Date of Award
Doctor of Education
The speed at which individuals and organizations learn and develop is a vital contributor to organizational change and organizational effectiveness. This study postulated the notion of "rapid developers”, those persons who learn and acquire job competence more quickly than their peers. The purpose of this study was to identify, define, and differentiate the factors associated with "rapid development."
The author constructed a rapid developer model based upon the review of the disciplines of training, performance technology, total quality, organization learning, and organization culture. The model identified and defined the contextual factors that could be expected, based on an understanding of current theory, research, and best practices, to be associated with rapid development. The author then conducted an empirical test to determine the extent to which the rapid developer model was supported in actual experience among employees in three organizations.
Managers in each organization were asked to identify, using a provided selection process, the most rapid developers among their direct reports. Employees not among those chosen by managers were randomly sampled to create a comparison group. Extensive interviews were conducted to assess the workplace factors encountered by these employees and their perceptions of key performance variables.
The main hypothesis of the study was that the employees identified as "rapid developers" would report perceived performance variables and a workplace performance environment different from the comparison group. Further, the differences reported would align with the factors and characteristics predicted by the Rapid Developer Model.
The major finding was that employees identified by managers as rapid developers did not differ as predicted from the comparison group. When employees themselves identified other employees as rapid developers, however, differences as predicted by the Rapid Developer Model were consistently discovered.
The author concluded that many of the Rapid Developer Model factors were supported in the experience of employees, but that managers in the organizations studied were not able to accurately discern employee learning and development characteristics. The findings of the study also help provide rationale for why major organizational change is so difficult, and why the return on training and other learning interventions is typically so marginal.
Alexander, James A., "A Test of a Rapid Developer Model: Workplace Factors Associated with Learning and Development" (1997). Dissertations. 1652.