Date of Conferral







Joseph E. Barbeau


An important approach to prepare new managers for increased responsibility is participation in online management development programs; however, there is a lack of information about the factors that affect employee completion of these programs. This study addressed how chief executive officers (CEOs) can implement these programs to rapidly develop new managers who are qualified to serve in the leadership roles left behind by many retirees. This qualitative descriptive case study explored employees' perceptions about persistence in an online management development certificate program at a U.S. nonprofit organization. Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory and Rovai's composite persistence model provided the conceptual framework for the study. The research questions addressed how employees' perceptions of persistence in an online management development program affected success rates and what steps CEOs could take to incentivize employees to complete the program. A combination of 12 semi-structured interviews, program data, and member checking was used for the data collection. Data were analyzed using Yin's 6 steps and constant comparative data analysis methods. Key results indicated that student persistence in the online program was affected by purpose and meaning, coaching and support, course relevance, barriers, learning preferences, motivation and readiness; and incentivized by CEOs conveying their perceived value of the online program directly to employees. This research has implications for positive social change: CEOs can better understand the persistence factors employees need to prepare for and complete online management development certificate programs that support the transition to higher-level management positions.