Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Gary Kelsey


The Department of Defense's (DoD's) budgetary and personnel challenges are affecting readiness, thus encouraging the use of effective teams to improve efficiency. This qualitative, descriptive case study examined how public sector DoD members experienced characteristics of high-performing teams (HPTs), defined by their members' shared sense of purpose, interdependent commitment, and exceptional team effectiveness. The documentation of these experiences may aid other DoD teams seeking to improve performance. Lewin and Sherif's theories on group dynamics, Johnson and Johnson's theory on groups, Katzenbach and Smith's theory of HPTs, and Edmondson's work on teams comprised the theoretical framework. Thirty-nine public sector DoD members provided responses to semistructured questions that were developed to seek insights into DoD members' team experiences and practices. Data were analyzed and categorized based on codes derived from the literature. Emergent themes from participant responses confirmed that public sector DoD team members experienced some characteristics of HPTs. Study participants perceived that these teams made positive organizational impacts, but transferring knowledge about these teams' best practices was inconsistent. These findings may contribute to positive social change by improving awareness among DoD practitioners about related HPT benefits and practices; informing public policy makers and practitioners about the value of HPTs in increasing financial and operational efficiencies; improving managerial quality and team experiences; encouraging innovation, openness, and action; and fostering an high-quality DoD workforce exemplifying long-term commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.