The case ‘building a coalition’ provides us with an interesting perspective of group dynamics, effective team performance, organizational culture and integrative bargaining. The case deals with the formation of an after school program for improving the condition of the public school system in Washington D.C. Schools at Washington D.C. face challenges pertaining to truancy, low student performance and crime. Owing to these factors, the teaching staffs at these schools are easily de-motivated, and this has resulted in high staff turnovers rates. The new after school program aims to deal with these challenges. The after school program would be developed by collaboration of Woodson Foundation, School System and the National Coalition for Parental Involvement in Education (NCPIE), which is the representative of parents on behalf of PTA ( Building a Coalition, Organizational Behaviour).
The primary issue, in this case, deals with the potential conflicts and disagreements that might arise among the developmental teams comprising of all three stakeholders. Every stakeholder will consider their own interests, which might be directly opposed to one another. Because of the differences among stakeholders, it might be possible that the group fails to achieve its ultimate objective.
Part II: Problem Identification
As discussed above, the primary problem in this case deals with the potential conflict that can arise among the three stakeholders that are involved in the development of a school program. Following is the list of other issues that can be inferred from the case:
- Self interest: One of the key issues is the overwhelming self-interest among different parties. The School district representative wants to make sure that new jobs that will be created must be unionized and work in a way that is consistent with the school board policies. The school district is concerned about the control that it will have over the operations of the new system. It fears that it might lose its control to Woodson foundation, which would be providing the logistical support and program development and measurement staff for the new initiative (Building a Coalition, Organizational Behaviour).
- Control of power within the group: Control of power within the group is another issue. Let us take the example of NCPIE. NCPIE’s mission is to increase parental control. It believes that when communities are able to have a say in selecting their own educational methods, students as well as their parents can succeed in an effective way. On the other hand, the school district representative wants to control operation of the new system and is wary of Woodson foundation, which focuses on using hard data for performance measurement.
- Difference in working cultures among the stakeholders: It is very clearly evident from the case study that working cultures at NCPIE, Woodson Foundation and Washington D.C. public school system are entirely different from each other. Woodson foundation believes in minimizing costs and experimentations, NCPIE believes in retaining control over anything it does and Washington D.C public school system works like a bureaucratic structure.
- Difference in thought process among the candidates for the development team: The development team would consist of three individuals who will be selected from the three stakeholder groups. From the case study, we can infer that some of the candidates have contrasting views about their idea of developing the new program. For example, Victoria Adams, who is the superintendent of the schools for Washington D.C, believes that schools and Woodson Foundation must have a greater role in the development of a new program as compared to that of NCPIE. On the other hand, community organizer Mason Dupree believes that schools must involve parents instead of demanding more money from them.
Part III: Retrospective Evaluation
In order to succeed in their plans, the three stakeholder need to form a development team which is empowered to design an efficient and effective new program that can deal with issues pertaining to truancy, low student performance, crime and high staff turnover rates.
- Selection of right candidates for the development team: It has to be ensured that the newly formed development team works in harmony, and there is equal participation from its members. It is important to select those candidates that can work with each other without creating any kind of conflicts and major disagreements.
- It is not possible that there are no disagreements among the group members. Some level of difference is good for the group, as it helps in bringing out new perspectives and viewpoints. According to the situation, following three members must be appointed as working members of the new development team:
- Victoria Adams: Victoria Adams is the superintendent of schools for Washington D.C. She must be selected as part of the development team because she was one of those who initiated the collaboration with Woodson Foundation. Her selection means that she has a level of comfort with Woodson Foundation, and being one of the founding members of the new group, she can add lot of valuable information for the development of a new program.
- Meredith Watson: Meredith Watson was a former teacher and is a part of Woodson foundation. She believes that schools must increase their focus on families, which means that she also supports the vision of NCPIE. Being a former teacher, she can relate to the viewpoints of the school system. Therefore, Meredith Watson can create a good balance between Victoria Adams and the member of NCPIE group.
- Candace Sharpe: A member of NCPIE, Candace is a social worker and believes in creating change that can improve the involvement of parents in school activities. For a NCPIE member, this thought process is different and realistic.
Part IV: Reflection
This case teaches us the importance of working closely in groups. It shows that an effective co-ordination plan and strategies among groups is one of the most challenging tasks for organizations these days and the same holds true for a multi organization effort. In order to form a development team for creating a new program, it is important for HR function to select those personnel who can work closely with each other without creating any major conflicts. The idea is to take advantage of the team effort and maximize the output. It is important to recognize the major similarities and dissimilarities among organizational cultures and style of functioning.