Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The practice of leadership: A survey of National Park Service chief park rangers
by Maciha, Mark Joseph, Ed.D., Northern Arizona University, 2014, 198; 3621122
Abstract (Summary)

The role of the national park ranger is to protect, conserve, and to provide for the enjoyment of our nation's heritage. Unfortunately, today's rangers are challenged with problems in the organizational leadership of the National Park Service. The agency is currently ranked in the bottom third of federal agencies in workplace health and leadership.

As some of the most visible leaders in the National Park Service, chief park rangers were queried through a descriptive qualitative design. The open-ended survey instrument was designed to answer the following two research questions: "Assuming that formal training in leadership influences successful leadership practice, what are the perceived results and outcomes of this training?" and "What are the factors, other than training, that influence an individual's desired practice of leadership?" A total of 29 chief park rangers of an eligible 51 chief park rangers in the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service responded to the survey conducted in January 2014. Their responses were categorized as to (a) the impact of the agency's training efforts on chief park rangers; (b) the barriers to the practice of leadership as experienced by chief park rangers; and (c) considerations for improvement in the leadership of the National Park Service.

The research concluded that training, although perceived to be limited in availability, was beneficial. However, training absent experience negatively influenced leadership practice. The predominant barriers to the desired practice of leadership were the lack of training, unfavorable organizational culture, and burdensome administrative practices. Although the survey was designed to focus on the issues of empowerment, fairness, senior leadership, and direct supervision, the respondents indicated that the barriers mentioned above were of primary concern rather than problems with these specific issues. The research suggested that the efforts of the National Park Service need to focus on enhancing leadership training program management and on initiating comprehensive reform of leadership practices to include active leadership development, enhanced accountability at all levels, and specific messaging from senior management.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dereshiwsky, Mary
Commitee: Boothe, Robert, Emanuel, Gary, Hammersley, Charles
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Natural Resource Management, Recreation
Keywords: Chief park ranger, Land management, Law enforcement, Leadership, National park service, Park and recreation management
Publication Number: 3621122
ISBN: 978-1-303-92013-4
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