Rahul Dixit


This qualitative study explored the lack of Historically Underrepresented Population (HUP) inclusion in management and leadership roles. Specifically, why Asian Americans (AA) do not reach executive levels in southern California aerospace and defense companies (SCDCs). The AA members of HUP are among the highest educated and display model-behavior characteristics, yet, somehow do not thrive in management assignments. The U.S. defense industry has operated in a single-customer market, and that customer (the U.S. Government) is imposing social change agendas, to establish a leadership that is reflective of the company’s diversity. Exacerbating the underrepresentation of AAs is a shrinking domestic defense appropriations budget and business growth opportunities overseas. These conditions present the need for the development of a diverse management pipeline that can provide needed agility in industry leadership to enable both compliance and growth. In the course of this research, a pilot group and a main study sample of subjects were interviewed to characterize both the employee traits and their experience within the corporate environment. The study exposed environmental factors such as micro-aggressions (i.e., bullying) and other corporate impediments, as well as AA behavior traits that make this population conflict and risk averse. These qualities keep them from entering the management pipeline during their early career, where they could acquire the skills and develop the soft skills needed for later career senior management and leadership assignments. A proposed path forward to motivate aspirants onto the management track, as well as corporate behavior transformation to institutionalize AA pipelining, is recommended. The outcomes of this study provide an opportunity for transforming the leadership of the southern California defense contractors.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Asian Americans -- Employment -- California, Southern; Aerospace industries -- California, Southern -- Employees; Minority executives; Leadership -- Cross-cultural studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Gandhi, Shreyas;