Date of Conferral



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


Business Administration


Jamie Patterson


Globally, the aviation industry supports 58.1 million jobs in related industries and U.S. airlines alone generated 11.8 million jobs. Airline performance, productivity, and profitability depend on employees. The purpose of this single case study was to explore the strategies that U.S. airline leaders use to improve employee performance. The study was grounded with the Harvard model of human resource management. A stratified purposeful sample of 14 managers and 10 frontline staff from a Florida airline participated in semistructured individual interviews and a focus group, respectively. The data from these interviews were analyzed using Moustakas's modified van Kaam method. The themes that emerged from analysis included: an emphasis on the individual interaction and verbal affirmations between managers and frontline staff, additional career development opportunities for employees, not only for performing in their role but improving performance and level of commitment to the organization. Furthermore, managers and employees arrived at the same conclusion about organization culture and commitment-individuals have to feel they are contributing to the overall mission and feel valued in doing so. For the latter to occur, leaders need to engage employees in continuous dialogue and be completely transparent, and employees need to be open to feedback and share their motivations and goals. Social change implications include improved management and labor relationships within the U.S. airline industry, which ultimately benefits the flying public through greater stability and better service.