Valle publishes article in Journal of Character & Leadership Development

Matthew Valle, Martha and Spencer Love Professor of Business and professor of management, and Dave Levy, professor of management at the United States Air Force Academy, discuss the application of Dynamic Capabilities Theory to leadership development programs in the U.S. Air Force.

Matthew Valle, Martha and Spencer Love Professor of Business and professor of management at Elon University, and Dave Levy, professor of management at the United States Air Force Academy, have published an article in the Journal of Character & Leadership Development that explores the application of Dynamic Capabilities Theory to leadership development programs.

The article was written and submitted while Valle was the Distinguished Visiting Professor in Management at the United States Air Force Academy during the 2017-18 academic year. The Journal of Character & Leadership Development is one of the premier journals of the USAF/DOD and is a product of the academic outreach division of the Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD) at the United States Air Force Academy. The journal solicits scholarly articles from thought leaders in the Department of Defense, business, and academe who are engaged in contributing to the development of leaders of character for the nation.

The article was part of a special issue tied to this year's theme for the National Character & Leadership Symposium (NCLS) at the Air Force Academy. The theme for this year's NCLS is Leadership, Teamwork, & Organizational Management (LTOM) which is one of USAFA's Institutional Outcomes.

The article discusses the Theory of Dynamic Capabilities (the ability to integrate, build, and reconfigure internal and external competencies to address rapidly changing environments) in the context of polyarchy and social proof. Robert Dahl introduced the term polyarchy to characterize American politics and other political systems that are open, inclusive, and competitive.

In the organizational sciences, polyarchy refers to systems in which autonomous individuals or small groups are given the power to make their own decisions about the conduct of their work. A social proof is a mechanism of social influence that tends to produce common behavior among members of a group.

The article describes the disadvantages of the hierarchical form and mindset for dealing with complex, high-velocity systems and substitutes polyarchy as the appropriate mechanism to build dynamic capabilities within small groups. The authors also discuss the social influence of officer professionalism as a complementary integrating mechanism. Implications for character and leadership development programs are discussed.

The U.S. Air Force’s first 70 years have witnessed frame-breaking advancements in the equipment, tools, and technologies employed for mission accomplishment, but those same seventy years have also been accompanied by a substantial accretion of organizational formalization, resulting in delayed decision-making and increased bureaucratic inertia. The complex and rapidly changing social, political, and technological environments of the next seventy years and beyond will require Air Force leaders who can initiate and nurture individual and collective dynamic capabilities to sense and seize opportunities quickly and proficiently. Developing these capabilities will require less emphasis on rules-based scripts, hierarchical referral, and unitary decision-making processes (bureaucratic processes), and more emphasis on differentiated decision-making through polyarchy and integration via the social proof of military professionalism.

The article may be accessed here:

Valle, M., & Levy, D. (2019).  Promoting polyarchy and professionalism in officer character and leadership development. Journal of Character & Leadership Development, 6 (1), 125-134.