Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


John Bentley


authentic leadership, agent, perception, law enforcement


Social and Behavioral Sciences


Genuine, effective leadership in law enforcement establishes the climate of the organization. Scholars have comprehensively explored the influence of different leadership styles in various criminal justice organizations from multiple facets; however, minimal information exists about how authentic leadership is perceived by special agents assigned to a military criminal investigative organization. This qualitative phenomenological study will provide an increased understanding of authentic leadership from the perspective of special agents assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID), the U.S. Army's primary criminal investigative organization, and the Department of Defense's (DoD) premier investigative organization. The researcher will use a qualitative research design to explore the perceptions and lived experiences of special agents to understand authentic leadership’s role in a military criminal investigative organization. This research methodology analyzes the perception of military special agents, with emphasis on their experience while assigned as a "case agent," regarding authentic leadership and how it influences the investigative process. This study contributes to the field of criminal justice leadership body of knowledge by providing an understanding of how special agents perceive authentic leadership at higher echelons in the organization and how this perception affects the quality of conducting criminal investigations. Extensive empirical research focuses on authentic leadership from a leader's perspective in many criminal justice organizations. However, limited research focuses on authentic leadership within a military criminal investigative organization. This study addresses special agents who actively work cases that are not in a leadership position and their perceptions and insight concerning authentic leadership identified in recent leadership research and literature.