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The Baseline Officer Longitudinal Study (BOLDS)

BOLDS is a multiyear study of leader development that was originally launched in 1994 with cadets from the entire West Point class of 1998. This study was initially started to examine the development of leadership for members in the class during their four years at West Point, and at a few select points in time after their graduation. Twenty years later, the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking (CLST) has been contracted by the Army Research Institute to undertake a follow-up investigation. Using an online survey, CLST will be collecting data on the class of 1998 to examine any changes in leadership style and how current peers, supervisors and direct reports view their leadership.

A key guiding assumption for the original investigation is that we know leadership development unfolds over time, but most of the evidence in the Army and the leadership literature in general examines leadership development across very short time spans. The BOLDS study is unique in that we can look back at early factors that have shaped a leader’s development; such as leadership roles in high school, at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in early duty assignments, and through to current leadership roles. We know of no other longitudinal study in the field of leadership with such a controlled starting point for assessing leadership emergence, development and performance over such an extended period of time.

If you are a member of the class of 1998, please contact our team to find out how you can be involved

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Additional reading

Army Research Institute awards UW Foster School of Business $700,000 to research leadership development of West Point graduates
Army Research Institute re-ups Foster School leadership development study