The Post-9/11 Military Mindset Competencies

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The United States (U.S.) tragedy on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, marked a new chapter in the nation’s opposition against international terrorism and was the major event that changed the military’s approach to warfare. President George W. Bush defined the 9/11 attacks on America as “a new war, with the only difference between previous wars being magnitude, and marked the attack as a turning point in history” (Kakihara, 2003, p. 2).” Since the 9/11 attack, the military has had to think differently about warfare (Jenkins & Godges, 2011). The attack initiated a shift in the U.S. military’s strategy requiring the deployment of forces and the active engagements with foreign nations’ civilian populous, reflecting apurely transitional approach. Military veterans who have served after the 9/11 attack, referred to as post-9/11 veterans, have been exposed to combat deployments more frequently than the previous military generation, therefore having a distinguished mindset (Parker et al., 2019).

A military mindset generally refers to how you process information, how you carry out tasks, and how one interacts as part of a team – qualities highly praised in military organizations and the civilian workforce (Pollak & Arsbanapalli, 2019). Veterans are highly desirable candidates for civilian jobs because of the skills they learned during their time in uniform, not despite them (Citroën, 2017); thus, it is commonly acknowledged companies can benefit from the competencies veterans possess. Unfortunately, despite the growing number of post-9/11 veterans in the country, this group’s competencies and competitive advantages in a business setting are significantly under-researched (Aronson et al., 2019). The study attempts to narrow the research gap and examine the benefits of post-9/11 veteran’s competencies in a business sphere.

Through the research, businesses may incorporate post 9/11 veteran’s competencies so that they can be able to take advantage of the skills in encouraging other employees to improve organization performance. Further, research on the competencies acquired in their military years serves to align other employees towards pursuing common organization goals through streamlined decision-making and problem solving. The possibilities and potential benefits of employing or retaining post-9/11 military veterans in business organizations could improve leadership practices, talent management, and as a consequence, the organizational culture. The unique skills for the civilian workforce include leadership, discipline, resiliency, and teamwork. Nevertheless, employers also remark the peripheral skill set of the military veterans, including maturity, adaptability, courage, organizational commitment, and trustworthiness. The mission-focused mindset of veterans distinguishes the skills of this group from the civilians it will be essential to thoroughly analyze each of the core competencies shared by generational military veterans.


Previous research has found that military veterans and civilians associate the military mindset with such qualities as teamwork, leadership, resilience, and discipline (Parker et al., 2019). These recognized competencies significantly improve employees’ productivity and positively affect the organizational culture in the business setting (Stackhouse, 2020). Therefore, it is essential to provide a thorough description of these qualities to examine their potential effect on the business groups in an internal workspace and evaluate the efficiency of an organizational business strategy for specifically post-9/11 veterans.

At present, the comprehensive generational qualities of the military mindset are relatively well-studied; yet examinations of the competencies of post-9/11 veterans specifically are heavily under-researched. The research gap includes the competencies of the post-9/11 military mindset that are transferable in a business setting, the competitive advantages of hiring post-9/11 military veterans, and their benefits to the organizational business culture. Currently, there are more than three million post-9/11 veterans, and the number is expected to rise in the next five years (Aronson et al., 2019). The statistics imply that post-9/11 veterans will constitute a more significant portion of the civilian workforce in the upcoming years; therefore, it is beneficial to businesses and veterans to identify the advantages and cultural effects in a business setting.

The core qualities of a military mindset include teamwork, leadership, resilience, and discipline, and all these competencies might significantly affect the organizational structure and culture of a company. Although several scientific studies have been conducted to analyze these competencies comprehensively, the academic works generally address the qualities of a military perspective without the context; as a result, the unique characteristics of the military mindset of the post-9/11 veterans are heavily under-researched. As noted earlier, post-9/11 veterans have undergone a more intense exposure to combat, a higher percentage of deployments, and more demanding military experiences than previous generations (Parker et al., 2019). Thus, an assumption is concluded that the differences in training and prolonged exposure to deployments or combat reflect acquired skill sets and a philosophy gained from those experiences; thus, it is essential to thoroughly investigate the peculiarities of the post-9/11 veterans’ military mindset, specifically. Figure 1 is an illustration of the comparison of military engagements and conflicts of the pre-9/11 (August 1990 – September 2001) and post-9/11 (September 2001-Present) military generational eras.

Comparison of Military Engagements
Figure 1. Comparison of Military Engagements (pre-9/11 and post-9/11 eras)

This study intends to utilize two primary conceptual frameworks – Constructivism and Schein Model of Organizational Culture – to evaluate the said qualities and assess their impact on the organizational culture. Constructivism is an “approach to learning that holds that people actively construct or make their own knowledge and that reality is determined by the learner’s experiences (Elliott et al., 2000, p. 256).” Constructivism’s central idea is that human learning is constructed; learners build new knowledge upon the foundation of previous education. This prior knowledge influences an individual’s new or modified knowledge from new learning experiences (Phillips, 1995). The second conceptual framework is the Schein Model of Organizational Culture, which evaluates the mindset effect on the organizational culture (Schein, 2016). Ultimately, the chosen frameworks provide beneficial insights into the competencies of post-9/11 veterans’ perspectives and narrow down the research gap. The subsequent chapter presents a thorough description and details of the two models cited above.

This study intends to examine the said phenomenon of the competencies of post-9/11 veterans’ mindset and the applied organizational strategies in the setting of one company. The focus on a single business provides the ability to focus the scope of the work and conduct in-depth qualitative research to learn perspectives from employees and executives in an individual organization. Previously conducted secondary research and the theory of the study suggest that the qualities and competencies of post-9/11 veterans differ significantly from the previous military generations. Therefore, it is essential to acquire empirical data from post-9/11 veterans, Human Resource (HR) specialists, and senior executives in an operating business. As a result, the selected company for the project is Yorktown Systems Group (YSG). Chapter 2 provides a thorough description of the organizational structure and composition.

The growing number of post-9/11 veterans in the U.S. is a significant social and practical concern due to the lack of specific research on the topic. The current study’s findings could prove to be highly beneficial in providing extensive insights for post-9/11 veterans and businesses. The results of this study cannot be generalized to all enterprises or the entire population of post-9/11 veterans; nevertheless, the study aims to contribute to the further advancement of academic and practical knowledge concerning the topic.

The benefit of the research, to post 9/11 veterans, was that veterans can use the skills they acquired serving in their military years to be used in civilian organizations when recruited to work in such places. It means veterans have an opportunity to apply their skills in civilian organizations and help them take their mind off from traumas that associates with service. Further, the research will help them in understanding how they can transition from military to civilian life and more significantly, from military to key members in business organizations. To Yorktown Systems Group, the findings help it in evaluating the significance the skills acquired in military can change how it will improve its performance. Further, it will help improve on the significant and diverse human capital that can be incorporated to best align its processes and policies in achieving its functions.

Statement of the Problem

The study seeks to examine YSG’s cultural-organizational challenges that are attributed to inconsistencies, poor communication, and ambiguity that hinders it from achieving organizational success. When organizations suffer from challenges associated with organizational culture, their employees encounter an unpleasant ad hostile environment that impacts performance. Potentially, due to such encounters, workers become less loyal and in this state, episodes of bullying, harassment, and high turnover are often reported. Inclusion of post-9/11 veteran’s generational military competencies combined with the acquired KSAs learned during their post-9/11 military service may benefit YSG in its business organization and in turn its organization culture. The inclusion will help the organization to streamline its organization culture. Military veterans acquired transferable organizational skills that arise from the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) derived from their experiences of post-9/11. Similar traits and skills are essential in how military veterans transition after the 9/11 attack and those veterans’ adaptation to a civil-military atmosphere offered unique and innate experiences that are advantageous in a business environment. Therefore, by incorporating veterans in YSG, the organization will gain organization skills that will help its organization culture and improve performance.

The study seeks to examine if YSG’s cultural and organizational success is directly related to the competencies of its post-9/11 military veterans’ workforce. YSG is a professional services company providing customized solutions and management capabilities to federal and civil organizations and has accumulated sufficient industry growth since its inception in 2008. A significant number of the organization’s employees are veterans; however, it is unknown if its development and expanding business scope are directly related to its military veterans’ workforce.

As mentioned briefly before, the overall number of post-9/11 veterans is gradually increasing and may exceed four million veterans by the year 2024 (Aronson et al., 2019). Therefore, the statistics imply that a growing number of post-9/11 veterans are transitioning to the civilian workforce (McCormick et al., 2019). On the organizational level, businesses have a vague understanding of the potential benefits that post-9/11 veterans can contribute due to the lack of research in this field (Stackhouse, 2020). Lastly, further study analysis is beneficial to the societal level by providing research to promote programs and services concerning the employment of post-9/11 veterans (Morgan et al., 2020)

While employing pos-9/11 veterans might be beneficial to organizations, the laxity to incorporate their competencies is a struggle by several organizations, and not specific to YSG. Incorporating veteran military competencies is essential since it will help determine the benefits the organization stands to gain by incorporating veterans competencies in its culture, future, and bottom line. For organizations, military-to-organization skill set values are transitioned when the acquired military methodologies and skills are translated in the context of the company. Through this translation, firms are better positioned to incorporate focused execution, excellence, and best-in-class performance. Nonetheless, even with the understanding, a majority of businesses in the country do not realize this advantage. Most civilian leaders believe the competencies worked best in combat yet fail from utilizing the same mindset used in combat in handling their business operations, which can be easily handled through the competencies.

A literature gap exists that identifies business advantages from the experiences of post-9/11 veterans that build upon the competencies of previous military generations. After examining the theoretical background of the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans, it was possible to identify the research gap and state the research problem. The research gap represents a lack of sufficient literature concerning specific business competencies of post-9/11 veterans. Many studies present comprehensive generational military data regarding various qualities of a military mindset, such as teamwork, leadership, resilience, and discipline, and provided sufficient evidence of the utmost importance of these competencies in the business setting (Pollak & Arsbanapalli, 2019). Consequently, the statistics demonstrate the significant differences between the military experience and the combat exposure of post-9/11 veterans and previous military generations (Parker et al., 2019). In theory, the contrast between pre-9/11 and post-9/11 veterans should establish specific differences in the mindsets of veterans and be reflective in the transition to the civilian workforce. The lack of research and significance of the study’s transparent application in individual, organizational, and societal levels indicates the need for further examination.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this qualitative case study is to explore the leveraging of the post-9/11 military mindset competencies to examine the associated competitive business advantages and the post-9/11 veteran’s effect in organizational culture. The study intends to explore the competencies of post-9/11 veterans in a business setting utilizing qualitative research methods to ensure in-depth research of the analyzed phenomenon. According to the problem statement, a qualitative approach is chosen since it is essential to provide non-numerical data, including narratives, perspectives, and attitudes, of post-9/11 veterans, HR managers/specialists, and senior executives concerning the topic. Although quantitative research could provide supplementary information in similar research, it fails to address the study’s problem statement—therefore should not be used as an effective method of data collection (Basias & Pollalis, 2018). Consequently, this study is a qualitative case study with a sole focus on one organizational entity.

The participants are employees of YSG with an emphasis on post-9/11 veterans of various occupations, HR managers/specialists, and senior executives. Organizational data is derived from archival records, and the three targeted groups will participate in questionnaires or semi-structured interviews. The data collection questions focus on the problem statement and the purpose of the study; therefore, they differ slightly for each targeted group. The three sources of data collection ensure the reliability and validity of the collected data, and different questions guarantee a more comprehensive overview of the topic. The convergence of information from other sources is a qualitative research strategy to test validity through triangulation. However, the purpose of triangulation is not necessarily to cross-validate data but rather to capture different dimensions of the same phenomenon. Figure 2 below illustrates the proposed data collection instruments to test the study’s validity.

Triangulation Illustration of the Collection Method Instruments
Figure 2. Triangulation Illustration of the Collection Method Instruments

In the current health environment, it is impossible to conduct in-person interviews at YSG’s geographically dispersed sites due to the risks of COVID-19 and the consequential restrictions. Therefore, the semi-structured interviews and questionnaires will be completed and recorded via online applications. The other source of data collection, archival records, will perform an artifact analysis and document retrieval of relevant information relevant to this study (e.g., company policy letters, internal memos, and previous data/studies pertinent to the study). Ultimately, the chosen research method and the purpose statement are appropriate to address the research problem. Chapter 3 provides a comprehensive overview of the project methodology.

Conceptual Framework

The theoretical background and conceptual framework comprise the foundation for the study to ensure a logical structure and organization for the research. As mentioned before, the study utilizes two primary conceptual models – Constructivism and the Schein Model of Organizational Culture. A proposed theory of the research is that the competencies of the mindset of post-9/11 veterans differ significantly from the perspectives of previous military generations due to more intense exposure to combat (Parker et al., 2019). The constructivism theory supports this assumption and states that every skill or competency is learned and affected significantly by practical experience and social context (Johnson, 2019). Many researchers have provided sufficient evidence concerning the learning-based nature of such skills as leadership and discipline, which are the core features of the military mindset (Kirchner & Akdere, 2017). Therefore, applying the constructivism approach to the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans provides insights into the acquisition of acquired military knowledge and skills and their relevance in the business setting.

The second conceptual framework to be implemented in the study is the Schein Model of Organizational Culture. Unlike constructivism, the Schein Model of Organizational Culture is not used to determine the nature of the acquired competencies but to examine the application of the said skills in organizational culture (Schein, 2016). According to the theory, the employees’ competencies and previous experiences directly affect the company and the relationships between the workers (Schein, 2016). The primary elements of organizational culture include behavior, espoused values, and basic assumptions (Schein, 2016). In the scope of the current study, the model implies that the unique experience and multiple deployments of post-9/11 veterans could benefit the organizational culture by stimulating discipline and a culture of respect. Consequently, the exposure to socially praised qualities, such as leadership and teamwork, might enhance the overall atmosphere in the company and reduce the prominence of hidden assumptions and other forms of prejudice (Schein, 2016). Ultimately, the Schein Model of Organizational Culture is an appropriate theoretical model to determine the influence of the post-9/11 veteran’s mindset on the organizational culture of a business.

As a result, applying the two presented conceptual frameworks in data collection and analysis might provide beneficial insights concerning the unique nature of the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans and its relevance in the business setting. Both models are widely accepted in the academic community and used prior for similar research objectives (Kirchner & Akdere, 2017; Schein, 2016). Figure 3 illustrates the conceptual frameworks of the proposed study.

Conceptual Frameworks
Figure 3. Conceptual Frameworks

Ultimately, Constructivism and the Schein Model of Organizational Culture appear appropriate theoretical models for this study. The proceeding chapter presents specific details about the study’s conceptual frameworks.

Research Questions

The listed open-ended research questions align with the purpose statement and the conceptual framework:

  • RQ1. What are the competencies of the post-9/11 military mindset that are transferable to YSG’s business setting?
  • RQ2.What competitive advantages or benefits dodoes YSG possess through the hiring of post 9/11 era veterans?
  • RQ3. How can YSG incorporate these competencies and advantages to facilitate organizational success?

The first research question concerns the unique nature of the competencies of the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans, and the others address the impact of these qualities in the organizational structure. The guidelines for questionnaires and semi-structured interviews are based on the identified research questions and differ slightly, depending on the target group. Appendix C and D provide questions used to enlist responses from participants for each targeted group.

Method and Design Overview

The project utilizes the qualitative research method and case study research design. The qualitative approach ensures the analysis of the subject and its alignment with the purpose statement and research questions. Contrary to quantitative methods, qualitative case studies emphasize non-numerical data, such as narratives, perspectives, beliefs, and attitudes (Basias & Pollalis, 2018). The proposed primary data collection methods implemented in the study are archival records, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews. The simultaneous use of three various sources of information are called triangulation, which contributes to the validity and reliability of the gathered data (Alam, 2020). The primary advantages of the qualitative research method are in-depth analysis, the proximity of the researcher to the target group, and the adaptability of the approach to the goals and research questions (Queirós,et al., 2017). As a result, qualitative research was deemed appropriate for exploratory case studies emphasizing specific phenomena.

The sampling for the study is determined via criterion strategy and the sample size is seventeen participants, which is an appropriate number for qualitative studies (Moser & Korstjens, 2018). Consequently, the collected data will be processed and analyzed via the manual examination and the web-based software Dedoose. Through Dedoose, the gathered data will be imported by design via a spreadsheet that has automated descriptor fields. The software will then create descriptors and codes, and convert any information as they correspond to tagged excerpts in documents for every case. Lastly, Dedoose will automatically link the document to the descriptor that is deemed appropriate.

Otter voice notes will transcribe the recorded data and does this by utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to transcribe audio in real time; however, the software can also transcribe past recorded audios. With the participant’s answers recorded, the researcher will then upload the recorded audio to otter voice notes and the software will begin to transcribe the information immediately giving out a generated transcript of what the participants said. The software can assign speaker names in the transcripts to enable the researcher attach specific answers to specific participants. That will allow the researcher to keep up with the respondents. Additionally, the software will enable the researcher to edit the transcripts at its interface. Through this, it will be possible to search ad highlight the keywords in the transcript, which can be shared with other researcher in future studies.

The semi-structured interview audio recordings are transcribed via Otter voice, and the data is processed via pre-determined coding schemes. Such an approach is called deductive coding and is frequently utilized in qualitative studies to restrict the scope of research and ensure the in-depth analysis of the examined phenomenon (Linneberg & Korsgaard, 2019). Ultimately, the data is further investigated via the content analysis method, and the primary meaning units are determined, including themes, categories, codes, and condensed meaning units (Erlingsson & Brysiewicz, 2017). As a result, the study utilizes a qualitative case study research design, and information from the data collections is processed via deductive coding and interpreted via content analysis.

Significance of the Study

The current study is significant to the individual, organizational, and societal levels and addresses the relevant mindset competencies concerning differences in the pre and post-9/11 military generational eras. Compared to the previous generation, a larger percentage of post-9/11 veterans participated in a combat deployment at least once. Post-9/11 veterans are almost twice as likely as their pre-9/11 counterparts to have served in a combat zone (Parker et al., 2020). Furthermore, despite the growing number of post-9/11 veterans, the topic is under-researched in the academic community; thus, few organizations are aware of the potential benefits (competencies) of the military mindset in the business setting (Davis & Minnis, 2017). From these considerations, it is essential to conduct additional studies to understand the phenomenon further and increase the organizational awareness of these competencies regarding the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans.

The current research examines the potential advantages associated with acquired qualities of a post-9/11 veteran and identifies the overall value amongst the business communities of interest. The study provides data to develop business strategies to comprehensively overview the post-9/11 veteran’s acquired experiences and associated business competencies. The study results also promote positive societal change for post-9/11 veterans and contribute to the academic community by advancing scientific progress in the field. Ultimately, the current study positively impacts the individual, organizational, and societal levels regarding the topic.

The contributions from the research will help YSG to incorporate post 9/11 veteran’s competencies towards taking advantage of the skills to encourage other employees to improve organization performance. Further, the competencies acquired in post 9/11 military years serves to align other employees towards pursuing common organization goals through streamlined decision-making and problem solving. YSG’s business problem will be solved through incorporating military oriented leadership practices, talent management, and as a consequence, the organizational culture. The unique skills for the civilian workforce include leadership, discipline, resiliency, and teamwork. Further, YSG will benefit from the remarked peripheral skill set of the military veterans, including maturity, adaptability, courage, organizational commitment, and trustworthiness. The mission-focused mindset of veterans distinguishes the skills of this group from the civilians it will be essential to thoroughly analyze each of the core competencies shared by generational military veterans.

Definition of Key Terms

The key terms used in the study are:

  • Artifacts: According to the Schein Model of Organizational Culture, artifacts are visible organizational structures and processes occurring in the workspace. (Schein, 2016).
  • Asymmetric Threat: Threats in which state and non-state adversaries avoid direct engagement but devise strategies, tactics, and weapons to minimize U.S. strengths and exploit its weaknesses (Kolet, 2001).
  • Asymmetric Warfare: A type of warfare involves attacking an adversary’s weaknesses with unexpected or innovative means while avoiding his strengths (Hughes, 1998).
  • Basic Assumptions: Unconscious, taken-for-granted beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. (Schein, 2016).
  • Constructivism: A conceptual framework implies the learning-based acquisition of skills and competencies via culture, training, and social context (Johnson, 2019).
  • Counterinsurgency (COIN):Counterinsurgency is the use of all elements of a nation’s power—including combined-arms operations and psychological, political, economic, intelligence, and diplomatic operations—to defeat an insurgency. (Maneuver self-study program, Counterinsurgency. n.d.).
  • Espoused Values:Strategies, goals, and philosophies (Schein, 2016).
  • Military mindset: A state of mind characterized by such qualities as teamwork, leadership, resilience, and discipline, acquired by intensive training, combat exposure, and military experience (Kirchner & Akdere, 2019).
  • Organizational culture: A set of beliefs, values, behaviors, interrelationships, and structures unique to one particular organizational entity (Schein, 2016).
  • Pre 9/11 and Post 9/11 Eras: Signifies a divide that refers to a time before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 (pre 9/11) and the period after the 9/11 attack (post 9/11). (York University, n.d).
  • Resilience: The capacity to overcome the adverse effects of setback and the associated stress on military performance and combat effectiveness. (Nindl et al., 2018).
  • Schein Model of Organizational Culture: A conceptual framework of organizational culture emphasizes the impact of beliefs, values, attitudes, and relationships among the workers on the overall productivity and atmosphere of the organization (Schein, 2016).
  • Veteran: A person who served in the active United States (U.S.) military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.(Staskiel, 2020)


The U.S. military transitioned to a new paradigm of warfare after the tragedy of the 9/11 attack that combatted international terrorism to defend the nation contributing to the unique perspective of post-9/11 service members. As a result, service members who served after the September 11, 2001 attack have had more intense training regimes, more frequent exposure to combat, and higher deployment rates than previous military generations (Parker et al., 2019). A difference between pre-9/11 and post-9/11veterans is acknowledged in the U.S. military’s transition in warfare and the innate skill sets acquired. However, at present, there is a noticeable lack of research on the mindset competencies of post-9/11 veterans specifically and the potential competitive advantages of the targeted group in a business sphere. Therefore, the purpose of the current study is to examine what competitive organizational advantages exist in the competencies of post-9/11 veterans and what are the corporate benefits of that mindset in a business setting.

The proposed research plan for the current study is to investigate the perspectives and attitudes of the YSG’s employees, exclusive to post-9/11 veterans, HR managers/specialists, and executives. The project utilizes a qualitative case study to ensure in-depth research of the phenomenon and answer the proposed research questions. The sampling size for the project is seventeen participants, and the data collection methods include archival records, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews. Consequently, the data is processed via deductive coding and analyzed via content analysis according to the two selected conceptual frameworks – Constructivism and the Schein Model of Organizational Culture. The most significant meaning units, such as themes, categories, and concepts, are identified to understand further the perspectives of post-9/11 veterans, HR managers/specialists, and senior executives regarding the topic. The study’s findings may demonstrate the unique nature of the competencies of the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans and if competitive advantage of the target group exists in the business setting, which in theory can have a positive impact on the individual, organizational, and societal levels. Chapter 2 provides a detailed review of relevant literature corresponding to the research topics and themes of the study.

Literature review

Previous research and literature acknowledged that military veterans possess several skills and abilities that are effective in business culture. As a result, it is beneficial to analyze the competencies that post-9/11 veterans and their intrinsic military skills acquired through encounters during the U.S. military transition to counterinsurgency operations against asymmetric threats offered in a contemporary business environment. The nature of the civil-military environment directly emulates the transformational dynamics in today’s business environment. Many organizations operate in a turbulent environment and incorporate constant changes to maintain their competitiveness in today’s business domain. Military veterans have highly developed command skills that are advantageous in business (Benmelech & Frydman, 2015). This study proposes utilizing five themes (organizational culture, leadership, discipline, resilience, and teamwork) to study the context of the post-9/11 military mindset within non-military organizations to enhance various elements of performance or organizational structure.

A literature review reflects that adopting the competencies of the military mindset could be highly beneficial in contemporary business due to the developed and multifaceted skill set of veterans (Nazri & Rudi, 2019). The most significant business advantages include critical thinking, decisiveness, leadership, teamwork, and project planning (Hardison et al., 2017). The linkage of the military mindset and its application in a business setting support the research and analysis of the selected research topic. According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself (Megginson, 1963). Darwin’s evolutionary theory is an example of an inner logic that has vast cultural influence (Birkin et al., 1997), but the behavior of the most successful is viewed as being opportunistically adaptive during environmental change (Baskerville, 2006). Therefore, the same principle applies in a corporate setting since economics, business organizations, and capital markets are considered to operate like machines: inputs and outputs, controls and regulators (Bakerville, 2006).


The literature search strategy sought to use a deductive approach of taking a broad theme and research topic of “leveraging the competencies of the military mindset in business” and narrowing it down to specific applications. For example, reflected in table 1 are the practical applications of the military mindset explored in the context of organizational culture, business leadership, business discipline, resilience in crises, or substantial elements of teamwork.

Table 1. Categorization of Literature by Theme

Theme Literature
Organizational Culture
Baumgartner, R. J., 2009; Warrick, D. D., 2017; Gilbert et al., 2018; Campbell, 2019; Maurer, 2017; Ruffa, 2018; Castro, 2018; Corbe, 2017.
Kirchner & Akdere, 2017; McDermott et al., 2015; Nazri & Rudi, 2019; Johnson, 2019; Hadid, 2021 Castro; 2018; Szypszak, 2016; Stebnicki, 2020; Breede, 2019.
Discipline Georgiev, 2019; Nasiv et al., 2019; Chemerinsky, 2016; Kolb, 2018; Weber, 2017.
Adler & Sowden, 2018; McGarry et al., 2014; Williams et al., 2017; Matthews, 2020; Kramer & Allen, 2018; Isaacs et al., 2018; Cox et al., 2018.
Adler & Sowden, 2018; Lacerenza et al., 2018; McGinn et al., 2015; Stanton, 2018; Perrewé & Harms, 2018; Goodwin et al., 2018; Yanchus et al., 2018; Salas et al., 2018.

The use of databases such as Trident Online Library, Google Scholar, JSTOR, Scopus, Science Direct, ProQuest, and Emerald, key terms were searched for military mindset, veterans’ competencies, organizational culture, corporate leadership, post-9/11 veterans, and based on material relevance from a preliminary reading of abstracts. The literature was reviewed for relevancy and fundamental elements of efficacy and reliability: approximately 156 reports, journals, and books were examined for the literature review. Conducted a thematic analysis to categorize the articles based on subject themes about the organization of the thesis and the organization of the literature review (King et al., 2017), which developed a logical and cohesive flow of information from currently available sources based on the analysis. The deductive method of information retrieval will be applied, in which the process of cognition proceeds from broad generalizations presenting a general pattern to single judgments and facts (Charniak, 2014). Initially, the available literature was reviewed to establish a base of the current research in business leadership and management, then transitioned to finding literary sources of a scientific or methodological nature regarding military mindset. The most suitable study design is a case study because of the selected topic and the peculiarities of data needed for its analysis.

An article titled “Action Research vs. Case Study” stated that acase study explores a contemporary prodigy within its real-life context and provides an organized way of observing the events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results (2019). In the originality/value statement, Kirchner and Akdere (2017) noted, a review of existing literature revealed little evidence of examining the military’s approach to developing leaders, even though employers claim to hire veterans because of their leadership abilities. A dearth of papers exists that considers military strategies for non-military organizations – such investigations strengthen the project and provide some data for comparison and further study.

While a notable lack of literature focused on the post-9/11 era, some insights are provided on the military mindset. For example, Kirchner and Akdere (2017) identify four development strategies applicable in commercial training. Roberts (2018) highlights various principles of military traits that can be compared and contrasted with traditional business management styles. Deshwal and Ashraf Ali (2020) examine theoretical backgrounds that are also relevant. Nevertheless, there are significant elements of information not found in these sources, particularly in the sense of more practical applications to identify the competencies of post-9/11 veterans that are transferable in business. Earlier research is beneficial since the military mindsets tend to change very slowly due to the conservative nature of the organization. As mentioned earlier, many companies hire veterans for their military mindset, but how they are applied in the workplace and for an extensive project is relatively unknown in the current scholarly literature. Therefore, it is advantageous to study the current state of the competencies of the post-9/11 military mindset in a civilian business organization.

Nevertheless, it is essential to narrow down the scope of the work to provide a more in-depth research of the analyzed phenomenon. Therefore, the primary part of the research concerns the identification of certain competitive advantages in business due to the commonly acknowledged qualities of a military mindset. The interviews with post-9/11 military veterans, HR managers/specialists, and senior executives can provide insights into the organizational culture and the contribution of veterans to the company. As mentioned prior, post-9/11 veterans acquire transferable cultural and nation-building skills than their previous military generations. This distinction is heavily under-researched in the academic community (Aronson et al., 2019). Therefore, the primary objective of the current study is to reduce the gap in qualitative research of post-9/11 military mindset competencies and create an awareness of the competitive and cultural advantages of post-9/11 veterans’ acuity.

Organizational Analysis and Benchmarking

The following data reflects a brief overview of the study’s selected organization, YSG, from an analysis of secondary data sources. It is essential to thoroughly examine the organizational structure, hierarchy, human resources strategies, prospect for development, and company competitors. A comprehensive organizational analysis is necessary in many qualitative research methods, including ethnography, phenomenology, and case studies (Lehn, 2019). Ultimately, practice-based qualitative research relies on the deep connection between the researcher and the study participants, and organizational analysis is the initial step that promotes collaboration (Lehn, 2019). Furthermore, the organizational analysis provides a thorough understanding of the work culture within the company and the relationships among the employees. The YSG organization is the sole collective entity for the analysis in the current study; therefore, it is necessary to thoroughly examine the company before conducting the empirical part of the research. Appendix A provides the company’s letter of intent (LOI) to support the study’s research efforts.

Organizational Composition

YSG is a servicedisabled veteranowned small business established in 2008, with its headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama. The company is a professional services company providing customized solutions and management capabilities to federal and civil organizations. The company specializes in training and education, language and cultural learning, operational and intelligence mission support, modeling and simulation, program management and administrative support, integrated logistics, systems engineering, management analysis, human capital, and information technology (IT) services. Its estimated annual revenue is currently $135.2M per year (Growjo, n.d.).

The company traces its heritage to the last major battle of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Yorktown – from which the name and its inspiration is rooted (Growjo, n.d.). Figure 4 illustrates a word cloud-generated content analysis of YSG’s commitment to doing what is right instead of what is profitable, as exemplified in YSG’s organizational article titled “Succeeding with Military Mentality at its Core”.

Yorktown Systems Group Organizational Article
Figure 4. Yorktown Systems Group Organizational Article

The company structure is hierarchical but with adjustments that align to commerce flexibility and responsiveness to international marketplace alterations. Due to such corporate organization, the firm can continuously develop solutions to help the public and governmental enterprises solve their complex and challenging issues. Consequently, the company structure permits the milestone of YSG’s corporate business mission and vision statements that affirm the administration’s strategy. The enterprise’s organization is the concrete manifestation of company policy fundamentals that impact how numerous elements of the business complement and function as a unit.

Structure and Hierarchy

The company has a well-designed organizational structure that aligns with military doctrine. The organization has a functional hierarchy that resembles the type suggested by scholars (Roulston & Choi, 2018). The corporate arrangement is usually flat, equated to several firms that inhibit the functional hierarchical organizational framework. For instance, all primary managers directly report to the senior managers (Davis et al., 2018). Such a business framework maintains a strict order design, which minimizes the administration level to influence concerns on the belief of centralization. The organization’s corporate structure aims to deliver set objectives and drive the organization towards realizing its operational functions. The company’s business approach could also indicate its success in retaining prime employees and maintaining a high-performance culture. The technique addresses all the difficulties its clients experience during their operations in the turbulent global marketplace.

Company Growth

The primary competitors of the YSG organization are Strategic Resources, the Logistics Company, Management Consulting & Research, and ZIN Technologies. From June 2019 through June 2021, YSG hired over 127 employees (LinkedIn, 2021), of which 73% were veterans. The overall number of veteran employees within the company is significantly higher compared to non-veteran employees. These tendencies transparently could demonstrate the positive development of the organization and indicate the contributions of the post-9/11 veterans in the company.

A comparison of YSG and its competitors mentioned above, shown in figure 5, reflected that the company has a similar number of employees, revenues, and provided similar services despite its establishment after its competitors.

A Comparison of YSG’s Near Competitors
Figure 5. A Comparison of YSG’s Near Competitors

Note. Information compiled from various sources.

YSG has been operating for the past 13 years and employs 329 employees (CraftCo. n.d.). The relevant aspect of YSG’s establishment after its competitors and its continuing growth in the number of employees is relevant in understanding its sustainable evolution. The company’s high employees rating of 4.1 out of 5 (CraftCo, n.d.) could also imply that employees are satisfied with the organizational culture. As shown in figure 6, a growth rate in the market position of almost three percent is a relatively high rate compared to public and private companies with a similar number of employees (CraftCo. n.d.).

Market Position of Yorktown Systems Group
Figure 6. Market Position of Yorktown Systems Group

YSG’s workforce, the majority of military veterans, is viewed as the contributing factor to the company’s growth and expanding business categories. The organization’s culture of employing veterans could also indicate that the company is benefiting from the hiring of post-9/11veterans, thus a competitive advantage in its business.

Theoretical Background

The theoretical background commonly utilized theories to analyze the qualities of the military mindset and organizational culture. Schein (2004) stated that culture is socially constructed as founders surround themselves with people who share their values. The two presented theoretical frameworks, Constructivism and the Schein Model of Organizational Culture, provide a comprehensive summary of the potential advantages of a military mindset in the civilian workforce. The former analyzes the origin of such qualities as discipline, resilience, adaptability, and leadership in the military setting with the consequent application of these characteristics in business. The Schein Model is a theoretical framework, which thoroughly analyzes the organizational culture and demonstrates how the qualities of individuals affect the company as a whole. Ultimately, Constructivism and the Schein Model of Organizational Culture constitute the theoretical background of the empirical part of the research and are highly significant for the current study. A thorough description of these theories is discussed in detail in the following sub-chapters.


One concept that consistently appears throughout the literature examined for this research is that the military mindset and leadership qualities are learned (Adler& Sowden, 2018; Kirchner & Akdere, 2017). As discussed below, all military members are expected to command the mindset skills learned through culture, training, resilience, and teamwork. A relevant theoretical framework is a constructivist approach to learned leadership training when applying this standard approach to commercial organizations. In an era of leadership, learning and personal development are critical contributors. The constructivist approach seeks to identify constituent characteristics in developing competency, including psychological, social-cognitive, behavioral, and message productional factors (Johnston, 2018).

The constructivist approach emphasizes leadership development, effectiveness and evaluates how they perceive and perform their roles and engagement in reciprocal processes such as learning, shared values, responsibilities, and facilitation (Yildirim & Kaya, 2019). Participating in the construction of knowledge allows leaders to make necessary cognitive, behavioral, and practical changes regarding their role in an organization (Johnston, 2018). The critical constructivist approach suggests that the developmental synthesis of all these approaches is required to achieve expected results (Nissinen, 2001). There are mind-centered concepts such as self-reflection and self-directedness at the individual level, while the organizational level encompasses institutionalized training and cultural frameworks (Nissinen, 2001). As shown in Figure 7 below, there are several approaches to acquiring knowledge and applying it to learned leadership.

Critical Constructivist Approach to Learned Leadership
Figure 7.Critical Constructivist Approach to Learned Leadership

The importance of the constructivist approach lies in its explanation of how learning takes place. Per Johnson (2019), an active process requires the learner’s involvement at all times. Knowledge is not effectively conveyed when one side imparts it, and the other passively receives the information. The role of the teacher is to inspire curiosity in their student so that they start asking questions and trying to understand the topic in earnest. The learner, in turn, needs to understand the importance of what they are learning and be committed to obtaining the skill set discussed. For that reason, it is essential to gather evidence of the effects of a military mindset on business performance and link the two together in a compelling narrative. This study is a step toward that goal that aims to compile and process the relevant information.

The constructivist theoretical framework supports the idea that a company’s performance is affected by the personal, team, and organizational inputs as well as the processes (Dulebohn &Hoch, 2017), thus, an assumption that personal effectiveness has a considerable impact on a company’s performance. It is also vital to differentiate between the two approaches to constructivism that have been formulated over a period of time. Johnson (2019) claims that these are cognitive constructivism, the theory described above, and social constructivism, which posits that their social context influences one’s learning. The trainer’s role would be to encourage social interaction and provide a cultural context to the subject. However, social constructivism is less appropriate for the topic than its counterpart, which led to its rejection. The military is not necessarily easy to accurately explain in a cultural context, in large part due to its frequent misrepresentation in popular media. Creating a social environment that reflects the military is challenging; therefore, cognitive constructivism fits this study. Nonetheless, it is possible to borrow some elements from the theory, such as organizational culture adjustment requirements.

Applying the constructivist approach to the research question presents an opportunity to explore post-9/11 learned competencies and their application in business settings. Similar to the military organization, said mindset elements can be learned if appropriate resources and culture are in place, and the influences promote critical self-reflection (Hilden and Tikkamäki, 2013). In that environment, it is possible to apply cognitive and social constructivism. The learner experiences the military culture and interacts with more advanced leaders while also interested in learning the method. The military mindset is achieved through a multifaceted constructivist approach, where a combination of culture, experience, interaction, and individual growth contributes to developing valuable characteristics. The key question becomes how to transition that learning model to a commercial environment to achieve a similar mindset in managers and employees.

Schein Model of Organizational Culture

Organizational culture is a common term that typically encompasses an organization’s values and beliefs, ultimately impacting its principles, ideologies, and policies. Schein (2016) proposes that organizational culture takes significant time to form and develop as employees and leadership change, adapt to external environments, and solve problems. As illustrated in figure 8, the Schein framework proposes that there are three levels of organizational culture: 1) Behavior and Artifacts, 2) Espoused Values, and 3) Basic Assumptions or assumed values (Schein, 2016).

Schein’s Framework of Organizational Culture
Figure 8.Schein’s Framework of Organizational Culture

Artifacts are characteristics of an organization that are evident and easily perceived, everything from dress code to facilities to public vision. The values are the beliefs of the individuals working in the organization, as thought processes and attitudes profoundly impact the culture and workplace environment over time. The mindset of individuals associated with an organization influences the culture of that workplace. Finally, assumed values that cannot be measured remain hidden but continue impacting the culture – inner aspects of human nature. It can include attitudes such as subconscious racism, sexism, or even practices never discussed but remain an open understanding within an organization (Schein, 2016).

The application of the military mindset in business has to consider these numerous levels of organizational culture. As later discussed, some elements in the military culture are similarly publicly seen and discussed. In contrast, others are implicit and develop with years of focused teamwork, a culture of respect, and the discipline and resilience which define the mindset. Transitioning a military mindset into commercial settings takes time to develop the culture from initial workplace rules and shared vision to the underlying understanding that the organization is a team that strives towards a common objective. Some of it may be counterintuitive to the standard business practices of competition and self-centered individuality, but in time, with layers within this framework, the military mindset is adaptable.

The drawbacks of Schein’s Model are taken into consideration throughout the discussion of organizational culture. Overall, the concept is nebulous and challenging to describe because corporate culture develops spontaneously and is challenging to observe or manipulate. As Gilbert et al. (2018) noted, the model provides an outsider’s overview of an organization’s internal culture, focusing on the outward expressions and artifacts that may not necessarily be accurate. The example they use is that, while an overwhelming majority of all businesses claim they value safety, this commitment does not necessarily manifest in practice since the underlying organizational culture does not promote this value. This model considers the potential discrepancy and factors it into their observations when attempting to judge an organization’s culture, gathering as much information as possible, and obtaining a multifaceted perspective.

It is also necessary to consider that organizational culture is flexible and mutable, changing over time as it adapts to new needs. Campbell (2019) discusses a recent post-Cold War evolution in the American military mindset, which traditionally focused on conventional warfare and direct force on the battlefield. However, this strategy proved fruitless in environments such as that of Vietnam, and senior leaders went against the established culture by considering non-conventional approaches and applying them in practice. As a result, counterinsurgency operations became part of the standard American military protocol despite going directly against the culture (Campbell, 2019). This warfare doctrine also required a shift in the military leadership approaches to make this smaller-scale, more precise operations possible. As such, the military’s culture and its leadership approach have changed over time and are likely to do so again in the future, which means it is essential to rely on current information for accuracy.

The Military Mindset

The military mindset (initiative, adaptability, flexibility, innovation, and creativity) is necessary for the survival of service members in wars/conflicts and the development of organizational culture and is seen as mental preparation for the unknown. Adapting is just as essential to survival in business as on the battlefield, and many companies do not survive over time because they fail to adapt to changing business conditions (Burns, 2013). Solving problems using an out-of-the-box approach is necessary for the military culture and applies to every business unit. An argument of military service and combat activity of service members require a complex of certain qualities forms the professional structure of one’s personality, and at the same time represents the basis of leadership in a team. The most important of them are high intelligence, purposefulness, the ability for psychoanalysis and reflection, resistance to stress, emotional balance, and the ability to manage oneself, empathy, organizational insight, exactingness, professionalism, and sociability. All veterans are trained to do the impossible by their nature and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. Both pre-9/11 and post-9/11 veterans have acquired specific skill sets during their military service; however, the difference in their cultural training and combat experiences defines characteristics for forming the competencies in developing their military mindset.

Post-9/11 Veterans’ Mindset

The study’s theme comprises specifically of post-9/11 military mindset in a civilian business sphere; therefore, it is necessary to provide a thorough description of post-9/11 veterans and identify key points that differ from the previous military generation. The increased number of deployments to support a change in warfare centered on winning the hearts and minds of the people; a phrase for a British approach to counterinsurgency that emphasized winning the hearts and minds of the population through securing the support of the people (Fishstein & Wilder, 2012). Therefore, a case that the most significant distinction between the pre-9/11 and post-9/11 era veterans is that the latter has considerably more combat experience (Parker et al., 2019) in a civil-military environment that requires continuous interactions and transactions with tribal leaders and local populous.

According to a survey of U.S. veterans (May-June 2019), approximately 58% of post-9/11 veterans had served in the proximity of a combat zone, as opposed to 31% of pre-9/11 veterans (Parker et al., 2019). Furthermore, about 77% of post-9/11 veterans were deployed at least once, while the percentage of pre-9/11 veterans with similar experiences is 58% (Parker et al., 2019). The current statistics transparently demonstrate the prevalence of combat experience among post-9/11 veterans. Most veterans have agreed that combat proximity had made them change their life priorities, emphasizing teamwork and close relationships with people (Parker et al., 2019). Additionally, approximately 70% of post-9/11 veterans realized that they were stronger than they had initially thought before the combat experience, while only 8% of people mentioned that they had been overestimating themselves (Parker et al., 2019). These changes are noticeable by both military veterans and the public. The statistics demonstrate that about 84% of veterans believe that military service has made them more disciplined than people without combat experience (Parker et al., 2019). At the same time, 67% of civilians also believe that discipline is the defining characteristic of military veterans (Parker et al., 2019). Ultimately, military service is a life-changing experience, and most post-9/11 veterans agree that the experiences have significantly affected their personal and professional growth.

The intense training and exposure to combat build up such qualities as discipline and teamwork. The research states, “post-9/11 veterans are about twice as likely to have combat experience as earlier veterans” (Parker et al., 2019, p. 12). Therefore, it is assumed that post-9/11 veterans possess extensive cultural training and combat experiences than the earlier generations, significantly influencing previous learned generational skill sets, competencies, and qualities.

Post-9/11 Generational Competencies

The study’s theory concerning the generational competencies of post-9/11 veterans aligns with constructivism. The constructivism theory implies that the experiences of the post-9/11 soldiers, such as extensive combat exposure, military challenges in various environments, and teamwork during critical situations, significantly improved generational competencies and allowed the forming of new skill sets. Furthermore, constructivism is generally acknowledged as a practical learning framework for military and defense-oriented personnel due to the vast emphasis on critical thinking and self-discovery (Elstad & Davis, 2017). The approach is based on the concept of “Five E’s,” which are generally deciphered as Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate (Elstad & Davis, 2017). Therefore, implying a more practical perspective on learning and acquiring competencies helps explain generational traits of post-9/11 veterans and why they differ from the competencies of pre-9/11 soldiers. First, more extensive combat exposure implies more military practice, teamwork training, emphasis on an objective-oriented mindset, and higher deployment rates (Parker et al., 2019). The practical efforts constitute the core concept of constructivism, and the more extensive amount of preparation and actual combat explains the generational traits acquired by post-9/11 veterans. Furthermore, constructivism suggests that people might build up their competencies based on the example of previous generations via learning perspectives (Sookermany, 2017). In this sense, the experience of pre-9/11 soldiers could enhance the overall skill sets and qualities of post-9/11 veterans through communication and training.

Secondly, the military missions have shifted from general training to counterterrorism objectives, commonly associated with more risks. The specific preparation also includes the overview of advanced technological devices, such as drones and special ammunition, hostage rescue, and emphasis on softer skills, such as decision making and adaptability (Mir, 2018). Many of these qualities are highly useful in the civilian workforce, making post-9/11 veterans’ competencies better suited for today’s business environment.

Lastly, post-9/11 veterans constitute the most diverse group of soldiers in American history. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, left a deep imprint on people of different backgrounds and beliefs (Stone, 2020). As a result, the post-9/11 military enlistment consisted of the most diverse candidates, including people of various cultural backgrounds, races, genders, and ages (Stone, 2020). This variety allowed for a more comprehensive perspective exchange, which also differentiates the overall experience of pre-9/11 and post-9/11 veterans (Stone, 2020). Ultimately, the differences in competencies between the two groups can be explained by various degrees of combat exposure, military preparation, and diversity of the units, which align with the constructivism theory.

Leveraging the Post-9/11 Military Mindset

Despite many shared generational military competencies, post-9/11 veterans demonstrate a more extensive range of skill sets than the previous generations. As mentioned before, this phenomenon primarily occurred due to the change of national military approach after the September 11 attacks, which led to more combat exposure among the soldiers (Parker et al., 2019). The wars and counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East have cost the lives of American soldiers (Crawford, 2018). Furthermore, post-9/11 veterans experienced higher deployment rates, more critical situations, and organized warfare, significantly affecting their worldviews and perspectives on teamwork and military combat (Parker et al., 2019). Therefore, the study suggests that the intense post-9/11 military actions and preliminary training have formed new generational traits of post-9/11 veterans that can be effectively used in the civilian workforce.

Private businesses serve various forms of customers, while the military answers to elected officials. As a result, the military has adopted a conservative attitude that emphasizes the unpredictability of the future and the need for the organization to rapidly and effectively respond to changing circumstances (Maurer, 2017). Conversely, while the future is unpredictable in the private sector, forecasting product demand is still possible. However, the military ability to create robust organizations and handle crises can be invaluable for businesses since, despite their rarity, such events can have catastrophic effects on the organization. The possibilities and potential benefits of employing or retaining post-9/11 military veterans in business organizations could improve leadership practices, talent management, and as a consequence, the organizational culture.

The last significant determinant of the military mindset is the exact relationship between the military and civilians. As Corbe (2017) noted, while the military is subordinated to the civilian sector at the top level, the relationship is not as hierarchical and poorly understood at the operational level. The military is a tangible entity that exists abroad and often becomes involved in local initiatives, where sectors rely upon the other to solve issues and improve the quality of life. The families of military members also have to be considered, as they can often form substantial communities in and of themselves. As a result, while military members are used to their local culture, they are not ignorant of the civilian locations’ broader culture. Barring complicating factors such as an extended foreign tour, adaptation to new conditions nor environments may not be excessively challenging.

Differences in Military and Business Settings

Work organization and labor division have changed significantly, leading to more people focusing on outcomes based on adequate knowledge and research (Lyskova, 2019). Under the knowledge economy, the focus is to understand how experience and education (human capital) act as a business product or productive asset to be exported and sold to create profits for the economy, businesses, and individuals (Gregg, 2018). This aspect of the company depends on people’s intellectual capabilities and not physical contributions or natural resources. It is unknown whether business success requires the same core skills, values, and leadership qualities formed in the military; therefore, it is necessary to understand the specific differences between the two environments and the challenges businesses face.

Military Veterans Generational Shared Business Competencies

As mentioned before, all veterans share some business competencies regardless of their military generation. The unique skills for the civilian workforce include leadership, discipline, resiliency, and teamwork (Pollak et al., 2019). Nevertheless, employers also remark the peripheral skill set of the military veterans, including maturity, adaptability, courage, organizational commitment, and trustworthiness (Pollak et al., 2019). The mission-focused mindset of veterans distinguishes the skills of this group from the civilians (Dillon & Advocate, 2017). One of the study’s conceptual framework models is constructivism. Its central idea is that human learning is constructed, and learners build new knowledge upon the foundation of previous learning. Therefore, it is necessary to examine prior generational competencies that post-9/11 veterans used as a foundation to further new learning before the post-9/11 warfare transition. Consequently, it is essential to thoroughly analyze each of the core competencies shared by generational military veterans.

Military Culture

The U.S. military is considered a unique organization with the inherited responsibility of protecting and defending the nation and its interests. During the Revolutionary War, the military has acted, fought, and thought differently from the military inception. It takes a particular type of individual to place the needs of the country over self. Since the beginning of military service, these differences, which focus on achieving the mission in unorthodox and unique ways, have become the basis of the military culture. It is a crucial aspect that makes the military successful in accomplishing challenging tasks in extreme situations.

These mindset changes are not easily undertaken in a business, but the successful leverage of a similar culture may create a competitive advantage. A strong organizational culture is a common aspect of successful organizations. Some agree that the highest company’s goals are to have the proper cultural priority. A company desires leaders who understand and appreciate the organizational cultures and will ensure employees understand its cultural identities.

The success of changes in today’s military rests with the distinct culture and the transformation to asymmetric warfare. Post-9/11 soldiers possess a unique mindset acquired through the transition in warfare, where the social, cultural, and political dimensions’ parallel today’s business environment (Pollak, et al., 2019). As mentioned prior, some of the notable qualities include leadership, teamwork, work ethic, adaptability, organizational commitment, initiative, and other characteristics highly relevant for business settings (Pollak et al., 2019). The unique culture is the dedication to achieving the mission and the unconventional approaches used to solve problems. Although some may argue that values do not focus on the people but the company and its objectives (Felipe et al., 2017). These key cultural traits are shared across the military enterprise, regardless of the mission, rank, unit, or related factors. Culture is organic and intangible and has given various military leaders the management tools to influence culture, including rigorous assessment and selection, complex missions, strong leadership, and training processes. Like every successful organization, culture is integral to the military unit and how it achieves its mission.

The military organizational culture is not necessarily the only example to follow for civilian organizations in some regards. As mentioned above, military culture often tends to be static, waiting for internal actors to reform it also passively rejecting any such attempts. Breede (2019) highlights this issue and recommends that the military regularly revisit its organizational culture to ensure that it matches the evolution of social discourse, with the assessment preferably done by non-military personnel. The overextensions in which the military engaged after 9/11 serve as an example of the issues that can manifest should the military act without constraint or self-reflection. Actions ensure that it can constrain itself. This mechanism improves the military’s current organizational culture and reduces the chances of it deteriorating over time.

The military mindset begins with the organizational culture, which business leaders can learn and embrace to ensure optimal performances. In the military, the accomplishment of the mission and training shape the culture; thus, the same applies to business organizations. Their mission and training can shape culture and influence organizational performances. Selecting is about finding the right individuals and molding them to the common culture. Across the military, no matter the specific service or component, the culture is one where one does not quit until the goals or missions are achieved. It is not about finding the best people but more about finding the right individuals. It is finding the right individuals who have the right key competencies and are trainable. A case of consideration is the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Before September 11, 2001, the training and assessment plans still had the same individuals, but post-9/11 veterans’ immediately adapted to the new phase of warfare. The persistent ability of an individual or unit to constantly sense its environment for change and to agilely respond to actual or anticipated changes in the environment in a way that improves its operating effectiveness or survival in that environment (Burns, 2013).

The military looks for intense dedication from teammates with a strong desire to succeed in an ambiguous environment and individual fortitude. The military has high-quality individuals and strives to train, motivate, and mentor them effectively. These individuals are what the military seeks and are also highly desirable in business (Pollak et al., 2019). In the recent national survey, approximately 87% of employers have transparently asserted that the military skill set is relevant in the civilian workforce (Pollak et al., 2019). Thus, the increasing interest in hiring post-9/11 veterans has become one of the most discussed topics in business.


The military is known for stimulating and developing leadership qualities in service members. As a result, many military veterans pursue management roles in organizations or begin as entrepreneurs. Several studies introduce the idea of using military leadership practices in non-military organizations to improve their performance. The main argument put forward by Bungay (2012) is that there is the task to analyze the possibility of building synergy between management, leadership, and command, in which the experience of military veterans who took part in hybrid wars. This synergy is valuable to introduce the best practices of military leadership. One of the more recent investigations written by Kirchner and Akdere (2017) explores the possibility of using military leadership development tactics in commercial training. The authors suggest that some traits of military leadership development can contribute to human resource training. In particular, Kirchner and Akdere (2017) highlight the establishment of core values for all employees and a dynamic supervisor-employee relationship. Roberts (2018) presents the twelve principles that should guide modern military leadership, describing such concepts as leading from the front, having self-confidence, fostering teamwork, being decisive, and others. This recollection of the necessary traits from a person with actual command experience can be used in the study as a foundation for integrating military theories into the corporate setting.

Military leaders do not rely solely on their authority and right to give orders in their work. Stebnicki (2020) states that reliance on an authoritarian or transactional leadership style in the military does not produce benefits beyond the short term. Those who succeed in their positions will typically listen to their subordinates and accommodate differences of opinion among their subordinates. Regardless, they will also be ready to act quickly and decisively when the situation calls for it, expecting orders to obey immediately. This duality of approaches is vital to the success of the military force preparation to act and an organization that needs to sustain itself in peacetime.

The military provides individuals with critical skills needed in leadership, some of which are discussed in other themes, such as the ability to overcome obstacles, teamwork, weighted risk-taking, and discipline. The military mindset is replicated in team spirit and solidarity in the business environments where the individual can take the leadership role (McDermott et al., 2015). The military uses a continuous and consistent approach to leadership development, expecting competencies from all its members regardless of actual position or authority. However, those in positions of power in the military have much more consequential roles, where mistakes can cost soldiers’ lives and present national security risks. Therefore, the development of leadership competency through the synthesis of knowledge, skills, and abilities is a holistic model of development that can be applicable in non-military organizations (Kirchner and Akdere, 2017).

Nazri and Rudi (2019) argue that leader paradigms emphasize attributes and traits crucial in key settings. Furthermore, military leadership commonly follows the guidance, doctrines, standards, and regularly updated principles, allowing development and innovation. The authors proposed the military leadership framework as reflected below in figure 9.

Military Leadership Structure
Figure9. Military Leadership Structure

These changes often come from within the organization, as demonstrated by the example above. While innovation is sometimes stifled in the military, it is also adopted once it shows its effectiveness. Many of these traits are effective in complex, dynamic environments, which can be seen in the business context (Pollak et al., 2019). Qualities such as confidence, adaptability, emotional stability, intelligence, decision-making, and competence are crucial for a leadership organization in virtually any context. They are promoted in the military with substantial effectiveness, especially considering the turnover system that exists in the sector.

A remarkable aspect of military leadership lies in its lack of dependence on individual leaders. According to information gathered by Castro (2018), the average military leader stays in the same position for two years or less before departing. Transitional periods are frequent, and the military has to handle them effectively to remain a competitive force. This tendency is substantially different from that demonstrated in the private sector, where, especially at smaller companies, a leader can stay in the same position for periods that can last for decades. With that said, it also means that military leaders are used to taking stock of a situation quickly and devising an action plan. This quality can be invaluable for situations where a leader needs to be rapidly introduced to an environment to make changes. Therefore, the ability of military leaders to operate in the long term needs additional investigation.

The military necessarily promotes long-term planning beyond its highest leadership, which maintains parity or superiority with current and emerging threats to prepare for several theoretical scenarios. However, these leaders are long-term military individuals who are unlikely to leave their positions to take a job at a private company. For the lower-level personnel consideration in this study, the primary focus is to accomplish the mission at hand in the most effective manner possible. However, the military is aware of the issues related to short-term orientation. This tendency can create stringent policies to relieve leaders who manifest misconduct in their duties (Szypszak, 2016). As such, military leaders expect to operate in the long term, though the competence is not necessarily being actively promoted and reinforced.

Overall, while exclusive training in military-style leadership is likely not sufficient for success in a civilian environment due to the different purposes and divergent evolution of the approach in the two sectors, it can complement more conventional competencies. Currently, there is little overlap between them or understanding of how military styles enhance private-sector leadership (Kirchner & Akdere, 2017). However, it stands to reason that applying the competencies veterans learn can benefit an organization, especially in requiring change. Therefore, it is reasonable to examine the specific application of post-9/11 veterans’ competencies to demonstrate the strengths of the skills they learned in the military without undermining the organization’s performance.


One of the most recognized military traits is discipline, which also relates to business. Discipline brings an objective-oriented mindset but also the ability to persevere through difficult or tedious tasks. While discipline is not unique to the military, it is often placed at a high priority. Discipline is a critical element for both leaders, which have to exercise patience and control, and for essential workers and low-level managers that have to demonstrate discipline in fulfilling remedial tasks and waiting for opportunities to climb within an organization (Georgiev, 2019). Discipline is a foundation for multiple other aspects of leadership and military mindset discussed in this study.

Military discipline is centered around hierarchy, with strict chains of command and severe punishments for not following orders. Service members are expected to obey their superiors unless their order involves clear law violations, such as firing civilians or committing fraud. The decision to follow the order is not contingent on what one thinks of the person giving it or of the order’s effectiveness. It is assumed that a superior has access to more information than a subordinate and makes better decisions. As such, the desire not to follow them can only stem from personal incompetence or lack of access to crucial information. The superior is not obligated to provide this information, as in doing so; they would be wasting valuable time. In disobeying, the soldier takes a substantial risk unless they can conclusively prove to a military tribunal that the order was unlawful.

This consideration does not necessarily apply to a civilian context, where no such chainof command exists. Subordinates questioning the leader’s decisions are not frowned upon but expected and encouraged in most environments. Moreover, there is typically no time pressure present in the military, and it is possible to convey the rationale behind every choice and receive feedback in time. Kolb (2018) notes that questioning politicians’ decisions form the cornerstone of political theory, alleging that exercising authority violates the human right to moral autonomy. As such, the military approach appears improbable to apply in a civilian context. Furthermore, its effectiveness and sustainability within the military itself also have to be questioned.

In recent years in the U.S. military, discipline has been undergoing a period of turbulence. As Weber (2017) notes, while commanders can punish acts considered harmful to “good order and discipline,” the term’s definition is unclear and has been shrinking recently (p. 123). Discipline is increasingly viewed as a relic that the military holds to resist reform rather than a key quality essential for its success as an organization. It is currently unclear what the ultimate effect of this shift will be, but military discipline has become more lenient. Whether that is a positive change remains to be seen, and former military members will still exhibit substantially higher discipline levels than their civilian counterparts on average. However, this change is taken into account in the longer term.

While the military is highly associated with discipline, blind obedience is also highly acknowledged with the profession. As earlier established, military leaders are followed due to their high levels of experience and their subordinates do not object to any order given. However, this level of obedience also associates with blind obedience in the military. Servicemen, regardless their ranks, are subject to blind authority since orders from above have to be followed, with the exception being in on-ethical circumstances. Discipline and blind obedience can be very controversial since in excess, they tend to result in severe consequences (Jantz, 2016). In a civilian environment, this level of obedience hinders creativity and innovativeness since the power hierarchy in the military does not allow the subordinates to think on their own. When veterans are unable to think outside their coded way of responding to issues, their creativity and innovativeness fails and they are no longer able to bring in new concepts to the business (Jantz, 2016).

The potential unconscious expectation of military leaders for this tendency to continue after they leave the military can be both beneficial and harmful for businesses. The leader will be used to quickly making informed decisions and putting them into practice, which can be helpful for the business’s flexibility. When rapid and large-scale organizational change is necessary, this willingness to create change can be invaluable. However, in other situations, this application of authoritarian leadership may be actively harmful. The leader can be wrong but also resistant to receiving feedback due to their lack of training. They can also arouse employee resentment through not interacting with them enough and giving too little consideration to their opinions. It is necessary to ensure that a military leader is also competent in the methods applied in the civilian environment before being trusted to lead.

Discipline is beneficial in bringing focus and attention to a business environment. It is impossible to cover everything in a complex, contested, and shifting environment or market where a business operates; thus, discipline focuses on the essential elements that ensure its stability and growth. Discipline helps maintain order, reduce panic in challenging situations, and adapt to complex changes if a company becomes more efficient and cuts costs. A disciplined figure can influence positive corporate actions and impact the organization to adhere to the best values and principles of business law and ethics (Nasih et al., 2019). Military service disciplines create an individual who demonstrates critical professional thinking and maintains creativity and independence, fostering intellectual development. Discipline is a foundation for leadership and teamwork and a unique trait beneficial for various areas in business.


The military mindset leads to the formation of resilience, a key to survival in warfare contexts, but also creates character traits of adaptability and psychological strength that continue to remain functional in civilian life. However, resilience is the interaction between personal characteristics and the structural environment in which a person operates (McGarry et al., 2017). The military fosters a culture of resilience through its customs, traditions, and values. It is taught as part of military education, based on the cognitive-behavioral model.

The military is expected to be ready to engage in war, which involves endangering its members and the stress associated with such an endeavor. Even when there is no active war, there can be political and other tensions that are apparent to service members and lead them to consider the possibility of deployment and combat. To that end, resilience is a vital quality that leaders are expected to possess and teach to their subordinates (Matthews, 2020). Recognizing this need and the competencies that leaders are taught to help is a relatively new development in military psychology. However, the need for commanders to maintain physical and mental combat readiness in their unit has been known for decades, if not centuries or millennia, and each military commander will have a personal approach to doing so.

Moreover, Isaacs et al. (2017) find that of a substantial sample of U.S. military veterans, 67.7% were mentally resilient. The large proportion that was not exposed to significant trauma during their conflict exposure did not develop mental health issues. The factors that caused service members to do so are dependent on personal traits such as extraversion, emotional stability, gratitude, altruism, and endorsement of purpose in life (Isaacs et al., 2017). In figure 10 below, the domains of resiliency exemplify the military’s overall effectiveness in fostering resilience among its members.

Five key domains of resiliency
Figure 10. Five key domains of resiliency

Note.Adapted from Perspectives on resilience for military readiness and preparedness: Report of an international military physiology roundtable: 2018, by the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. In the public domain.

While resilience in the military context and its effects have been well-researched, the same cannot be said for its application in a civilian setting. As Cox et al. (2018) state, while most studies have focused on the positive effects of the ability to adapt and cope that is granted by resilience, it can also instill military attitudes that complicate adaptation to civilian life and are difficult to excise. Leaders, in particular, who have found some degree of success in the military, may become stuck in their ways and refuse to reflect on them despite facing difficulties in their new environment. The literature on the topic is limited and inconclusive, and more research is necessary before any definitive statements are concluded. A more competitive company has resilience and ensures workers cooperate in meaningful ways (Popkova, 2019).

Military resilience is defined as the capacity to overcome the adverse effects of setbacks and the associated stress on military performance and combat effectiveness support. Organizational resilience of the company and its members has been a critical trend in management practice. Williams et al. (2017) proposed a framework that focuses on the themes of crisis and resilience. Integrating resilience into organizations creates capabilities of durability, organizing and adjusting, competent response, and intense self-analysis through feedback. The interaction between crisis and resilience is a dynamic process that requires leadership and mindfulness to navigate (Williams et al., 2017). Integrating the concepts of military resilience in civilian organization contexts can be highly valuable from a mindset standpoint as they bring the capabilities listed above and navigate dynamic crises.


Military culture is distinguished by a profound commitment to a larger goal, often putting individuals’ desires on hold. The culture and perspectives are inherently collectivistic and built around the concept of group-think and teamwork to support each other and achieve the set objectives (Adler & Sowden, 2018). Teamwork and collaboration have become the central elements of the workplace. Businesses invest millions into the training to enhance teamwork effectiveness since successful teams produce effective outcomes in a wide range of contexts due to the team competencies and processes (Lacerenza et al., 2018). The military or other industries heavily reliant on teamwork for function or survival can achieve solid and cohesive teamwork due to culture and training methods and discipline not seen in typical office workplaces.

The military importance of teamwork is underscored by which it is applied and the stakes involved. By definition, military operations involve lives that have to be preserved or eliminated, and the two objectives often collide to create high complexity–Perrewé and Harms (2018) highlight how teamwork may at times supplant the other two values. The military is effectively a nested structure of teams of progressively increasing sizes. Leaders of one layer form a team for another and are ready to coordinate the forces under their command with a high degree of precision. The military’s understanding of the critical importance of teamwork has led it to develop approaches for improving it at a rapid pace. Its rapid progress has served as the inspiration for a substantial volume of teamwork research, as the military has achieved a highly in-depth understanding of the topic. Goodwin et al. (2018) note that over the last 60 years, research into the military’s teamwork system has been responsible for several crucial contributions, such as the importance of cognitive processes and multi-team systems. Therefore, both the military’s advancement of its methods and the research into its success are still ongoing. Although substantial improvements have been achieved, modeling the mechanisms that underpin the military effort is incomplete.

Service members are capable of outstanding teamwork, whether they are in leadership or subordinate positions. Yanchus et al. (2018) confirm this expectation, stating that veterans excel in collaboration and are dedicated to the organization’s mission. In high-intensity operations that require quick decision-making, the team must trust and believe that everyone will perform specific duties. Veterans in the workplace can leverage their knowledge of trust, both in theory and in practice, to foster it in their organization. In doing so, they may enhance their team’s performance dramatically and set the groundwork for further improvements. Lastly, the element of trust should be considered, as it is another important quality in the military.

Notable as in many interpersonal fields, the research regarding teamwork, especially its applications in the military, is inconclusive. Many phenomena remain underexplored and poorly understood, though their justifications of common sense seem to be apparent. As a field with some of the most advanced teamwork globally, the military is particularly affected by this phenomenon. Overall, as Salas et al. (2018) noted, bridging the gap between theory and practice is among the most significant challenges facing researchers at this time. While military leaders may not have a theoretical understanding of their apply methods, they can still successfully put them into practice. In this sense, veterans placed in civilian workplaces can be particularly helpful as they can provide unique inputs, though it is challenging to evaluate the effects precisely.

Some key elements that are adopted from the military models are trust and familiarity. Despite the military’s hierarchical structure, the individuals within teams and the chain of command have many informal interactions and linkages. With time, one becomes acquainted with the teammates due to the intimate knowledge of their behavior and actions, resulting in organic cohesion and teamwork, which leads to trust, as teammates trust each other with time. Still, leaders also demonstrate confidence by placing responsibility on the teams and trusting them to function independently. There are expectations and reputation, but trust is vital as it allows one to rely on the team members, whether it is a nighttime raid costing casualties or an office project impacting everyone’s professional career. However, the military more often than not operates day-to-day functions that are mundane, and these lessons can be transferred to the commercial sector, which consists of fundamental factors such as building relationships and understanding team capabilities (McGinn, 2015). The military success in conflicts such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq was not primarily due to the new weaponry systems or special equipment but due to teamwork, the learning language of a military organization.

Method and Design Literature

The nation’s military transition to address asymmetric threats in the post-9/11 era changed how the military has adapted to serving in unconventional international conflicts against associated threats. These experiences, unlike the previous era, involved civil interactions and transactional engagements that can be adaptable in a business venue. Many researchers’ stated that adaptability, leadership, teamwork, and resilience are significant factors that military veterans bring to the company (Kirchner & Akdere, 2017). Although prior research of the military mindset acknowledges its value in a corporate business environment, few works of literature singularly focus on research explicitly targeting the competencies of post-9/11era.

One of the empirical ways to assess the perceptions of the post-9/11 veterans concerning the civilian workforce and the competitive advantages of a military mindset are via qualitative research. For instance, Yanchus et al. (2018) conducted open-text surveys among military veterans and non-veterans at the Veterans Health Administration to identify the differences in the mindset between the two groups. The authors determined that the post-9/11 veterans were more concerned about the injustices and favoritism in the workspace, which transparently indicates the difference in the perspectives (Yanchus et al., 2018). Qualitative case studies can also be used to explore the employers’ attitudes toward hiring post-9/11 veterans. Stackhouse (2020) was able to identify the major hiring strategies that the owners of small businesses utilize to recruit post-9/11 veterans. Additionally, it is possible to use mixed methods studies and combine in-depth qualitative research with a quantitative approach to statistics. Pollak et al. (2019) used the numerical data from the national surveys and compared some of the most prominent U.S. publicly traded firms to identify military-friendly companies. Ultimately, other research methods and designs could be used to understand the competitive advantages of post-9/11 veterans in a business setting; however, this study intends to use qualitative research designs for in-depth research of the phenomena.

Since the research intends to identify if post-9/11 veteran’s competencies provide a competitive advantage, not just through performance indicators but also the influence and cultural adoption of the military mindsets in companies, this researcher deemed it critical to use qualitative collection methods to analyze data.


The competencies of the military mindset can contribute to organizational success, especially in the modern business competitive environment. At the center of a company’s culture are commonly held and shared values; therefore, businesses must decide on the values they emphasize, including outcome, people, team orientations, and focus on detail. The military train skills that are transferable in businesses, such as prioritization of tasks, confirmation of objectives, and observation of competitors’ actions (Stettner, 2019). Chad Storlie, the author of the book titled “Combat Leader to Corporate Leader,” also advocates the view that post-9/11 military veterans create substantial business results (2018). Researchers also offer supporting studies showing that veterans are 70% less likely to engage in corporate corruption and are more capable of making tough decisions (Benmelech & Frydman, 2014). Earlier research of the military mindset acknowledges its value to enhance the corporate business environment. Therefore, this research intends to contribute to the advancement to identify how leveraging post-9/11 era veterans’ military mindsets could influence organizational culture, thus demonstrating advantages for businesses and veterans alike.


The impact organizational culture has on companies’ performance has been thoroughly investigated, but the examination of specifically post-9/11 era veterans’ competencies transferable to a business sphere is not specifically investigated. The Post-9/11 era (September 11, 2001 – Present) reflects the transition of defending America’s and its interests against global terrorism, a paradigm shift from the Cold War methodology. The study objective is to determine specific competencies of post-9/11 military veterans transferable to business and examine if the specific post-9/11 military mindset characteristics are a competitive advantage to an organization’s success and culture. Qualitative research provides a deeper understanding of the topic, research questions, and the establishment of the fundamentals for further examination.

This chapter introduces the proposed research method, characterizes the design, and summarizes the primary qualitative research steps: an overview of population, sampling, data collection, data processing, and data analysis. Lastly, the study’s methodology’s assumptions, limitations, delimitations, and ethical assurances are thoroughly discussed.

Research Method and Design

Qualitative research methodology enables researchers to identify people’s attitudes and behaviors associated with some phenomena or trends. These insights are instrumental in creating a clear picture of people’s mindsets and potential behaviors as responses to specific changes or situations (Cassell et al., 2018). In the context of the selected topic and multifaceted research questions, a qualitative methodology approach is the most promising to understand the complex issue better and provide necessary input to draw relevant conclusions in the changing dynamics of a modern business environment. Qualitative data collection methods are critical since the research intends to identify if specific post-9/11 veterans’ military mindset characteristics provide businesses with competitive industry advantages.

Research Method Overview

The study utilizes the qualitative research method and reviews archival records, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews as primary data collection techniques. In general, qualitative research refers to the research method that significantly emphasizes non-numerical data and frequently reveals phenomena that quantitative methods fail to uncover (Bansal, et al., 2018). Therefore, this type of methodology is utilized to conduct in-depth research and understand real-world problems by exploiting the narrative techniques of data collection (Moser & Korstjens, 2017). Qualitative research has received substantial attention from the academic community and business organizations in recent years (Cassel, et al., 2018). Qualitative methods are particularly efficient in identifying the opinions, attitudes, behaviors, objectives, and other types of personal information of the selected target population (Cassel et al., 2018). As a result, according to the stated research questions, the proposed methodology is suited to understand the perspective.

Unlike quantitative research, qualitative methods generally utilize smaller samples with less concern for numerical representation. As a result, qualitative research is subjective and is frequently implemented in exploratory case studies examining individual perspectives on the topic. There are certain advantages and disadvantages associated with both methods, such as researcher bias of qualitative designs or the general superficiality of the quantitative research. However, qualitative research is generally considered appropriate for exploratory case studies in the business setting due to the vast emphasis on the in-depth understanding of the analyzed phenomena.

The primary advantage of qualitative and quantitative methods is their relation to the nature of research. Quantitative designs are associated with concrete numbers, quantified data, established hypotheses, and automated data analysis methods (Queirós et al., 2017). Furthermore, quantitative research is generally acknowledged to provide a shallow understanding of the subject due to large samples and the lack of the researcher’s direct participation (Queirós et al., 2017). This method is not generally applied to exploratory case studies concerning relevant social problems; thus, the quantitative design is inappropriate. Conversely, qualitative research is frequently utilized in exploratory studies in new research areas (Basias & Pollalis, 2018). The qualitative method is characterized by the in-depth analysis of the examined phenomenon, the proximity of the researcher to the target group, the flexibility of the approach, and the longer range of scope of the study in time (Queirós et al., 2017). Ultimately, due to the exploratory nature of the case study’s purpose and research questions, a qualitative research design provides more insights into the topic and is explicitly justified.

Research Design Overview

The five potential research designs considered for implementation in the study are ethnography, phenomenology, content analysis, grounded theory, and case studies. These strategies are relevant to research designs with certain advantages, disadvantages, and specific purposes. However, ethnography, phenomenology, content analysis designs, and grounded theory were inappropriate designs for this study.

Ethnography emphasizes the cultural aspect of human relationships and attempts to understand the behavior of individuals within a group or an organization (Korstjens & Moser, 2017). While this objective transparently corresponds to the first research question, “What are the competencies of the post-9/11 military mindset that are transferable in a business setting?” ethnography does not meet the requirements of the purpose statement. Thus, ethnography is not an appropriate research design for the study. Phenomenology is the most extensive research design concerning the psychology of the participants and explaining the certain phenomena behind their behavior. Like ethnography, phenomenology directly corresponds to one of the research questions and can transparently demonstrate the peculiarities of the military mindset of the post-9/11 veterans in the business setting (Jamali, 2018). However, this strategy does not reveal the potential competitive advantages of the veterans in the organizational culture. Thus, phenomenology cannot be considered an appropriate research design due to the more extensive scope of the study. Content analysis is another prominent strategy that attempts to retrieve necessary information from the narrative data obtained from the participants via interviews and questionnaires (Korstjens & Moser, 2017). However, the primary objective of this design is to establish a conceptual framework based on specific critical themes mentioned by the informants and consequent analysis (Korstjens & Moser, 2017). Ultimately, while this strategy is efficient regarding the immediate data analysis, the content analysis fails to grasp the scope of the study.

The two remaining qualitative research designs appropriate for the study are grounded theory and case study. Both strategies are frequently utilized in social and business settings to reveal the real-world connections between individuals and organizations (Jamali, 2018). Consequently, the foundation for the two designs is the in-depth research of a particular phenomenon in the natural context (Alam, 2020). In the proposed study, the phenomenon is the competencies of the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans, and the social context involves the business setting and organizational culture. From these considerations, both designs might be applicable to answer the research questions and meet the criteria of the purpose statement. Additionally, grounded theory and case studies reflect the exploratory nature of the study and are particularly efficient in addressing complex social processes (Alam, 2020). Therefore, the primary subject of the research design selection is the choice between the grounded theory and case studies.

It is generally assumed that grounded theory is a fundamental methodological approach utilized in various settings and multiple scenarios (Johansson, 2019). Even though the proposed research questions are generalized, the empirical part of the study focuses on the post-9/11 veterans at YSG. The emphasis on the singular entity is a typical feature of qualitative case studies and allows for in-depth research of certain phenomena in the social context (Alam, 2020). Therefore, a case study is considered the most applicable and effective method for this study.

Research Design Summary

Similar to most qualitative designs, a case study utilizes a review of archival records, questionnaires, and interviews as primary data collection techniques. These methods are exclusive to qualitative research and are highly subjective; therefore, they require the researcher’s extensive level of expertise (Alam, 2020). For instance, it is essential to minimize the researcher and interviewer bias to ensure the validity of the results. For this purpose, the expert should explicitly present the necessary information and guidelines to the informants and maintain a healthy and relaxed atmosphere to retrieve honest answers (as opposed to socially expected responses). Furthermore, it is the researcher’s responsibility to maintain an unbiased stance on the subject and transparent data collection procedures. Lastly, the questions in interviews are presented neutrally to minimize the response bias from the participants. The details of data collection techniques, data processing, and data analysis are thoroughly discussed in the following sub-chapters.


The population of the study is classified into two separate categories: general and target population. The former refers to any potential stakeholders that might benefit from the current research, including the target population, the academic community, the researcher, and others. The target population is a narrower group that refers solely to the participants of the study.

General Population

The general population of the research refers to the major stakeholders of the study. In this study, the general population includes the post-9/11 veterans, HR managers/specialists, senior executives of the YSG organization, the academic community, and the researcher. The groups of the general population could potentially profit from the study’s research. Post-9/11 veterans and business organizations could benefit from the empirical evidence explored, including the competitive advantages of post-9/11 military veterans in business settings. The analysis of such initiatives might stimulate the interest of contemporary organizations in hiring post-9/11 veterans, which provides mutual interest for both parties and the nation as a whole. Currently, there are more than three million post-9/11 veterans in the civilian workforce and projected to reach four million by 2026 (Aronson et al., 2019). According to a study by the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics (2018), post-9/11 veterans are the youngest cohort of veterans with a median age of 35 years old. Their population has steadily increased over the past five years, as shown in Figure 11 below.

Post-9/11 Veterans Estimated Population
Figure 11. Post-9/11 Veterans Estimated Population (2016-2021)

Note. Adapted from Profile of Post-9/11 Veterans: 2016, for VetPop16 by the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics.

Furthermore, the academic community and the researcher benefit due to the advancement of the subject and contributed to the scientific field of social sciences. While the project is self-sustaining and provides relevant information, it may also pave the way for future research, thus, contributing to the academic community. Lastly, the study could benefit the government agencies and stimulate new initiatives and programs to support the transition of post-9/11 veterans. In theory, such action reduces the percentage of unemployment in the country and significantly advances the national economy.

Target Population

The target population of the research refers to the traits required for participation in the study. As mentioned before, the three primary qualitative data collection methods implemented in the study are archival records, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews. All study informants are employees of YSG, namely post-9/11 veterans of various occupations (business analysts, instructors, linguists, and IT support experts), HR specialists/managers, and senior executives. The total number of employees in YSG exceeds three hundred people, and the majorities are military veterans; therefore, it is possible to acquire a sufficient number of informants for the current study.

The groups of the target population will complete a questionnaire or participate in a semi-structured interview. The active participation of the three target groups is necessary to establish reliable results and answer the research questions. The inclusionary trait for the employees of the YSG is the participation in military activities after September 11, 2001. Ultimately, the described approach to the target population guarantees the coverage of both the military mindset in the business setting and organizational aspects.


Sampling is one of the most effective procedures in qualitative research to ensure the reliability and validity of the results. As mentioned prior, the optimal sampling size for qualitative research is fifteen to twenty participants (Alam, 2020). This range allows establishing a deep connection between the researcher and the informants to guarantee transparent findings. As a result, seventeen employees of YSG will partake in the current study: twelve post-9/11 veterans of various occupations, three HR managers/specialists, and two senior executives of the organization.

Many sampling strategies include purposive, criterion, theoretical, convenience, snowball, maximum variation, extreme cases, typical cases, and confirming and disconfirming sampling types (Moser & Korstjens, 2018). This project will utilize criterion sampling, which implies the selection of participants with specific pre-determined criteria (Moser & Korstjens, 2018). The primary criterion for a veteran’s participation is military service after September 10, 2001. The criteria for HR managers are employment at YSG for more than one year. This criterion ensures that HR managers/specialist has a thorough understanding of the YSG’s human resources practices, organizational culture, and additional impact of veterans. The criteria for senior executives are that they must hold a senior position that provides oversight in developing corporate strategies (e.g., goals, objectives, and vision). Although HR managers/supervisors and senior executives are not required to be veterans, if so, they could also provide in-depth data to this study.

The proposed sampling size is seventeen people. The sample size could deviate slightly depending on the informants’ schedules, workloads, and motivation. It is essential to transparently indicate a sufficient sampling size for each data collection instrument to avoid data saturation. Data saturation defines a certain point in data collection when the received information is redundant and excesses the consequent processing and analysis (Guest et al., 2016). Data collection instruments have specific data saturation restrictions (Guest et al., 2016). The graph below shows in figure 12 reflect the average data saturation points for interviews.

Average Data Saturation Points for Interviews
Figure 12. Average Data Saturation Points for Interviews (Guest et al., 2016)

Given the above considerations, there are two semi-structured interviews with senior executives, depending on the ultimate sampling size, fifteen questionnaires (three with HR managers/specialists and twelve with post-9/11 veterans).

Data Collection Instruments

The data collection instruments are archival records, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews. The initial step to data collection is the overview of the company’s archived data and review of prior research relevant to this study. The implemented data collection methods, including interviews and questionnaires, are widely used in social and business settings due to their emphasis on the research phenomenon and in-depth study (Basias & Pollalis, 2018). Due to the efficiency of these approaches, they are appropriate to answer the research questions.

Overview of the Data Collection Methods

The qualitative data collection procedures implemented in the proposed doctoral study are archival records, questionnaires, and interviews. In qualitative research, these techniques are the most commonly utilized methods to gather personal information, such as perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors of the participants (Aspers & Corte, 2019). Archival data is not directly accessible to the computer system user but is maintained for long-term storage and record-keeping purposes.

The second instrument of data collection is a questionnaire. In general, it refers to a set of questions presented to the informant in either an online or offline manner (Surveymonkey, n.d.). In the scope of the current project, questionnaires represent a set of open-ended questions presented to the participants in an online manner via web-based applications. Some of the most prominent websites to conduct questionnaires are SurveyMonkey and GoogleForms, which differ slightly in capabilities, interface, and pricing. Ultimately, a questionnaire is an effective and convenient method of collecting qualitative data.

From the sampled participants, the questionnaires for the research will be the fifteen post-9/11 veterans who will provide valuable information on the competencies they acquired while in the military. The gathered information will give a detailed understanding of how the veterans think they can positively contribute to civilian organizations and how their years of experience and knowledge might be useful to the organizations. The research question(s) answered by the participant’s feedback will be associated with the themes the research is founded on, like organizational culture, teamwork, resilience, discipline, and leadership. Two semi-structured interviews will be for the senior executives. From the interviews, the study will gather information about how YSG perceives hiring veterans and the retention of pot-9/11 veterans. Further, through the questions, the question on the specific military competencies will be answered as well as how a military mindset can help transform the organization’s performance.

The tertiary instrument of data collection is the semi-structured interview. Interviews are one-on-one conversations to examine the perspectives and attitudes of the participants concerning certain phenomenon (Moser & Korstjens, 2018). The interviews are typically administered face-to-face; however, in the realities of the coronavirus pandemic, interviews are executed via web-based applications, such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Zoom. While this is not the ideal case for reliable data collection, it is necessary to guarantee the safety of the informants and the researcher.

Grounded theory, in qualitative research, is used in the production of interview transcript that is read through a small text sample. The process then identifies possible analytic theme that might arise. With the emergence of the themes, the researcher can then pull together each data from the themes and compare them (Doyle, 2019). Significant is to ensure considerations are made on linking the themes together. Through the possible relations, it then becomes easy to establish theoretical frameworks by continuously checking the frameworks against potential negative cases. Lastly, results presentation of the analysis is done using interview quotes illuminating the theory.

The interviews were used for senior executives and the questionnaires were for HR managers and post-9/11veterans. The reason for using interviews among senior executives was that it offered a platform that was critical in helping better comprehend, explain, and explore their opinions, in terms of their experiences, behavior, and phenomenon. Interviews for senior executives was significant since the research sought to inquire answers based on participant’s knowledge, preferences, and attitudes and like questionnaires, they answers questions on military competencies. To the senior executives, the interviews will answer questions on military competencies, quality of post-9/11 military mindset to the organization’s health, and impactful quality of a military mindset in the organization. The questionnaires for HR managers/specialists will help uncover answers pertaining to differences between post-9/11 military veterans and civilian employees and advantages of having military veterans as employees within the organization. The questionnaires for veterans will help provide answers relating to unique military competencies acquired in service, how the competencies can be integrated in YSG, and how a military mindset influences civilian organizations.

The implementation of archival records, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews ensures the research’s reliability and validity. The simultaneous application of three or more methods is called triangulation and is one of the most commonly used strategies in qualitative research (Alam, 2020). Triangulation allows recompensing the disadvantages of certain data collection methods by utilizing the advantages of others (Alam, 2020). Therefore, the availability of several data collection methods guarantees more accurate findings.

Figure 13 illustrates the study’s proposed data collection methods (review of archival records, questionnaires, and interviews).

Data Collection Methods
Figure 13. Data Collection Methods

Reliability of the questionnaire, in appendix c, will be determined using pilot review. To evaluate the instrument’s reliability, the researcher will carry out three major reliability tests that will be alternate-form reliability, test-retest reliability, and internal consistency reliability. Through test-retest reliability, the reliability of the questionnaire will be estimated through correlations between the assumptions associated with the research and will help in establishing readability and understanding. Care must be taken when comparing scales measuring variables that will be used in the study. Alternate-form or equivalence reliability will be measured through a panel form process where the researcher will administer alternative same measure forms. Here, it will be possible to administer several forms taking place at the time of the research. Lastly, internal consistency will allow the researcher to be concerned on the degree in terms of the questionnaire and how it measure the same things.

Before beginning the data collection methods, a recruitment letter, shown in Appendix E, is distributed to research participants to arrive at a research participant sample. The recruitment letter is a method to seek a sufficient number of informants and ensure their eligibility to participate in the study. The HR office will distribute the recruitment letter via YSG’s internal network, where the employees can read, understand, and determine if they meet the study requirements. This step ensures the widest organizational dissemination for employees’ awareness of the study’s background, purpose, and design.

Similar to questionnaires and interviews, the participants will be recruited through the creation of a panel research, at YSG. In the recruitment of senior executives, the study has show that a recruitment letter, like the one in Appendix E, will be distributed to members that will form the subgroups. Once the recruitment letter has been drafted, YSG’s HR will then distribute the letters to people that will form part of the subgroup via the organization’s internal network. Like in interviews and in questionnaires, using the organization’s network will ensure that only those that can read and understand the requirements of the research will be determined. Likewise, the steps followed in recruiting subgroup members will yield participant’s awareness. The panel research will develop a database that will help in determining potential candidates. The other alternatives utilized in the recruitment of participants will be through customer support at YSG. However, should the initial recruitment yield unsubstantial number of participants, the research, through the assistance of YSG, will give a two week timeline for the recruitment of any additional subgroups.

Informed consent is more than a signature in a form and from this understanding; the whole informed consent process will entail giving the participants sufficient information about the research. That will comprise providing sufficient opportunities for the participants to consider every available option followed by giving feedback. To ensure the participants understand the information, obtaining their voluntary agreement to participate and lastly, continue with the provision of the required information. In both the interview and the questionnaire, documentation will involve the use of a written consent form containing the information to be disclosed and signed by the participants.

Development of the Materials

Materials for the data collection instruments are developed according to the purpose statement, research questions, and the standards of qualitative research. Similar to the population and sampling criteria, the selected data collection methods reflect the primary objective of the study – to explore the competencies of the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans in the business setting. For this purpose, archival records, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews are the most optimal data collection methods.

When effectively applied, thematic analysis is a powerful analysis technique since it helps break down thematic analysis into plain language. For the archive document review, the predetermined theme will follow through an inductive approach where the researcher will derive meaning through the creation of themes with no data preconceptions. While the literature is founded on five themes, organizational culture, discipline, teamwork, leadership, and resilience, inductive approach will allow the researcher to dive into analysis with no notion of what themes will emerge. The significance of the approach is that it will allow themes to be determined through the gathered information, meaning the data collected will influence the themes of the study.

According to the ethical assurances and restrictions, each participant of the primary target group must provide written consent to be selected as an informant in the study’s research. The questions for each target group (post-9/11 veteran employees, HR managers/specialists, and senior executives) differ, depending on their area of knowledge. The post-9/11 veterans are inquired about their organization experience, transition to the civilian workforce, business operations, relationships with colleagues, and customer satisfaction. HRmanagers/specialists are questioned about employee satisfaction and expectations, skills development, and general ideas regarding their experience with post-9/11veterans in a business setting. Lastly, senior executives are inquired concerning the vision and mission of the company, organizational and culture changes, and operation functions. The questionnaires and semi-structured interviews are developed based on the variables as mentioned earlier.

Data Collection Procedures

The data collection procedures are categorized into three sequential steps: 1.) archival records – 2.) questionnaires – and 3.) semi-structured interviews. Each participant completes an informed consent form, shown in Appendix B, concerning the ethical assurances, which allows the researcher to examine the informants’ personal information and provide data before engaging in the data collection.

Archival Records

Archival records in case studies are used in conjunction with other sources of information. Yin (2018) states that archival records are produced for a specific purpose and specific audiences other than a case study. These conditions are fully appreciated in interpreting the usefulness and accuracy of the records. A distinction is made between secondary data/sources and archival documents as the latter is seen as internal information from reporting or research purposes and often retained because of legal requirements, records, or references.


Questionnaires are utilized both in quantitative research (close-ended questions) and qualitative research (open-ended questions). Open-ended questions are proposed to be used in the current study to ensure an in-depth understanding of the analyzed phenomena and adhere to the principles of qualitative research. SurveyMonkey will be utilized for the distribution of the questionnaires among the participants. The questionnaires differ slightly depending on the target population group: Appendix C presents the inquiries for the questionnaires with post-9/11 veterans and HR managers/specialists. The questionnaires comprise a set of ten questions, which is the optimal number to ensure in-depth answers from the respondents (SurveyMonkey, n.d.). Similar to the interviews, the given description is sufficient for other researchers to replicate the study.


Semi-structured interviews are the most commonly used data collection instruments in qualitative research. However, they require a considerable level of expertise to ensure the validity and reliability of the findings. For instance, the researcher must choose the questions carefully to minimize the interviewer and response biases. Since the interview is semi-structured, the tone of the conversation might change significantly, depending on the researcher and their understanding of the subject (McGrath, et al., 2019). As a result, the collected data are based on the participant’s opinion and the researcher’s expertise (McGrath et al., 2019).

Similar to the questionnaires, the interview protocols differ slightly depending on the target population group. Appendix D provides primary guidelines for a semi-structured interview with senior executives of the company. The guidelines for the interviews are designed according to the purpose statement and research questions. The interviews are conducted via web-based applications and are then recorded in audio files according to the participants’ consent agreement. Lastly, the respondents will be selected voluntarily to ensure a mutual understanding of the objectives and transparent answers. Ultimately, the described procedure grasps the primary principles of conducting a semi-structured interview and is detailed enough for other researchers to replicate the process.

Data Processing

The audio recordings of the interviews are captured via built-in functions of the utilized web-based applications. The data collected from the questionnaires are extracted via the built-in options of the SurveyMonkey application as an excel file. Consequently, the audio recordings from interviews and text information from the questionnaires are uploaded into Dedoose for further processing.

Additionally, it is essential to protect the collected data on both the physical and online mediums to ensure the confidentiality of the participants. For these considerations, the following measures are implemented: all online data is transferred to physical mediums (external hard drives or USB flash drives) each time after collecting, processing, or analyzing the data; no retrieved information is distributed to third parties, as specified in the consent agreement signed by both the researcher and the participants; efficient online data security means, such as firewalls, backup data, and operating systems updates, are implemented.

Data Analysis Procedures

The data processing and analysis are performed via both manual examination and via the assistance of digital applications. The audio recordings from interviews are transcribed via Dedoose – a web-based software application for qualitative and mixed methods research (Dedoose, n.d.). The program allows converting unorganized qualitative data, such as texts, audio recordings, images, and videos, into analyzable information by using excerpting and coding strategies (Dedoose, n.d.). Dedoose allows the researcher to create specific codes and adjust their structure and weight to meet the requirements of the study. This process is particularly efficient for the deductive coding strategy, which is the primary data coding method for the project.

Deductive coding refers to the method of structuring data based on pre-determined key concepts (Linneberg & Korsgaard, 2019). Deductive coding is the preferred method of qualitative processing to narrow down the scope of the project and emphasize a certain phenomenon (Linneberg & Korsgaard, 2019). In the current work, the focus is the competencies of the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans in business settings; therefore, it is possible to develop a set of pre-determined codes for the data processing. The codes include the key concepts, such as the military mindset; post-9/11 veterans; organizational culture; transmission to the civilian workforce; and individual qualities, such as leadership, discipline, resilience, adaptability, and teamwork. In general, the number of codes should not exceed ten concepts to maintain the project’s proposed scope (Linneberg & Korsgaard, 2019). Nevertheless, deductive coding is not an exclusive approach; therefore, if new themes and concepts emerge during the data collection process, it is possible to add other coding schemes into the data processing.

Content analysis is the primary approach of data analysis in the current project. However,data processing and data analysis are interrelated processes; therefore, the initial steps of the analysis are simultaneous to the coding procedures (Linneberg & Korsgaard, 2019). Ultimately, some experts consider data coding a part of content analysis due to the importance of comprehensive transcription (Erlingsson & Brysiewicz, 2017). Furthermore, as opposed to quantitative research, qualitative data analysis is not a linear process but rather a combination of coding schemes, categories, manual and software analysis (Erlingsson & Brysiewicz, 2017). As a result, content analysis requires a considerable level of expertise, proficiency, and creativity from the researcher.

Therefore, the necessary step of content analysis is deductive coding of the data retrieved from all the data collection methods to ensure a triangulation effect. For this purpose, Dedoose software is used to assign weight and tags to all the pre-determined codes and, thus, categorizes the information (Dedoose, n.d.). The data from interviews and questionnaires will differ slightly; however, all the information is connected with the pre-determined key concepts and theories.

Consequently, all the excerpted texts with relevant codes are read multiple times by the researcher. The most appropriate paragraphs are categorized into themes, categories, and meaning units to narrow down further the scope of the analysis (Erlingsson & Brysiewicz, 2017). This approach makes it possible to categorize the data based on the abstraction level, where the theme is the most abstract concept, and the ‘meaning unit’ (e.g., the verbatim response of the participant) is the least abstract concept (Erlingsson & Brysiewicz, 2017). It is essential to keep track of all the categories to ensure a thorough analysis of the phenomenon.

In other words, the sequence followed in conducting a thematic analysis in the study will follow these steps. First, the investigator will familiarize with the gathered information and at this stage, the researcher gets to comprehend the information collected. At the second step, generation of primary codes allows the researcher to establish preliminary codes that will be assigned to interpreting data in order to describe the content (Erlingsson & Brysiewicz, 2017). In the third step, the researcher will search for themes or patterns in the assigned codes through interview feedback (Erlingsson & Brysiewicz, 2017). Here, it becomes essential to draw a map of the established codes and themes in order to be able to move them around when visualizing the associations between various codes.

The fourth step entails reviewing themes where the researcher rads through information to consider if they sufficiently represent the interesting themes. In the fifth stage, defining and naming of themes, the investigators, having described the themes, identify the stories that correlate to the research and name them as themes (Doyle et al., 2019). Lastly, at the sixth step is where the study’s report presents the outcomes of the study. The point at which qualitative and quantitative analysis is combined is when the researcher intentions to establish useful comprehension of the contradictions between the outcomes of the two approaches. In a mixed research analysis, the researcher reflects the opinions of the participant towards providing a voice to the views of the contributors. The combined analysis ensures the results of the study are grounded on the experiences of the contributors (Doyle et al., 2019). The tools for performing analysis are done separately followed by comparing outcomes of the two procedures in a discussion.

Lastly, it is crucial to remember that the researcher is the most significant constituent of content analysis. Qualitative data interpretation is a reflective process; therefore, all data are analyzed via the researcher’s prism of understanding the subject (Erlingsson & Brysiewicz, 2017). Furthermore, the researcher formulated the codes, categories, and themes; thus, they must be carefully selected to adhere to the purpose statement and research questions. Unlike quantitative data, there are always various approaches to interpret qualitative data, and different researchers might arrive at different results from a content analysis (Erlingsson & Brysiewicz, 2017). From these considerations, all the unique variables of qualitative analysis, such as researcher bias, intuition, pre-understanding of the subject, and even enthusiasm and determination, should be taken into account during the analysis of qualitative studies.


The assumptions of a qualitative study refer to the pre-determined beliefs regarding conducting the research. In the current study, the proposed hypotheses concern the target population and responses of the participants. The first assumption is that the post-9/11 military veterans, which are currently employees of YSG, reflect the corresponding part of the general population. In other words, the project assumes that the sample reflects the characteristics of a larger population. A criterion sampling strategy is utilized to support this presupposition and to establish the group of the participants. Nevertheless, the current hypothesis is impossible to prove ultimately.

The second assumption of the project is that respondents will answer questions truthfully. In a qualitative study, it is impossible to ensure the complete honesty of the informants. Therefore, to minimize the challenge, the researcher reiterates that all participants’ responses or identifiable information are not disclosed after collection. Furthermore, the identities of the informants are concealed according to ethical assurances, an approach to ensure confidentiality and promote transparent answers.


Qualitative research is associated with several limitations, primarily concerning the reliability and validity of the collected data, the prevalence of socially expected answers, confidentiality, and the necessary concealment of information. Some of these risks occur regardless of the researcher’s participation. Furthermore, qualitative research is generally complex to replicate, thus, providing additional difficulties to determine the study’s validity (Theofanidis & Fountouki, 2018). Nevertheless, it is possible to mitigate some limitations by utilizing effective research practices and ethical guidelines. It is the researcher’s responsibility to ensure the confidentiality of the participants and collected data, minimize the researcher and response biases, and provide conditions conducive to transparent conversations. The influence of the expert is a crucial aspect of the overall success of the study.

Another limitation of the study concerns the obstacles posed by the coronavirus pandemic. At present, the restrictions caused by COVID-19 reduce the possibility of direct interaction between the researcher and the informants; thus, the data collection methods are implemented via accessible online software. Furthermore, observations were denied as the data collection method due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 environment. As a result, the limitations caused by the coronavirus pandemic restrict the data collection strategies to interviews and questionnaires via online software applications. While this is not the optimal choice for qualitative studies, this is a necessary measure to ensure the safety of both the participants and the expert. If the situation concerning the pandemic restriction changes, it is possible to implement a more direct method of data collection and organize face-to-face interviews.


Delimitations are the pre-determined conditions that narrow down the scope of the study and ensure the reliability of the results. In the current study, primary delimitations include the sampling type and size (criterion sampling of seventeen participants), setting (YSG dispersed sites), and research method and designs (qualitative case study). The sampling size is selected according to the basic principles of qualitative studies to ensure the in-depth research and proximity of the experts to the participants. Based on the literature review, fifteen to twenty participants are the optimal sample for qualitative case studies (Alam, 2020). The subject of the current study covers the YSG organization, which is the only subject of the chosen qualitative design. A case study of one organization does not necessarily reflect the characteristics that might represent behaviors of similar entities. Still, the case study design provides a large number of benefits, such as in-depth research, the proximity of the researcher to participants, and the natural context of the analyzed phenomenon; nevertheless, the findings of the study should not be generalized to the general population without precautions (Alam, 2020). As a result, additional research may be necessary to validate the findings of the qualitative study.

Ethical Assurances

Due to the intimate nature of the qualitative designs and personal interactions with the participants, it is essential to adhere to ethical principles during the research. They include consent, disclosure, risk of harm, and confidentiality (Sim & Waterfield, 2019). The practical strategies that ensure all of the assurances above include briefing and debriefing, LOI, relational ethics, consent process, and conduct of the interview (Sim & Waterfield, 2019). The consent process is the most effective procedure concerning ethical assurances. In general, this term refers to the mutual agreement between the researcher and the informants regarding confidentiality. In the current study, only the researcher and the academic advisor have access to the personal information of the participants, including age, gender, ethnic heritage, and their statements concerning the subject. The purpose of the study is purely academic; therefore, no raw data or participates’ information is revealed to the YSG organization. Confidentiality is necessary to ensure transparent answers and honest opinions from the employees of the organization.

The consent process is regulated by various means, including briefing, letter of content, relational ethics, and data protection methods. The briefing and debriefing of participants concerning ethical assurances are conducted immediately before and after the interviews (Sim & Waterfield, 2019). The LOI is a document regulating both parties’ objectives, commitment, and terms of confidentiality (Bloomenthal, 2021). In the current study, the LOI guarantees the confidentiality of the received data and the personal information of the informants. Relational ethics refers to the unbiased stance of the expert regarding the relationships with the informants (Goodwin, Mays, & Pope, 2019). The researcher’s responsibility is to mitigate any potential bias due to relationships, research purposes, or question formulations. Therefore, the confidentiality of the participants is protected by briefing, LOI, and relational ethics.

The mentioned steps are necessary for qualitative research to ensure that the participants clearly understand the procedure and potential ethical risks. Informed consent is ensured in all proposed data collection instruments. All of the ethical principles are considered and will be strictly followed during the research. Additionally, all the collected data is protected during and after the study by utilizing the data storage protections and backup preservations. Lastly, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is sought before starting any data collection efforts.


Based on the research problem, purpose statement, and research questions, the chosen method of the study is qualitative. The selected qualitative design for the current project is a case study, and the general population of the research includes post-9/11 military veterans, business organizations, the academic community, and the researcher. The target population consists of the employees of the YSG organization. Seventeen informants are chosen according to criterion sampling, a strategy based on the pre-determined conditions of the target population. As a result, twelve post-9/11 military veterans, three HR managers/specialists, and two senior executives were recruited to participate in questionnaires or semi-structured interviews, respectively.

The proposed data collection instruments for the study are archival records, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews. The interview audio recordings are transcribed via Dedoose, web-based software for qualitative analysis. The primary data processing method is deductive coding, based on a set of pre-determined codes, explained in the respective chapter. Consequently, the data are interpreted via content analysis. Lastly, the assumptions, limitations, delimitations, and ethical assurances are described in detail. After proposing the methodology for the project, the next steps of the research are data collection and analysis are presented in the subsequent chapter.


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  • Instructions: All resources cited in the Doctoral Study Project must be included in the list of references.
  • List all references in APA format with the exception noted below. For each reference listed, there must be at least one corresponding citation within the body of the text, and vice-versa.
  • Formatting: Single space each reference citation; double space between consecutive references in the reference list. Resources longer than one line of text should provide a hanging indent of 1/2 inch of subsequent lines.
  • Tips: Sort in alpha surname/title order. Only capitalize the first word of the title and of the subtitle, if any. Do not bold the title. Know when to italicize and when not to (i.e., periodical/non-periodical/publication versus book/report/paper). Italicize volume numbers. Please refer to the APA Publication Manual for guidance.
  • Note: APA requires a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) be provided, if one has been assigned.

Appendix A

Yorktown systems group loi
Yorktown systems group loi

Appendix B: Informed consent form

Consent to Participate in a Research Study

  • Title of the Study: Combat Bunker To The Corporate Boardroom—A Case Study To Leverage The Post-9/11 Era Military Mindset In Business.
  • Principal Researcher:Raymond L. Fernandez, Doctoral Student, Doctor of Business Administration, Glenn R. Jones College of Business at [email protected] University.
  • Committee Chair: Dr. Mark Young,Psy.D., [email protected] University.

Invitation to Participate in a Research Study

You are invited to participate in a research study. Taking part in this research project is voluntary.This study focuses on the competencies of post-9/11 veterans and examines the competitive advantages of this population in a business setting. This research qualitatively examines the employment of post-9/11 veterans in a business setting. Participants in the study will include post-9/11 military veterans, human resources (HR) managers/specialists, and senior executives at YSG.

What is this study about, and why is it being done?

This study explores an under-researched area covering the competencies of the military mindset differences between generational eras of veterans. Currently, there is a lack of academic research on the uniqueness of post-9/11 veterans’ mindsets. However, several studies have inferred that post-9/11 veteran’s mindsets are distinguishable from other veteran generations, and the researcher’s initial research supports this theory. This study will help advance this theory about the mindset differences between military generational eras. This study will also examine how competencies associated with the post-9/11 veteran’s mindset are transferable into business.Further, it explains how leveraging a select post-9/11 veteran mindset attributes to competitive advantages and positive organizational culture characteristics.

What will happen if you agree to participate in this study?

If you agree to participate in the study and are chosen according to criterion sampling, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire or participate in a semi-structured interview. The questions you will be asked will be thought-provoking and strictly related to your professional experiences. The questionnaires are comprised of ten questions and will be distributed online from the researcher’s Trident student email account. The semi-structured interviewswill be conducted via video teleconference (MS Teams, Skype, or Zoom) and recorded by the researcher and seek your insights into the organization and the contributions of post-9/11 veterans.

The data collected in this qualitative case study will be obtained over an XX-week period. The interviews recordings will be captured via built-in functions of the utilized web-based applications, and the data collected from questionnaires are extracted via the built-in options of SurveyMonkey. Upon collecting the raw data, it will be processed manually and electronically via deductive coding with content analysis.

What are the benefits of this study?

All participants will benefit from this study. This research positively contributes to both individual, and organizational goals of positive change, especially for the veteran’s community as a whole. The data collected will be used to develop a comprehensive overview of the competencies of the post-9/11 military mindset. This research also benefits businesses seeking to understand potential advantages associated with the post-9/11 military mindset. Academically, this study will expand the body of knowledge in an under-researched area. Ultimately, the study’s findings will narrow the gap between the perceived and tangible benefits of post-9/11 veterans’ competencies in the business domain.

What are the risks of participating in this study?

There are minimal risks to participation in this study. The risks associated with this study come indirectly from third parties. Third-party coworkers may gain awareness of participants’ responses and may be critical of participants. Personal data may be stolen or corrupted by malicious actors online, although every effort is taken to maintain the confidentiality of participants and the data collected. Additionally, participants will have informed consent throughout the process and, none of the data collection methods cause physical harm. If you experience any issues related to participation in the study, please notify the researcher.

How do we protect your information?

Several data storage protection measures and backup preservations will ensure the collected data is protected during and after the study. All data collected online is transferred to physical mediums (external hard drives or USB flash drives) after each collection opportunity and encrypted for protection. All locally stored electronic data are also protected by encryption, firewalls, and malware and virus protection.

Only the primary researcher will have access to the information collected about participates. The data is kept for at least three years, and all field notes that identify participants are destroyed using a high-security crosscut shredder. The final study and executive summary will not include any personal information that will directly identify you. The researcher will not use any information for any purposes outside this research project. The researcher will not share the participant’s anonymous research data with other investigators without asking for consent again. No retrieved data will be distributed to third parties, as specified in the consent agreement signed by the researcher and the participants.

Payment for Participation

No compensation or payment is received for participation. However, upon the study’s completion, a $500 donation will be made by the researcher to the Wounded Warriors Project on behalf of the study’s participants. If you would prefer not to be named in the donation, you will have the opportunity to remain anonymous. For additional information about the Wounded Warrior Project, see

Who can profit from study results?

The researcher or participants will gain no financial profit.

Your Participation in this Study is Voluntary

Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. If you elect to take part in this study, you can stop participation at any time. You may choose not to have to answer any questions. If you decide to withdraw before this study is completed, the data that collected from you to the point of withdrawal may be included in the study unless you specify otherwise. The researcher may also withdraw participants from the study at any point without additional consent.

Questions about the Research

If you have questions about this research, you may contact:

Questions about Your Rights as a Research Participant

If you have questions regarding your rights as a research subject, contact:

  • The Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects
  • Trident at AIU, 2200 East Germann Road Chandler, AZ 85286;
  • Telephone: (714) 816-0366
  • Email: [email protected]

Your Consent

Identify targeted group:

Check the group that identifies your classification for the study and indicate if you are also a post-9/11 veteran for groups 2 and 3.

  • Group 1 Post-9/11 Veteran.
  • Group 2 HR Manager/Specialist Post 9/11 veteran.
  • Group 3 Senior Executive Post 9/11 veteran.

By signing this document, you agree to participate in this study. Make sure you understand what the study is about before you sign. If you have questions at any time during the study, you may contact the researcher using the information provided above.

I understand what the study is about and, my questions have been answered to my satisfaction. I have been given a copy of this form. I agree to take part in this study.

  • Printed Subject Name
  • Signature
  • Date

Consent to be Audio/Video Recorded

I agree to be audio/video recorded.

  • YES _________ NO __________
  • Signature
  • Date

Appendix C: Questionaire

Questionnaire for Post-9/11 Veterans of Yorktown Systems Group (YSG)

  • Do you think the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans and their experience gained during the post-9/11 era are beneficial in a business sphere? Explain your answer.
  • What are some unique military competencies acquired during your post-9/11 service (unit training, deployment or combat) that were not previously attained prior to September 11, 2001 attack?
  • What are specific post-9/11 military competencies that you see as transferable to YSG’s business environment?
  • In your opinion, are the competencies of the post-9/11 military mindset a competitive advantage for the YSG organization amongst its industry competitor?
  • How can these competencies be integrated into YSG’s organization?
  • What are the most impactful qualities of the military mindset in a civilian organization, in your opinion?
  • What qualities of a military mindset positively affects the organizational culture and the workforce?
  • How does the competencies acquired from your military service contribute to your work performance and assist in your communications and relationships with colleagues or clients in YSG?
  • Do you agree that post-9/11 veterans have unique competencies acquired from the military’s transition in warfare that are more advantageous in business than previous generational military veterans?
    • _____ Yes
    • _____ No
      • Explain why you selected your answer to Question 9
  • How did the number of deployments or specific training for combat assist in your communications and relationships with colleagues or clients?

Questionnaire for HR Managers/Specialists of Yorktown Systems Group

  • What do you think are the advantages of employing and retaining post-9/11 veterans; long and short term?
  • How does the hiring of post-9/11 veterans directly benefit the organization?
  • How can the company’s hiring and retention practices for post-9/11 veterans be used to improve the company’s performance and/or culture?
  • What are some primary differences between the hiring of post-9/11 military veterans compared to their civilians counterparts?
  • What are specific fiscal advantages or benefits that YSG attain in the employment of post-9/11 veterans?
  • How does HR staff assist in hiring and retaining post-9/11 veterans in YSG workforce?
  • Does the hiring of post-9/11 veterans an effective strategy for YSG’s distributed workforce? Please, elaborate on the topic.
  • What are the qualities of the post-9/11 veterans that transfer into YSG’s business sphere?
  • What impact on YSG’s corporate culture does the military mindset of post-9/11 veterans have on the workforce?
  • What are specific post-9/11 military competencies that you see as transferable to YSG’s business environment?
  • In your opinion, are the competencies of the post-9/11 military mindset a competitive advantage for the YSG organization amongst its industry competitor?

Appendix D: Semi-structured interview questions

Semi-Structured Interview Guidelines for Executives of Yorktown Systems Group

  • What is the company’s vision concerning the hiring and retention of post-9/11 veterans?
  • Is there a difference in the business acuity of post 9-11 and pre-9/11 veterans due to the unique nature of warfare after the September 11, 2001 attack, in your opinion?
  • Do you think that the hiring of post-9/11 veterans is an effective strategy for the development of the company? If so how?
  • What do you think are the advantages of post-9/11 veterans that transfers to YSG’s geographical dispersed and multi-dimensions business?
  • What are specific military competencies of post-9/11 veterans that are transferable to YSG’s business environment?
  • Does the of the competencies of post-9/11 military mindset integrated into the company’s strategy to capitalize on their industry advantages?
  • How can the qualities of the post 9/11 military mindset improve the overall performance of the company?
  • How does YSG take advantages of the acquired business competencies and experiences of post-9/11 veterans?
  • How do you think the adaptation of a military mindset of post-9/11 veterans could improve the company’s performance?
  • What is the most impactful quality of a military mindset in business, in your opinion?

Appendix E: Recruitment letter to participants

Dear Yorktown Systems Group Professionals,

My name is Raymond L. Fernandez. I am currently a doctoral student in the Doctor of Business Administration program within the College of Business at Trident University International. I am conducting a study for my doctoral study project, which focuses on the competencies of post-9/11 veterans and examines the competitive advantages of this veteran population’s mindset in a business setting.

To conduct this study, I intend to collect data from post-9/11 veterans, HR managers/supervisors, and senior executives of the Yorktown Systems Groups (YSG).If you meet these requirements, you can provide helpful insight, and I invite you to consider participating in this study.

Participation in the Research

If you are willing to participate in this study, you will be expected to participate in a questionnaire or semi-structured interview. [Briefly explain the process for completing each source of data collection for this stakeholder population. Ensure to include in-person or virtual requirements and the time required for each collection process.] Information from the study will not identify you, your position, or your duties. The results of this study will remain confidential and will only be used for this study. There are no more than minimal risks or harms expected for participating in this study.

  • Benefits of Participating: Participating in this study will help advance the theory about the generation’s mindset differences between post-9/11 veterans. This study also examines how competencies associated with the post-9/11 veteran’s mindset are transferable into a business setting. [Provide a summary of the potential individual, organizational, research, practice, and policy benefits relevant to your study. [This should match the language in your informed consent.]
  • If you are interested in participating or have questions, please contact: [email protected] or at 757-256-6629.
  • If you have any concerns about the research, please contact: 

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to assist with this doctoral study, and I eagerly look forward to your participation!


Raymond L. Fernandez

Principal Study’s Researcher

Appendix F

Protecting human research training certificate documents
Protecting human research training certificate documents

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DemoEssays. "The Post-9/11 Military Mindset Competencies." March 6, 2023.