Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Reshowrn Thomas


contractor, morale, retention, job satisfaction, productivity




The purpose of this qualitative, case study research project was to examine the impacts of recurring contract re-competes on the defense contractor workforce. The primary focus was on how these every 5-year events affected morale, job satisfaction, productivity, and retention. The initial research effort explored factors which motivate and de-motivate employees, described common attributes of defense contractors, and discussed the vagaries of the contract re-compete process specifically and government contracting in general. This led to development of a conceptual framework, identification of several theories to assist in explaining and predicting employee behavior, and the design of semi-structured research questions to be utilized during the interview process. Fifteen total personnel were interviewed, including line employees, contract company management, and government contracting personnel, resulting in data saturation for analysis purposes. Interview transcripts, as well as contracting documentation, were analyzed and synthesized to develop five themes and fully answer the research questions. The themes as generated by analysis are as follows: Theme 1. Contractor productivity and job satisfaction are not widely affected by the re-compete process. Theme 2. Contractors can and do plan exit strategies when faced with a contract re-compete. Theme 3. Contractors view compensation and benefits as primary motivators in making retention decisions. Theme 4. Recurring re-competes can have a profound effect on contractor morale. Theme 5. While some contractors reported having limited visibility into the re-compete process, most think there must be a better way. The conclusions that can be drawn from this study suggest that while contractor morale is negatively impacted by recurring contract re-competes, as is retention, job satisfaction only suffers moderately, and productivity is not affected at all, a finding at odds with motivational theories, but most likely due to the uniqueness of the defense contractor workforce. Recommendations were offered to modify the re-compete process, including extending contract option years, increasing transparency during the re-compete process, and modifying the 8(a) small business mandates. Additional studies were proposed comparing defense contracting companies to similar civilian-based service providers with an emphasis on the attributes of the younger workforce members, as those are the types of individuals that will eventually age into defense contractor roles.

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