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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Paying for language skills: The Department of Defense Foreign Language Incentive Program
by Christensen, R. Bryan, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 2013, 205; 3563610
Abstract (Summary)

Many organizations have a great need for people conversant in foreign languages and cultures. The U.S. Department of Defense operates globally and is always in need of people who can communicate across cultural and linguistic divides, and the gap between what is needed and the personnel who can meet those needs is often considerable. To address this deficit the DOD implemented an incentive pay in the mid 1980s to reward those servicemembers who could prove proficiency in a foreign language. The Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus (FLPB) has gone through numerous changes over the years and this study sought to answer the basic questions, what has been the effect and is it working? How much of an effect does the bonus have on members' actual behavior regarding FL acquisition? This mixed-methods approach analyzed the evolution of policy, conducted a statistical analysis of member testing data, and conducted interviews with 22 current and former recipients of FLPB to see what impact FLPB has had or could have in meeting the DOD goal of increasing FL proficiency within the force. This study focused on the Air Force implementation of the FLPB program, though findings are likely applicable across the military services. Key findings include the rapidly changing nature of FLPB policy, which has caused frustration for many AF members. Further, with numerous stakeholders involved, some points of policy and programs could potentially be working at cross-purposes with overall goals. Statistical analysis found several significant trends; however, many findings do not support FLPB as an effective program in its current form. Many AF members indicated a high desire to use their language skills but are frustrated at the infrequent ability to do so in any official capacity. Several suggestions are offered for how the AF could modify existing policy to achieve its goals for FL proficiency, as well as to maximize scarce financial resources to maximum effect.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Carpenter, Dick
Commitee: Martinez, Sylvia, Moraco, Donna, Uribe, Daniel
School: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Department: College of Education - Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Foreign Language, Economic theory, Public administration, Military studies
Keywords: Department of Defense, External and internal motivation, Foreign language pay, Incentive pay, Instrumental motivation, Mixed methods, Self-determination theory
Publication Number: 3563610
ISBN: 978-1-303-12008-4
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