Work-Integrated Learning in Closing Skills Gap in Public Procurement: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study

Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Committee Chair

Andy Igonor

Committee Member

Jonathan Mccombs

Committee Member

Christopher Washington


The United States economy currently suffers a significant skills gap in its workforce, one that approaches crisis proportions. This skills gap (Christo-Baker et al., 2017; King et al., 2017; Laboissiere & Mourshed, 2017) will have profound effects on future U.S. economic growth and, by extension, on global economic growth. Researchers have highlighted the ineffective workforce development programs adopted by business organizations in the United States and recommended incorporating work-integrated learning (WIL) to address the skills gap, but their focus has been overwhelmingly on production/service-execution. This study focuses elsewhere – namely, exploring the effectiveness of a Transformational WIL (TWIL) to address procedural gaps in business development (i.e., pre-execution) through the lived experiences of senior executives and the issues they perceive as mandating a transformational application of WIL to address this “upstream” segment of business operations specifically for the small-business sector. The research employs a conceptual framework based on the work-integrated learning model developed by Sattler (2011). Three research questions guide this proposed study. This researcher used a qualitative phenomenological research design method. The research participants included fifteen senior executives from for-profit business organizations and higher education institutions that meet the recruiting criteria. The organization of workforce-development constructs here involved systematic training, structured work experience, and institutional partnerships. This research advances business knowledge and contributes scholarship to the field by re-targeting WIL on a business segment previously unaddressed by systematic workforce development. This research also results in highly practical practices and business strategies designed to immediately boost the procedural capabilities of small business in OH, benefiting that state’s graduates, employees, employers, and the local communities and economies.