A correlational analysis of frontline leaders as drivers of technical innovation in the aerospace industry based on the servant leadership theory

by McCleave, Erin B., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2014, 148 pages; 3619542


Innovation is critical to the aerospace industry and yet the matrix structures employed by aerospace organizations to quickly and efficiently bring new products to market may impede the innovative process. In a matrix structure, the role of the frontline team leaders is critical to all areas of project success including innovation so the ability of frontline leaders to encourage innovative output from their teams is a key success driver for aerospace organizations. The focus of this research is the frontline leadership traits that encourage innovation in this environment. A descriptive, non-experimental study was conducted to evaluate the relationships between the leadership traits associated with the servant leadership model and innovative output from engineering teams in the aerospace industry. The study utilized a previously validated servant leadership instrument with the addition of field-tested survey questions relating to innovation from engineering teams as measured through patents and engineering self assessment. The results did not support a correlation between all elements of servant leadership and innovation. However, a subset of the servant leadership elements of Empowerment, Standing Back / Sharing Credit, Courage / Risk Taking, Humility, Authenticity, and Stewardship were shown to have a statistically significant correlation with innovation output from engineering teams when applied at a frontline team leadership level. By identifying a set of leadership attributes that correlate with increased innovation for engineering teams in aerospace, this dissertation provides valuable insight for both researchers and practitioners in the areas of frontline team leadership, engineering teams, and innovation.

AdviserTerry Walker
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3619542

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