Military Retention: Quit Decision-Making Process of Servicewomen

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This qualitative grounded theory study examined the decision-making process of female U.S. military veterans who chose to leave active duty service and who are civilian federal employees with the Department of Defense (DOD). To date, the military community continues to experience widespread voluntary turnover of its female workforce who are critical to the mission readiness and functional capability of the armed forces. Understanding of consistent voluntary turnover remains limited in the literature and does not sufficiently explain the organizational exit behavior of servicewomen. Data were collected through semistructured interviews involving 15 female veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force military branches. From participants’ rich descriptions, the researcher developed a narrative to understand the process of withdrawing from military service. By using a synthesis grounded theory design to analyze data, the basic social psychological process (BSPP) opportunity cost (a commonly shared problem among research participants) was identified (Wilson & Hutchinson, 1996). Moreover, the basic social process (BSP) emerged as a 3-stage process that explained servicewomen’s decision-making process when leaving the military. The 3 stages include (a) motivational interests, (b) influential factors and experiences, and (c) psychological impacts. The findings of this study may contribute to the limited military turnover and retention literature as well as extend the knowledge of government officials, military leadership, and public administration practitioners concerned with female exit behavior. Recommendations for future research are provided.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Public Administration
Public Administration, Military Studies