Achieving executive status within the federal government: A phenomenological study of African American male senior executives within the Department of Defense

by Woodlin, Gary E., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2014, 203 pages; 3609629


This study explored the lived experiences of African American male Senior Executives within the federal government. While previous research has addressed the issues surroundings woman and minorities who have achieved the status of senior executive, none of the previous studies addressed the experiences of African American males independent of other minorities. This study used a phenomenological qualitative research method to study the lived experiences of 16 African American male Senior Executives working within the Department of Defense. The study was guided by one research question: What are the impacts of the socialization experiences of African American males on their attitudes, behaviors and career aspirations, in terms of obtaining career appointments in the Senior Executive Service within the Federal Government? Data was collected using a structured interview guide with open ended questions posed to 16 Senior Executives. The findings show the lived experiences of these participants are both unique as well as similar. The findings are consistent with previous research concerning the challenges faced by minorities as they attempt to gain access to the highest positions within the Federal Government. However, the participants provide insight into how they navigated these generally unreachable positions. Based on the findings additional research is warranted which seeks to highlight the importance of majority/minority mentorship, sponsorship and opportunity, specifically those opportunities which allow African American males to demonstrate their leadership potential, technical skills and ability to govern and lead at the highest levels within our government. Finally, this study outlines recommendations to increase the number of African American males within the Senior Executives Services.

AdviserSusan Miller
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAfrican American studies; Black studies; Management; Public administration; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3609629

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