First Advisor

John F. Heflin

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership and Policy




Collective bargaining -- School administrators, School principals -- Employment -- Oregon, School principals -- Employment -- Washington (State)



Physical Description

5, x, 145 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between collective bargaining for public school principals and principals' perceptions of their working conditions. Specifically, this study examined the perceptions of working conditions for a sample of principals who had statutory authority to bargain collectively (Washington) and a sample of principals who did not have such authority (Oregon). This type of study can make a contribution to the knowledge base for educational leadership, administrative behavior and governance dynamics within educational organizations. Methodologically, this descriptive study utilized a survey research design. Survey research permits data gathering from a relatively large number of cases at a particular point in time. This research strategy focuses primarily upon the generalized characteristics of a population rather than individual characteristics. The population for this study were principals in Oregon (908) and Washington (1102). The instrumentation for data collection was The School Principal's Working Conditions Questionnaire which was mailed to a sample of one hundred principals in Oregon and one hundred in Washington. The return rate for Oregon was sixty seven (67) percent and eighty (80) percent for Washington. Seventy-three and one half (73.5) percent of the principals responded to the questionnaire. Nine sub-scales were used to measure determinants of principal's working conditions: 1) salary, 2) existence of formal written contracts, 3) autonomy, 4) power and authority, 5) job security, 6) fringe benefits, 7) role definition, 8) communications with superintendents, and school boards, and 9) involvement in decision making. The data analysis compared responses of two principals groups; an analysis of variance was used to identify significant differences between the two groups means. A major conclusion of the study was that there was no significant difference in perceptions of working conditions for the two groups of principals. Of the nine determinants of principals' working conditions, only autonomy was found to be significantly more positive for non-bargaining principals. Non-bargaining principals (Oregon) perceived that they have greater autonomy in their management roles than do the bargaining principals. An explanation for this finding may be that Oregon Principals, although they have no impact on district collective bargaining processes, have a considerable amount of discretion in managing their schools and they have an impact upon teaching behavior and student learning outcomes. A secondary data analysis compared the level of bargaining - formal, informal, and unilateral decision making to nine determinants of principal's working conditions. This analysis found salary (.001), involvement in decision making (.03), job security (.013), and fringe benefits (.016) to be statistically significant. The group of principals who indicated they formally bargain had a significantly higher mean score than the informal collective bargaining or unilateral decision making groups. This finding suggests there may be a positive relationship between adequacy of salary, formal collective bargaining, and higher levels of job satisfaction. With regard to involvement in decision making, job security and fringe benefits, the informal bargaining principals' group had a significantly higher mean score than the formal bargaining and unilateral decision making groups. The informal bargaining group perceived that they were involved in decision making processes more often or to a greater extent than principals in the formal and unilateral decision making groups. These decisions include policies and procedures which effect job security and fringe benefits. Consequently the higher scores for principals in the informal decision making group may be reflective of their participation in an inter-active "administrative team" model. This study's findings have implications for legislative bodies who are developing and/or amending collective bargaining statutes. In addition, the study's findings can inform local policy makers as they develop policies and practices for involvement of principals in matters which relate to working conditions. School district officials who have the responsibility for policy implementation can benefit from the knowledge that formalized collective bargaining (with the exception of possible salary issues) may not be as important as establishing structures and processes for including principals in decision making. In summary, the major finding that there is no significant difference in perceptions of working conditions for the non-bargaining and bargaining principal groups, has powerful implications for the collective bargaining movement and for principals in the Northwest.


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