Research in Ireland at Prestigious Academy of Management Conference

What is the next generation’s ‘Motivation to Lead (MLT)’?

This is the focus of a five-year-long study recently presented in Ireland during the prestigious Academy of Management Conference at National University of Ireland by Dr. Joy Jones-Carmack, PhD, Assistant Professor of Communication at Atlantic Cape Community College/Mays Landing (ACCC).

Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age, resulting in a mass exodus in the workforce and the subsequent need to fill a void in skill sets and leadership depth in organizations.

The University’s acceptance to present Jones’ research, titled “Toward a Situational Theory of Motivation to Lead: Applying an Interactional Psychology Perspective,” required a very stringent peer-review process by scholars from around the world. Other colleges that are represented at the conference include Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh.

“The purpose of my study was to re-evaluate antecedents found in Chan and Drasgow’s (2001) original model and to investigate a more complete model of MTL by empirically examining the combined effects of situational variables and individual difference variables,” said Jones, referring to previous research on motivation to lead, which examined the variable as an individual difference construct without acknowledging how aspects of the situation may impact an individual’s willingness to take on leadership roles, regardless of his or her personality.

Leadership development researchers and organizational managers are increasingly interested in the factors that impact motivation of leaders. Jones’ study is the first to examine factors that impact MTL in the retail context, whereas previous research had only looked at MTL in military settings and educational contexts. It provides insights for the selection and development of future leadership; insights that are especially relevant as employers seek to fill a leadership void precipitated by the retirement of Baby Boomers.

In Jones’ study, the majority of subjects fell into the 40-50 (28%) or over 50 (26%) age groups – a sample that is reflective of the increasing challenge of workforce aging. As the number of retirees is expected to outweigh those entering the labor market, employers are challenged to find ways to utilize and develop older workers, and to encourage employees to stay in retail industries longer. This study provides insights on how employers can increase or alter employee MTL.

The research revealed that there is no difference in MTL between men and women in younger age groups; however, in the older age groups (i.e., starting at age 40) women take a drastic dip in MTL levels while men have a drastic increase in MTL.  This finding prompts several questions including: Would this be the same in different cultures?  Is this a socially constructed result? Is the drop in MTL for women related to research on women becoming focused on family instead of leadership (which relates to research by Sheryl Sandberg where she discusses women “leaning in” and “leaning out” of leadership)?

The study also suggests that both individual differences and situational factors impact MTL, but individual differences have the strongest impact. This suggests that person – organization fit is an important factor when hiring.

Jones holds a MA in Communication and a PhD in Organizational Leadership and is a corporate trainer, having conducted training  at area businesses and corporations including South Jersey Industries, Chamber of Commerce, Cape Bank, and the Leadership Academy Board of Realtors. Her areas of expertise include: gender differences and communication; presentation skills; business communication; public speaking; business etiquette; conflict resolution; planning effective meetings; decision-making; problem solving; managing public speaking anxiety; listening and leadership; increasing power and influence; and basic supervision.

For more information about Joy Jones-Carmack’s study and her Corporate Training services, e-mail Joy at jjones@atlantic.edu or call 609-231-5467.