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Massachusetts superintendents' perceptions of teacher bargaining practices

Scott L Borstel, Johnson & Wales University


For five decades, collective bargaining has been implemented in American public schools (Loveless, 2000). It has protected the rights of teachers; and teacher work conditions issues and compensation have improved (Hannaway & Rotherham, 2006). However, improvements have created adversarial labor-management relationships, resulted in excessive language which hinders educational progress, and placed significant financial impact on schools (Duffet, Farkas, Rotherham, & Silva, 2008; Eberts, 2007; Hess & Kelly, 2006). The purpose of the study was to examine the perceptions of superintendents using collective bargaining methods and those using collaborative bargaining methods with respect to relationship between labor and management, teacher contract language, and teacher compensation. The research suggests that traditional forms of bargaining may no longer meet the needs of labor and management (Duffett et al., 2008; Hannaway & Rotherham, 2006; Hess & West, 2006; Johnson, Donaldson, Munger, Papay, & Qazilbash, 2007). A two-phase, sequential, mixed methods, study was employed to survey (N = 89) Massachusetts superintendents’ perceptions of bargaining methods. Using an electronic questionnaire, phase one quantitatively assessed differences between perceptions of superintendents using different bargaining methods with respect to the variables, as well as the relationship between demographics and superintendents’ perceptions. The qualitative phase included responsive interviews of superintendents (n = 6) to gain thick descriptions of superintendents’ perceptions of bargaining methods (Creswell, 2009, 2003; Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2007). An ANOVA was employed to compare superintendent groups (i.e., collaborative; collective; or both). For analysis of demographic variables, a Chi-square was employed. Personal interviews with purposively selected superintendents provided thick descriptions of superintendents’ beliefs regarding bargaining methods (Rubin & Rubin, 2005). The major findings revealed differences in superintendents’ perceptions of bargaining practices with respect to relationship between labor and management (F = 3.48, p = .035, η2 = .075 medium), teacher contract language (F = 9.40, p = .000, η2 = .179 large), and teacher compensation (F = 6.82, p = .002, η2 = .137 large). Superintendents, as members of labor-management teams, may use the findings in addressing issues relative to bargaining practices, or in exploring an alternative style of bargaining that may lead to more collaborative practices.

Subject Area

Educational administration|Labor relations

Recommended Citation

Borstel, Scott L, "Massachusetts superintendents' perceptions of teacher bargaining practices" (2010). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3397134.