Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Complexity Leadership Theory and Leading the Next Generation in Agriculture
by Kuden, Kimberly Merryman, Ph.D., Northcentral University, 2019, 141; 13901151
Abstract (Summary)

Agribusiness leaders are facing a shortage of workers with relevant knowledge and skills to overcome the challenges in an industry that supplies food to our growing population. As the retiring baby boomers leave the workforce, the remaining working generations, i.e., generation X and the millennial generation, tend to turnover more frequently and may lack company loyalty. Organizational leadership and organizational structure are key factors associated with greater retention of these employees. Complexity leadership theory, as opposed to traditional leadership theories, includes aspects of leadership and organizational structure. The problem addressed in this study is the lack of effective leadership practices in the American seed industry to maintain a qualified workforce considering the increasing turnover of its multi-generational employees. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how American seed industry leaders can utilize complexity leadership practices to manage the turnover of a multi-generational workforce. The tenets of complexity leadership theory can be translated into five leadership practices: environment identification, enabling social networks, creating a clear organizational structure to enable innovation, embracing and managing tension, and promoting continuous learning. The purposeful sampling was used to obtain an expert sample of American seed industry leaders in middle or executive management roles. Data collection included personal electronic interviews conducted using semi-structured questions during one-on-one recorded discussion, and through an online questionnaire with open-ended questions. The interview participants identified a complex environment and enabling social networks as having the most effect on turnover. While the survey responses identified the organizational structure and social networks as having the most effect on turnover. All of the practices, except identifying the complex environment, were identified as having an effect of decreased turnover. The complex environment is perceived to have an effect of increased turnover. Finally, the evaluation of the findings section compares the research results to existing research and the theoretical framework highlighting consistencies and discrepancies from the literature. Clarity, employee fit, and environment alignment were themes aligned between the results and the literature. Cross-generational relationships as a result of social networks, improved employee engagement, and the benefit of new opportunities were not addressed in the CLT literature.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Carpenter, Corey, Fenner, Charles
Commitee: Bennett, John
School: Northcentral University
Department: School of Business and Technology Management
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Agricultural economics, Business administration, Management
Keywords: Aagribusiness, Complexity leadership theory, Eemployee retention, Leadership, Multi-generational workforce, Teams
Publication Number: 13901151
ISBN: 9781085614382
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