Army Federal Careers: A Phenomenological Study of African American Leaders' Perceptions of Career Advancement

Army Federal Careers: A Phenomenological Study of African American Leaders' Perceptions of Career Advancement

Author: 
Quintessia A. Fuller
Program of study: 
D.B.A.
Abstract: 
The declining number of African Americans in and seeking leadership positions in federal government organizations is a continuing concern. This qualitative phenomenological study explored the perceptions and lived experiences of 20 African Americans in federal civilian leadership positions in the Department of the Army. The research questions that guided this study were: (a) What are the perceptions of career advancement opportunities of African American federal civilians in leadership positions within the Department of the Army; and (b)What are the lived experiences in career advancement of African American federal civilians in leadership positions within the Department of the Army. The research findings uncovered eight themes: (a) pressure to overachieve, (b) conservative work identity, (c) personal determination, (d) perceptions of racial bias, (e) mobility as a means to advance, (f) lack of education and training, (g) career planning, and (h) networking and mentoring relationships. Recommendations from this study may assist organizational leaders’ interventions to improve diversity in federal civilian organization. This study contributed to reducing the gap in literature on the perceptions and experiences of African American federal employees in the Department of the Army. The study also contributed to the body of knowledge in adding to the understanding of successful African Americans in leadership positions.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this dissertation to my parents, Tony and Jean. Thank you, thank you, and thank you for all that you do and have done in my life. You are my cheerleaders, guidance counselors, teachers, and so much more. You keep me in line when I need it and push me to have fun when I do not see the need. I know that this journey has been a difficult one and I can only hope that I have made you proud. I love you! I dedicate this dissertation to all of my family and friends, who have cheered me on and offered their encouragement when I needed it, thank you for the support and listening ears. To my brother, Michael, all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins, I love you all. I could not have asked for a better cheering squad. If I have not told you previously, I appreciate you, and I thank God for the blessing that you are in my life. To the friend who encouraged me to start this journey, words cannot explain how grateful I am that I followed your advice. To all of my friends, thank you for staying true and faithful through this period of my life. I truly appreciate your strength. I also dedicate this dissertation to my UOP family and friends. I am fortunate to have connected with all of you and experienced a piece of who you are. To my cohort, we made it! There were days when it was a question, but we made it! Thank you to my dissertation committee and all of the wonderful instructors I had along the way. Finally, I dedicate this dissertation to the study participants and to all of the fellow minority men and women federal employees who are working hard at their careers. We are in this together. Keep your head up and know that God has a plan. To those who have not made it, know that it is possible and there are people rooting for you. To those who have made it, thank you for your wisdom, sharing, and caring.
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to acknowledge my dissertation committee chair, Dr. Larry Ellis, who was an instructor and mentor. When I encountered you in the first of three courses, I felt that you would be an asset to my team. I thank you for keeping me on the waiting list until you had an opening. Your patience and support was extremely instrumental to my completion of this journey. I also would like to acknowledge my committee members, Dr. Mary W. Stout, and Dr. Robert Wyatt for your patience, support, leadership, and honesty through this long journey. I struggled for a little while in finding a full committee and I appreciate your willingness to support my research. I would also like to acknowledge all of the instructors who contributed to my learning and helping me figure out how to get this done. Your feedback and assistance were a part of this experience that helped make it a success. I would also like to acknowledge the African American civilian employees who lent their time to participate in this study. I sincerely appreciate your honesty and openness. Without you, this would not have been possible. Know that you are an inspiration to me and so many others.