Daniel Baker in front of classroom explains his powerpoint presentation

Daniel Baker had “an itch” he had wanted to scratch for a while. That itch began in North Carolina when he worked with law enforcement in probation and parole. This interaction with police officers, coupled with striking events in the national news, piqued his curiosity.

Baker, now a PhD candidate in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, wanted to examine how leaders in law enforcement develop an organizational culture and how that culture informs officers interacting with civilians. This question led him to apply for and win a research grant from the Fisher Leadership Initiative (FLI).

Baker recently shared his study, still in progress, at the second annual FLI Academic Conference, which featured 12 selected research projects — each with a focus on leadership. The event, which drew presenters from eight colleges from across The Ohio State University, included research on leadership topics in sex trafficking, gender differences, college athletics and other issues.

The event was incredibly helpful for Baker.

“I’ve always been a big proponent of getting your idea in front of multiple audiences,” he said. “I received different questions from others with different approaches and backgrounds. It was a huge step and will make my project better, for sure.”

Tim Judge, executive director of the Fisher Leadership Initiative and holder of the Joseph A. Alutto Chair in Leadership Effectiveness, said the conference helps build and expand the field of leadership research and incentivizes collaboration and contributions to scholarship.

“Additionally, these research projects, along with other programs and efforts by the Fisher Leadership Initiative, will help lift Ohio State to new levels of prominence in leadership scholarship,” he said.

Woman in front of room explain research displayed on a slide
A researcher presents her project as part of the second annual Fisher Leadership Initiative Academic Conference

The grant program received 24 applications last year and awarded more than $52,000 to 12 projects in October. The program launched in 2017 and, in its first round of funding, supported 12 studies across Ohio State. A number of those projects have since been accepted by prestigious publications in their fields.

“Since launching the Fisher Leadership Initiative a few years ago, we’ve continued to engage with units across the university to implement and grow interdisciplinary programs and tools for students — all while elevating our dedication to leadership research,” said Anil Makhija, dean and John W. Berry, Sr. Chair in Business at Fisher.

Baker, along with Dr. Russell Hassan, Baker’s faculty sponsor in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, worked with the Ohio State Highway Patrol to get feedback on survey questions and identifying law enforcement workplace norms.

Baker also hopes to learn how leadership practices shed light on officers’ commitment to their organization, excessive use of force with civilians, commitment to procedural fairness, and more.

The leadership grant program has also given Dr. David Delaine one of his most meaningful experiences as a faculty member at Ohio State.

Delaine, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education, and his collaborator, Dr. Joshua Joseph, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, asked a question: Can professional development and wellness be integrated in a way so that both of them happen at the same time?

As part of the 2017 grant program, they conducted a study among nine African-American male faculty of different ranks, colleges and backgrounds across the university. The study participants engaged in professional development centered on leadership as they worked out in a gym together and supported each other’s professional development and well-being. The two researchers conducted surveys, clinical measurements and blood tests to assess the qualitative and quantitative impact of the intervention.

Delaine said his study will identify additional ways to support particular demographics of faculty.

“This study focused on black males. The same configuration could be used for Latina females, white females, Asian-American faculty, etc.,” he said.

Delaine was impressed with how invested the grant conference organizers were in his study.

“I’ve obtained other grants, but generally you’ll be awarded something and then they’ll kind of disappear into the background,” he said. “My interactions with the Fisher Leadership Initiative have unfolded in the way that I can see their commitment to leadership integration across the university’s research and practice. The program has supported and pursued us to make more of the work.”

"My interactions with the Fisher Leadership Initiative have unfolded in the way that I can see their commitment to leadership integration across the university’s research and practice."

Dr. David DelaineASSISTANT PROFESSOR, Department of Engineering Education