Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Edward Moore


Leadership, Retention, Marine Corps


Business | Leadership Studies


The purpose of the qualitative, case study research was to explore leadership and retention factors associated with Marine Corps officers the Marine Corps desired to retain until retirement eligible. The objective was to explore the views of Command and Staff students who were at the mid-point of their career and faced with retention decisions. The study incorporated a comprehensive document review focused on leadership and retention, Marine Corps precepts involving promotion and retention policies, Marine Corps leadership and retention archival documents, and participant interviews using semi-structured questions to obtain insight into the research questions. The study involved the dynamic relationship between the leader and subordinate and focused on theories and factors influencing leadership and retention decisions. Five thematic themes were generated and explored: 1) a leaders level of engagement with subordinates impacts retention decisions, 2) Marines want leaders to lead through their actions and desire mentoring, 3) leaders must allow subordinates to do their job – avoid micromanaging, 4) leaders desire opportunities for increased responsibility and want to be challenged, and 5) provide a path for stellar Marines to be promoted faster, and path for mediocre Marines to be discharged without discrimination. The results of the study provide insight on leadership theories and influence of variables in retention decisions. Recommendations are provided for modifying promotion and retention policies, active pursuance of a leadership to subordinate mentorship program, and insight on the value of a family’s quality of life program on retention. Further study is recommended on leadership and retention issues focused by gender, occupation, and leadership and retention factors associated with Marine Corps officers who have achieved a terminal rank.