The theme of study of leveraging the military mindset into business environment is complex and multifaceted. Narrowing down the topic can be helpful in focusing the research potential. After examining the relevant literature, three research questions were identified:
- What are common competitive advantages that businesses achieve through hiring of veterans and leveraging their skills in a corporate environment?
- Does the employment of veterans and adoption of a military mindset impact the company culture and how does it help the company perform or navigate in a business setting?
- Is the intentional hiring of veterans an effective practice from a human resource perspective and contribute to the implementation of the themes of military mindset in an organization?
These research questions were developed based on the existing literature review of the topic and themes that seem most prominent in the investigation. According to Ratan et al. (2019), there are different types of effective research questions including based on existing phenomenon, description and classification, comparative, composition, and causality. A good research question is narrowly focused and defined in the context of a broad and complex topic or problem (Ratan et al., 2019). These three research questions present distinct but also intertwined perspectives to the inquiry surrounding the broader theme at hand of hiring and leveraging veteran military mindset in business and corporate environments.
Goals and Objectives of the Research Project
In a research project, a goal can be identified as general statements which highlight the project’s broad purpose and vision. Meanwhile, objectives are more narrow, well-defined, and measurable benchmarks that can be achieved in the research and moving toward the goal (AHRQ, 2019).
The primary goal for the project is to identify competitive advantages for businesses in leveraging the mindset of post 9/11 veterans in the workforce and adopting the military mindset in recruiting, hiring, development, management, and retention practices. The aim is to explore impacts on company culture and the application of intrinsic military mindset and skills in the transition to a modern business environment. However, the main element of focus is to identify the military mindsets brought forward by post 9/11 veterans in practical real-world environments and evaluate the strategic competitive advantages to businesses.
The research objectives will focus on behavioral/cultural, process and performance elements:
- Behavioral/cultural – firms hiring post-9/11 veterans adopt military mindset and relevant managerial/HR tactics.
- Process – transitioning the company and culture to the mindset and potential influencing factors.
- Performance – the competitive advantage both in raw data performance as well as qualitative observable performance of the workforce.
The general methodology chosen for the study is a relative mix of quantitative and qualitative data known as mixed methods research. In the context of the two selected companies Threat Tec and Yorktown Systems Group, both will undergo the same methods of study with the same sample sized. The plan is to provide surveys to 20-25 employees (at least half of which must be veterans), which will serve as the quantitative data point since answers from surveys can be categorized and quantitatively statistically analyzed. Furthermore, observations will be conducted with the company’s HR staff to evaluate their methods and practices. Observations will be recorded by the researcher as descriptive data. Finally, recorded semi-structured interviews will be conducted with 3 individuals from each company, a veteran employee, a manager, and a company executive or leadership. The interview is aimed to provide internal insight into the workings and culture of the company and also be an opportunity for the researcher to investigate potential questions and links that may arise. Surveys will be done online, sent out via email after consent. Observations are preferably done in person in the office with HR staff. Interviews can be done in-person or via video conferencing software online.
The mixed methods approach is a highly effective methodology in research which seeks to systematically integrate qualitative and quantitative data methods within a single research inquiry. This allows for a complete and synergistic utilization of data in comparison to independently using the methods. The core of mixed methods study consists of analyzing quantitative (close-ended) and qualitative (open-ended) data, and framing the procedures an results within theoretical models to understand multiple perspectives on a single complex issue (Wisdom & Creswell, 2013). In the context of the selected topic and multifaceted research questions, a mixed methodology approach with the exact selected methods is the most promising to achieve a greater understanding of the complex issue and provide necessary input to draw relevant conclusions in the changing dynamics of a modern business environment. Since it was identified that post-9/11 veterans can provide competitive advantage, not just through performance indicators but through influence and adoption of military mindsets in companies, the researcher deemed it critical to use a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods.
The project is focused on investigating the leveraging of military mindset to business through the hiring of veterans in the post 9/11 environment. The companies chosen for the research which also serve as the primary research sites are Threat Tec and Yorktown Systems. The companies were intentionally chosen in the locale of the researcher and represent a workforce that consists primarily of veterans, as well as operating in the defense sector contracts. Participants in the research include employees (both veterans and non-veterans), HR staff, and management of these companies.
It is important to note that the companies can both be considered small-to-medium sized businesses with an inherent inclination towards military due to their founders and CEOs being veterans and their primary contractors being the U.S. military branches. It can be considered a limitation since the results are not generalizable to most firms in the U.S., which may hire veterans as a minority of the workforce and operate in non-defense related sectors. Nevertheless, the role that the research is meant to play is to investigate the benefits and consequences of hiring veterans and adopting aspects of the military mindset and culture in a commercial environment. This research has relevance to all modern companies that hire or plan to hire veterans and provides an impactful analysis of key human resource and management practices.
The research partners are the joint venture of Threat Tec and Yorktown Systems Group which are cooperating as part of the TRADOC G2 Core Contract on Operational Environment and Core (OE/CORE) Functions Support presented by the Department of Defense. The partners will have active roles in the research, providing their staff and if necessary, physical location headquarters, as the research site and samples. They are collaborating with the research initiative by providing critical background and HR data as well as encouraging staff to participate in the process of the inquiry using the mixed methodology.
While it is the companies of the research partners being used in the research, there is not expected to be any conflict of interest or influence since the researcher is not affiliated or sponsored by these firms, conducting the research methodology independently. In the discussion of the inside-outsider perspective in qualitative research, the research positionality in this context is from an outside ‘studying up’ (Råheim et al., 2016). However, the firms as research partners can provide insider perspective that is ultimately beneficial to the research outcomes.
The primary project deliverable expected from this research is a comprehensive report outlining the competitive advantages and disadvantages of hiring post-9/11 veterans and adopting a military mindset in business environments. An informational report is most appropriate for this type of mix methods research which particularly includes large gathering of data from surveys and interviews (Anderson, n.d.). The report will include background literature, detailed methodology and data collected, data analysis, and conclusions drawn by the researcher, with appropriate supporting graphics and statistics. It is likely that some form of competitive analysis will be completed, both between the two participating companies as well as outside firms. Data will be shared in both raw and statistically analyzed forms, but modified to protect privacy of respondents in surveys, observations, and interviews as common practice with research ethics (Macnish, 2020). The report is part of the thesis submission but will also be shared with the research partner firms Threat Tec and Yorktown Systems Group as part of the collaborative effort in examining the real-world applications of extensive veteran hiring and adopting military mindsets into company culture as well as HR and management practices.
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