Student Research Projects

The Relationship Between Managerial Orientation and Productivity: An Examination of Captains from Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”

Student Sydney Covey ‘16 (Business and Environmental Studies)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Management, Business and Economics
Course Management, Business, and Economics 492: Independent Managerial Study


The Blake & Mouton Managerial Grid is one of the classical theories in management. The Grid, at its simplest, identifies leadership styles based on a manager’s concern for people and concern for task accomplishment and the integration of the two. The Grid supports the notion that there is one best way to manage, namely that managers should have both a high task and high relationship orientation. This research effort explored whether or not a particular managerial orientation, task or relationship, as displayed by captains of crab boats working in the Bering Sea, is correlated with the productivity of their particular crab boats. Data was collected by observing several seasons of Discovery Channel’s show, "Deadliest Catch," using a ten-parameter observation rubric that was developed by the researchers to determine the managerial orientation of each captain. Additionally, in order to gauge the characteristics of fishermen within the local commercial fishing industry, an online survey was launched. The observational findings, as well as the survey findings, indicated that regardless of if the captain was more focused on production or if he was more concerned with the wellbeing of his crew, the vessel was still profitable. This study found that the managerial orientation of the captain was not a statistically significant factor in the productivity of the fishing vessel. While there are limitations with this type of empirical research, the results do shed some interesting light on what constitutes effective management, and highlights the need for more empirical investigation on what variables contribute to the profitability of an effective manager. The next step in this research effort will be to use empirical analysis to examine the true potential impact of these factors on a captain’s productivity.


Virginia Wesleyan Research Conference Grant, 2015


Presented at the Society for Advancement of Management Conference (SAM) in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 2015.

Presented at Virginia’s Collegiate Honors Conference, March 2015.


Recipient of the Regional and National SAM Outstanding Student Award for Academics and Professional Development, 2015.

Recognized as one of the top presentations at Virginia’s Collegiate Honors Conference, 2015.