The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(053) [Final]

Twenty-First Century Leadership and Management Techniques for State DOTs

  Project Data
Funds: $136,000
Research Agency: Oasis Consulting
Principal Investigator: TJ Brown and Ruth Hallenbeck
Effective Date: 3/21/2007
Completion Date: 9/20/2008
Comments: The project has been completed and the products provided to AASHTO for distribution.

NCHRP Project 20-24(53)

Twenty First Century Leadership and Management Techniques for State DOTs


Background and Problem Statement


In the past several years, personnel turnover within State transportation departments at the Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and upper-management levels has been relatively high, due to political changes as well as the increase in baby-boomer retirements.  In addition, many of the newer CEOs do not have backgrounds in transportation, engineering or highway construction and the upper-level managers and engineers may be much younger and less experienced than previous generations, especially in a world that has become increasingly complex. 


At the same time, these new CEOs and their senior management leadership teams are constantly looking for new and better ways to lead and manage their operations.  DOT leadership is operating with less career staff, more out-sourced services, and higher dollar volume construction/maintenance/ and operations budgets, and much higher customer expectations.  At least half of the State DOT’s use some form of the Baldrige model for organizational success. Many have sets of strategic performance measures that guide their resource allocation and bottom line assessments.


There are innumerable books on leadership and management written for both the public and private sector with management /leadership models covering the” seven habits” of effective leaders to concepts of “from good to great” to a new vogue in “execution being the key” to success. This project will help guide leaders of State DOTs in their quest for “great”. Since much is underway already with regard to process improvement tools, strategic planning, and performance measures, this project will focus on two very important dimensions of successful organizations ---leadership and customer / market focus.


AASHTO’s newly adopted strategic plan’s fourth goal “Assist State DOT’s with Leadership and Performance” has as its first objective, “Identify and advance 21st century leadership and management techniques”.  This project is designed to help meet that objective.


The project resulted in a report and guidebook to identify and facilitate implementation of innovative and proven leadership and management practices for the successful operation of a State Department of Transportation. 


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