application to Professional Practice and Implications for Change Overview of Study The purpose of the qualitative case study was to explore the influence of the Development Teams’ processes on USAF field-grade officers worldwide to determine the efficacy of the Development Teams' process for identifying, selecting, and/or developing leaders who meet current and future needs of the service. The USAF defined the development team process as the conduit between USAF policy, force development systems, and organizational frameworks used to generate career paths for personnel (USAF, 2008a). A total of 14 Development Team representatives, in the form of general officers or their delegates, completed questionnaires to contribute feedback to the study. The knowledge gathered through the study might allow current business theories and practices, as they pertain to leadership development, to be applied to the USAF leadership development problem. An improved leadership development program might help the U.S. military protect the American people and maintain regional stability (Korb et al., 2010). As an added benefit, the results of the study might not only help the USAF, but other business as well due the generalizability of many LDP analysis results (Preece & Iles, 2009). To achieve the goal described in the purpose statement, I conducted the study to explore how effective the USAF Development Team process is at developing leaders that meet current and future needs. The analysis yielded results that indicated the Development Team executors were satisfied with the process’s ability to produce strategic leaders, align with higher level objectives, create transferrable talent, measure officer performance, and positively affect the organizational environment. The Development Teams’ ability to assess the results of past
decisions emerged as a major area of concern. Many participants attributed the reason for the lack of sufficient assessment to the rotating membership of the Development Team from one session to another. The second area of concern was the impact of the career field-centered model of the development teams on the larger Air Force. Presentation of the Findings The central research question for the study was: How effective are the USAF Development Teams at developing leaders to meet current and future needs? I investigated the effectiveness of the Development Team processes by asking the members of the Development Teams to self-assess their own program by comparing their program with the framework used to establish the literature review. I placed the following subquestions into the online questionnaire to collect feedback concerning each of the framework elements: x
How do the USAF Development Teams posture (or fail to posture) leaders to meet national and military strategic objectives?
How do the objectives of the USAF Development Team program align (or fail to align) with the strategic objectives of the USAF?
How do the USAF Development Teams adequately posture (or fail to posture) officer talent capable of filling talent gaps within the service?
How do the USAF Development Teams measure (or fail to measure) officers’ past performance when determining assignments, developmental education, and command?
How effective (or ineffective) are the USAF Development Teams at assessing the results of boards’ decisions once they have been implemented?
How do the USAF Development Teams' processes affect (or not affect) the overall organizational environment of the USAF?
How do career-centered Development Teams (rather than a “Big Air Force” Development Team) impact the overall USAF?
I employed a qualitative case study approach to gather data from the Development Team members. Of the 20 Development Team chairs consisting of 30 functional groups, 14 Development Team representatives responded with feedback concerning their respective team. The 47% response rate more than quadrupled the expected 10.5% percent average response rate for questionnaires (Connon, 2008). The unusually high response rate, coupled with the rich detail provided by the respondents, yielded a large amount of qualitative data for analysis and led to a point of data saturation. Siegle (2002) described data saturation or a hermeneutic circle as a point where participants no longer provide new information. I imported the raw data from the questionnaires into NVivo 10 for qualitative analysis. The analysis resulted in the emergence of seven themes that aligned with the literature review, conceptual framework, and subquestions: (a) strategy, (b) objective alignment, (c) talent management, (d) performance measurement, (e) assessment, (f) impact to organizational environmental impact, and (g) effect on organizational balance. Table 6 displays these themes and which respondents provided data that aligned with each theme. Responses that were positive and described how the USAF Development Team achieved success in a certain themed area were marked with a “+” symbol. Responses that were negative and described how the USAF
Development Teams failed to achieve success in a certain themed area were marked with a “–” symbol. Presented in Table 6 are detailed explanations for each theme. Table 6 Themes and Responses Received Participant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Themes and Positive/Negative Responses Received Strategy Align Talent Perform Assess Envir Balance + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + – + + + + + + + + – + + + – + + – + + + + – + – + + + + – – – + – – + – + – – – – – – – – – – – – + + – + + + + – + + + + + + – + – + + + + + + +
Direct quotes from respondent are provided beneath each theme summary to substantiate the findings. The quotes were unchanged and contain some jargon and abbreviations to retain the integrity of the original data. All references to DT(s) refer to the Development Team(s) and all references to AF refer to Air Force in the following data. Figure 8 provides a quick visual indicator to areas where the respondents thought the Development Team process succeeds and where it fails.
10 8 8
2 0 Strategy
Figure 8. Frequencies of positive and negative responses for each theme. Theme 1: Strategy Strategic significance is the most important finding in the study, and foundational to the rest of the program (Cohen, 2011; Rueschhoff & Dunne, 2011). Fayol’s (1949) management theory, deeply rooted in strategy, was well developed due to Henri Fayol’s military experience and understanding of the connection between strategy and organizational success (Peaucelle & Guthrie, 2012). There was a strong consensus amongst most participants that the Development Teams developed leaders to meet current and future needs of the USAF. The most frequently mentioned conduit for strategic development was assignment selection, mentioned by all participants, followed by developmental education. Three of the participants also mentioned the use of command selection as a means of developing leaders to meet strategic needs of the service. Eighty-six percent of the participants, as experts in the developmental process, responded that their vectors produce well-rounded officers that mature into leaders who are
capable of meeting military and national strategic requirements. One of the participants specifically described how those vectors do/do not meet strategic objectives through deliberate placement, but that participant thought that the Development Teams were not vectoring officers to the most critical places to align with national strategic requirements. Some specific comments by the participants to note were: x
Through vectoring and development, school selection, and command selection. (Participant 3)
Based on guidance received, the DT adjusts vectoring to meet overall strategic needs. (Participant 5)
Vectors are designed to mature individuals to be future Air Force leaders vice experts in a given career field. (Participant 7)
I don't believe the DT's are very good at reacting to national strategic objectives. The department recently determined that cyber is a priority in the national security strategy, yet the USAF is staffing U.S. Cyber Command below requirements. (Participant 10)
Theme 2: Objective Alignment Participants presented mixed responses on how the Development Team objectives aligned with USAF objectives, but all agreed that they were aligned. Official documentation articulates the objectives of the USAF Development Teams as maximizing capabilities of all Airmen so the USAF can provide air, space, and cyberspace power to support U.S. national security interests (USAF, 2008a). In 79% of the responses, the participants felt that the objectives of their specific Development Team aligned with their career field objectives first, and in doing so, automatically somehow aligned with bigger USAF objectives. Participant 8 was
very clear on how a career field-specific focus meets larger USAF objectives. Participant 10 expressed a grave concern for the lack of standardization between the different career fields. Sending officers to multiple commands in some career fields, in contrast to others that only send officers to one command, was a major concern mentioned due to the imbalance it creates in the officers’ records as they compete for promotion. The following comments are particularly relevant for the analysis: x
The DT objectives align with the career field first and the greater USAF strategic objectives second. (Participant 1)
I feel the DTs meet the [big AF] intent. Their requirements flow down as readiness taskings or as the Chief’s priorities and we ensure we meet/fill those requirements. (Participant 6)
I believe our DT is pretty effective at developing officers that have the breadth and depth to maximize their capability as a senior officer. (Participant 8)
Theme 3: Talent Management A review of data collected with regard to the talent management theme yielded a 79% positive indication the program effectively developed officers with talent to fill gaps throughout the organization should they need to be moved around. The high response rate indicates that the USAF is on-track with their initiative to broaden senior officer qualifications by adding secondary skills to field-grade officers (Moore & Brauner, 2007). Some participants clearly described how their respective Developmental Teams produce well-rounded leaders through a mixture of tactical, operational, and strategic assignments within and outside of their field, while a few participants specifically responded that their teams developed officers to support primarily
their career field. The remaining participants indicated that their career field Development Team developed internally also provided career broadening opportunities to select officers to make them better-rounded. In one instance, a participant described how the personal bias built into the Development Team process has interfered with the development of qualified candidates. Some comments of note are as follows: x
The DT will meet the career field objectives first while broadening officers for other USAF strategic priorities. (Participant 1)
Our officers are pretty universal. We often transition between operations, training, and support assignments as we develop through the ranks. (Participant 8)
On the negative side, personal knowledge of individuals has on occasion interfered with the progress and advancement of otherwise qualified individuals. (Participant 9)
The DT has been able to release officers for leadership opportunities to create a well officer to be able to fill USAF gaps. (Participant 14)
Theme 4: Performance The performance measurement question was included to explore whether each Development Team measured performance, and if so, what steps the teams used to measure performance. Hersey and Blanchard’s (2012) situational leadership theory is used extensively throughout the USAF in education and practice (USAF, 2011d). The measurement of officer knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) is integral to properly employing Hersey and Blanchard’s (2012) situational leadership theory because the outcome determines how Development Teams posture the evaluated officer for success (Duff, 2013). All 79% of participants who responded positively to the performance measurement question described the same process for performance
measurement of officers' past performance and potential to serve in more demanding positions. Within each response was a discussion about a complete records review consisting of performance evaluations, assignment history, awards and decorations, and discussion amongst group members that may have personal experience working with a particular officer. Every participant felt the performance measurement process employed by the Development Teams was sufficient to achieve the Teams’ objectives. In a few cases, participants representing a smaller career field were less convinced that their recommendations to command selection boards held much weight since they had their own cross-functional boards to choose from before going to the Development Team for input. Two participants expressed a need for the performance of officers who are working outside of their comfort zone in career-broadening positions to hold more weight toward their potential to be a future leader and not be resented by the Development Team functional reviewers. Some excerpts from the participants of note are: x
In-depth review of officer records by all DT voting participants. Factors like previous assignments, OPRs, decorations, senior officer recommendations, and timing are considered in the decision process. (Participant 4)
This is a pretty basic process that occurs at almost every type of USAF board. (Participant 8)
The boards where I was able to attend and/or lead always measured the complete records of candidates for advancement. (Participant 9)
Contempt for those performing outside of their functional area. (Participant 11)
Theme 5: Assessment Only 50% of participants agreed that, though not perfect, the USAF Development Team
semi-annual meetings afford them adequate opportunity to track the progress of the previously vectored officers to assess their decisions. The smaller Development Teams appear to have fewer problems with assessment due to the more easily manageable size of their career fields than do the larger teams. The remaining participants believed Development Teams do not adequately assess progress due to the shifting composition of the team membership from session to session, and two participants directly stated that Development Teams do not conduct an assessment on past decisions. Participant feedback is consistent with the 2007 RAND study which also noted that the USAF should better track force development, assess effectiveness, and skill pairing (Moore & Brauner, 2007). The following comments are excerpts of note: x
We have a small career field so we are better able to track the individual. (Participant 6)
I do not know of any deliberate process used to backward assess. (Participant 8)
The boards are not always suited to reassess the success or failures of the decisions previously made. Most of the times the members have been switched out and previous recommendations and their basis are unknown. (Participant 9)
Probably the weakest area in the design of the DT process. (Participant 12)
This is a limiting factor. Measures (internal to the career field) are now being put in place to reassess progress. (Participant 13)
Theme 6: Impact to Organizational Environment Only 14% of the participants felt the Development Teams had a negative impact on the USAF as an organization, while the remaining 86% expressed opposite opinions. In one case, a participant indicated an initial concern about the potential negative impact the Development Teams would have over the senior leadership of an officer. The same participant continued to
express his alignment toward the Development Teams once he was able to witness the positive impact they had on the USAF. Many of the participants felt that, as senior officers in that field of practice, the Development Teams were the most suited leaders to make recommendations on the future path of a more junior officer. Several participants also claimed the Development Teams, Command Screening Boards, and Senior Raters all worked well together to create an atmosphere suitable for positive mentorship of the officer being evaluated. Some typical themerelated comments from the participants were: x
DT officers should be in the best position to direct the path of the officers in their career field. (Participant 1)
I initially worried about the power the DT would have over the Senior Raters at each wing and Major Command but I am now a believer of the DT system. (Participant 2)
Air Force Personnel Center relies on DTs to make sound decisions and influence processes and their determinations are generally taken as gospel. (Participant 4)
The DT's feedback should allow mentorship to be more focused. By giving an honest assessment and actionable goals, members should know where they stand relative to their peers. This should stimulate performance across the larger Air Force. (Participant 13)
Theme 7: Effect on Organizational Balance A clear lack of standardization across the various Development Teams was evident through the responses to the question concerning organizational balance. Friedman’s (1985) theory on differentiated leadership encourages distinctive functions, but requires a connection between functions that allow them to function properly as part of the larger group (Robinson, 2012). In the case of the Development Teams, the lack of standardization has led to the
existence of independent teams as well as processes that are independent from the rest of the teams. The fact that 57% of the respondents commented that there was a lack of balance amongst how the Development Teams functioned is an important note for USAF leadership to recognize. The divided results coincide with quantitative archival data provided to the USAF in a 2011 study (Valenzuela, 2012). Only two respondents responded that there was a check and balance system, the rest were either unsure of a checks and balance system or said it was dysfunctional. General Ronal R. Fogleman, former USAF Chief of Staff, expressed the importance of standards being uniformly known, consistently applied, and nonselectively enforced (Kohn, 2001); however, the Development Teams do not appear to meet those criteria. Specific theme related comments from participants include: x
The checks and balance is there as the DT only looks at Career Field 1, then Senior Raters select commanders from Command Lists developed during Commander's Boards held at Air Force Personnel Center. Senior raters still determine who gets DPs for promotion so all of these processes complement each other. (Participant 2)
The DT shouldn’t be a training experience for the leader and the lack of more senior leadership (General Officer or civilian equivalent) can be a detriment as well. I remember attending one DT where our DT chair was a GS-15 while the DT across the hall was a two-star general. I think you can appreciate the inequality. (Participant 4)
There do not appear to be checks and balances. (Participant 5)
Don’t know. (Participant 7)
I don't know that there is a check and balance at the Air Force Pentagon level.
(Participant 8) Summary of Findings Based on the results of the management level review of the Development Team process, the USAF Development Teams meet strategic objectives and are aligned with the strategic needs of the service, Department of Defense, and United States. The objectives for the Development Teams are also aligned with higher level strategic needs as clarified in Air Force Instruction 362640. Development Team chairs, career field managers, panel members, and assignments officers work cooperatively to posture officers throughout their careers to gain the experience, both breadth and depth, necessary to be senior leaders capable of filling talent gaps across the organization. A thorough review of officer performance reports, past positions, awards, decorations, and senior leader recommendations is integral to the success of the Development Team process and is standardized among the Development Teams. The positive impact of the current Development Team process on the USAF organizational environment far exceeds any negative impact. The processes have gained the confidence of the majority of those who oversee the program and many agree that, as the experts in their field, the Development Teams are the appropriate entity to have the influence they possess over the careers of the more junior officers they develop. The USAF Development Teams do not currently have a standardized or effective way of assessing the results of the decisions they implement. The inability to adequately assess the teams’ decisions might prove detrimental to the future of the program if the poor choices of the past are not recognized to prevent (a) repeating the same decisions in the future and/or (b) the correcting previous decisions. The small size of the USAF Force Development section might
play a role in the lack of standardization across the Development Teams. The 57% negative response rate regarding balance and standardization across the Development Teams indicates a clear problem. Both problems are consistent with the projections the RAND Corporation made to the USAF in a previous study (Moore & Brauner, 2007). (I present some recommendations for addressing these problems later in the section. Applications to Professional Practice The top 5% of companies with effective leadership practices dedicate twice as much effort to leadership development as do the lower 95%, a clear indication that leadership development has a positive relationship toward organizational success (Results-Based Leadership Group, 2011). Within the current study on the effectiveness of the USAF Development Teams I examined the processes of a leadership development program within the USAF. The problem, findings, and methods upon which the findings were discovered led to a transferable leadership development business model. The self-assessment model emerged that could be utilized by leader of other private or public organizations to examine their leadership development programs. Figure 9 and Table 7 depict and describe how administrators may conceptualize and utilize the model to conduct a self-assessments on their respective leadership development programs.
Objective Alignment Program Assessment
Figure 9. The Leader-Input Framework for Evaluation (LIFE) model for management selfassessment of their development programs. The LIFE model in Figure 9 stems from conceptualizing and integrating elements of leadership development from Cohen (2011), Gabel, Harker, and Sanders (2011). Additional elements of the USAF on organizational development were integrated to develop the model. When combined with the descriptions of each theme, as presented in Table 7, program developers, assessors, and executives can easily understand and adapt the model.
Table 7 Investigative Questions to Support the LIFE Model Theme Strategy Objective Alignment Talent Management Performance Measurement Assessment Impact on Environment
Investigative Question How does (development program) posture (or fail to posture) leaders to meet organizational objectives? How do the objectives of (development program) align (or fail to align) with the organization’s strategic objectives? How does (development program) adequately posture (or fail to posture) officer talent capable of filling talent gaps within the organization? How does (development program) measure (or fail to measure) leaders' past performance when determining internal moves, developmental education, and leadership positions? How effective (or ineffective) is (development program) at assessing the results of its graduates to ensure they meet organizational objectives? How does the (development program) affect (or not affect) the overall organizational environment?
The emergent LIFE model can contribute to business practice by providing leaders of public and private organizations with a framework that they can use to conduct an internal selfassessment on their leadership development program. The model links directly to the review of professional and academic literature, and is grounded by the current study to provide a practical self-assessment. The LIFE model could help leaders of a company determine: (a) if their leadership development program is aligned with the organization’s strategy, (b) develops leaders that become transferrable across the company as they become more senior, (c) adequately measures and assesses performance of students and graduates, and (d) does not negatively impact the organization. Such a tool provides an inexpensive alternative to hiring consultants, especially during a period where rising audit fees are causing more auditors to be dismissed
(Farag & Elias, 2011). Implications for Social Change In an empirical study, Korb et al. (2010) determined that the future security of the United States relies on a smarter military that is developed through education. The determination is largely due to the important role the U.S. military plays in the nation’s economic, political, social, and cultural prosperity (Lynn, 2008). Similarly, Yukl et al. (2009) emphasized how important organizational leaders are to the survival and prosperity of their organization. As a primary component of national defense, the U.S. ability to maintain air superiority over adversaries also depends on educated leaders to ensure the survival and prosperity of the USAF and contribute to the future stability of the United States and international allies. The USAF could use the findings and recommendations from the study to improve the quality of their force development program resulting in better educated leaders to guide the organization. Recommendations for Action Based on the findings of the study, I recommend the following to address the areas of the Development Team process that require the most attention. These recommendations are specific to the USAF Development Teams, and might, or might not, be transferrable to other organizations with leadership development process deficiencies in similar areas. As the oversight entity for the Development Teams, these recommendations are provided to the USAF Force Development Integration office for consideration. If approved, I recommend the information be shared with the Development Team Chairs or Career Field Managers at the next career field meeting.
Recommendations for Theme 5: Assessment Since the 1900s, program assessment has been a cornerstone to achieving organizational success (Bunker & Cohen, 1978). Assessment is the linkage that connects what leaders of an organization set out to achieve with what they actually accomplished. The USAF must develop a better way for Development Teams, especially larger teams, to assess the actions taken to determine if the teams achieved their goals and what goals they failed to achieve (DeRue, Nahrgang, Hollenbeck, & Workman, 2012; Jantii & Greenhalgh, 2012). Moore and Brauner (2007) emphasized the importance of properly tracking and assessing Development Team decisions due to the resultant disaster to the program if officers developed for specific leadership jobs are not later placed into those positions. One option for assessment is to duplicate the program used by Air Education and Training Command to assess technical training graduates. The process involves submitting brief surveys to gaining supervisors that contain questions about the quality of the graduate. In this case, gaining commanders would receive a short survey that contains questions about the commander’s level of satisfaction with the qualifications and leadership ability of the officer vectored to them by the Development Team. A second, or complementary option to the first, would be a self-assessment questionnaire given to the officer vectored by the Development Team. Both options could be anonymous or confidential to protect the career of the officer, while still providing feedback to the Development Teams on their decision. If done in tandem, the two methods of feedback could provide a 360-degree feedback mechanism for USAF leadership on the effectiveness of the Development Teams and indicate areas for improvement if applicable. Survey distribution could
be easily managed and less costly than internal tracking or hiring outside auditors/contractors to conduct assessments on behalf of the USAF. A third option would be a more deliberate, internal tracking of officer progress through comprehensive evaluation of performance during an officers vectored assignment to immediately identify placement errors and possible reasons for such errors. Option three would be more taxing on a program that has already been downsized and is less likely to be implemented due to current government budget cuts. Some career fields plan to develop an internal assessment method such as the one described. If successful, the transferability of the method could be compared to large and small teams for implementation consideration. Recommendations for Theme 7: Effect on Organizational Balance Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Paul Valenzuela expressed concern that the career-field focused Development Teams might have a negative impact on the larger Air Force due to lack of standardization and balance across the teams (personal communication, August 28, 2011). There is historical evidence connecting downsizing to economic failure due to persons or sections within an organization acting in more of an individualistic manner to protect their own interests (de León & Finklestein, 2011). To investigate the concern, I introduced a final subquestion to the questionnaire to explore the standardization among the various Development Teams and how those teams impact organizational balance. Because the results reflected a lack of standardization among the various Development Teams, the USAF Force Development Integration Division could benefit by focusing attention toward resolving the standardization issue. Langfeldt, Stensaker, Harvey, Huisman, and Esterheijden (2010) recommended peer review in the form of observers as a method of quality
assurance to help identify shortfalls and standardize processes. According to Langfeldt et al. (2010), most processes are an interrelated mixture of professional judgments and standardized guidelines. In some cases, elements left to the judgment of the executors could have instead been made into standardized processes. Because the USAF Development Teams might have the same problem, force development observers that frequent the various Development Teams might improve standardization amongst the teams. Such an option would require increased manpower to the force development section of the Air Staff and additional travel funds to support the observation efforts. Organizational change that drives an increase in manpower and funding is not consistent with current U.S. fiscal trends; however, as noted by Eastman (2012), the fundamental principles of Lewin’s (1947) change theory, particularly as it relates to change that has a positive social impact, is more likely to be beneficial for the organization than top-down driven change simply for the purpose of downsizing. Recommendations for Further Study During the study, I identified several areas of future interest for the USAF to consider. Of most relevance to the study is the need for a 360-degree component to the study that investigates the same elements with the product (i.e., officers developed) of the Development Teams as the sample rather than the Development Team implementers. The results of such a study could then be cross-referenced with other Development Team studies to discover other possible findings and validate current findings. Several participants commented on the relationship of the Development Team with other force development programs, promotion boards, command selection boards, and mentoring. A comprehensive exploration of the relationship among these programs might validate the
participants’ comments and reveal critical or missing linkages among the programs that the USAF leadership can focus on establishing, improving, and/or maintaining. Such a study might also reveal areas for optimization by removing redundancies or processes with little or no impact. A correlation study between the small size of the Pentagon oversight element for the Development Teams and the lack of standardization amongst the teams might help officials identify an area where increased manpower and funding are necessary. Additional funding toward leadership development would be a worthy investment and has proven positive results for other organizations (Results-Based Leadership Group, 2011). The 2013 force development study currently being conducted by the RAND Corporation may also yield results that fill the aforementioned knowledge gap. As a cost savings measure, and opportunity for development of internal talent, the USAF could assign these topics to one of their many doctoral candidates that are enrolled in a USAF funded program, and/or offer the topic to USAF doctoral candidates that are in non-funded graduate programs. Such actions could (a) save costs by reducing or eliminating the need for outsourcing such research, (b) provide the USAF with doctoral-level recommendations to realworld issues, and (c) allow the doctoral candidates an opportunity to directly connect their doctoral capstone project with their duties. Doctoral students in the Chief of Staff’s Captain’s Ph.D. Program, Air Force Institute of Technology doctoral programs, and unfunded business, education, and psychology leadership programs would be prime candidates for such an opportunity.
Reflections Completing the current study was much more difficult than I expected. Having only my brief graduate degree thesis as research experience, I underestimated the challenges of advanced research. Finding literature related to the subject was simple once I developed the literature review map to use as a guide (see Figure 2). The resources afforded by the Walden University residencies, Writing Center, and Walden library were extremely helpful in that regard. Researching a protected class proved most challenging. The personnel at the USAF Research Oversight Office do an outstanding job protecting active duty military personnel and ensured (a) my study was properly vetted; (b) the participants were well protected; and (c) the processes for conducting the research were legal, logical, and achievable. Another minor challenge worth noting was my connection to the research. I was required to immerse myself in the research to gain a rich understanding of the process (Yin, 2009). As a senior Captain, I received my first USAF Development Team vector during the final stages of completing the study. As I analyzed the data, it was necessary to revisit the data multiple times to ensure my own bias was not interfering with the intent of the information submitted by the participants. All data in Section 3 are factual and based on direct comments that support the interpretations. Those comments were included as representing justification for each finding to ensure validity of the research. Summary and Study Conclusions Through an in-depth qualitative case study, I identified seven themes that examined the effectiveness of USAF Development Teams process from a program implementer perspective. The themes identified were (a) the ability of the process to produce strategic leaders, (b) the
alignment of Development Team objectives with higher level objectives, (c) the ability to produce leaders with talent necessary to fill talent gaps in the organization, (d) the ability of the Development Teams to measure performance, (e) the ability of the Development Teams to assess past decisions, (f) the effects of the Development Teams on the USAF, and (g) the impact the career field-centered teams have on the organization. The findings from the analysis of the data within each theme can help the USAF leadership identify, diagnose, and address the Development Team program shortfalls. Changes to the program would require additional funds and/or manpower to be appropriated to the USAF headquarters Force Development Integration division. Through correction of the identified shortfalls, the USAF Development Team process can produce more effective leaders that are capable of leading the U.S. military, ensuring economic prosperity, and maintaining regional stability.
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Appendix A: Reduction in Gaps Verification
Appendix B: Permission to Conduct Research
Appendix C: Consent Form
Appendix D: Permission to Use Table 2
Appendix E: Case Study Protocol
Appendix F: USAF DT Survey
United States Air Force Development Teams 2011 Officer Experience and Satisfaction Survey Statement of Purpose The United States Air Force is conducting an evaluation to gain insights into officer corps’ knowledge, perceptions, and views on how Development Teams operate and provide officers career guidance. The purpose of this survey is to assess your level of experience and satisfaction with Development Teams. Participation in this survey is voluntary. Failure to provide all or any part of the information will not affect you. Your responses will be kept confidential. Generally, this survey should take approximately 5 -10 minutes to complete. A Comments section is provided at the end of the survey to allow you to expand on any of your previous answers to an individual question or to further discuss related items not fully covered by the survey. AF/A1DI has contracted with LMI Government Consulting to conduct the survey. The information collected will be managed in accordance with AFMAN 23-110 records retention requirements. The A1DI point of contact for this survey is Lieutenant Colonel Paul Valenzuela, 703-697-4721 or [email protected]
For technical questions about the operability of the online survey, the point of contact is Chris Near, Contractor, LMI Government Consulting, 571-6338094 or [email protected]
Q-1 To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about the Development Teams (DTs) ? Select one answer for each statement. Strongly Agree Somewh Disagr Strongly Statement Agree at ee Disagree Agree/ Somewh at Disagree Q1a.
My DT helps me plan my career path
Q1b. I know when my DT meets Q1c.
I know what information the DT reviews when it meets
Q1d. I know who comprises my DT
The DT considers appropriate information
DT vectoring process is fair and equitable
I understand the role of a DT vector in the assignment process
Q1h. The DT process is transparent Q1i.
My leadership discusses the DT process with me
I know where to find my DT vector
My DT communicates directly with me
I have an adequate opportunity to present information to my DT
Q1m I know where to find MyODP .
Q1n. I use MyODP for career planning
DT vectors help me achieve Q1o. short-term career development goals
DT vectors help me achieve Q1p. long-term career development goals
I agree with my most recent DT vector
Open-ended Comments Q2. What is the DT program’s greatest strength? Please explain below Q3. What is the DT program’s greatest weakness? Please explain below Q4. How would you improve the DT vectoring process? Please explain below Q5. Please use the space below to expand on any of your above answers to individual questions or to discuss related items not fully covered by this survey. Please expound below
Appendix G: Invitation E-Mail
Appendix H: IRB Exemption and Approval Letter
Appendix I: USAF Research Oversight Approval
Curriculum Vitae JASON MICHAEL NEWCOMER EDUCATION Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Leadership Walden University, Minneapolis, MN, November 2013 Dissertation: The Effectiveness of the USAF Development Teams Committee: Sandra Kolberg, PhD; Jon Corey, PhD; Richard Snyder, PhD Master of Aeronautical Science (MAS), Space Studies and Aviation Operations Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, February 2008 Thesis: The Effects of Age on Initial Air Traffic Control Training Committee: Carl Nehlig, PhD; Donald Manser, MAS Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics (BSPA), Business / Aviation Safety Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, January 2004 Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Aircraft Maintenance Technology Community College of the Air Force, Maxwell AFB, AL, May 2003 RESEARCH INTERESTS Leadership Development, Organizational Behavior, Aviation Studies, Change Management, Strategy, Qualitative Research, Education PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE Owner and President, Professional Coaching Group LLC Oklahoma City, OK, 2013 – Present Chief of Airfield Operations Strategic Planning, Air Force Flight Standards Agency Will Rogers World Airport, Oklahoma City, OK, 2013 – Present Adjunct Instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide Campuses, 2008 – Present Chief of Offensive Cyber Operations, United States Cyber Command Fort George Meade, MD, 2011 – 2013 Executive Officer, Air Staff, Pentagon Washington, DC, 2009 – 2011 Commander, Command and Control Training Fight Keesler Air Force Base, MS, 2008 – 2009
Master Instructor, Airfield Operations Officer Course Keesler Air Force Base, MS, 2007 – 2008 Director of Operations and Systems Officer, Airfield Operations Dover Air Force Base, DE, 2004 – 2007 Airfield Operations Student Moody Air Force Base, GA, 2003 – 2004 Aircraft Mechanic, Presidential 747s Offutt Air Force Base, NE, 1998 – 2001 PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS Vine Institute of Arts and Science Board of Directors Member, 2013 – Present Council of Undergraduate Research Social Sciences Division Member, 2013 – Present International Leadership Association Leadership Development Member Interest Group Member, 2012 – Present