Elementary school principals and professional negotiation : a semantic differential approach
Recently there has been considerable discussion concerning the role of the elementary school principal in professional negotiation. A large body of evidence points to the fact that elementary principals do not have a specifically determined role in the process of professional negotiation.The purpose of the study was to assess the perceptions of two groups of public elementary school principals, from dissimilar professional environments, toward selected position, institution, and issue concepts relevant to professional negotiation, in order to derive information which would serve to explicate and facilitate the development of guidelines for the future role of the elementary principal in professional negotiation.The two groups chosen to participate in the study were the public elementary school principals in Muncie and Anderson, Indiana. The selection was made on the basis of the comparable size and geographic location of the cities, the close parallel in average daily attendance of the school systems, and the similarity in socio-economic composition of the communities involved.The elements of diversity between the groups were that the Anderson principals operated in a professional environment characterized by active formal negotiation; whereas, the Muncie principals functioned in a professional environment not yet actively involved in formal negotiation.Two instruments were utilized in the study: a semantic differential instrument composed of ten bi-polar adjective scales, five each for the evaluative and potency dimensions, designed to judge twenty-six position, institution, and issue concepts relevant to professional negotiation and a follow-up questionnaire composed of fifteen items designed to provide comparative and descriptive data.Data from the instruments were presented in the form of group factor means, concept scale means, group profiles, semantic distances, semantic space models, and tabulated response frequencies. The methods employed in presenting the data were designed to provide a complete comparison of the two groups of elementary school principals. A one-way analysis of variance was employed for statistical treatment of the data in order to determine differences of statistical significance between group factor comparisons.In summary, only eight of the fifty-two possible factor comparisons proved to be statistically significant using .05 as the acceptable level of significance. On the evaluative dimension, the Anderson elementary principals perceived the concepts of (1) exclusive recognition, and (2) unlimited scope of negotiation to be of a more negative value, and the concept of (3) the elementary principal on the board negotiating team as a more favorable action than did the Muncie elementary principals.On the potency dimension, the Anderson elementary principals perceived the concepts of (4) strike and (5) American Federation of Teachers to be more forceful, and the concepts of (6) the elementary principal on the elementary principal negotiating team, (7) mandatory state legislation on professional negotiation, and (8) the American Arbitration Association as being less forceful than did their counterparts in Muncie.Both groups favored the inclusion of the elementary school principal on an independent elementary principal negotiating team, the board of education negotiating team, or a middle management negotiating team over affiliation with the teachers' negotiating team or a non-participation position. An independent elementary principal team was the most popular and a non-participation alternative was viewed with the greatest disfavor.Significant findings from questionnaire data were that Anderson elementary principals (1) were more experienced with work stoppages and strikes, (2) had been involved more frequently in formal negotiation with teachers, (3) held a much lower opinion of the effectiveness of the elementary principal in professional negotiation, (4) felt more strongly that professional negotiation would lessen the authority of the elementary principal, (5) indicated more divergent views regarding the future role of the elementary principal in professional negotiation, and (6) exhibited considerably less membership support of professional organizations than did the elementary school principals in Muncie.