Theses Doctoral

How Does Learning Agile Business Leadership Differ? Exploring a Revised Model of the Construct of Learning Agility in Relation to Executive Performance

Smith, Bradford C.

Learning agility is a recent topic that has garnered a lot of attention, but empirically remains only partially understood. This is of particular concern, given that it is likely becoming ever-more important in today's dynamic world. Learning agile leaders are able to draw from a variety of past circumstances to perform successfully in novel situations. They know what to do when they don't know what to do, and they understand that not taking risks is risky.
A revised theoretical model of the construct is presented in this body of work, with Model I and Model II theories-of-action supplanting "openness to experience" as a critical antecedent. Items related to defensive reactions as consequential outcomes were created and evaluated both in terms of their reliability and predictive criterion validity.
Using performance assessment grades previously shown to predict executive performance as a proxy criterion, a concurrent criterion validity study was conducted for both this newly proposed antecedent, and for the LAAI itself. Results indicated a moderately positive relationship for both measures and a suitable level of inter-factor and inter-item reliability, giving evidence to both the establishment of a revised theoretical model of learning agility which accounts for defensive reactions resulting from one's theory-of-action, as well as providing the field with another substantiation of the LAAI as a valid and reliable measure of the construct of learning agility.
Finally, a predictive criterion validity study of the revised learning agility model with the Model I v. Model II theory-of-action antecedent was conducted using the same executive performance assessment grades as the criterion proxy, and results indicated that this new model was indeed a better predictor of the criterion than the LAAI alone, providing further evidence of the role of defensive reactions in a revised learning agility theoretical model. Implications, including a broader interpretation of the value that learning agility may provide to solving the more profound problems faced by our world in the 21st century beyond executive performance, are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social-Organizational Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Burke, W. Warner
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 30, 2015