Assistant Professor Rosalynde M. Fenner Conferred as Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development
On Friday, May 1, 2020, Assistant Professor Rosalynde M. Fenner, fulfilled the requirements for the degree, as a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development from Grand Canyon University, in Phoenix, Arizona. Professor Fenner’s dissertation manuscript titled, “Female Leaders in Law Enforcement and the Dyadic Relationship with Subordinates,” was approved on April 28, 2020. This qualitative multiple-case study provided an in-depth exploration of the phenomenon investigating real-life experiences of female leaders, the units of analysis, and observing two case units of two neighboring law enforcement agencies.
Two research questions guided the data collection to answer how female leaders in law enforcement perceive their decision-making and job performance is influenced by the dyadic relationship with subordinates. Two theoretical foundations guided the study: the leader-member exchange theory (LMX) and the social role theory. A purposive sampling technique was used to recruit 10 participants from two agencies in North Carolina. Dr. Fenner collected data from self-administered questionnaires, semi-structured face-to-face interviews, and documents to answer the research questions. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and the thematic analysis approach. Four themes emerged: (1) decision-making is influenced by high-quality LMX relationships between the female leader in law enforcement and her subordinates; (2) female leaders in law enforcement perceive their decisions are influenced by their subordinates in their in-group; (3) the quality of the LMX relationship between female leaders in law enforcement and how their subordinates influenced their leader’s job performance, and (4) female leaders in law enforcement perceive their job performance is influenced by their subordinates in their in-group and out-group, in helpful and harmful ways.
The findings were consistent with the LMX and social role theories and are relevant for law enforcement practitioners and female leaders in a male-dominated profession. This study aligned with prior research and the theoretical framework that suggests a high-quality exchange in the leader-member dynamic is a critical component in establishing a successful LMX relationship. There is a link between successful female leaders in law enforcement and the dyadic relationships they develop over time with their subordinates, which have an influence on the female leader’s decision-making, which can also influence the leader’s job performance.
Based on the results and findings, there are five recommendations for future practice in law enforcement and perhaps other occupations or fields where women work in male-dominated professions; 1) that individual female leaders in law enforcement or other male-dominated professions develop a high-quality LMX relationship with their subordinates, 2) that female leaders who supervise subordinates in the out-group develop strategies to navigate through any negative behavior from a low-quality LMX relationship with a subordinate that might influence their decision-making and job performance, 3) that organizational leaders consider nondiscriminatory practices in job assignments and promotions for female officers, and 4) that organizations add a leadership training module for new supervisors that include sessions on LMX and building relationships with subordinates through the use of tangible and intangible resources to gain trust and compliance, and 5) that female leaders in law enforcement establish frequent contact and communication to build trust with their subordinates. The findings suggest that female leaders in law enforcement perceive that their subordinates with whom they have developed a high-quality LMX relationship influence their decision-making and job performance.
Dr. Fenner is a retired Supervisory Special Agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and current National Parliamentarian for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). Dr. Fenner earned her master’s degree in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Criminal Law and Procedure from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, in New York, New York, and is a proud graduate of Saint Augustine’s University; Class of 1985.
Saint Augustine’s University Associate Professors Dr. Elizabeth Fournier, Ph.D. and Dr. Darnell J. Bethel, Ed.D. served as members of a three-member expert panel to review and validate the semi-structured interview questions.