Understanding and retaining talent in the Information Warfare Community
Nissen, Mark E.
Tick, Simona L.
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The Navy Information Warfare Community (IWC) provides a vital, sophisticated capability to address increasingly dynamic and unpredictable threats around the world. The problem is, the same skills and capabilities that make IWC personnel so valuable to the Navy also make them valuable to myriad firms in industry and organizations elsewhere beyond the Services. Moreover, such skills and capabilities are directly transferrable to industry. As a result, many talented information warriors are leaving the service at the midpoints of their military careers. Further, unlike other Navy communities (e.g., Aviation, Nuclear), in which clear career guidance and well-established incentives (e.g., bonus and retention pay) are in place, the comparatively inchoate IWC does not appear to benefit similarly, and given the unique nature of the IWC, it’s not entirely clear what “talent” means in this community. Indeed, talent seems likely to be a highly situated and nuanced concept—far from general and monolithic—that is aligned with a person’s knowledge and capability within an organization setting. Understanding talent represents the first step toward identifying and retaining the best IWC people before they leave the Service. This qualitative study addresses the issue directly, building up a grounded understanding of IWC talent and identifying both positive and negative issues driving talented people’s decisions to leave or stay in the Navy. Results elucidate unique aspects of IWC talent and retention, in addition to attributes and issues that information warriors share with other Service members, and they highlight opportunities for Navy leaders to address talent and retention in the IWC and beyond.
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
NPS Report NumberNPS-IS-17-002
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