Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Leadership competencies of successful systems engineers in the defense industry
by Melvin, James E., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2016, 151; 10158568
Abstract (Summary)

Systems engineering leaders have a huge impact on the success of acquisition programs in the defense industry. Many systems engineers are promoted to leadership positions based on technical merit without receiving the adequate leadership tools to succeed. This study explored the competencies that influence successful systems engineering leaders in the defense industry as well as the professional experiences that shape these leaders. The findings from this study are the result of a qualitative design utilizing 25 interviews from systems engineering leaders in the defense industry who have: (1) served as a systems engineering leader in a successful acquisition program; and (2) greater than 20 years of experience in systems engineering. This study resulted in five key findings of successful systems engineering leaders in the defense industry: (a) over 80% use the emotional and social intelligence competencies of adaptability, conflict management, influence, organizational awareness, self awareness, and teamwork; (b) over 80% use the systems thinking cognitive competencies of open minded, understands the big picture, understands systems from multiple perspectives, and understands interconnections; (c) over 80% use the leadership competencies of builds trusting relationships, communicates, empowers others, learns from successes and failures, makes timely decisions, promotes collaboration, and solves problems and analyzes issues; (d) over 80% have been enabled by professional experiences that include opportunities to broaden perspective, opportunities to collaborate and bring teams together, a culture that is tolerant of failure, and a culture that empowers others; and (e) over 80% have been developed to cultivate their acumen by learning by doing, using mentors, and using program management skills. The contributions and implications for practice are also discussed, as well as opportunities for future research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ravitch, Sharon M.
Commitee: Pearson, Kathy, Whitcomb, Clifford
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Management, Engineering
Keywords: Acquisition programs, Competencies, Defense industry, Leadership, Systems engineers, Systems thinking
Publication Number: 10158568
ISBN: 978-1-369-13576-3
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