The influence of relational trust between the superintendent and union president
Swain, Jo Elyn Christiansen
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Relational trust focuses on the distinct roles within a district setting and the obligations and expectations each has within the organizational. When obligations and expectations are met, this enhances trust within the school or district environment. School districts across America are influenced by labor statute, which drive negotiation processes between school boards and classroom teachers. The negotiations process in school districts today is predominately driven by collective bargaining statutes; however, a small number of states, categorized as Right to Work states, embrace other bargaining practices, such as the meet and confer process. The purpose of this comparative case study was to examine, describe and compare the importance of trust in school districts as it relates to the relationship between the union president and the superintendent bound by a collective bargaining process and the relationship between the union president and the superintendent not bound by the collective bargaining process. Also, this study examined the influence this relationship has on superintendent leadership behaviors. Two small, rural school districts, one in Montana and one in Wyoming, were the focus of this study.The research questions in the study are 1) What role does trust play in the relationship between teacher union presidents and the district superintendent in collective bargaining and non-collective bargaining districts? 2) What role does trust play in the relationship between union presidents and superintendents in Wyoming, who are not bound by a collective bargaining agreement? 3) What are the similarities and differences of the superintendent/union president relationship, as well as similarities and differences in superintendent leadership behavior, in these two types of districts? and 4) How do key stakeholders in a district perceive the influence the union president superintendent relationship has on the superintendent's leadership behavior? Study findings included the significant role relational trust plays in this working relationship. In addition, a key leadership behavior prevalent in the collective bargaining district was the trait of compromise. Another finding resulting from this study was the importance of the superintendent's ability to understand a district's definition and expectation to be considered trustworthy and then the overall ability to meet these expectations.