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Alumni Spotlight – Dr. Anthony Schmidt

Dr. Anthony H. Schmidt Jr. recently completed the Doctorate of Business program at The National Graduate School of Quality Management. His background includes serving 20 years in the United States Navy as a certified Navy instructor, achieving Master Training Specialist—the predominant Naval training certification. Instructor tours included the Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, and the Afloat Training Group in Honolulu, HI; and as an HRM at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Phoenix, AZ. After transitioning from the Navy, he served as a City of Atlanta Safety and Training Officer, training employees, developing curricula for two installations, and creating a complete safety and training program that the CEO desired to emulate throughout city departments.

What factors led you to choose the NGS program for your DBA?

After departure from the Navy, I returned to college and attained my Bachelors and Masters of Business Administration degrees in HRM from American InterContinental University.

Motivation for selecting NGS to obtain the DBA included several factors, including virtual and residence blending, duration, and delivering a post-secondary course to current students in their graduate or undergraduate program as co-faculty. Moreover, NGS is a nonprofit, which attests to their motivation for student success rather than profiteering. Lastly, NGS is well accredited, which was very important in longevity of the college and the quality of the DBA program.

Describe your experience in the DBA program.

The NGS professors are exceptionally well-versed both in their professional experience and NGS programs, and very supportive of their students. My dissertation chair was instrumental in providing direction that led to my correct focusing throughout the program. I can say that understanding research methods, designs, data collection and analysis, and population sampling really does help make the research not overly difficult—and especially when one has to present the research. In other words, comprehend how to apply research methods and designs and that will lend to saving time in completing the DBA program. The NGS dissertation requires the APA standard, and that is another aspect one would want to understand in applying scholarly writing. Of course, there is a need for professional editing with any substantial work that leads to publishing, so one must understand that it must be done.

Experienced people enter into post-secondary programs like the DBA at NGS because they want to further their career and thus are self-motivated, and therefore maintain motivation and focus. NGS courses provided opportunities to hone writing skills and apply research strategies towards your project. In addition, the Statistical Principles and Lean course (SSM 874) led to a project in applying a host of quality tools in an external voluntary workplace, which resulted in streamlined processes that provided faster service to an increased customer base.

How do you plan to use your degree to further your career?

Part of the reason for obtaining the NGS DBA degree was to take my career to the next level, and for me, that consists of delivering post-secondary educational programs to diversified students. I also have an interest in helping local and federal government agencies as an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) practitioner, researcher, and OD consultant. Increased knowledge in research methodologies and designs led to experience and knowing how to initiate those research projects.  Increased comprehension in APA led to knowing how to construct articles for publishing in my field. Researching and publishing are two connected components that can further any given career in academia.

What made you decide to choose your dissertation project?  What were your findings?

I first experienced the need for employee engagement at the operational level while performing for a municipality located in the Southeastern region of the United States and developed a thirst to impact change. The professors at NGS are extremely knowledgeable in many facets of OD and organizational change, and one of the change methods shared included Appreciative Inquiry. With my prior knowledge and experience within local and federal government, I decided to perform preliminary research on AI and its impact in U.S. municipalities. I found discrepancies in the literature between actual AI implementation in local government and findings generated from related research projects. I became passionate about the research and AI, which directly provided my enduring motivation to complete my project and make a meaningful difference. Therefore, I launched a mixed methods exploratory case study (qualitative) sequentially in the mix with two quantitative nonexperimental instruments to explore the use AI in US municipalities. I performed rich secondary research, and then applied a survey questionnaire to five LinkedIn groups, followed by an interview protocol to the three most populous cities’ municipalities. The study was driven by two research questions. The title of my dissertation is Mixed Methods Exploratory Study of Appreciative Inquiry and its Impact on United States Municipalities.


The study utilized a mixed methods exploratory approach to examine the relevance of AI in United States municipalities with area populations equal to or greater than 2.5 million, and those city governments found to have adopted the methodology.  The research first consisted of a literature review of the Appreciative Inquiry methodology and practice, revealing its theoretical underpinnings, such as generativity, application frameworks (for example, the 4-D Cycle), initiating frameworks (for example, the summit), adaptable change practices, and outcomes in municipal government.  Eight U.S. municipalities were identified as having utilized AI in 14 projects and 14 salient themes were found for a successful AI.  Collaboration, inclusion, the positive and wholeness principles, and the design task/question were identified as the top five processes and levers—which were validated by a survey questionnaire, one of two unique instruments administered to AI practitioners and U.S. municipality current and former personnel.  Findings confirmed Dr. Cooperrider’s generative x-factors (success factors) number two, three, and four are profoundly instrumental for a successful AI.  The interview protocol, the second unique instrument developed for this study, was applied to current HR staff at the three most populated cities’ municipalities, although findings did not reveal Appreciative Inquiry use.  This researcher advocates that students, AI practitioners (internal and external consultants), facilitators, senior consultants and trainers, municipality change managers, and academic researchers would benefit from the knowledge showing what AI processes and levers drive AI success in United States municipalities.

The research brought to the forefront the processes and levers that contributed to AI success in U.S. municipalities. AI was found to be successful in all identified U.S. municipality cases. The findings of the research oppose the findings of another research project that indicated the political environment would cause an AI to fail. A professional goal for this researcher was to increase scholarly knowledge through exploratory inquiry and quantitative analysis for sharing with students within a learning and practical application environment.  This researcher wholeheartedly recommends AI in the local government workplace, positing that collaboration and inclusion of government employees can lead to highly desirable results and new workplace relationships.

If you are interested in sharing your story with the NGS community, contact Sara Fleck at sfleck@ngs.edu.