Writing a State of the Literature

Author(s): Christina Kalel, M.A.

Originally posted: April 8, 2016

So you've been reviewing articles in your chosen topic, and you're ready to take the next step towards a study. But how do you put together all that information? Simply, you'll write a "State of the Literature" summarizing what you've found, what you didn't find, and linking that all to your research questions.

If you haven't developed any research questions yet, now's the time. You should have a good idea what the gaps are in the literature at this point, and maybe even have some ideas how those gaps could be filled! You might even have a research question (or two) to add to the ones you had when you started reviewing articles.

Below is a great example from Jess Muraco of how to put this together with the research questions in mind.

You'll notice that she summarizes each article under the appropriate research questions - this reminds you why that article is useful and relevant. She also uses keywords to simplify a large amount of information (ex: military leadership academy mission statements), and points out gaps that she noticed during her review. Finally, she proposes new research questions and possible next steps to take in the research process.

State of The Literature

Topic: Leadership Development in Military Academies

Research Questions

What are the characteristics of military leadership centers?

Atwater, L & Yammarinol, F. (1993). Personal attributes as predictors of superiors' and subordinates' perceptions of military academy leadership. Human Relations , 46(5), 645-668. doi:10.1177/001872679304600504 Relationships between military academy leaders' personal attributes (e.g., traits, thinking styles) and others' ratings of transformational and transactional leadership. Implications for organizations and for understanding the leadership rating process are discussed.

Judge, T. A., Bono, J. E., Ilies, R., & Gerhardt, M. W. (2002). Personality and leadership: A qualitative and quantitative review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(4), 765-780. This article provides a qualitative review of the trait perspective in leadership research, followed by a meta-analysis. The authors used the 5-factor model as an organizing framework and meta-analyzed 222 correlations from 73 samples. Overall, the 5-factor model had a multiple correlation of .48 with leadership, indicating strong support for the leader trait perspective when traits are organized according to the 5-factor model.

Dvir, T., Eden, D., Avolio, B. J., & Shamir, B. (2002). Impact of transformational leadership on follower development and performance: A field experiment. Academy of Management Journal, 45(4), 735-744. The authors use longitudinal data from a randomized field experiment, and tested the impact of transformational leadership on leadership training and performance.

Latour, S. M., & Hosmer, B. C. (2002). Emotional intelligence: Implications for all United States Air Force leaders. Air & Space Power Journal, 16(4), 27. The article discusses the impact of EI with US Air Force leaders.

Judge, T. A., Colbert, A. E., & Ilies, R. (2004). Intelligence and leadership: A quantitative review and test of theoretical propositions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(3), 542-552. Overall, results suggest that the relationship between intelligence and leadership is considerably lower than previously thought. The results also provide meta-analytic support for both implicit leadership theory and cognitive resource theory.

What are the goals of military leadership centers?

I have organized a document containing the mission statements for multiple military academies.

Keywords: excellence, leadership, develop leaders, adaptive leadership, ethic, creative, critical, motivated, character development

MCLD → This framework is the six Functional Areas of Leadership Development: Fidelity, Fighter, Fitness, Family, Finance, and Future.

How are these centers evaluated?

By doing the ‘state of literature’ I realize there is a gap in research regarding how centers are evaluated. Is this the same as determining the effectiveness of the institutions?

Potential follow-up question: Since these centers are worldwide, are there differences in any of the above based on location? National vs. International?

  • The role of personality in leadership: An application of the Five-Factor Model in the Australian military McCormack, L., & Mellor, D. (2002). The role of personality in leadership: An application of the five-factor model in the Australian military. Military Psychology, 14(3), 179-197. doi:10.1207/S15327876MP1403_1

  • Challenges of Military Leadership in Changing Armies Shamir, B., & Ben-Ari, E. (2000). Challenges of military leadership in changing armies. JPMS : Journal of Political and Military Sociology, 28(1), 43-59.

  • Personality correlates of leadership development in Canadian Forces officer candidates Bradley, J. P., Nicol, A. A. M., Charbonneau, D., & Meyer, J. P. (2002). Personality correlates of leadership development in Canadian Forces officer candidates. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue Canadienne Des Sciences Du Comportement, 34(2), 92-103. doi:10.1037/h0087159))

Additional Notes:

Plotting next steps. → understanding the leadership models taught in military academies (or what military theories are embraced by the military academies)

Happy Literature-Reviewing!

- Christina

Images by Digital Buggu from Pexels.

Tips & Related Ideas

Don't forget some of the critical things you should be doing when you research (like tracking your searches)! You can check that stuff and some relevant related ideas in these posts: