The Wild Card
Effect and Military Retention:
Because the interactive model lends itself seamlessly to the study of organizations at various levels, many research applications are possible. The LIQ and OIQ can be administered to prospective recruits, comparing the results against their decisions to enlist or not to enlist. Administering the LIQ, OIQ and OCQ to members who have decided to reenlist and members who have decided to leave the military would test the model by showing in which zones each group fell on the specific propensity model (Figure 1). Finally, administering the LIQ, OIQ, ICCQ and OCCQ to the same members may be an effective test of the interactive model (Figure 4).
Each branch of the military may use the interactive model to address retention problems among specific groups. For example, the Air Force might administer the questionnaires to student pilots in Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training to determine their collective characteristics of commitment. This year, pilot retention in the Air Force was only 27 percent against a goal of 50 percent.
If research based on this model is conducted, possible limitations should be considered. The surveys proposed by the authors are meant to serve as templates. Although the context or universality of the questions should not change, DoD research scientists may find it practical to alter the length, scale and/or structure of the questionnaires. It is possible to combine some or all of the questionnaires if desired.
The variables measured in the ICCQ and OCCQ were assumed to have equal weight. This assumption has not been tested. It is possible that one variable should be weighted more heavily than others. Further research will answer this question.
Sample size must be carefully considered as well. While the authors suggested that the model works for organizations of any size and composition, very small samples may yield extreme values (scores) that could skew the mean significantly.
Understanding the effects of variance is also important. Because the green, yellow and red zones of the interactive model converge at the intersection of the x- and y-axes, plots close to that point could jump from one zone to another given any probability of error. Although very small, this area of the model is therefore unreliable.
Why this is important
Quarterly DoD readiness reports address recruiting goals after retention levels have been determined. If retention goals are exceeded, recruiting goals are reduced, and vice-versa. In this manner, retention drives recruiting. The reason that retention is so important is that when turnover is high, even though the force is replenished through recruiting, the quality of the force is affected by a loss of experienced members. It takes time for this gap to be bridged through training and maturation of the new generation.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense has the authority to influence policy that directs money and resources to retention programs, both at the service and joint level. With the ability to measure and visualize military membersí commitment to the organization, OSD would gain a valuable evaluation tool for managing its retention programs.
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