Kho, E.C. (2001). An evaluation study of the effectiveness of a U.S.-based global leadershipdevelopment program. Dissertation Abstracts International 62 (03), 1120. (UMI No. 3009228)
Kho’s (2001) dissertation, “An evaluation study of the effectiveness of a U.S.-based global leadership development program,” offers a case study in corporate management training for the needs of a globalized economy. The primary goal of the dissertation is to evaluate the effectiveness of a global leadership development program in developing literature-identified global leadership competencies. Kho seeks to achieve this goal by identifying what the participants learned in the program through self-reports and surveys, comparing what participants learned with the global leadership competencies identified in the literature, and identifying the process used to develop the participants in the program.
In the literature review, Kho discusses some of the culture differences that must be resolved as a result of globalization; highlights the difference between the global and expatriate manager; discusses briefly the difference between the leader and the manager; summarizes the literature-identified global leadership competencies and developmental strategies; and outlines the current research on the effectiveness of leadership development program in developing global leadership competencies.
Kho identifies a gap in the literature of empirical research evaluating the merit of global leadership development practices and seeks to fill that gap by conducting an evaluation study of a Partner Exchange Program undertaken by Gap, Inc.. Kho chose Gap because it represents problems and challenges faced by other US companies trying to develop global leadership competencies. In this program, twelve traveling partners and twelve home partners were selected by Gap to spend six months as store manager in another country.
Kho gathered data about the Partner Exchange Program by conducting interviews with the traveling partners and analyzing their journals and field reports. In analyzing the data, Kho identified the following themes: inquisitiveness, calmness, self-confidence, global thinking, work-personal balance, and repatriation. Her findings strongly supported the conclusion that the Partner Exchange Program (PEP) did develop the global leadership qualities identified in the literature: cultural empathy and adaptability; global mindset; individual development; relational skills and support systems; and professional competence.
Kho acknowledged the following limitations of the study: relies on self-reports; only investigates short-term effects of the program; does not distinguish between how what was learned may have differed in each country; only focuses on the development of global leadership competencies for US managers and leaders; and does not consider component influences of parts in the process.
Kho is effective in synthesizing the results by matching up anecdotes from the interviews with points from the literature review. For example, Kho’s identified themes from the interviews coincide with the literature-identified competencies, and Kho provides both excerpts to illustrate points and aggregate data about the number of participants who express points relevant to a similar theme.
If one were to apply a check-off list to this dissertation, Kho’s dissertation would fulfill all requirements. All of the elements of conceptual framework, precise definitions, literature review, methodology, limitations, results, discussion and conclusion are present and well-developed. Yet, in substance there seemed to be something lacking. I would call it a sort of “well duh” factor- nothing really groundbreaking here. Kho calls this an evaluation study, but those who split hairs about this sort of thing might instead call it a validation study: does this program do what it set out to do? Yes. So? As Kho acknowledges in her limitations section, the more interesting question might be: are the competency goals achieved in this program the appropriate global leadership competencies for the goals of the organization?
Also, there are sections where this dissertation reads almost like a laundry list of nods to each comment made by a reviewer. These tangential points can be distracting and do not fit into the overall structure of the dissertation. For example, she adds on a research question about the process of the program, but does not fully develop the literature review for this section or the results.
Finally, there was an overt flaw in the execution of the research design. She intended to include a survey of managers to check for behavioral changes in the managers; however, organizational changes made it difficult for her to complete this component as intended. Instead of removing this part of the research design from the disstertation, she includes it as if it will be part of the research throughout until acknowledging that she was unable to obtain this data in the results section. This gaping hole in the research project damaged its credibility, in my opinion.
Statement Regarding its Personal Value
I was glad to find a dissertation on a topic related to corporate training for a multinational company as this is my particular research focus. What I found most useful in Kho’s dissertation was the section suggesting areas for further research. She suggests that future research: empirically consider whether literature-identified global leadership competencies are correct; focus on the identification and development of appropriate global leadership qualifications for managers and leaders from countries other than the US; track long-term behavior changes of the participants to examine enduring effects of such a program; provide more in-depth analysis of what was learned by participants with a country-specific lens; and focus on distinguishing the global manager from the global leader. Though leadership training is not currently a research interest of mine, these ideas could also be applied to my interest in training for innovation.