My Dissertation - Study of Feedback Communication in a Technical Organizational Compliance System

Below you will find the Abstract, Dedication, and Acknowledgment sections of my dissertation. If you want to read the entire dissertation you can find it online (Wickliff-Dissertation-2016).




Corporations and other organizations have dedicated considerable funds to developing and maintaining complex systems to ensure their regulatory and contractual compliance. This is especially true in highly regulated technical industries. Because of the large number of potentially relevant and changing regulations, maintaining regulatory compliance is an iterative process that requires effective communication between employers and employees. In order to have effective communication, voluntary feedback communication from employees is required. This study gathered and analyzed data about employees’ willingness to voluntarily communicate with compliance officers in their organization by examining the employee’s situational communication apprehension. Specifically, the study measured each employee’s Situational Communication Apprehension Measure (SCAM) when communicating with these officers and compared that to their perceptions of the compliance officer’s credibility (Competence, Caring/Goodwill, and Trustworthiness), other perceptions, work environment factors and demographic information.


Using multivariate statistical analysis, the study found evidence of a statistically significant relationship between changes in SCAM and changes in Caring/Goodwill, Trustworthiness and the employee’s perception of the compliance officer’s ability to do their job. The results showed that there is a largely negative relationship between SCAM and Caring/Goodwill, which shows an increase in willingness to communicate as the perception of the compliance officer’s Caring/Goodwill increases. SCAM was maximized when Trustworthiness was in a middle range and reduced as Trustworthiness increased or decreased. This showed that employees are least apprehensive about communicating with a compliance officer they absolutely do not trust or trust wholeheartedly. The ability of the compliance officer to do the employee’s job had a positive relationship with SCAM, showing that employees were least willing to communicate with compliance officers they absolutely believed could do their job. This study found no statistically significant relationship between the compliance officer’s perceived Competence and the employee’s willingness to engage in communication.


There were five other predictive factors that were related to marginally statistically significant changes in SCAM: 1. how adversarial is the working relationship; 2. communication frequency; 3. whether the employee and compliance officer are the same gender; 4. perception of position purpose; and 5.years working at the organization. These five factors warrant additional study.




To Mom who believed in me no matter how outlandish my goals may have seemed, my brothers who taught me the lessons I couldn’t learn in books, and in memory of Dad who, in death, taught me the secret to life (1 Cor. 13, NIV).




I would like to thank my committee chair, Dr. Malavé, who has kept every promise he made even when things got difficult. Thank you to my committee members, Dr. Ferris and Dr. Watt for their guidance and support throughout the course of this research. And a special thank you to my committee member Dr. Sheather whose candor and guidance kept me on track. Although not officially committee members, I could not have done this without the guidance of Dr. Karan Watson, Dr. Tanya Dugat-Wickliff, and Professor Charles Ogletree. In memory of Dr. James McCroskey whose body of work continues to inspire new research.


I must thank Dr. Karen Butler-Perry and the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies for their financial support. I want to thank Dr. Brett Giroir, Atty. Andrew Strong, former State of Texas Governor Rick Perry, Aaron Demerson, Kalon Biotherapeutics LLC (currently Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies Texas, LLC) and the rest of the 2013-2015 board of directors for Kalon, as well as Atty. Judy Melillo, Atty. Vincere Japal, and the rest of the Fujifilm Holdings America Corporation’s legal team for all taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to prove myself.

Thank you to Erin Roady, Cheryl Kocman, Jennifer South, Sarah Morgan, and Yvonne Burrell; even if you had to personally walk a form to someone’s office, you made sure that I never missed a deadline and that I always got a good time slot on people’s calendars.


Thank you to the numerous people who took some time out of their busy schedules to mentor me, especially Cousin Marty (Atty. A. Martin Wickliff, Jr.), Tavis Smiley, and Atty. Chequan Lewis. Thank you to the friends from University of North Texas, Rice University, Harvard Law School, and Texas A&M who helped me to push through to the next stages of life.


Thank you again to Mom and Dad. I also want to thank the men and women who acted as surrogate guardians when my travels took me far out of my parent’s reach. Whether it was a home cooked meal when I was several hundred miles from home, words of encouragement and accountability when I was discouraged, or a place to sleep because I was a bit overzealous with a road trip, I appreciate you all. A special thank you goes out to the Jackson, Green, and Price families who assumed the roles of surrogate parents (and siblings) more often than I could count or remember.

Thank you to Granny (Marva Wickliff). Thank you to all of my Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins who supported me on this journey. My parents had over a dozen siblings, dozens of aunts and uncles between them, and over a hundred nieces and nephews, so I am not going to try to call everybody by name, but thank you all. This was accomplished in loving memory of my Aunt Dimple Davis who never missed a chance to support me, Aunt Gussie Baldwin-Jones who took the time to make all of her family feel special, Pop (Raymond Wickliff) who taught me the value of hard work, Granddad (James W. Dugat, Sr.) who taught me the importance of family, Uncle Al (Atty. Aloysius M. Wickliff, Sr.) who inspired me to want more from life and my grandmother Velma Mitchell who took pride in me before I knew how to take pride in myself.


Thank you to my extended family in California that stretches from Sacramento to L.A., with a special thank you to Aunt Pat (Patricia Walton) and Javay Walton for never missing a birthday or event. Thank you to my family in Liberty, Raywood, Ames, Dayton, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Wichita Falls, and other cities in the State of Texas as well as around the world. Thank you to the church families that have been here throughout my journey which include Trinity Valley Baptist Church (Liberty, TX), Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Raywood, TX), Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church (Austin, TX), Wheeler Ave. Baptist Church (Houston, TX), Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church (Houston, TX), Riceville Mt. Olive Baptist Church (Houston, TX), and Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church (Dallas, TX). And, although it is not a church, I couldn’t forget to mention University of North Texas’s Voices of Praise for acting as a surrogate church while I was in Denton.


And thank you to the musicians who made it bearable to be locked in a lab or study-room for days or in front of a computer screen for weeks on end. The soundtrack of my collegiate journey is everything from CMT’s top 25 to Neo-Soul & R&B, from Texas’s own Jamie Foxx, UGK, Scarface & Chester D.T. Baldwin to the Midwest’s Kanye & Common, from California artists like Tupac & Dr. Dre to artists from up and down the Eastern seaboard like Alicia Keys, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot & Atlanta’s own Ludacris & OutKast, and includes so many other artists living & dead that I couldn’t hope to list them all. But I would be remised if I didn’t say a special thank you to Drake and Eminem who got me through countless hours of laboratory work in undergrad; George Watsky who got me through the last years of law school; FLGA Line, Darius Rucker & Blake Shelton who got me through 2.5 months of studying approximately 8-12 hrs. a day for the bar exam; Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Big Sean & Big K.R.I.T. who got me through this Ph.D. program, and The Internet’s Ego Death for getting me through writing the second half of this dissertation.  


Also, my academic journey was filled with highs & lows. In those low moments, I was thankful to Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Bernie Mac, Steve Harvey, Vince Vaughn, and Will Ferrell for providing me the laughter and levity I needed to persevere.


I left home a week after my 15th birthday to start college and now, almost exactly 11 years later my educational journey is complete. I could not end this acknowledgement without thanking the personal support network who supported me and encouraged me on this journey – Dr. Tanya Dugat-Wickliff, Jamar Dugat, Raymond “Rambo” Wickliff, Oscar R. Smith, Rayanna Rice-Walker, Precious Wells, Felicia Brooks, Whitley Brock, Nicholas Newton & the “Corporation”, Bridget Ugoh, Alexandra Gibbs, Hector Ramos, Harvard BLSA, and TAMU’s BGSA.


Saving the best for last, thanks and praise be to God who has kept and sustained me. He has blessed me with favor and the most wonderful family, friends, and acquaintances that anyone could ask for. I will end with a quote from my mom, Dr. Tanya Dugat-Wickliff, “If it seems as though I owe a lot to a lot, I do! Rest assured, I do understand that to whom much is given much is required!”

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© 2013 by Cortlan J. Wickliff.