Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

High Reliability Leadership: Developing executive leaders for High Reliability Organizations
by Compton, David S., Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2008, 375; 3325242
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study is to understand how executive leaders for High-Reliability Organizations (HROs) develop. The study was based on interviews with 33 executive leaders from 16 different HRO contexts. Based on the participant interviews, a High Reliability Leadership Model was developed, capturing the leadership elements and attributes needed to be effective in HRO contexts. The model includes 26 specific attributes in 4 areas: (1) self-management, (2) technical competence, (3) leading people, and (4) leading organization. The study also identifies the model attributes that are most strongly supported.

Meaningful development events were identified by participants and key lessons were identified in terms of the leadership model attributes. The most significant developmental experiences were work-related experiences and assignments (73 percent), followed by other people (14 percent), education and training (6 percent), and personal hardships (6 percent). Within the grouping of work-related experiences and assignments, seven different types of developmental experiences were identified: early work experiences, major career turning points, operational mishaps, personal challenges and hardships, early leadership experiences, task forces, and major organizational challenges. The typical lessons learned for each type of developmental experience was identified. Each experience offers different types of lessons.

The study also describes participant experiences related to developing future leaders for HROs. To develop future leaders, a combination of work assignments and experiences, mentoring and coaching, and training and education is needed. The study also describes advice from the study participants for future leaders.

The High Reliability Leadership Model was compared to similar models for general executives and global executives and found to be similar, with one significant exception in the area of technical competence. To effectively develop executive leaders in HRO contexts, attention must be devoted to both the technically-focused elements (general technical competence), as well as the leadership elements (self-management, leading people, and leading organizations). A roadmap for HROs to develop future leaders is provided, reflecting the experiences of study participants. A roadmap for individuals who want to develop into future HRO leaders is also provided, reflecting advice from study participants. Recommendations for future studies are also provided.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Winslow, Erik K.
Commitee: Dastidar, Protiti, Donnelly, Richard G., Orton, James D., Rosen, Theodore H., Wu, Chuan-Fu
School: The George Washington University
Department: Business Administration
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 69/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Management
Keywords: Executive leaders, High reliability organizations, High-reliability organizations, Leader development, Leadership, Safety culture, Selection
Publication Number: 3325242
ISBN: 9780549789161