A complex and unstable business environment requires any entrepreneur to motivate his employees through the power of shared goals, targets, and standards that, altogether, represent the critical concept of leadership. From the military leadership perspective, Taylor (2018) defines two essential leadership qualities, such as cooperativeness and dependability, which promote leadership skills and organizational change. However, it is of the utmost importance for business leaders to lead with the unique and ideal vision of the future. With that said, the following action research regarding the migration of military leadership traits into the business will be based on three data collection methods, including stakeholder interviews, surveys/questionnaires, and observations.
Methods of Data Collection
Action research (AR) design uses the information from the data collection to develop a plan of action in order to make a change and study that change. According to Ferrance (2000), systematic data collection is part of the spiraling cycles in AR along with “problem identification, reflection, analysis, data-driven action taken, and problem redefinition” (p. 26). Therefore, data collection is a crucial step in finding the most appropriate action conducted through multiple sources of data for a better understanding of the extent of the analyzed case. Three methods were chosen within the broad spectrum of means for data gathering, such as stakeholder interviews, surveys/questionnaires, and observations.
More specifically, stakeholder interviews are recorded detailed interviews of parties engaged in the context of the problem under study who respond to the series of planned questions. It is followed by a thematic analysis applied to interview transcripts. In addition, informal talk with people can be used as an effective method for data collection. Surveys or questionnaires are tools commonly associated with quantitative research. Through the inductive vision, AR creates an in-depth overview view of the problem under consideration. Thus, surveys and questionnaires provide one data point among many in an attempt to comprehend and prepare for problem-solving action by adding more value compared to traditional research. Surveys usually consist of a pre-design list of questions that can be open-ended or closed responses. Finally, observations are involved with examining behaviors and activities and providing additional data points to further support the action research in reality.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Approach
Stakeholder interviews in AR contain five main stages, such as rapport, asking the opening question, keeping the informant talking, probing questions, and summary. Sometimes they are replaced with written surveys; however, they may not give the desired information from the participant unless it is a well-designed method. Furthermore, a relatively low number of convergent interviews might help clarify and interpret the survey data. As stated by Dick (2014), interviews might not be a very participative approach to data collection, which emphasizes its weak point. Notwithstanding, the information comes from the informants and is not defined by the questions. The probe questions help the informants engage in interpretation and, thus, clarify the situation. The results can be reported back to the group from the client organization or community to identify the relevance of the findings.
Regarding the questionnaires, they can collect data from a significant amount of participants in a short period and in a cost-effective way. The questionnaires or surveys’ findings can usually be quantified promptly and easily by a researcher or through the software package. Compared to other forms of research, this method provides more scientific and objective data analysis. The data received can be applied to compare with other research and measure a change. However, the weaknesses of surveys and questionnaires imply that they are insufficient in understanding some forms of information, such as change of “emotions, behavior, or feelings” (Kabir, 2016, p. 210). Moreover, such a method does not guarantee the respondent’s truthfulness and meaningfulness concerning the full context of the situation. It is also important to consider that each answer to a questionnaire or a survey is based on an individual’s interpretation of the question, which is why there is a subjectivity level.
Observations are the third method selected for the AR that is beneficial for reflecting on the process weaknesses and conflict that facilitate the issue under study. Such a qualitative data collection technique with strong reliability, generalizability, and precise approach that, altogether, establish a structure for the research. The weak points involve the amount of missed interaction and disregard of the “temporal and spatial context,” wherein the data is collected (Kabir. 2016, p. 244). Most importantly, the observation method neglects the process, flow, development, and change.
The Rationale for the Method Selection
The stakeholder interviews might contribute to the practical implications for leadership development within a business sector in the view of the military leadership traits. To be more specific, the received results will determine the means for measuring the knowledge obtained through the Army’s assignments and experiences that build a system of leader development, which can be applied in entrepreneurial settings. Surveys and questionnaires contribute to a better understanding of the military culture and its application in the business climate; however, through the subjective lenses (Haymaker, 2019). Ultimately, observations of the military leadership tactics and related research may determine the critical military traits that transfer to the business leadership, including judgment, dependability, integrity, decisiveness, courage, and knowledge. Based on the advantages of each data collection method, they aim at identifying the most adequate way to implement military leadership skills for creating reinforced corporate teams in any leadership position.
Organization and Implementation of Data Collection
Both interviews and surveys might contain relatively predictable questions concerning the leadership style or the leading manner of those who apply for the position where one is responsible for leading others. In addition, the AR will involve the military representatives or former military commanders to examine their vision of leadership and see how it applies in civilian leadership roles. Participants may draw on their personal experience by observing their leaders or further knowledge of leading. Observations will be implemented based on four assessment dimensions, including “attractiveness, warmth, competence, and masculinity-maturity” (Olivola, Eubanks & Lovelace, 2015, p. 825). Through carrying out the data collection, AR will present the findings that might conclude that people commonly associate military leadership with low warmth and high masculinity-maturity, when business leadership is associated with competence.
Data analysis will be based upon identifying the issue under study, setting goals for the research, planning the methods and research approach, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and acting on the results. Organizing and carrying out the data collection for AR implies getting support from the key stakeholders of the organization and selecting the research team responsible for all significant decisions about the data collection process. It is also essential to determine the logistics, resources, technology, and human resources needed to develop and implement a data collection initiative. The data collection methods should mainly address stakeholder concerns and questions about the research. Another critical step is planning a communication strategy to explain the data collection and promote the high participation rate. During the process, privacy and data protection should be controlled.
Data Interpretation: Taking Action with Resulting Solutions
According to the data received from the stakeholder interviews, surveys, and questionnaires, as well as observations, there is a strong parallel between the army vision of the leadership and its implications in the corporate settings. Based on the conducted AR design, the following actions are taken into consideration regarding military leadership traits migration into business:
- service-oriented leadership
- comprehensive planning
- mentorship and training (Grewal, 2015).
A sufficient amount of information contributes to the development of an action plan, which should consider the summary of the findings of the data analysis and interpretation. Moreover, it is important to determine the barriers, gaps, and opportunities that might exist. The action plan should be grounded in feasible goals with a short-term and longer-term timeframe.
Quantitative and qualitative data can serve as a sound foundation for an efficient action plan aimed at achieving strategic organizational objectives. Following the ideas of Perry & Zuber-Skerritt (1992), action research is considered more suitable for “developing management competencies” (p. 205). Leadership is one of the managerial competencies that encompass self-esteem, creative conceptualization, rationality, and oral presentations. Therefore, as the method that engages workgroups of practitioners, AR is a management practice and is a proper way to examine the military leadership traits migration into the business sector.
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Grewal D. S. (2015). Enhancing military leadership through business management techniques. Journal of Defense Management, 4(1), 1–6.
Haymaker, J. N. (2019). Transitioning military leadership skills into a civilian setting. The Journal of Student Leadership, 2(2), 27–34.
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