In a study of professionalism in the U.S. Army officer corps,
Beetrix helped officers speak openly about their personal views
– and trained staff interviewers to do the same. Beetrix
worked with the Army to analyze the descriptions and stories,
revealing the true meaning of professionalism for various ranks,
functions, and locations. In fact, Beetrix was central to all
phases of the project: planning, data gathering, analysis, presentation,
and report writing.
This process gave the Army its first, fully fleshed-out picture
in over 30 years of how Army officers viewed their profession.
It persuaded senior leadership that this view directly influenced
the serious problem of attrition among Army captains. The Army
was losing many of their best young officers one-third of the
way into their careers, leaving gaps within the organization that
would take 15 years to fill. The high attrition rate was shown
to reflect the essence of what it meant to be an Army officer:
was it a profession, or was it just a job?
The Beetrix findings revealed insights about professional socialization
and education, the management of the profession within a bureaucracy,
and the ongoing scope and direction of the profession. It also
provided the language and evidence that enabled professionalism
to be taught and discussed at every officer school and continuing
education program in the organization – as well as discussed
by the leadership within the larger Army and civilian populations.
The results were presented at a major conference and form a chapter,
co-authored by Dr. Cohen and Dr. Watkins, in a book on the future
of the profession. The book is required reading throughout the Army’s professional education system.
The Army learned to trust Beetrix to provide a professional assessment from a civilian perspective – one that was sufficiently rigorous, fair-minded, honest, and realistic to withstand scrutiny. It has turned to Beetrix as an expert analyst of qualitative data on other confidential and delicate matters, including one incident with significant international import. Currently, Beetrix is engaged in a multi-year project regarding officer cross-cultural competence.