Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Anne Davis


The performance of public agency employees and their management teams have long been subject to critical comments and public doubt. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of police leaders and staff with regard to skillful recognition of excellent performance within the profession. Twenty law enforcement employees, including leaders, sworn officers, and nonuniformed civilian employees in southwestern North Carolina, consented to in-depth, semistructured interviews concerning their lived experiences. Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory was the conceptual framework for this study. A modified van Kaam analysis resulted in the identification of 5 significant, but broad, themes. The themes were: motivation, leadership, leader-employee communication, recognition, and leader-employee relationship. The responses of the participants that clustered within the themes provided unique insight based on the participants' experiences concerning the environment of an effective recognition program in law enforcement and the skills leaders use to encourage excellent performance. The emergent themes align with expectations in LMX theory and most of existing literature and current thought concerning employee recognition and the skills leaders need to master to be effective encouragers of excellent performance. Thus the findings support much of the existing body of research while adding insight into the unique environment of law enforcement. This study has the potential of contributing to positive social change because researchers and law enforcement leaders could gain valuable insights about how to encourage and recognize excellent performance. This in turn could contribute to more effective and courteous policing and, thus, better service to the community and the general public. Other types of public agency researchers and management teams could also learn from these insights, resulting in potentially broad benefits to society.