Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Kenneth E. Dickie

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Brinkerhoff

Third Advisor

Dr. George Robeck

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Dale Brethower


The certification of training and development (HRD) professionals is under consideration by professional training associations. Certification programs can be advantageous; however, they are also costly and present potentially undesirable side effects. Therefore, verifying the worth of a certification program is a logical prerequisite to design and implementation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the problems for which intervention, through a certification program, might be needed and the ability of certification to meet the need.

This study gathered data to determine whether companies: (a) had experienced common problems for which certification might be a solution; (b) viewed certification as an effective solution to these problems; and (c) would behave differently or benefit if a pool of certified professionals were available. Subjects were representatives of 100 randomly selected Fortune 500 companies to whom a four-part questionnaire was sent. The questionnaire investigated key problem areas drawn from literature concerning certification.

Of the 100 companies surveyed, 59 responded. Three broad problem areas were identified for which certification was judged a reasonable solution: (a) the improvement of academic programs, (b) the assurance of professional competence, and (c) the enhancing of the field's prestige. A significant number of respondents thought certification would benefit their organization (38%) and indicated that their organization would offer incentives to encourage staff to seek certification (30.9%). Overall, those experiencing problems in the past 2 years were about twice as likely to view certification as a viable solution to the problems experienced than were those who had not; for each job category and overall, 54% of the responses in which a problem had been experienced also held certification to be an effective solution. As a whole, however, support for certification was not strong given the design parameters intended to maximize certification's potential to emerge as a solution.

Based on the data, companies do seem to be experiencing a potentially costly set of problems for which a significant proportion of respondents view certification as a viable solution. A sizable proportion of respondents held the opinion that certification would provide motivation to encourage a commitment to high standards and self-development and thereby, to increase prestige and effectiveness.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access