Journal of Technology Education


JTE Editor: Mark Sanders

Volume 2, Number 2
Spring 1991


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Curricular Implications for Participative
Management in Technology Education
 
                       James E. Smallwood
 
               Carl Harshman (1982) believes the United
          States may be experiencing the most signif-
          icant change in the work place since the In-
          dustrial Revolution.  The movement involves a
          transformation from the traditional, bureau-
          cratic style of management to a more
          participatory relationship.  This new philos-
          ophy, known as participative management, at-
          tempts to improve the utilization of human
          resources by involving individual workers in
          decisions affecting their work.
               The growth of participatory and work in-
          novative programs such as quality circles,
          participative management, and employee in-
          volvement has taken place in America since
          the early 1970s.  The concept, which has ex-
          perienced considerable success in other coun-
          tries, is currently being implemented in both
          industrial and non-industrial settings.
          While only a small fraction of U.S. work
          places are currently governed by a
          participative management model, the rate of
          transformation from a traditional bureau-
          cratic model is accelerating (The Indiana La-
          bor and Management Council [ILMC], 1985).
          Future indicators predict the trend will con-
          tinue as we head toward the twenty-first cen-
          tury.
 
                AMERICA'S MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE
               Management is beginning to recognize
          people as America's most valuable resource, a
          resource of untapped talent capable of solv-
          ing problems and making decisions.  Involving
          employees in decision making has become a
          significant trend in the American work place.
          Corporations each year spend over $40 billion
          to train their employees and develop their
          management staffs (Weischadle & Weischadle,
          1987).
               The Indiana Labor and Management Council
          (ILMC) (1985) recently discovered that em-
          ployee participation increases productivity,
          work quality, worker satisfaction, employment
          security, and organizational flexibility.
          Participation enhances the degree to which a
          member takes pride in his/her job, and feels
          a personal responsibility for the outcome of
          the work.
               The development of successful employee
          involvement requires a basic change in the
          way people within an organization relate and
          deal with each other.  Such a change requires
          all participants to develop the proper cogni-
          tive and affective skills and attitudes to
          contribute in a participative work setting.
               A 1985 study by the ILMC revealed that
          most workers lack the necessary skills to be
          contributing members in participative work
          situations.  Skills such as problem solving,
          communications, math and logic, and coping
          with conflict are but a few of the essential
          skills identified in the study.  The study
          also revealed that little is being done in
          the vocational and technical schools in
          Indiana to prepare students for participative
          work settings because they do not teach these
          skills (ILMC, 1985).  It is assumed there are
          many other states in the nation with the same
          dilemma.
               As the change in management philosophy
          unfolds, it appears something needs to be
          done in the secondary and post-secondary
          schools, and colleges and universities in
          America to better equip students with the
          proper cognitive and affective skills and at-
          titudes regarding employee involvement.
 
           IMPLICATIONS OF PARTICIPATIVE MANAGEMENT IN
                      TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION
               Historically, the name of the technology
          education discipline has changed several
          times to reflect the direction of the profes-
          sion.  Within the last 25 years the content
          has also been through some dramatic changes.
          Digital electronics, CAD/CAM, and robotics
          are just a few of the content areas being in-
          corporated into technology education pro-
          grams.  One thing that has remained constant
          throughout the years, however, is where the
          content is derived.  Contemporary technology
          education programs draw their content from
          industry and technology, a policy that is
          unique to the discipline.  As technological
          changes occur, the profession attempts to in-
          corporate these changes into the public
          school and university programs in order to
          better prepare students for a constantly
          changing society.  One of the most signif-
          icant changes currently taking place in both
          industrial and non-industrial settings is the
          philosophy toward management of human re-
          sources.
               In 1982 the New York Stock Exchange did
          an extensive survey of 49,000 U.S. companies
          employing 41 million people.  The study pro-
          vided a comprehensive profile of the employee
          involvement effort taking place in America.
          The survey described a movement in its devel-
          opmental stage with enormous potential.
          Eighty-two percent of the corporations sur-
          veyed by the NYSE felt that participative
          management was a "promising new approach,"
          compared to three percent who felt it was
          "just a passing fad" (McKendrick, 1983).  The
          report (New York Stock Exchange [NYSE], 1982)
          recommended improved workforce productivity
          through educational programs in secondary
          schools, better training of young managers,
          and more employee involvement in decision
          making and financial gain sharing.
               The Carnegie Report recommends a study
          of technology by all students.  Ernest L.
          Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation
          for the Advancement of Teaching, has this to
          say:
 
             We can and must help every student
             learn about the technology revolution,
             which will dramatically shape the lives
             of every student.  And it's here that
             the industrial arts educator has a cru-
             cial role to play.  (American Indus-
             trial Arts Association, 1985)
 
               Technology education is faced with an
          opportunity to prepare students for
          participative work settings and should incor-
          porate this into the existing curriculum.
 
                      PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
               The purpose of this study was to iden-
          tify and validate a list of worker character-
          istics necessary for participative
          management.  These cognitive and affective
          skills can be used in planning, organizing,
          and developing technology education programs
          to prepare students to be contributing mem-
          bers in work-group situations. The study val-
          idated worker characteristics in order of
          importance as perceived by selected indus-
          trial personnel.  Therefore, in planning cur-
          riculum, emphasis can be placed on those
          characteristics from highest to lowest prior-
          ity.  The primary objectives of the study
          were to:
 
          1.  provide information on worker character-
              istics in industrial participative man-
              agement to be used in planning,
              organizing, and developing technology ed-
              ucation programs;
          2.  provide information to determine whether
              current technology education programs are
              preparing students for participative work
              settings;
          3.  better inform technology education teach-
              ers and curriculum developers of the
              participative management philosophy;
          4.  provide information that can be used to
              better prepare students with the cogni-
              tive and affective skills and attitudes
              for participation.
 
                           METHODOLOGY
               A survey was conducted of 38 randomly
          selected industrial personnel, who function
          as training directors, employee involvement
          coordinators, and others interested in the
          participative management concept.  The par-
          ticipants were chosen from a data base of
          members in the Association for Quality and
          Participation (AQP), formerly the Interna-
          tional Association of Quality Circles.  The
          assumption was that since this group was so
          close to the training process they could pro-
          vide the most accurate data.  The members of
          the sample group were employed by companies
          ranging in size from 150 to 13,000 employees.
               The Delphi process was the research
          technique used to gather the necessary data.
          The opinions of the group were solicited
          three times, through survey instruments, in
          order to arrive at a group consensus.  The
          three-round process was used in anticipation
          that each round would further refine the list
          and validate the data.
               The initial data collection instrument
          included a list of worker characteristics for
          industrial participative management, con-
          structed on the basis of a review of litera-
          ture and research, and consultation with
          specialists involved in work innovative pro-
          grams.  Faculty members from the School of
          Business, School of Education, and School of
          Technology at Indiana State University in-
          volved in teaching the participation concept
          were also asked for assistance.
               In the process of developing the instru-
          ment, doctoral students in curriculum and in-
          struction and selected faculty members at
          Indiana State University were asked to review
          the initial draft to assure clarity of items
          and instructions.  For further clarity, accu-
          racy, and validation the instrument was then
          submitted to a small group of training direc-
          tors involved in employee involvement pro-
          grams for their review.
               A coefficient of correlation was used to
          determine the reliability between responses
          on the first and second round instruments.
          When tested, using a t-test, all the re-
          sponses proved to be significantly different
          from zero at the .05 level of probability.  A
          high positive correlation between the first
          and second round instruments was revealed by
          the analysis.
               The Delphi technique for collecting the
          data took place over approximately a five
          month period.  The initial data collection
          instrument for round one included a section
          for collecting demographic information about
          the sample group and the company.  It also
          included a section addressing research
          questions one and two regarding worker char-
          acteristics necessary in preparing someone to
          become a contributing member in a
          participative work setting.  The section per-
          taining to research questions one and two was
          a list of worker characteristics which the
          participants were asked to evaluate by a
          five-point rating scale ranging from non-
          essential to essential.  They also had an op-
          portunity to list other characteristics
          believed to be important to the participative
          management concept.
               The data from round one were collected
          and compiled in order to prepare the round
          two instrument.  The round two instrument was
          designed to further validate the worker char-
          acteristics as well as gather information to
          answer research questions three and four.
          Research questions three and four pertained
          to those characteristics industrial personnel
          teach their employees and which should be
          taught in a technology education curriculum.
               Once again, the data were collected and
          compiled to prepare the final instrument.
          The round three instrument was a rank order-
          ing of worker characteristics along with the
          group mean for each one.  The respondents
          were asked to review the list for validation.
          The instrument was also designed to gather
          additional information in answering research
          question four.
               Of the 38 subjects who agreed to partic-
          ipate in the study, 28 completed all three
          instruments.
 
                             RESULTS
               The analysis of demographic data re-
          vealed a changing managerial philosophy from
          a directed (autocratic) approach to a group
          participatory approach.  In all, 51.5% of the
          companies surveyed have transformed from a
          directed to a group participatory or deleg-
          ated management philosophy within the last
          five years.
               All but one of the companies surveyed
          had established employee participation groups
          within the last ten years.  Ninety-four per-
          cent of the respondents anticipate a growth
          in the number of employee participation
          groups for their respective companies during
          the next two years.
               Some of the reasons for electing to im-
          plement the participation concept were to:
          (1) improve communications, (2) improve prod-
          uct quality, (3) reduce costs, (4) improve
          employee relations, (5) become more compet-
          itive by increasing production, and (6) tap
          the unused potential of all employees.
               In regard to worker characteristics for
          participative management, problem solving and
          communication skills were considered the most
          important by the sample group.  The top 25
          worker characteristics are listed in Table 1.
          These characteristics are listed in order of
          importance from one to twenty-five.  Eleven
          of the first thirteen worker characteristics
          were directly related to problem solving and
          communication skills.
               Other characteristics considered ex-
          tremely important were team building, gather-
          ing, analyzing, and presenting data, group
          process, and goal setting.
               Those characteristics related to
          problem-solving are the primary concern of
          industrial trainers preparing someone to par-
          ticipate in a work-group situation.  Five
          characteristics, all relating to problem-
          solving, were taught by all the companies
          surveyed on the second round instrument.  The
          characteristics were problem-solving, gather-
          ing information, identifying and selecting
          problem causes, generating problem solutions,
          and evaluating problem solutions.
 
          TABLE 1
          WORKER CHARACTERISTICS IMPORTANT TO THE
          PARTICIPATIVE MANAGEMENT CONCEPT
          ------------------------------------------------------------
 
           1. Brainstorming                 14. Group Process
 
           2. Problem Solving Skills        15. ls Goal Setting
 
           3. Identifying and Selecting     16. Implementing Change
              Problem Causes
 
           4. Evaluating Problem Solutions  17. Recognizing and Dealin
                                                with Verbal Comm.
                                                Problems
 
           5. Generating Problem Solutions  18. Coping with Conflict
 
           6. Communication Skills          19. Motivation
 
           7. Team Building                 20. Patience/Perseverance
 
           8. Gathering, Analyzing, and     21. Group Dynamics
               Presenting Data
 
           9. Perception and Listening      22. Leadership Ability
 
          10. Verbal Communication          23. Desire/Commitment
 
          11. Identifying and Analyzing     24. Consensus Decision
              Problems                          Making
 
          12. Gathering Information         25. Negotiation (Strive fo
                                                win-win)
 
          13. Displaying/Organizing and
              Analyzing Information
 
          ------------------------------------------------------------
 
               In addition, group process, group dynam-
          ics, team building, leadership ability, com-
          munication skills, identifying and analyzing
          problems, displaying/organizing and analyzing
          information, gathering, analyzing, and pre-
          senting data, and brainstorming were taught
          by at least 85% of the companies surveyed.
               Research question 4 was asked to find
          out which of these worker characteristics the
          sample group would like to see taught in a
          technology education curriculum.  There were
          very few differences between those character-
          istics believed to be most important and what
          should be taught.  The top 25 worker charac-
          teristics were the same as those in Table 1
          with the exception of project planning and
          oral presentation, replacing
          patience/perseverance, and desire/commitment.
 
          CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT FOR PARTICIPATIVE MAN-
                             AGEMENT
               Curriculum development for participative
          management in technology education programs
          is almost non-existent.  There are three pri-
          mary reasons for this neglect.
 
          1.  The concept of participative management
              in America is still in its infancy stage.
              Although the concept itself has been
              practiced since the early 1970s it has
              just recently been manifested as a viable
              technique for improving many aspects of
              the work setting.
          2.  Many technology education teachers are
              unaware of the concept and those aware of
              it aren't sure what should be taught.
          3.  Little has been done to identify neces-
              sary worker characteristics (cognitive
              and affective skills) to aid in planning,
              organizing, and developing curriculum.
 
               The relationship of the first two prob-
          lems is evident.  Technology education teach-
          ers appear to be unaware of the concept
          partly because it is so new and partly be-
          cause it is unaddressed in the textbooks and
          professional journals.
               A review of selected manufacturing and
          general technology textbooks available for
          industrial arts/technology education teachers
          revealed a serious neglect of the
          participative management concept.  Nearly all
          of the reviewed textbooks, published within
          the last ten years, were concerned with au-
          thority administered from the top down.
          There was little mention of the changing phi-
          losophy toward employee involvement.
               Many of the textbooks discussed problem-
          solving techniques, the brainstorming proc-
          ess, quality assurance, and statistical
          process control, all of which are considered
          relevant to the concept of participation.
          TECHNOLOGY: TODAY AND TOMORROW discussed
          quality circles and statistical process con-
          trol.  LIVING WITH TECHNOLOGY dealt with
          quality circles and problem solving tech-
          niques.  EXPLORING MANUFACTURING, and MODERN
          INDUSTRY both discussed line and staff man-
          agement.  Neither MANUFACTURING PROCESSES or
          PROCESSES OF MANUFACTURING made reference to
          involving employees in decision making.
          TECHNOLOGY: TODAY AND TOMORROW, and LIVING
          WITH TECHNOLOGY, were the only textbooks re-
          viewed which made specific reference to the
          concept of employee involvement.
               A review of the professional journals
          for technology education such as THE TECHNOL-
          OGY TEACHER, INDUSTRIAL EDUCATION, and SCHOOL
          SHOP also revealed little on the topic of
          participation.
               A few articles discussed the success of
          the Japanese in becoming an industrial power
          due to their technique of employee involve-
          ment and participation.  Dillon (1984) wrote
          about Japanese methods for increased produc-
          tivity and what American industry might
          learn.  Sullivan (1988) discussed a quality
          control module for technology education with
          reference to quality circles and the concept
          of participative management.
               Articles regarding the factories of the
          future (Walden, 1988), and meeting the em-
          ployment needs in the eighties and beyond
          (Peckham, 1988) did make reference to the
          idea of involving employees in decision mak-
          ing.  For the most part, however, the review
          of these particular journals over the past
          ten years revealed very little regarding the
          changing managerial philosophy.
               The third point regarding worker charac-
          teristics for participation was addressed in
          this study.  It has been discussed by a few
          other researchers, including the work of Lit-
          tle (1986), ILMC (1985), Sedam (1983), Lloyd
          and Rehg (1983), and Reeves (1983).
 
               CURRICULAR MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES
               Many businesses, industries, and con-
          sulting firms have developed training pro-
          grams and materials to teach the proper
          skills for participation.  Materials and
          techniques identified by several authors for
          use in industrial training include:
          histograms, graphs, control charts, flow
          charts, Pareto analysis, brainstorming,
          cause-and-effect diagrams, check sheets, de-
          cision matrices, presentation techniques,
          prioritizing techniques, and cost-benefit
          analysis (Ball, 1982; Lloyd & Rehg, 1983; Re-
          eves, 1983,/a>; Sullivan, 1988; Torrence, 1982;
          and Weischadle & Weischadle, 1987).  The
          basic quality circle problem-solving process
          includes:  problem identification, define the
          problem, investigate the problem, problem
          analysis, choosing a solution, presentation
          to management, and implementation.
               Most of the training materials and tech-
          niques for participative management have been
          developed by consulting firms or by the com-
          pany that wishes to incorporate the concept.
          Business now runs what may be the largest ed-
          ucational system in the country.  Weischadle
          and Weischadle (1987) point out that training
          and development costs in business now ap-
          proach the total annual expenditure of all of
          America's four-year and graduate colleges and
          universities.
               Very little has been done in vocational
          education or industrial arts/technology edu-
          cation programs in regard to participative
          management curriculum development.  One of
          the conclusions drawn from the ILMC (1985)
          study was that very little is currently being
          done to prepare students for participatory
          programs.  However, participatory approaches
          are relatively new to business and industry
          in this country and it is not surprising that
          schools have not yet developed curricula in
          this area (p.38).
               Although very little has been done re-
          garding participative management curriculum
          development, many of the important character-
          istics are being taught at various places in
          the technology education curriculum.  Charac-
          teristics such as problem solving, communi-
          cation skills, team building, group process,
          and many others are incorporated in technol-
          ogy education classes.  These skills are ex-
          tremely important to the concept of
          participative management and it might be a
          good idea to label them as such when they are
          included in various curricula.
 
                             SUMMARY
               Based on the findings of this study, the
          concept of participative management is ex-
          pected to grow in industrial organizations
          over the next few years.  The worker charac-
          teristics identified can be used in planning,
          organizing, and developing technology educa-
          tion programs to prepare students to be con-
          tributing members in work-group situations.
               As technological changes occur, the pro-
          fession has made a gallant effort to incorpo-
          rate these changes into public school and
          university programs.  As if new technologies
          such as robotics, CAD/CAM, lasers, and
          superconductivity are not enough, the profes-
          sion is faced with yet another challenge, the
          changing philosophy toward management of hu-
          man resources.
 
 
          ----------------
          James Smallwood is Assistant Professor, De-
          partment of Industrial Education and Technol-
          ogy, Morehead State University, Morehead, KY.
 
 
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Journal of Technology Education   Volume 2, Number 2       Spring 1991

DLA Ejournal Home | JTE Home | Table of Contents for this issue | Search JTE and other ejournals