Term of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health in Public Health Leadership (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health Policy and Management (COPH)

Committee Chair

Bettye Apenteng

Committee Member 1

Samuel Opoku

Committee Member 2

William Mase


Succession planning is a process that requires more than just an organizational chart illustration of who holds what position within the organization. The process also requires developing and implementing guidelines and best practices to identify and address current and future workforce development needs. Succession planning contributes to an organization’s success by providing a mechanism that ensures a talent pool of replacements has been suitably groomed and equipped to fill critical vacancies when retirements occur or on short notice. It can generate operational efficiencies for the field of public health that is faced with chronic budgetary pressure and an impending mass exodus of a workforce generation that inhabits a wealth of knowledge.

Public health in the United States is experiencing a dynamic shift as the baby boomers, those 65 million persons born between 1964 to 1955, are eligible for retirement and are actively leaving the workforce in droves even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The baby boomers’ mass exit leaves a vast void and creates vacancies that will need to be filled quickly.

This scoping study identified and summarized succession planning guidelines and best practices in published reports and gray literature and consolidated critical domains and processes into a sustainable framework for adaptation in LHDs. Best practices and guidelines were identified and integrated into a six-step cross-cutting framework that encompasses overarching domains necessary for applicability and sustainability. The integrated framework for succession planning includes the following steps: (1) strategic planning, (2) workforce analysis, (3) selection and identification, and (4) preparation for promotion, and all-encompassing processes that ensure fidelity of the integrated framework include implementation and evaluation at each domain point. Cross-cutting elements critical for developing and implementing robust succession planning processes include leadership buy-in, stakeholder engagement, transparency, fairness and equity, and a systematic approach to knowledge transfer.

The study developed a toolkit for succession planning implementation in LHDs, which consists of a description of the integrated framework, its six domains and associated processes, and a checklist to jumpstart succession planning in LHDs. The toolkit can help LHDs successfully implement sustainable succession planning that preserves intellectual knowledge and ensures that it is transferred from one workforce generation to the next.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material