The Making of the Modern Airport Executive: Causal Connections Among Key Attributes in Career Development, Compromise, and Satisfaction in Airport Management
Byers, David Alan
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The purpose of this study was to identify specific career development attributes of contemporary senior-level airport executives and to evaluate the relationship of these attributes to the level of satisfaction airport executives have in their career choice. Attribute sets that were examined included early aviation interests, health factors, psychological factors, demographic factors, formal education, and other aviation-related experiences. A hypothesized causal model that expressed direct and indirect effects among these attributes relative to airport executives’ career satisfaction was tested using sample data collected from 708 airport executives from general aviation and commercial service airport throughout the United States. Applying a multiple regression analysis strategy to the model, the overall results revealed that 16% of the variability in airport executives’ career satisfaction scores was due to the collective influence of the six research attribute sets; this was significant. The results of the path analysis also indicated that four attribute sets (early aviation interests, health factors, formal education, and other aviation-related experiences) had respective direct significant effects on participants’ career satisfaction. Early aviation interests, health factors, and demographic factors had additional indirect effects on career satisfaction; all were mediated by formal education attitude. These results were inconsistent with the hypothesized path model and a revised model was developed to reflect the sample data. The findings suggest that airport executives, as a group, are satisfied with their career choice. Early aviation interests appear to play an important role for influencing the career field selection phase of career development. The study also suggests health factors, formal education, and other aviation-related experiences such as flight training or military experience influence the compromise phase of career development. Each of these four factors had significant effects on career satisfaction. In addition to its applicability to airport executives, the study provides a generalized path model for investigating factors influencing the career development, compromise, and satisfaction process in other vocations.