School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Christopher Taylor


Self-directed Learning, Veterinary Sales, Self-determination Theory, Knowledge-intensive Organization, Motivation, Tenured


Adult and Continuing Education | Business | Education


The purpose of this multiple case study was to investigate sales professionals’ perceptions of self-directed learning within their current positions. The veterinary industry is a highly knowledge-intensive entity that values professional identity, sense of self, compassion, competence, and the human-animal bond; the veterinary sales professional plays an important role in this industry. However, with sales training waning after the first three years of a sales professional’s employment, self-directed learning becomes an important tool for the veterinary sales professional. Yet, there are no studies that provide an in-depth understanding of the role of self-directed learning in veterinary sales. The following central question was investigated in this study: what are tenured veterinary sales professionals’ perceptions of their use of self-directed learning within the context of their careers? The theoretical framework used to explore this phenomenon was self-determination theory that encompasses the tenets of autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Semi-structured interviews, an online discussion group, and document analysis were used to gather data from 13 tenured veterinary sales professionals employed by a global veterinary sales organization. Using the theoretical propositions and pattern matching analysis, results showed that veterinary sales professionals using self-directed learning were ambitious, self-motivated, and naturally curious; they utilized self-directed learning to personally grow and professionally advance in their careers, become experts in their field, and fill perceived learning gaps. Understanding these factors can further shape veterinary sales companies, sales training programs, and higher education institutions looking to influence performance, motivation, and training standards within their organizations.