Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Chair

Dr. Heather M. Annulis

Committee Chair Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 2

Dr. Cyndi H. Gaudet

Committee Member 2 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 3

Dr. H. Quincy Brown

Committee Member 3 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 4

Dr. Dale L. Lunsford

Committee Member 4 Department

Human Capital Development

Abstract

Despite advances in logistics software and increased driver pay, the trucking industry continues a historic wave of human capital risks in the form of driver turnover and driver shortages. Previous efforts to understand the phenomenon of driver turnover rely heavily on supply chain, transportation, and logistics based disciplines. The current study provides a human capital ontology towards understanding professional truck driver perceptions. Within the interpretive framework of pragmatism, the study applied a simultaneous ethnographic and phenomenological research design to explore the phenomenon of churn and professional truck driver perceptions of environmental alignment between trucking industry retention strategies and the occupational needs and culture of professional truck drivers. Perceived environmental alignment reduces barriers with external social and cultural institutions while facilitating improved organizational performance and individual performance and behavior.

The study provides a network model of the occupational culture of professional truck drivers. The study found the occupational culture, cognitive and normative dimensions form the occupational needs of professional truck drivers. The study further found environmental alignment and environmental misalignment exists between trucking industry retention strategies and the occupational needs and culture of professional truck drivers. The study concluded that although the phenomenon of churn exists, the phenomenon is not an attribute of nor promulgated by the occupational culture of professional truck drivers.

The study’s findings of strategies environmentally aligned with occupational needs and culture of professional truck drivers, could serve as the foundation for improving industry and individual driver performance beyond retention. The study’s conceptualization of the trucking industry as a population ecology and professional truck drivers as a culture sharing group, advances research of human capital risks at a collective or industry level. Finally, alignment between human capital strategies and occupational cultures has the potential to improve performance across industries and occupations beyond the trucking industry.

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