Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Konstantin P. Cigularov

Committee Member

Xiaoxiao Hu

Committee Member

Matt Henson


Organizational investments in employee training and development have steadily increased over the past decade, with a recent estimate of $160 billion dollars annually. An important component of any training program is the subsequent training needs assessment (TNA), which provides critical information regarding who and what needs trained. Unfortunately, TNA research is severely limited compared to other aspects of the training process. The primary aim of the current study was to examine two important variables that can potentially influence TNA ratings beyond an actual need for training, the source and target of TNA ratings. Based on the assumptions of attribution theory, it was hypothesized that employees will generally underrate their own need for training in comparison to the TNA ratings that others ascribe to them (source effect), and the TNA ratings that they ascribe to others (target effect). The secondary aim of the current study was to content validate the TNA ratings obtained via a TNA, based on an employee’s job position as a supervisor or non-supervisor. Using extant competency models, it was hypothesized that supervisors will rate a greater need for training than non-supervisors in areas relevant to their role as a supervisor. To achieve these aims, the current study analyzed archival data from a needs assessment project of a municipality on the East Coast. A total of 1,271 participants provided data regarding their own training needs and the training needs of their supervisor/subordinates. Results indicated mix support for the effect of rating source and rating target on TNA ratings, and partial support for the differentiation of TNA ratings based on job position. Taken together, findings from this study provide insight into the effect of a self-serving bias in the context of TNA ratings, and provides practitioners with evidence based information regarding the measurement of training needs, such as who should provide TNA ratings (source) and if the TNA rating source(s) should rate themselves, someone else, or both (target). Additional evidence is presented regarding the validity of inferences made from TNA ratings obtained via a TNA based on differences in self-ascribed TNA ratings between supervisors and non-supervisors.


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