Determinants of Productivity for Military Personnel

A Review of Findings on the Contribution of Experience, Training, and Aptitude to Military Performance

by Jennifer Kavanagh

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Reviews the primary literature and empirical findings related to three major factors that affect military personnel productivity: experience, training, and ability. The majority of studies concerning the relationship between productivity and experience, training, or aptitude find that each of these three factors contributes significantly to personnel productivity. Most studies confirm that careerists are several times as productive as first-term personnel, although the size of the experience differential is likely to vary based on the nature and requirements of a given occupation. Additional training can improve proficiency, reduce performance error, and lead to a higher technical skill level among personnel. Finally, a higher score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (as a measure of ability) seems to be positively correlated with higher levels of performance on both individual and group-based military tasks. Because most of this literature is now somewhat outdated, issues relating the determinants of personnel productivity should be reevaluated in the context of transformation and the developments associated with it. An appendix summarizes the studies, describes the method used in each, and provides qualitative and quantitative results in tabular form.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center supported by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies.

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