Consultant allegedly plagiarized US Air Force officer

A business consultant allegedly plagiarized an article on leadership written by a former U.S. Air Force officer who is now a high-ranking official in the Department of Homeland Security.

Thomas Mattus, president and founder of a business training firm, submitted a paper to the Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Congress in Vancouver, Canada. The paper, on “transformational leadership,” defined the term and its relevance to the world of project management. PMI accepted “Transformational leadership for project managers” as a conference paper and posted it in 2012 to the PMI website.

But a researcher at the U.S. Naval War College alleges that Mattus plagiarized the paper from an article written in 2001 by Mark Homrig, who was a colonel in the Air Force at the time. Homrig is now a section chief at Homeland Security.

The researcher, Brenda Oppermann, told us:

The only difference is that Mattus’ paper replaces “Air Force” with “project organizations,” “project teams,” and the like throughout the paper. There is also no citation referencing Homrig’s paper/the original work despite the fact that it is essentially the same paper word for word and Homrig’s was written 11 years earlier.

Oppermann contacted PMI on Nov. 20 with the allegations. Now, PMI has completely removed Mattus’ paper from its website; however, an archived version that includes the opening paragraph is still available. The entire paper was still available online when Retraction Watch first contacted PMI on Nov. 21 about Opperman’s allegations.

PMI has not responded to follow-up questions about the paper and why the organization removed it from the website.

Successful Strategies International (SSI), Mattus’ company, says on its website that it is:

A training mentoring and leadership organization.

When Retraction Watch emailed Mattus to learn more about the paper, we received a response from Bryan Jeanty, a research associate. He told us:

We are currently assessing the situation and the local SSI legal counsel is reviewing the claims made towards the publication.

We used an online text-diff tool to compare the opening paragraphs of the two articles. Here is the result; text not present in Homrig’s article is underlined, while text not present in Mattus’s is in strike-through:

The current research in leadership is overflowing with articles and books describing the virtues of “transformational”  leadership. Recent authors include Famous leadership experts, such as Noel Tichy, The Leadership Engine (1997), and John Kotter, On What Leaders Really Do (1999),(1999) cite and articles written in use the Journal of Leadership Studies by Dong Jung, Walter Einstein and John Humphreys (2001) to name a few. term that James MacGregor Burns coined this term in 1978 to describe the ideal situation between leaders and followers. James Keagen later used Burns’ ideas to build a developmental model of leadership that explains further the continuum between transformational and transactional leadership. This paper discusses transformation leadership for project managers and explores these questions. What radical new form or fad of leadership is this? What is the difference between transformational leadership and transactional leadership and which is the most effective? How does a leader project manager get everyone performing to their his or her potential? Are there any pitfalls with transformational leadership being used with project teams? What is the relationship between project leadership and day to day management? What are the attributes of the transformational leader? Finally, what conclusions can be drawn about the usefulness of transformational leadership in the world of project management? The paper begins by defining transactional style and transformational style. It examines the six-stage style of developmental theory, specifically focuses on stages 2, 3, and 4. The paper lists four interrelated components that are essential for leaders to move followers into the transformational style. In addition, it covers some of the attributes of the transformational leadership style and lists 10 tenets of transformational leadership.

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3 thoughts on “Consultant allegedly plagiarized US Air Force officer”

  1. Despite the great similarity, it’s possible to conclude even from this short excerpt that Homrig is the better writer…. Evidently those who can’t do, plagiarize.

  2. FWIW, some organizations such as AACE and the Guild of Project Controls are requiring plagiarism reports be submitted along with any presentations or papers.

    I also require plagiarism checks using credible and respected software be run by my students prior to submitting any papers to me and my standard for acceptance is 5% or less.

    PMI should adopt the same standard of practice…..

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

  3. By the way, speaking of RETRACTIONS, the work done by Walt Lipske and touted by PMI is also a perfect example of poor or incomplete research leading to false or misleading claims that it was the US Air Force and Walt Lipske who “discovered” or “invented” earned time.

    If you reference the 1909 work of Gillette and Dana entitled “Cost Keeping and Management Engineering: A Treatise for Engineers, Contractors and Superintendents Engaged in the Management of Engineering Construction” you can clearly see that the origins of Earned Value Management were based on the fundamental principle of “Earned Time” or “Earned Schedule” as the basis as a “pay for performance” or “incentive payment” scheme that is still in use today in many factories and is known as “piecework”.

    It would be really nice if PMI and Walt Lipske updated their claims to reflect the TRUTH about the origin of earned value management as a “pay for performance” or “incentive payment scheme” developed on the factory floors of the 17th and 18th Century Industrial Revolution.

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