Research into Enhancing Human Capital in the Air Force

2390 words (10 pages) Essay in Organisations

08/02/20 Organisations Reference this

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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

 Enhancing human capital is receiving increasing consideration on a global scale as business leaders see the impact that human capital has on the overall value to an organization (Marimuthu, Arokiasamy, & Ismail, 2009).  Although human capital has been written about for centuries by some of the greatest economic minds, it is only in the last few decades that enhancing human capital has been accepted as a key management tool.  Even the father of classical economics, Adam Smith wrote about human capital as one of four types of capital in his book, The Wealth of Nations (Yukl & Lepsinger, 2008).

Jim Kelly, former Chairman and CEO of United Parcel Service (UPS) echoed these same sentiments when he described loyalty as a key ingredient of employees that employers overlook, and its effect is so great it should be included on the balance sheet (Bowers, 2003).  Kelly was perplexed by management’s lack of appreciation for employee loyalty and professed that employee organizational commitment would decline if management didn’t change its current thinking (Bowers, 2003).  The Air Force is striving to enhance human capital by improving professionalism, increasing job satisfaction, and improving the ethical climate to create affective organizational commitment from its members. 

Professionalism

 Professionalism can be a problematic subject to teach and sometimes even difficult to describe but most agree that it’s easy to identify when you see it.   Professionalism is often associated with ethical behavior and institutional core values and it’s been proposed that it lies at the heart of every profession (Peeters, and Vaidya, 2016).  Another approach to defining professionalism has been based on an evaluation of what is generally considered professional, as opposed to what should be (Galvin, 2011).  This study examines the role, if any, of professionalism as a construct in building affective organizational commitment.

Job Satisfaction

 Job satisfaction has been studied for decades and really came into prominence with the studies conducted by Frederick Herzberg.  Herzberg was the creator of the Motivation-Hygiene Theory. The theory postulated that motivators and hygiene were two factors inherent in every job.  Motivators, were strong determiners of job satisfaction and consisted of achievements, recognition, work itself, responsibility, and advancement (Bahamonde-Gunnell, 2000).  Hygiene factors created job dissatisfaction. Hygiene factors included company policy, administration, supervision, salary, interpersonal relations, and working conditions. According to Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory the only way to motivate employees was to make jobs intrinsically rewarding (Bahamonde-Gunnell, 2000).  This study examines the role, if any, of job satisfaction as a construct in building affective organizational commitment.

Ethical Climate

 The United States Military has suffered extensive and well publicized ethical shortcomings in the last few decades and despite numerous attempts to mitigate them, they have only seemed to increase.  At the heart of the matter seems to be a contradiction of what the individual sees as their ethical palate and what the institution views as their ethical dictum (Snider, Nagl, & Pfaff, 1999).  Studies have determined that a link exists between the ethical climate of the organization and the ethical behavior of employees (Kincaid, 2003; Wimbush & Shepard, 1994).  This study examines the role, if any, of ethical climate as a construct in building affective organizational commitment.

Affective Organizational Commitment  

Organizational commitment has been the object of a tremendous amount of research since the seminal work of Meyer and Allen (1991) was published proposing a three-component model of organizational commitment.  The model identified three core areas of commitment; affective, normative, and continuance than an individual can potentially relate to an organization.  The three-component model of organizational commitment postulates that individuals remain with an organization because they either want to or they are emotionally attached to the organization (affective), they need to because of financial considerations (continuance), or they feel an obligation to stay with the organization (normative) (Jayasingam, Govindasamy, & Garib Singh, 2016; Brief, 1998).  Affective organizational commitment is regarded as the one level of commitment that is the hardest for an employee to attain, but the most valuable towards the organization.  

Problem Background

The United States Air Force is the premier air force in the world and was established as an independent force under the Department of Defense by the National Security Act of 1947.  Air Education and Training Command (AETC) is charged with providing primary job and professionalism training for the nearly 500,000 officer, enlisted, and civilian members of the Air Force (“Air Education and Training Command > Home,” 2018).  Air Force Instructors either directly train or indirectly come in contact with every Air Force member at some point in their career, so it’s crucial that instructors project the right image.  Air Force Instructors play a critical role in not only providing the needed skills for airmen to accomplish their mission, but they must also be a role model for airmen. 

It is vital that Air Force Instructors not only model the core values the Air Force professes, but the lifestyle as well.  Air Force members are not only required to abide by federal and local laws, but they must also adhere to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).  The UCMJ is more comprehensive than other laws and is the rule of law for service connected crimes.  The adherence to the UCMJ, temporary duty assignments (TDY), high-pace operational tempo, and family separations, among other things, all combine to produce a nearly 50% turnover rate of first-term airmen. 

Retention is the number one problem associated with the Air Force and a low retention rate creates increased inefficiencies of having to constantly train airmen.  One example of the retention problem is with pilots in the Air Force.  According to a recent study, the Air Force spends $2.6 million per fighter pilot and $600k per airlift pilots to get them fully trained (“Air Force Flight Simulators May Help Cut Training Costs | Defense Media Network,” n.d.).  To cut costs the Air Force has increased the use of simulators to help train pilots, and in some aircraft types the simulation can be as much as 40% of their training time (“Air Force Flight Simulators May Help Cut Training Costs | Defense Media Network,” n.d.).  Although simulators cut down on training costs and operational costs, pilots often claim they joined the military to fly jets and the simulator does not quite fit the image of an Air Force aviator.  To make matters worse, pilots often spend a lot of time in austere environments, away from their families, with the possibility of being shot down and killed.  It comes as no surprise that pilots often stay long enough to get the training they need and then leave the service for the comfortable job of airline pilot.

To add to the retention problem is the enforcement of a new Pentagon plan to release thousands of troops who are considered non-deployable (Copp, 2018).  The Air Force, along with its sister services, must find a way to not only improve the organizational climate, but foster an affective organizational commitment where the majority of airmen believe strongly in the mission of the Air Force and make it a career.

In 2015, in an effort to create an affective organizational culture, the Air Force introduced the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence at AETC with the mission of improving professionalism through developing and fostering the core values of airmen.  An important part of this plan is developing affective organizational commitment of Air Force members.  

Research Gap

Organizational commitment, including affective organizational commitment has been studied and reported on for decades but very little research has been done on exploring the implications of it in a military society.  In the civilian sector, workers can go home at the end of the day and forget about work, but in the military, members are often in harm’s way, or at remote locations, prepared to take a life or ultimately give up their own.  In this context it is important to study what drives an individual to give up personal liberties to protect the liberties of others.  In addition to the sacrifices the military must make, their family must also make sacrifices by missing loved one’s birthdays, holidays, and other important family events. 

Purpose of Study

 Thisextant study looks at the constructs of professionalism, job satisfaction, and ethical climate to examine the role they play in establishing creating an affective organization commitment from Air Force Instructors.  Does an ethical climate, job satisfaction, and professionalism play a role in contributing to affective organizational commitment by United States Air Force Instructors?  What are the predictors of high levels of affective commitment?  Is there a correlation between ethical climate, job satisfaction, and professionalism with affective organizational commitment?

Research Questions

 The primary research question seeks to answer to what degree does each of the constructs, if any, play in creating an affective organizational commitment by Air Force Instructors.  In answering this question, the data collected and analyzed should give an indication if the process of enhancing human capital of Air Force Instructors will be effective or not.

Research Methodology

The research will sample approximately 300 current Air Force Instructors teaching a variety of Air Force courses on Keesler Air Force Base.   Descriptive statistics will first be run to get basic features of the data. Correlational data will be analyzed to determine the strength between the variables. Cronbach’s alfa will be conducted to measure internal consistency to determine how closely related the set of variables are as a group and also give a measure of scale reliability.   Multiple regression analysis is the most common form of linear regression analysis and when used for predictive analysis, is used to explain the relationship between one dependent variable and two or more independent variables.

The following scales will be used for the survey:

Affective Organizational Commitment- Meyer & Allen 1997 Affective Commitment Scale

Professionalism Scale- Hall’s 1968 scale

Job Satisfaction Scale- Stamps and Piedmonte 1986 scale

Ethical Climate Scale- Victor and Cullen 1988 Ethical Climate Scale

Assumptions

 A general assumption is that the Air Force Instructors surveyed will self-report accurate information about their ethical climate, level of professionalism, and job satisfaction.  Another assumption is that the sample population will feel comfortable reporting on the ethical climate they work in and their data will be protected and not shared with anyone.

Limitations

 Several factors related to this research must be taken into consideration when drawing conclusions from the findings. First, this study only consists of Air Force Instructors which affects the generalizability of the findings of affective organizational commitment of all of the Air Force. Air Force Instructors at other organizations operating in different geographical locations, or of different sizes may have produced different results.

References

Air Education and Training Command > Home. (2018, October 22). Retrieved from https://www.aetc.af.mil/

Air Force Flight Simulators May Help Cut Training Costs | Defense Media Network. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/virtual-bargain/

Bahamonde-Gunnell, Mayda A. (2000).  “Teachers’ Perceptions of School Culture in Relation to Job Satisfaction and Commitment.” Ed.D., Western Michigan University, 2000. http://search.proquest.com/pqdtglobal/docview/304647260/abstract/71D5C296EDAC41AFPQ/243.

Bowers, B. (2003). Affective organizational commitment among non-traditional undergraduate business majors: An empirical investigation (Order No. 3093824). Available from ABI/INFORM Collection; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (305229824). Retrieved from https://saintleo.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.saintleo.idm.oclc.org/docview/305229824?accountid=4870

Brief, A. P. (1998), Attitudes in and around the Organizations, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Copp, T. (2018, February 5). Deploy or get out: New Pentagon plan could boot thousands of non-deployable troops. Retrieved from https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/02/05/deploy-or-get-out-new-pentagon-plan-could-boot-thousands-of-non-deployable-troops/

Galvin, Thomas P. (2011). “A New Way of Understanding (Military) Professionalism.” Joint Force Quarterly: JFQ; Washington, no. 62: 25–31.

Jayasingam, S., Govindasamy, M., & Garib Singh, S. K. (2016). Instilling affective commitment: Insights on what makes knowledge workers want to stay. Management Research Review, 39(3), 266-288. Retrieved from https://saintleo.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.saintleo.idm.oclc.org/docview/1772810071?accountid=4870

Kincaid, C. S. (2003). An examination of the effect of ethical climate on ethical optimism and organizational commitment (Order No. 3115892). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (305292020). Retrieved from https://saintleo.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.saintleo.idm.oclc.org/docview/305292020?accountid=4870

Meyer, J.P. and Allen, N.J. (1991), “A three component conceptualization of organizational commitment”, Human Resource Management Review, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 61-89.

Peeters, Michael J., and Varun A. Vaidya. (2016). “A Mixed-Methods Analysis in Assessing Students’ Professional Development by Applying an Assessment for Learning Approach.” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education; Alexandria 80, no. 5: 1–10.

Snider, D. M., Nagl, J. A., Pfaff, T. (1999). War College (Carlisle Barracks), & Strategic Studies Institute. Army professionalism, the military ethic, and officership in the 21st century. Carlisle Barracks PA: U.S. Army War College.

Wimbush, J. & Shepard, J., (1994). Toward an understanding of ethical climate: Its

relationship to ethical behavior and supervisory influence. Journal of Business

Ethics 13 (8), 637-647.

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