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Youth vs. Experience in the Enlisted Air Force: Productivity Estimation and Policy Analysis

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Publication Date: January 1998

Publisher(s): Pardee Rand Graduate School

Author(s): Mary Anne Doyle

Topic: Military and defense (Military personnel)

Type: Report


Evaluates the effect of experience mix on unit size and considers how the Air Force can adapt to the demands imposed on individual work units as the mix changes. Using empirical evidence from one large Air Force occupation, the study develops an estimation technique that expands on available productivity data to infer learning curves for all tasks. Concludes that (1) experienced units can be staffed with fewer people if the work mix in an occupation is reallocated to match the experience mix--manpower requirements thus should vary with experience mix; (2) current guidelines already allow unit managers sufficient flexibility to adjust to changes in staffing levels, so no changes to work allocation guidelines are necessary in the occupation studied; (3) enforcement of training and supervision guidelines diminish flexibility only for work units with extreme experience configurations. To accommodate the increased supervisory workload generated by a less-experienced unit, work unit managers should allocate a larger proportion of supervisory work to personnel serving in jobs other that Senior Supervisor; and (4) relative productivities can be inferred from a limited data collection effort and occupational survey data. The method described in this study should be used to evaluate tradeoffs between experience mix and unit size for other Air Force occupations.