Date of Conferral



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


Business Administration


Ronald Jones


Leaders of coal railroad companies in the United States have experienced significant losses in profitability. Loss of profitability is of concern to railroad company leaders because it can lead to business closure. Through the lens of the transformational leadership theory, the purpose of this qualitative multiple-case study was to explore strategies leaders of U.S. coal railroad companies use to remain profitable. Data were collected from semistructured interviews and company documents from 4 railroad leaders in the Southeastern United States who successfully implemented strategies to remain profitable. Yin’s 5-step process was used to analyze the data. Three themes emerged: an equipment control strategy, an intermodal strategy, and a workforce strategy. A key recommendation is for railroad leaders to adopt sustainable strategies regarding equipment, intermodal diversification, and employee management to remain profitable and overcome the challenges associated with reductions in shipments of coal. The implications for positive social change include the potential for leaders of U.S. coal railroad companies to lower regional unemployment, improve economic stability, and provide improved living conditions in affected communities because of improved profitability in the railroad industry.

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