Ethics and Education: A Markov Chain Assessment of Civilian Education in Air Force Materiel Command

Ethics and Education: A Markov Chain Assessment of Civilian Education in Air Force Materiel Command

Matthew C. Ledwith (Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, USA), Ross A. Jackson (Wittenberg University, Springfield, USA), Amanda M. Reboulet (Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, USA) and Thomas P. Talafuse (Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJRLEDM.2019010103

Abstract

Education is a frequent area of concern when attempting to improve organizational performance. In this paper, absorbing Markov chains were used to assess education levels of civil servants within Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC). The results suggest that AFMC will have 47% of its workforce with an advanced, college degree by the year 2030. Given an increasingly educated workforce within AFMC, ethical implications for management strategy were explored. Specifically, the authors examined the ethics of managing a highly-educated workforce in ways which are procedurally similar to those used for a workforce which was historically less educated. Through a thematic bifurcation, ethical solutions were presented which will either provide more autonomy for the highly-educated workforce or attempt to change the internal credentialing process so that the current management strategies are aligned to a more appropriately-educated workforce.
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Background

Situating this work properly into the existing literature requires an analysis of general characteristics of Markov chains, specific applications of Markov chains in the context of education, and the ethics of education and workforce management. Collectively, these three research streams establish the minimum context required for this research. It could be argued that a fourth stream related to the management of military organizations is applicable. However, with an exclusive focus on the civilian workforce within AFMC, the stream related to military organizations was purposely omitted to enhance the saliency of the broader applications of this study to corporations. Turning attention first to early applications of Markov chains provides the foundation from which to interpret subsequent applications in the area of education.

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