Research Paper: Case Analysis Cornwall County School District

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Cornwall County School System

Narrative Summary of the Case

Cornwall County School District is in trouble. Their schools are in desperate need of proper maintenance. The following case analysis presents an overview of the problems associated with the school system. The section will be divided into three succinct sections. Part a will provide a basic summary of the elements that are important to the case, Part B. will provide a discussion of the key persons involved in the case,. Part C will identify the central problem in the case..

Cox & Hoover (2002) state that inappropriate responses often stem from inappropriate input. This is the case with the Conrwall County School Board. When input into the system is destructive and selfish, it is likely that the output will be destructive and selfish as well. Lowell must unite the school board in this matter and he must unite the janitorial staff as well. It is likely that the new team will resemble a new team and will go through a similar process, as described by Tuckman (1965).

One could apply Erik Erickson's psychosocial theory to the situation, in order to understand the responses of the board members. The board, as a whole, particularly certain individuals appears to be stuck in the stage of identity vs., role confusion. No one appears to know what their role is and where they fit in the scheme of things. Therefore, all players are struggling for control and to determine where they fit in the scheme of the organization.

Lowell's key problem is how to motivate people. He wishes to motivate the janitorial staff into action. He also needs to motivate the board in assisting with these changes. Frederick Herzberg was one of the pioneers of motivational theory, as it applied to a work environment. According to Herzberg, money is not a primary motivator for many people. Lowell will have to find something meaningful to the janitorial staff in order to motivate them into better performance. The bullying tactics of board member in the past represent unethical practices on their part, according the definitions of ethical decisions presented in Herzberg.

Adam's equity theory on job motivation explains the low motivation in a system where not all employees are treated equally. In the Cornwall school, those employees who "know someone" are treated better than those that do not have close ties with board members. Thus, they are less motivated to do their work. McGregor's X-Y theory will play one of the most important roles in understanding the macro situation at Cornwall schools. Lowell is faced with the task to turning an authoritative style organizational structure into a participatory structure where worker feel satisfied and are motivated.

John Adair's action centered leadership model will serve as the basis for modeling a team approach to the staff at Cornwall County School. Kolb's learning styles theory will assist in the development of a formal training system for training janitorial personnel. Fisher's transition curve will help to understand and anticipate the stages that may occur as Lowell transitions the board and janitorial staff from an authoritarian to a team approach.

I (a) Case Summary

Cornwall is a city of 78,000 citizens, located 185 miles east of the state capital. Cornwall County School District serves this the city and surrounding county. Cornwall County is dominated by traditional values and the existence of a local "good ole boy" club who control the local political scene. The community is resistant to change and has a system with strong local ties to the community.

When Superintendent John Lowell came to the district, he inherited a school in crisis. Maintenance and cleanliness of the schools was in a deplorable state. As a result, the school was unable to attract people into the district. The local community was enjoying a local boom in high tech industries, but the deplorable maintenance problems within the district caused many potential new high-income earners to search elsewhere. Superintendent Lowell was faced with the problem of turning the county schools from a liability to an asset that would attract new people to the community.

Lowell sees the need for change, but the political atmosphere of the community is ruled by nepotism and political "favors." Lowell has an ineffective, largely illiterate, lazy janitorial staff to work with and a host of principals, who are willing to whitewash the situation and defend their staff. Lowell sees a need for standard operating procedures and standardized training for the staff. However, the board is resistant and fears the removal of relatives and friends.

Lowell is seen as an outsider, a newcomer with wild, new ideas. Lowell is seen as a threat to the local power structure, which operates by bullying and harassment. The community is not happy with the state of the schools, as they just put a lot of money into new schools. They expect to see them maintained.

Just when Lowell was at his wits end with the problem, in walks a young salesman with all of the right answers. As the young salesman presents his story, Lowell becomes convinced that this is the answer to all of their problems. The only problem that he has now is convincing the board. Lowell feels that the company will be an asset and will save them money. However, key board opposition, Harold Kirk, presented the economic downside and tried to raise fervent opposition to the plan. He feels that they can accomplish the same things as the outside contractor, only using internal resources that they already have. It is board meeting night, and committee has decided to defer the discussion to another meeting. It is zero hour and Lowell must decide what to do when the committee convenes in just a few minutes.

There are a number of issues that present as of primary concern in this case study. The key issue is that of organizational culture. The old culture within the school system was hierarchical. Although not single person was in charge, the board acted as the top of the hierarchy. Everyone else was somewhere else down the list, depending on who you knew or were related to. The bullying tactics of the organizational culture were typical in the earlier part of the century. Lowell needs to change this way of thinking and political system. However, he needs to do so gently, so that the old regime does not become defensive.

The board sees Lowell as an oppositional power to control and overcome. They may feel that Lowell stepped on toes when he went outside and consulted with ServiceMaster in the first place. The current political regime in the school district is based on power plays. Even though it is apparent that the old power structure is dysfunctional, the players are being true to human nature. They are resistant to change, simply for the fact that it means letting go of old patterns. They are resistant to change, even if it may be a change for the better.

Lowell realizes that tough financial times mean the necessity for lean management. Lowell's strategic focus is long-term, providing for permanent change within the school district. Lowell has his sights on the community and the ability to focus on the objectives of building the community. His perspective is a macroperspective, focusing on the needs of the entire community rather than the needs of a few self-centered board members.

The board members, on the other hand, are focusing on their own goals. Harold Kirk uses the excuse that they do not have the initial money required for the contract. He may have personal reasons, such as relatives that would lose their jobs, as the underlying basis for his arguments. His short-sided approach is evident by his avoidance tactic in the committee meeting. In analysis of the problem, one must weigh short-term and long-term costs and benefits associated with every option. The amount in question is only $75,000. It is likely that cuts could be made to come up with this amount.

Key Actors and Their Roles

John Lowell, Superintendent Cornwall County School District - new school superintendent, faced with the problems of poor maintenance and poor image in the school system. Needs to make drastic changes in the school system. The success of failure of his ability to do so will affect the future of the entire school system.

Meredith Davies, executive manager - recognized the problem and feels that the problems are lack of training and consistency in training. Her support could help to sway the decisions of other key actors, and the outcome of the project.

Bob Little, Salesman Service Master - wants to convince Lowell and the other board members that their products and services would solve all of their problems. His influence will sway the decisions of other key players. At times, he comes across as a trustworthy consultant with the interests of the school district at his heart, but at other times, he uses high-pressure sales tactics. It is difficult to predict how he… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Case Analysis Cornwall County School District.  (2008, November 22).  Retrieved November 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/case-analysis-cornwall-county-school/858906

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