Research Projects

Passing the Torch - Wit & Wisdom from Senior and Retired Airport Leaders

Perhaps one of the greatest untapped resources available for understanding the challenges of managing airports can be found among the many senior and retired airport leaders. There needs to be an opportunity to assemble the collective wisdom of these successful leaders and to share their insights and experiences gained during their careers.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Typically, as airport leaders retire, many of the lessons they've learned over their decades of experience retire with them. There is no platform currently available for these seasoned veterans to share their insights. Specific topics that could be identified from research this area could include commonly recurring issues such as managing political relationships, handling difficult employees, financial planning, and work life balance.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The proposed research will assemble the collective observations, experiences, and advice from senior and retired airport leaders. This information will be categorized along major domains and themes which will be published as a playbook designed to assist contemporary airport management personnel for considering how to handle various specific challenges.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

The proposed research will be based on current methodologies in quantitative and qualitative research. Data will be collected through surveys, focus groups and structured one-on-one interviews. Results will be reported as descriptive statistics and subjective responses organized by common domains and themes. The proposed research will build on previous and ongoing ACRP research regarding workforce development and would be comprised of several distinct elements:

Task 1. Literature Review

Perform a comprehensive literature review to identify and summarize studies that have addressed airport management demographics, leadership styles, and other relevant publications.

Task 2. Develop survey platform and questions

A questionnaire will be developed to collect specific demographic data points, experience, attitudinal questions (Likert scale) and other observations.

Task 3. Compile and analyze survey data

Objective survey data will be coded for quantitative analysis. Subjective data will be categorized for qualitative analysis along common covered and included terms found in the responses.

Task 4. Focus groups

Focus groups will be conducted among participants to discuss their experiences regarding the general nature of airport management as a career and how they handled specific challenges. Subjective data will be categorized for qualitative analysis along common domains, themes, covered, and included terms found in the transcripts.

Task 5. Individual Interviews

Structured one-on-one interviews will be conducted among participants to discuss in greater detail their experiences regarding the general nature of airport management as a career and how they handled specific challenges. Subjective data will be categorized for qualitative analysis along common domains, themes, covered, and included terms found in the transcripts.

Task 6. Prepare final report and presentation

Results of the surveys, focus groups and interviews will be reported along with analyses and discussion of the research implications. A Technical Appendix will serve as a playbook to assist contemporary airport management personnel to identify best practices and for considering how to handle various specific challenges.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

It is estimated that the research will require 1,200 hours (150 days) to prepare and conduct the surveys, focus groups, and interviews, to compile and analyze the data, and to report the findings. Using a composite fully-loaded labor rate of $150 per hour, labor costs are estimated to total $180,000. Costs for travel, survey distribution, and other expenses is estimated at $20,000. Total estimate cost for the proposed research is $200,000.

The proposed research is expected to be conducted over a period of approximately 18 months. Allowances for project panel review of draft progress, interim, and final reports are included in this timeframe.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

The proposed research builds on and extends the research from the following ACRP Projects.

ACRP 06-02 - Airport Leadership Development Program (published as ACRP Report 75)

ACRP 06-06 – Cultivating Talent in the Airport Environment (in progress)

Other research resources include:

The making of the modern airport executive: Causal connections among key attributes in career development, compromise, and satisfaction in airport management (Byers – 2004)

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Idea No. 516