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Integrating classified and unclassifed systems in the public sector Integrating classified and unclassifed systems in the public sector Document Transcript

  • Basu 0 EAC 785 Introduction to Qualitative Research AT-WILL IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR: INTEGRATING CLASSIFIED AND UNCLASSIFIED SYSTEMS FOR A NEW MODEL OF GOVERNMENT SHANTANU BASU INSTRUCTOR: DR. JULIA STORBERG-WALKER NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY Date of Submission: Nov 6, 2008 Date of Presentation: Nov 20, 2008
  • Basu 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ___________________________________________________________________ 2 1. Topic and Purpose ______________________________________________________ 3 1.2 Potential Significance __________________________________________________ 3 1.3 The Framework _______________________________________________________ 8 1.4 Limitations of the Study ________________________________________________ 9 2. Literature Review ______________________________________________________ 10 2.1 Origin of At-will Employment __________________________________________ 10 2.2 Extension of at-will to the Public Sector __________________________________ 11 2.3 Managerial Flexibility: Myth or Reality? __________________________________ 12 2.4 Impact on Job Security ________________________________________________ 13 2.5 Impact on Employee Motivation ________________________________________ 16 2.6 Discussion: What Research Supports _____________________________________ 17 2.7 Discussion-II: What Research Does Not Support ____________________________ 18 3. Research Design _______________________________________________________ 19 3.1 Overview and Rationale _______________________________________________ 19 3.1.1 Defining the Phenomenon ___________________________________________ 19 3.1.2 Why Phenomenology? ______________________________________________ 19 3.2 Site and Population Selection ___________________________________________ 23 3.3 Data Collection ______________________________________________________ 25 3.4 Data Analysis _______________________________________________________ 26 3.5 Trustworthiness ______________________________________________________ 27 3.6 Personal Biography ___________________________________________________ 28 3.7 Ethical and political considerations ______________________________________ 28 References ________________________________________________________________ 31 Researcher‘s & Participants Activities __________________________________________ 35 IRB Informed Consent Form _________________________________________________ 36 Selection Criteria List for Managers ____________________________________________ 39 Selection Criteria List for Employees ___________________________________________ 39 Interview Protocol for Managers ______________________________________________ 40 Interview Protocol for At-Will Employees_______________________________________ 41
  • Basu 2 Abstract Given ballooning budget deficits, mass retirement of the Baby Boomer generation and employment market uncertainties with the recent downturn in the US economy, at-will may well become this century‘s major alternative mechanism for government. Present research however, is only apprehension-centric and there are major divergences with ground realities. Nor are there any suggestions for system improvement, design and integration with classified civil service systems. This paper therefore examines whether at-will employment has led to managerial flexibility and its main effects, as employees and managers perceive – in the post-positivist structural contingency perspective. The purpose of such research is to identify key relationships and reactions that affect at- will employees, the design and integrity of HR recruitment and retention systems and policies in the federal Transportation Security Administration under the Department of Homeland Security. Early acceptance of at-will as a new model of government would help the cause of integration of classified and unclassified systems and ultimately help organizations to achieve a fit level of performance in the years ahead. Keywords: At-will, job security, motivation, firings, managerial flexibility, legal
  • Basu 3 1. Topic and Purpose Given ballooning budget deficits, mass retirement of the Baby Boomer generation and employment market uncertainties with the recent downturn in the US economy, at-will may well become this century‘s major alternative mechanism for government. Present research however, is only apprehension-centric and there are major divergences with ground realities. Nor are there any suggestions for system improvement, design and integration with classified civil service systems. This paper therefore examines whether at-will employment has led to managerial flexibility and its main effects, as employees and managers perceive – in the post-positivist structural contingency perspective. The purpose of such research is to identify key relationships and reactions that affect at- will employees, the design and integrity of HR recruitment and retention systems and policies in the federal Transportation Security Administration under the Department of Homeland Security. Early acceptance of at-will as a new model of government would help the cause of integration of classified and unclassified systems and ultimately help organizations to achieve a fit level of performance in the years ahead. 1.2 Potential Significance First, net federal outlay in fiscal 2009 for the US federal government is $3.11 trillion with departments like the Treasury, Veteran Affairs, Health and Human Services and Social Security Administration consuming approximately $2.6 trillion of the federal budget outlay for that year (OMB, 2008, 340). At the same time, the public debt is $5.035 trillion with interest paid from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2007 of approximately $252 billion (OMB, 2008a, 229). The federal deficit has grown by about a third since 1995 and may rise to $7.2 trillion in 2009 (OMB, 2008b, 184). In addition, by 2012, 51.8% of federal personnel presently in service would superannuate (OPM, 2008, 6). The situation in most states is not far different. States employed approximately 4.2 million people in 2003 (Bureau of the Census, 2003) and spent about $1.2 trillion in 2004 (Bureau of the Census, 2004b). Given rapidly increasing budgetary constraints, at-will may witness a rise, propelled more by
  • Basu 4 considerations of economy than politics. Thus, at-will may indeed become the new model of governance in the 21st century given the need to neutralize large retirements in the backdrop of tight budgets. Therefore, the thrust of this proposal is to accept at-will as it exists (rather than only oppose it) and directing academic effort to studying key relationships between segments of the employee population and the requirements of governance in order to provide useful inputs to system designers and administrators. Second, at-will condemned for several reasons discussed in the literature review of this proposal, primarily because of loss of job security and motivation, yet the results from states that have switched over to at-will are mixed. While Wisconsin (with 27,000 employees of 68,000 being at-will) gets a B- grade in HR management in the Pew Report (2008), major states (with at-will) like California and Florida get C- grade while the overall grade for all 50 states is a C+ (Governing, 2008, 27). Even Texas that has gone in for relatively larger at-will conversion is graded B with strengths in managing employee performance and strategic workforce planning (Governing, 2008, 87). Similarly, Georgia is graded A- in managing its workforce with strengths in strategic workforce planning, hiring, training and development and managing employee performance (Governing, 2008, 48) with a mixed workforce. The Pew Center on States testifies to the relatively low turnover rates among Wisconsin‘s civil servants (PEW Center, 2008, 2). Similarly, California has devolved many HR powers on its agencies but not instituted any centralized reporting mechanism (Governing, 2008, 42) that may give rise to anomalies in service conditions between analogous classes of employees, particularly when the workforce comprises both classified and unclassified employees. This may be a causative factor in this state obtaining a C- grade in HR management. Thus the link between conversion to at-will employment and quality of governance is, at best, tenuous. Even as states convert to at-will, yet a substantial chunk of civil service would necessarily remain. Therefore, integration of the twin streams of the civil service holds the key to good governance, not so much the
  • Basu 5 quality of at-will employees or their perceptions of job security alone. At-will may not always be bad and classified system always good. Evidently, the fault lies in system design more than employee motivation and security. Thus, it is important that academic research devotes itself to integrating the two streams rather than continue to view them as antagonistic or independent of each other. Third, with the large-scale superannuation of the Baby Boomer generation, the requirement for employees would increase manifold in the years to come. At the same time, budget and employment uncertainties of a recession-hit US would play an important role in determining the dynamics of the employment marketplace. Historically, government efforts to recruit are severely limited by pay levels lower than those of the private sector are. However, now equally afflicted is the private sector by the recession in the US economy and recent moves by the US Federal Government in regulating the financial services sector that is a large employer. This may indeed bring about a relatively level playing field for recruiters in government at least for the next 5-7 years. At the same time, government budget deficits would continue to balloon because of the recession and foreign military commitments and restrict government expenditure on employment and training. Therefore, future research needs to direct itself to exploiting the current slump in the employment market to make good the large shortfall of qualified personnel in government in the next five years. Fourth, current research does not account for intrinsic and professional motivators in public services. Analysis of data from the Federal Human Capital Survey (2006) by the author showed that on a rough average, nearly two-thirds of employees have a high intrinsic motivation for public service and 90% think their work is important while about three-quarters of employees have a sense of personal accomplishment. The databases are for a composite workforce. Over two-third of employees are satisfied with their pay and jobs while about two-third would recommend their organization as a good place to work. At the same time, less than half are satisfied with the recognition they receive and even less by their perceptions of the abilities of their leaders. In fact,
  • Basu 6 when the latter two responses are considered, the average score for this group of questions declines substantially. Data from the MPS (MSPB, 2005) showed that 95% employees felt that their agency‘s mission was important to them while 88% felt their work was meaningful to them, which are consistent with the FHCS data above. Over three quarter of employees would recommend their agency. However, training seems to be a sore point in both datasets as the MPS (2005) shows 48% employees speaking of inadequate training and a mean 60% employees feeling that they get a real opportunity to improve their skills in their organization, which too is consistent with the FHCS data above. There is however, a major point of departure between the two datasets insofar as perceptions of leadership are concerned. While the FHCS data shows only 41% employees satisfied with the policies and practices of their leaders, the MPS 2005 data shows 63-71% satisfaction in the ―Overall, I am satisfied with my supervisor‖ responses and 45-57 in the ―Overall, I am satisfied with the managers above my immediate supervisor‖ responses. It would thus seem that disenchantment with senior leadership is higher than with immediate supervisors and is more a cause of relatively lower motivation than for the lack of it in employees even in a composite work force. Thus, the degree of managerial flexibility required to engineer/re-engineer governance systems while, simultaneously addressing concerns of security and motivation of at-will employees, would have to be determined with reference to geographical areas, ethnic groups, sex, age, and functional areas, etc. and such other socio-economic considerations that equally affect governance systems. The much reviled at-will system may indeed be the part replacement for the civil service system in the present century. However, the requirement of good governance cannot be understated. Engineering/re-engineering at-will systems to attract and retain high-quality professionals, unlike in the TSA, becomes a priority at once for alternative forms of governance. The TSA which was one of the first federal agencies to change over to at-will employment has a ‗rookie ratio‘ of over 19% (employees with less than three years of service) and ranks at the bottom of most parameters in the
  • Basu 7 survey of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey of 222 agencies and their departments (2007). The key parameters where it is the 222nd of 222 agencies include effective leadership, performance based rewards, pay and benefits, work and life balance. Therefore, there is ample scope for future research in the engineering of new at-will systems and in setting useful benchmarks for attracting and retaining employees. The cost of employment is increasing every quarter as shown in Fig. 2 (US DoL, 2008) and public administration wages are growing at an appreciably higher rate than their peers in the private sector (except in quarter ended March Cost of Employment per Quarter 2006-08 1.6 Percentage Increase 1.4 2008) excluding benefits, though the 1.2 Fig. 1 1 base salaries may be lower. Thus, wages 0.8 0.6 without benefits may not be vastly 0.4 0.2 inferior to those of the private sector and 0 Mar-06 Oct-06 Apr-07 Nov-07 Jun-08 Dec-08 government employment therefore Quarter ending remains relatively attractive, even Public Administration Private Industry without benefits for at-will employees that may explain their willingness to take up such employment, irrespective of job security. Thus, the relation between at-will and job security and motivation is, at best, tenuous and not far removed from those of the classified system. Current research does not provide answers to how one would know which segment of the subject population is not adversely affected by at-will employment and why such populations of a particular age group historically prefer to work in the public transportation sector (for instance) even as at-will employees? If this were known, how would design of systems be affected? In fine, future research should collaborate in creating systems that generate adequate intrinsic motivation that would carry with it growing employee commitment and a reciprocal bonding of an organization with the employee over a span of time; this may obviate
  • Basu 8 concerns of motivation and job security. For this reasons the proposed study is a significant contribution to the existing body of research. 1.3 The Framework The post positivist structural contingency framework comprises adaptive functionalism, contingency-fit model and the comparative method. This theory assumes that there is fit between each contingency and one or more aspect of organizational structure so that it positively affects performance; conversely, misfit negatively affects performance. An organization initially in fit changes/modifies a contingency to its fit and adopts a new structure so that it regains fit and performance levels. Fig. 1 shows the conception of this theory while Fig. 2 shows its application to the new hybrid governance system. AT-WILL HYBRID CONTIN- ADAPTIVE SERVICE GENCY STRUCTURE Fig. 1 Fig. 2 CLASSIFED CIVIL SERVICE FIT STRUCTURE The essence of the correlations between structures and contingencies is the functionalist theory that assumes that there is a fit between certain strategies and certain structures. However, in a refinement of the original theory, critics have pointed (Whittington, 1989, Child 1972 and Bourgeois, 1984) out that managers make the strategic choices that eventually help an organization retain its fit; such choices may be made on the basis of the managers‘ powers, values, beliefs and preferences. Thus, the manager becomes the center of such action-level analysis. In effect, the revisionist view states that an organization in misfit adapts the contingency to its structure, rather than the other way
  • Basu 9 round. Applied to the at-will system, structural contingency in a strategic choice lens implies that classified systems, into which legislatures have injected at-will, view at-will as the contingency and managers of such organizations therefore strive to integrate at-will employees into an organization or its constituent parts. Failure to make the transition owing to various reasons may give rise to a phenomenon of uncertainty, distrust and fear among affected populations and reliance on external factors such as the judiciary for self-defense. Thus, examples of misfits in this context include the TSA and states of California and Florida while the States of Georgia and Wisconsin are fits. This research therefore proposes to address the following central questions:  Does at-will employment lead to managerial flexibility?  What are the main effects of the at-will system employees and managers perceive? 1.4 Limitations of the Study While at-will is widely condemned for undermining the integrity of governance and the neutrality of the civil service, such views are not borne out by facts. Not all systems in the public sector may permit of at-will employment; conversely, not all public sector systems are always responsive with classified systems. The concept of fit therefore implies that the objective of a division or an agency, its need for operational flexibility or innovation may be accurate measures of the type of staffing it requires. Thus if the US State Department requires career diplomats to run its missions abroad, it also avails of the services of foreign policy professionals and university professors whenever required. In order to prioritize the requirement of experts, appoint and retain employees, managers need to have a harmonious blend of both operational flexibility and accountability processes in dealing with at-will employees. This brings the focus to bear on key relationships within structures that try to adapt to changing staffing norms. In the absence of the due process, how should systems be tailored to enforce accountability of managers vis-à-vis employees? What areas of operation should a manager staff with at-will employees or what blend of classified
  • Basu 10 and unclassified employees should he have in a division? What safeguards should be built into recruitment systems to ensure equity and justice in recruitment and retention? How should compensation and reward systems operate in a hybrid culture? In sum, at-will depends on various socio-economic and political factors without analyzing which it may be premature to write-off at-will or engineer/re-engineer governance systems. This failing is at the heart of the current academic debate that makes no distinctions between employee profiles, geographic conditions, skills, etc., yet condemns the at-will system. Therefore this study not only accepts at-will for reasons stated elsewhere in the proposal but also aims to qualitatively analyze key relationships between employees and managers, legislators and managers, between managers, employees and the legal environment so that the findings are useful for HR administrators and designers. At the same time, it is not possible within the limits of time and funds to address more than 2- 3 specific areas by case studies. Nonetheless, this limited research will pave the way for more similar studies in other key areas. 2. Literature Review 2.1 Origin of At-will Employment The origins of at-will employment date back to Blackstone‘s commentary on English common law that viewed the employment relationship as a contractual one. If no tenure was stated, the presumption was that it would be for a period of one year. However, either party could exit such contract by citing facts that showed change of intent (Blackstone, 4130). However, early court decisions while following English law did not adopt any presumption of annual hiring and instead tried to discern the parties‘ intent. In 1877 treatise writer, Horace Wood, changed the interpretation by declaring that ―With us, the rule is inflexible………a general or indefinite hiring is…….a hiring at will.‖ (1877, 136) Although US courts did not recognize Wood‘s opinion immediately, at-will had become employment terminable at-will by 1930. Given the harshness with which at-will was
  • Basu 11 implemented in the early years of the 20th century, under the contemporary doctrine employers can discharge employees for good reason or for no reason, or even for bad reason, ―but not for some particular bad reasons condemned by law.‖ (Gertz, 49). 2.2 Extension of at-will to the Public Sector The centuries old civil service has found itself at the center of the polemics that have variously labeled it as, Jerrell Coggburn sums up, ―inefficient, archaic, cumbersome, moribund, meritless, disconnected from agency management, flat footed, suffering from paralysis, constituting a straightjacket for managers, emphasizing employee protection over performance, or just plain broken.‖ (Cohen & Eimicke, 1994; Horner, 1988; Kettl, Ingraham, Sanders and Horner, 1996; National Commission on the State and Local Public Service, 1993; Osborne & Gaebler, 1992; Savas & Ginsburg, 1973; Walters, 2002). This, in turn, engendered a reform movement that espoused ―managerialism‖ by ―blowing up‖ the civil service (Walters, 2002), ―radical reform (Condrey & Maranto, 2001), a ―civil service tsunami‖ (Walters, 2003) and going ―to the edge‘‖ with civil service reform (Barrett & Greens, R. (1999) – virulent vituperative for enhancing executive control over work forces. In the nineties, Georgia and Florida introduced at-will in the public sector that resulted in conversion of several thousand existing classified employees to at-will employees while all new employees would be at-will. At the heart of at-will in the public sector lay the elimination of the due process and the consequent loss of job security. Hundred per cent of workers in Texas are at-will employees while Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Illinois have 72, 48, 40, 35, 33, 30 and about 20 per cent respectively. Hays and Sowa (2006, p. 107) showed that 28 of the 50 US states have made significant expansion of at-will employment in public agencies. Other arguments in support of at-will have included poor political responsiveness of civil servants. Further arguments include the need for executive flexibility to deal with employee malfeasance and
  • Basu 12 nonfeasance, i.e. using termination of service as a negative incentive for performance (Bowman, Gertz, Gertz & Williams, 2003; Walters, 2003) and greater freedom from political control and oversight and the opportunity to be entrepreneurial (Terry, 1998). They observed that political officials wanted bureaucratic responsiveness, expertise and institutional memory while simultaneously, promoting the contradiction of at-will (2006, 179). Green et al’s finding that the traditional criteria for conversion to at-will are vague and inconsistent and stemmed from unique circumstances, serves to bolster such contradiction (2006, 179-180) in the process of conversion to at-will. In this manner, the legislature injected a contingency into the classified civil service that had achieved fit and performance in its own estimation. 2.3 Managerial Flexibility: Myth or Reality? Does at-will employment lead to managerial flexibility? While for some it was a full-fledged attack on the bureaucracy (Kearney & Hays, 1998), for others it was another fad and ―tide of reform‖ (Light, 2006, 7). Legislation passed in Georgia based on mangerialist ideology (Pollitt, 1993; Thayer, 1984) caused ―increased management rights over employees‖ (Gossett, 2002, p. 96; Ingraham & Ban, 1984) and imposed legal prohibitions on the ability of employees to strike (Gossett, 2002. 96- 97). There was absence of uniformity in classification of posts opening the system to patronage (Gossett 2002, 102) coupled with the arbitrary power of dismissal (Gossett, 2002, 101). No decentralization of HRM function required for flexibility took place (Hays and Sowa, 2006, 106-7). Neither sick payments nor compensation for damages (Aparicio-Valverde, et al 1997, 596-608) and costly disruptions in work programs by changing organizational allegiance (Hunter, et al, 1993, 383- 407) was factored into legislation. There was also no consideration of the effect of higher wages for at-will employees on lower paid classified employees (Brewster, et al, 1997). Thus, managerial flexibility remained incomplete, despite the stated objective of legislatures (Gossett, 2002, p. 101). Evidently, managers were trapped between a legislature unwilling to grant them the full measure of
  • Basu 13 operational autonomy on the one hand, and the flexible requirements and expectations of the new system on the other. Thus while a contingency was created, the resources to adapt it to the existing structure were not made available. Obviously, this ‗half-system‘ had its fallout on both employees and managers. 2.4 Impact on Job Security What are the main effects of the at-will system that employees and managers perceive? Two major issues that at-will‘s detractors have frequently used are its effects on employee job security and motivation. In the federal government, post-9/11, the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense (DoD) have introduced at-will on a substantial number of posts. However, this has not resulted in any major change in employee perception from 1979 (purely classified) to 2002 (partly at- will included) on key parameters as Table 1 shows (Haksoo, Cayer and Lan, 2006). Variables 1979 2002 Mean Variables 1979 2002 Mean Overall organizational effectiveness 3.84 3.88 3.84 Job satisfaction 3.90 3.79 3.72 Support for organizational change 3.12 3.24 3.11 Customer orientation 3.82 3.57 3.64 Empowerment 3.54 3.47 3.36 Teamwork 3.97 4.00 3.80 Performance evaluation fairness 3.25 3.67 3.40 Performance rewards 2.87 3.21 3.05 Poor performer management 2.96 2.74 2.95 Table 1 Even with managerial flexibility and at-will, employees perceived increases in overall organizational effectiveness, teamwork, fair performance evaluations and teamwork. Green, et al found that the at- will system relied on competent trained managers. However, budget constraints prevented such imparting of such training. (2006, 180) Low remuneration remains a major constraint. With decline in labor unions, legislators and courts introduced antidiscrimination and antiretaliation measures that limited the authority of employers. While antidiscrimination measures included Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Americans
  • Basu 14 with Disabilities Act, anti-retaliation measures included the National Labor Relations Act (1935), Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) and the Clean Air Act (1963). Simultaneously, the judiciary created exceptions based on implied contract, good faith and fair dealing and tort (Gertz, 2006, 51-52). Although employee perceptions speak of loss of job security and motivation of at-will employees, court judgments do not always bear out the arbitrariness inherent in at-will employment. In other words, judicial accountability tempers at-will. Autor states that the recognition of exceptions to employment at will by 46 state courts between 1973 and 1995 limited employers‘ discretion to terminate workers and opened the latter to potentially costly litigation (2003, 2). In Toussaint v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 1980, the Michigan Supreme Court held that an internal personnel policy handbook that indicated the company‘s policy to terminate employees only for just cause implied a binding contract to continue employment (Autor, 2003, 5). In Pugh v. See’s Candies, 1981, courts further expanded the implied contract notion by deciding that workers are entitled to ongoing employment even in the absence of written or indirect statements if contractual rights were implied via the context of the employment relationship such as longevity of service, a history of promotion or salary increases, or typical industry practices (Autor, 2003, 6). Courts have made it difficult for employers to skirt the risk posed by implied contract suits, e.g. employers‘ progressive discipline policies—stipulating that workers will not be fired for poor performance without first receiving successive warnings. Courts have taken employers‘ 401(K) and other retirement programs as evidence of an expectation of long-term employment. In 15 states that currently recognize the implied-contract exception, courts have held that signed disclaimers waiving implied contract rights do not nullify these rights (Walsh and Schwarz, 1996). In sum, even though legal recourse is expensive, courts remain a viable and receptive alternative to arbitrariness in at-will employment. The verdict of the State Supreme Court in 2002 upholding the state Governor‘s stand on ServiceFirst (the reform law as it was called) on limiting collective bargaining accounted for
  • Basu 15 significant increase in membership in the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) chapters (Walters, 2002, 2003). It would appear that instead of weakening collective bargaining, at-will appears to have stimulated it and provided an additional avenue of protection for at-will employees. Layoffs and terminations of service combined are significantly higher at 16.3 per cent annually in the private sector when compared to 2.9 per cent at the federal level and 5.6 per cent in states. Lasseter‘s (2002, p.128) analysis of firings in post-at-will Georgia bears out the low rates as shown in Table 2: Classified % of total Unclassified % of total Terminations % of total Year Employees workforce employees workforce workforce 1994 21,045 91.5 1,955 8.5 212 0.5 1996 Merit System Reform Introduced – At-will employment 1998 17,050 77.5 4,950 22.5 262 1.2 2000 11,382 54.2 9,618 48.8 328 1.6 Table 2 However, Lasseter also admits that there was a downsizing of the workforce by about 10% from 23,000 in 1994 to 21,000 in 2000 and not all firings were attributed to at-will (2002, 128). Although managers were cognizant about the legal protections available to employees, nearly 20,000 voluntary and involuntary separations occurred in Texas in 2005 alone. No break-up of the separations of public and private sectors being available in the studies, it is quite likely that the percentage of involuntary separations in government may be much lower than the average of 5.6 per cent in the private sector. The median resultant damages awarded by courts nationwide for unjust firings rose by 70% from $120,736 in 1992 to $205,794 in 2000 (Gardner, et al, 2000, 39). The average award to victorious plaintiffs in wrongful discharge cases heard in California between 1982 and 1986 was $652,100 - $1.41 million for 115 cases between 1989 and 1991(Dunford, et al, 1998, 903-904). In fine, the courts partly balanced the absence of due process in at-will, remedied a major
  • Basu 16 aspect of the at-will contingency and restored accountability of managers in the system of governance; a partial adaptation of the structure thus occurred in tandem with unionization. Thus, at- will does not necessarily lower the civil service into the netherworld of arbitrariness and deprives at- will workers of their job security. 2.5 Impact on Employee Motivation In a study of the at-will system in Texas, Coggburn (2006, p. 163) observed that although most HR Directors of public agencies who were interviewed felt that at-will helped ensure employee compliance with organizational goals, they agreed only partly agreed on at-will as the source of motivation for an unclassified employee. Kellough and Nigro (2006) discovered that after four years of operation of the reforms in Georgia, few of the work force agreed that the scheme (GeorgiaGain) provided motivation to employees and that pay hikes did not relate to improved performance. The uncertainty of employment and unfairness in distribution of incentives has not been counterbalanced by market-level salary levels as Coggburn has shown (2006, 170). Kerr (1995) identifies fascination with an "objective" criterion, overemphasis on highly visible behaviors, hypocrisy and emphasis on morality or equity rather than efficiency as being the factors that militate against the proper functioning of any rewards system. Taylor and Pierce reported similar findings from a government environmental agency in New Zealand (1999). Coggburn (2006, p. 174) stated, ―Although at-will employment does enhance executive control over government, it does nothing to attract new employees or to positively motivate existing staff members. Moreover, at-will employment may discourage certain forms of desirable behavior (e.g. whistle-blowing) and, at the same time, encourages undesirable behavior (e.g. insensitivity to procedural fairness)‖ (Coggburn, 2006, p. 174). To add to the mounting tide of negative findings, Coggburn stated that many respondents felt that at- will did not encourage innovation and voicing of dissenting opinions (2006, p. 174). It is pertinent to note that such charges are equally endemic to the civil service and have more to do with human
  • Basu 17 nature than with at-will employment. Therefore, the structure was unable to adapt the contingency and issues of job security and employee motivation remained major areas of concern. Many organizational researchers have suggested that employee work motivation is related more closely to intrinsic rewards of work than with the level of compensation earned (Herzberg, 1966; Hackman and Lawler, 1971; Hackman and Oldham 1980). These scholars stress the importance of employee participation and employee perceptions of the significance of their work. Perry and Wise (1990) stated that the current trend of public motivation programs failed to acknowledge unique motives underlying public sector employment. They pointed out that public service motivation was commonly associated with normative orientations such as a desire to serve the public interest or social equity. Public organizations that attracted employees with high levels of public service motivation would not have to construct incentive systems that were predominantly utilitarian to energize and direct member behavior. (Perry & Wise, 1990: 371). Therefore, candidates applying for unclassified jobs in the public sector may well have public service for motivation, even as they are aware that job security may be lacking. It is perhaps this motivation that Green et al (2006, 180) found in at-will employees who did not relate their status to productivity. Thus, the linkage between job security and motivation may not always apply in the public sector. 2.6 Discussion: What Research Supports Evidently, at-will is a creation of legislative politics, arising from the inability to use civil service discipline and dismissal systems effectively in ensuring a responsive bureaucracy. It attempts to subvert civil service security and motivation on the pretext of imparting greater managerial flexibility and give rise to political patronage. Even then, it has failed to grant the requisite level of operational autonomy to managers. Thus while hiring has been speeded up, the issue of adequate salaries to attract workers is not available due to budget constraints. In some states, managers do not have the authority to make rules on at-will employees such as those relating to leave. Appraisals,
  • Basu 18 rewards and incentives too remain as unfair as they were in classified systems. In some cases, speed of staff hiring have improved, although quality does not reflect in the employees recruited. Theoretically, HR managers feel they have greater authority to enforce accountability and deal with work shirkers since they now have the autonomy to fire employees at will. On the one hand, while components of the structure (managers) feel that the at-will contingency has been dealt with by their perceptions of greater powers of hiring and firing, on the other, the structure has not adapted at-will fully, given large budgetary constraints and an evident unwillingness to change procedures from classified systems. 2.7 Discussion-II: What Research Does Not Support Current opinions voice apprehensions of employees at losing their primary drivers, viz. job security and motivation vis-à-vis perceptions of managers about their enhanced powers of hiring and firing. However, credible evidence such as the PEW Report (Governance, 2008) give states with high incidence of at-will employees high as well as low grades for HR management. Is it then that quality of leadership of the agencies is suspect, notwithstanding at-will? Green, et al, 2006 concludes that public managers and political officials are inclined to experiment with at-will. Second, younger workers are less unfavorably inclined to at-will (Green, 2006, 187). Despite gloomy predictions of political patronage, there is little to show that such patronage has indeed occurred. Nor have rates of involuntary turnover appreciated to be of any worthwhile concern. Available data does not bear out any appreciable increase in the incidence of firings. The studies also rarely take into account the role of the judicial system in filling in for the loss of due process in at-will. Then how do perceptions of managerial autonomy and a semi-fear psychosis of employees jell with court judgments and large damage awards against employers or enforcement of statutes by federal/state agencies and a widening of protections by courts? Last, but not the least, the coinciding of superannuation of the Baby Boomer generation with large budget deficits, stock market uncertainties and shrinking
  • Basu 19 employment markets, leaves at-will as the major viable option for all employers, government or private. Thus, external factors appear to be forcing the structure to adapt the at-will contingency as a measure for survival of the system of governance in the end. 3. Research Design 3.1 Overview and Rationale 3.1.1 Defining the Phenomenon From the above discussion, the contours of a phenomenon emerge, one that is lived by several thousand people across vast geographical regions not necessarily homogenous in functions or any ethnic considerations across states and federal governments. As the structure attempts to adapt to the at-will contingency, its incomplete transition causes the at-will personnel involved in it to develop complexes of fear, distrust and unfairness that affects motivation, job satisfaction, and security. Despite this, external factors now may force the final adaptation of the at-will contingency as an economic necessity as also the means to achieving a fit performance level. 3.1.2 Why Phenomenology? A phenomenological study describes the meaning of lived experiences of a concept or a phenomenon for several individuals. The ultimate objective of a phenomenological approach therefore is to arrive at a description of the universal essence. In doing so, phenomenology keeps apart any preconceived theoretical notions/assumptions (bracket) that a researcher may make until they arise from concrete facts. Once such interpretation made on facts, phenomenology assumes an interpretivist approach. Given the fact that this study involves interactions between subjects who have uncertainties of at-will as their common concern, as do managers of organizations with such employees, the study would necessarily have to have a psychological approach to phenomenology at two levels, viz. macro and micro. While the macro level inquiry would establish broad contours of the essence, the micro level would inquire into specific areas on preset criteria detailed in the
  • Basu 20 succeeding paragraphs. Thus, the essence of the problem would have a phenomenological focus at two levels of analysis to be useful for HR managers and system designers. Reverting to our first research question, for instance, when managers perceive lack of flexibility, it is useful to know whether there is a difference in such perceptions between at-will managers and classified managers. Similarly, if managerial flexibility is indeed the cause of lack of security and motivation among employees, it is useful to know the specifics of what aspect(s) in the workplace such uncertainties stem from or whether such prejudices relate to any other socio- economic factor such as race or sex. Job security is a major consideration for all at-will employees. Yet there is a likelihood of a younger age group or faith not being averse to it. Similarly, employees with higher skill sets may not face the uncertainties of at-will with the same degree of trepidation that others with lesser skill sets would. The relative absence of such trepidation may be due to the geographical location of an organization, demographics, local economy, traditions, etc. Fig. 3 shows the schematic layout of the proposed design. The detailed stages of the study are at Annexure-‗A‘. Macro Level *RQ: Research Question Phenomenology *RQ 1 *RQ 2 Identify themes at macro level Age, sex, ethnicity, Lack of managerial Micro Level skills and flexibility, unfairness in Phenomenology geographical area promotions, rewards/incentives, *RQ 1 arbitrary firings, legal *RQ 2 protections, low motivation Phenomenological Fig. 3 Case Studies
  • Basu 21 The second advantage of this design is its flexibility. For instance, either of the research questions could be individually covered or in a combination of two or more. Further, two sets of researchers could be deployed, each with its own skill sets and bridged by the principal investigator. While managerial flexibility is perhaps the most vilified issue in public management today, yet its impact on at-will employees and consequent HR grading of states in the Pew Report supra gleaned from subject interviews. Similarly, researchers may obtain feedback from subjects of the role of professional motivators‘ vis-à-vis innovations in public service delivery by departments converted, in part or completely, to at-will. Within a single research problem too, the phenomenological approach may provide useful feedback on the effects of at-will unionization on job security or on the effect of fairness of appraisals/rewards/incentives when managers do not have adequate budgets to fund better pay and benefits to at-will employees. Last, but not the least, the phenomenological approach is constructively purposive and opinion-neutral. The design accepts the fait accompli of at-will in the current scenario and proposes to take up the study that would be useful for organizations, thereby addressing the gap between theory and practice. To this extent, it may even be somewhat interventionist and action-oriented in its approach, though not falling under the category of action research. Annexure ‗A‘ shows the detailed schematic layout of the proposed study. The study proposed is a two-tier one. The first interview would be based upon an open-ended format and could be done face-to-face or by telephone, in focus groups or as individuals meeting most of the above criteria. The population is selected for its homogeneity with the overriding consideration of having experienced the phenomenon of managerial flexibility arising from at-will, such as purposefully stratified by age, sex, ethnicity, seniority, geographical location (low, medium or high traffic airports) as shown in Tables 3 & 4 (software used for weighting).
  • Basu 22 Table 3: Selection Criteria List for Managers Name Department Classified/ Sex Age (years) Edu Qual. Prof Qual Ethnicity Service HR = 1 Unclassified M= 1 25-50 =1 HS< = 0 Tech = 1 Majority = 1 (years) Non HR = 2 C=1 F=2 >50 = 2 HS = 1 Non-tech =2 Minority = 2 20≤ = 1 UC =2 ≥ UG = 2 >21 = 2 (Wt*: 0.10) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.10) Table 4: Selection Criteria List for Employees Name Department Age (years) Sex Edu Qual. Ethnicity Service (years) Centrality of position HR = 1 20-40 = 1 M=1 HS< = 1 Majority = 1 5-15 = 1 Specialist= 1 Non-HR = 2 >40 = 2 F=2 HS = 2 Minority = 2 >15 =2 Generalist = 2 UG & > = 2 (Wt*: 0.05) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.15) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.10) *Wt. = Weight Researchers would follow the first interview for opportunistic leads that may require multiple interviews with different groups of managers or the same set of personnel. Since perceptions may be context and/or time-specific, structured interviews may point out extremities and help arrive at ‗normal‘ situations. Thus, the feeling of overall adequacy of rewards given by managers in the first interview may stand contradicted in subsequent interviews when the context is limited, from say all employees, to female employees or Hispanic employees only. Conversely, a feeling of helplessness with the rules governing rewards for employees may not be as strong for senior at-will employees or veterans, as it may be for ‗rookie‘ employees. These interviews would throw up sub-themes for the case studies. Sample themes could be the effect of managerial flexibility on female Hispanic TSOs in low-traffic airports in SE US. Such a theme would also relate to motivation of employees. If employees are indeed apprehensive of firings and perceive threats to their jobs, official records and data would provide figures of attrition, court verdicts, etc. for purposes of the case study. This would also partly externally validate the interview findings. Such a process generates a rich trove of information and guide HR managers in designing integrated HR systems. Such study may highlight differences in perceptions of job security between ethnic groups, age and sex groups, or on geographical locations, skill sets and qualifications etc. and prove of immense utility to HR managers and system designers.
  • Basu 23 Phenomenological thematic case studies of the type proposed also provide rich information for hours of personnel deployment, job-related difficulties, superstitions and beliefs, etc., and how they play important roles in deciding the perceptions of employees. Enhancing the quality of rewards, more intrinsic than extrinsic, may result thereby reducing apprehensions of motivation and security and empower managers to dole out such rewards more liberally and often. Thus, the two-tier phenomenological research design creates a macro field of inquiry and then uses case studies, to the extent required, to further analyze specific niche HR areas that impinge upon the operational effectiveness of an organization. 3.2 Site and Population Selection Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was voted the 29th best department of the federal government to work, of 30 departments with an overall index score of 49.8 in 2007 (Partnership for Public Service, 2007A). Within the DHS too, the TSA with an overall score of 40.6 is the second lowest rated agency. Of 222 federal agencies surveyed, the TSA ranks at 220 with a workforce in 2007 of 57,853 (TSA, 2008). The workforce is also diverse comprising white 61.2%, black 20.7%, Asian 4.7%, Hispanic 12.4% and American Indian 0.9%. TSA also has a relatively high rate of attrition with an average 2,779 joining and 6,614 per annum leaving in 2002-06 (TSA, 2008). Such high turnover ratio leaves TSA with 41.7% of its personnel in the ‗rookie‘ employee category (percentage of workforce with less than three years of service) (Partnership for Public Service, 2007B & TSA, 2008). In fact, TSA admits that its average attrition rate from 2003-07 is 23.46% (TSA, 2008). TSA also has 24.6% of its employees on part-time basis (TSA, 2008). It is not surprising that TSA ranks at the bottom of the list of surveyed federal agencies as shown in Table 5.
  • Basu 24 Parameter Rank (of 222) Parameter Rank (of 222) Employee Skills/Mission Match 220 Strategic Management 217 Team Work 218 Effective Leadership 222 Performance Based Rewards 222 Training & Development 197 Support for Diversity 218 Pay & Benefits 222 Work & Life Balance 222 Table 5 TSA claims that in 2007 only 337 complaints (0.58% of its total workforce) filed formal complaints, which was lower than those of the Departments of Transportation and Justice, and the US Postal Service (TSA, 2008), most of which have civil service protections. However, this does not support the high rate of attrition and the survey results shown in Table 5. TSA employees also have the right to form unions and in 2007 4,349 employees were union members (TSA, 2008), i.e. 7.5% of the total workforce. TSA also states that it has multiple avenues for redressing of employee grievances. Internally it has Ombudsman's Office, Office of Civil Rights, Disciplinary Review Board, Peer Review Programs, a Model Workplace Program, where employees and managers form councils to address all sorts of workplace complaints and grievances and a zero-tolerance policy about illegal drug use and theft. Externally, employees may appeal to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (Whistleblower) and Federal Courts (TSA 2008). TSA deploys its 43,000 TS Officers (TSOs) at 450 airports all over the US (TSA, 2008) TSA fulfills almost all the major considerations as the subject for a phenomenological study because of its overwhelming proportion of employees being at-will, the diversity of its employees, high rate of employee attrition, unionization of at-will employees, poor reward and incentive schemes, average leadership and low pay and benefits, etc. These parameters would provide the different layers of phenomenological thematic case studies. Phenomenological study of the extent of managerial flexibility would provide the leads for case studies in sub-thematic areas based on the parameters mentioned supra in this section.
  • Basu 25 3.3 Data Collection As stated in section 3.1 supra, the study adopts a purposeful sampling strategy for identifying the subject population. Administrative support from TSA would assure access to the organization, although researchers would make the selection of subjects; encounter some initial reticence from employees to participate. Based on homogenous populations defined by age, ethnic group, sex and functional area of deployment, subjects of inquiry include pay and benefits, job security and motivation, rewards and incentives, quality of leadership, etc. Interviews would be a mix of one-on- one, focus groups, telephone or online conferencing and based on an interview protocol devised by the researchers; obtain consent of the subjects prior to the interview. While one-on-one interviews may be appropriate for a TSA duty manager, focus groups may be more appropriate for employees. In fact, based on the first round of interviews, researchers would devise a pilot format. If the population of managers at TSA were stratified by age, sex, length of service, ethnic group, geographical location, skills and qualifications, centrality of their relative positions to the decision- making process, etc. and then asked the first research question in this proposal, responses may expectedly differ widely as may the understanding of the term ‗managerial flexibility‘ itself. For instance, between Hispanic and Asian –origin managers in the age group of 35-45 years, based in high, medium and low traffic airports with lengths of service of 5-10 years, a conservative view of managerial flexibility may show agreement with the existing rules while a more liberal view may show up high level of frustration with the rules. Such perceptions may then affect group/individual rewards, promotions, etc. and eventually influence the perceptions of motivations and job security of at-will employees. Based upon the first open-ended interview, researchers would identify variations to classify them, identify extremities and attempt to arrive at a typical case for a benchmark. At the second stage, researchers would, based upon general trends from the phenomenological study, extend their
  • Basu 26 efforts to sub-themes as phenomenological case studies. Therefore, the endpoint of the first tier of this proposal (macro) would form the starting point of the second tier (micro). Since both tiers involve observation of subjects as also interviewing, researchers, both as participants as well as observers, would use field notes extensively. Interviews in the first stage would be semi-structured (given the specific research questions) and recorded on audio and/or videotape. Since multiple perceptions or variations of the same perception from both managers and employees may arise during interviews, researchers will journal their impressions and, to the extent possible, request participants in the study to do the same. Since TSA maintains extensive databases as also close- circuit recording of their personnel at work, researchers would analyze these tapes and information also. For instance, videotapes may generate interesting information on conditions of work and injuries, etc. that may point to low employee motivation. Audit of duty deployment charts and time sheets, injury reports, compensation claims, etc. for TSOs, maintained by airports and reference to TSA documents relating to employee complaints, turnover, incentives and rewards paid, wage hikes, etc. would also be made. 3.4 Data Analysis Data analysis runs concurrently with data collection. Based upon interviews and observations, researchers would first develop a list of significant statements and then broadly assign the findings to themes, wherever required, to accommodate different perspectives on a single issue. In doing so, researchers would move to the interpretive plane and create broad descriptions. For creating descriptions, researchers would classify the findings into themes by assigning codes and then slotting the findings into each theme (code) using coding software (Atlas, InVivo, etc.), the ultimate objective being not to count the frequency of recurrence but to generate manageable themes required for narration.
  • Basu 27 For this purpose, researchers would evolve a common codebook so that there is uniformity in reporting, apart from saving time. For instance, perceptions of blacks and Hispanic TSOs in SE US on motivation and job security may be a theme while negative and positive perceptions may be sub- themes for case studies; aggregation of such themes/sub-themes for the case studies. Researchers would create a textural description of the essence of the experience of employees and then relate it to the setting and context in their structural description. The second-tier would then start, using the fit theoretical model to gauge the effect of at–will managerial flexibility, employee job security and motivation on managers and employees. For example, if the first tier phenomenological study shows different employee perceptions of lack of motivation due to poor rewards/incentives, the case study would cover such areas/populations that account for the deviance from the typical case. More specifically, if the first-tier findings show less resistance to at-will from younger workers, a case study could delve deeper into this phenomenon by age, race, sex, etc. Simultaneously, case studies would take into account supporting data such as those from TSA‘s databases and official documents, etc. and use graphs and tables to support and supplement the studies. In effect, the case studies would be the endpoint in the triangulation of data collected by investigators and TSA information within the fit model. 3.5 Trustworthiness Given the ultimate objective of relating research on at-will to practice, it is imperative that the findings are trustworthy. This proposal has already built in validation by triangulation of data. While on the one hand, interviews would be the basis of thematic construction, yet such interviews conducted by different investigators, using a variety of tools, would be the first step in the internal validity process. A common codebook too would ensure uniform coding of findings without limiting the scope of interviews. This codebook, based upon intercoder agreement, would add to the internal reliability of the research by divorcing the transcriber from the researcher and provide uniform codes
  • Basu 28 for themes. Data sourced from the TSA used for supplementing the case studies and the first-tier study would further internally validate the findings. Yet the scope for external validation remains. This is achieved by peer review by unconnected (to this study) independent reviewers who would critically examine the findings, give alternative perspectives, critically analyze the transition from textural to structural narration and comment on researcher biases, if any, remaining after bracketing. 3.6 Personal Biography The principal investigator is serving the classified federal civil service in his home country for the last 24 years. He is presently specializing in public management at the North Carolina State University where he attends the PhD program in Public Administration. He has been working on at- will employment in the public sector for the last two years and sees it as an alternative model of governance, arising more from economics than politics. His experience of the civil service would enable him to compare and contrast classified and unclassified systems and employee and managerial behavior and perceptions arising from them. Being part of the public sector and conversant with systems and their limitations, the principal investigator would not suffer from the biases of outsiders. He would also not have major problems of access to official records. Being conversant with records, he would also be able to save time in the study by speedily locating relevant data. Assistance of experts and other investigators with similar qualifications and experience will also be available for this study. 3.7 Ethical and political considerations While both managers and employees in the hope that their grievances would be redressed, may favorably receive this study, yet interviewees are likely to be reticent to speak against major system deficiencies. It is therefore important that research in not intrusive to the extent possible. For this purpose, the initial list of eligible candidates is drawn from TSA‘s databases thereby maintaining confidentiality. Researchers would approach all the subjects via e-
  • Basu 29 mail or phone to obtain their consent after duly explaining the broad contours of the study and its aims and objectives to them. Personal interviews, particularly with managers, are either online or in person in a separate room with assured confidentiality. Videotapes of personnel at work for observation would be with TSA‘s consent. The study would not disclose names of interviewees and specific designations. Subject populations selected, as per Tables 3 & 4 supra after receiving consent from all employees, although the composition of groups decided upon by investigators. Information about unknown personal or illegal activity exposed during interviews would be kept confidential and transcriptions of interviews vetted by the interviewees. No typecasting of employees/managers happens by the investigators; separate investigators and transcribers for multiple interviews.
  • Basu 30 RQ 1 Managerial Flexibility Age Centrality of post Annexure ‗A‘ Ethnic Group Geographical location Sex Length of Service Phenomenological Macro Phenomenological Level MicroLevel Thematic Case Study Study Open-ended interview (1st Opportunistic multiple Official Documents, round) interviews from findings of Archival matériel, PLogy interviews figures/tables Structured multiple Snowballing Extremities/ interviews Normal Gauge intensity Coding Opportunistic leads Classifying Extremities Textural & Structural Description Normal/average cases Internal Validity External Validity Confirm Narration /Disconfirm Coding Classifying Textural & Structural Description Internal Validity External Validity Narration
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  • Basu 34 SHARFRITZ, JM, RICUCCI, NM, ROSENBLOOM, DH & HYDE, AC (1992): Personnel management in government (4th ed.). New York. Marcel Dekker SIMON, HERBERT A. (1946): The Proverbs of Administration. Public Administration Review, Vol 6 No. (Winter). Pp. 53-67 SINNOTT, GC (1998): Civil Service – Bully, Bully: New York State Department of Civil Service. Quoted in Battaglio, R. Paul & Condrey, Stephen E. (2006): Civil Service Reform: Examining the State and Local Government Cases. Review of Public Personnel Administration. Vol. 26. p.118-138 STEPHENS, DB & KOHL, JP (1988): The ‗New‖ status of termination-at-will in Texas: Guidelines for employers in the aftermath of Sabine v. Hauck. Southwest Journal of Business and Economics, 6(1), pp. 13-25 TAYLOR, PAUL J. & PIERCE, JON L. (1999): Effects of Introducing a Performance Management System on Employees‘ Subsequent Attitudes and Effort. Public Personnel Management, Fall Vol. 28, Issue 3. TERRY, LD (1998): Administrative leadership, neo-managerialism and the public management movement. Public Administration Review, 58(3).pp. 194-200 US BUREAU OF THE CENSUS (2004): State Government Employment and Finances Table A-75, extracted on Oct 14, 2008, from http://www.census.gov/compendia/smadb/SMADBstate.html ___________________ (2004b): State Government Employment and Finances Table A-76, extracted on Oct 14, 2008, from http://www.census.gov/compendia/smadb/SMADBstate.html US Department of Labor (2008): SEASONALLY ADJUSTED: Employment Cost Index for total compensation, by ownership, occupational group, and industry Table1, extracted on Oct 21, 2008 from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/eci.t01.htm US OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT (2008): An Analysis of Federal Employee Retirement Data, p. 6 extracted on Oct 14, 2008 from http://www.opm.gov/feddata/index.asp US TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (2008): The Facts on TSO Attrition Rates: Our Approach extracted on Oct 25, 2008 from http://www.tsa.gov/approach/people/attrition.shtm VALVERDE, MIREIA, TREGASKIS, OLGA & BREWSTER, CHRIS (2000): Labor Flexibility and Firm Performance. International Advances in Economic Research; Nov2000, Vol. 6 Issue 4, pp. 649-62 WALSH, DAVID J., AND SCHWARZ, JOSHUA L (1996): ―State Common Law Wrongful Discharge Doctrines: Up-date, Refinement, and Rationales.‖ American Business Law Journal 33 (1996): 645–89. WALTERS, J (2002): Life after civil service reform: The Texas, Georgia and Florida experiences. Arlington, VA; IBM Endowment for the Business of Government __________ (2003): Civil service reform tsunami. Governing, 16(8), pp. 34-40 WOOD, HORACE (1877): Master and Servant, 2nd ed. p. 136
  • Basu 35 Researcher’s & Participants Activities Description of Activity Date # of Days for Activity From To Prepare issue brief/position paper, devise interview 01/01/09 03/31/09 90 protocols & obtain IRB Consent Identify investigators & transcribers; procure recording 04/01/09 04/30/09 30 devices, InVivo, etc., obtain agency clearance for survey/interview and devise codebook Survey site of interviews & obtain lists of employees and 05/01/09 05/15/09 15 managers from agency Shortlist subjects for interview, obtain their consent and set 05/16/09 05/23/09 7 up interviews First level interviews with individual managers + 05/24/09 06/07/09 15 significant statements First level focus group meetings with at-will employees + 06/08/09 06/30/09 23 significant statements Derive themes from interviews + decide on case study 07/01/09 07/31/09 31 areas Follow-up interviews with individual managers + 08/01/09 08/15/09 15 significant statements for case studies Derive themes from interviews + textural description 08/16/09 08/31/09 15 Follow-up interviews with focus groups of employees 09/01/09 09/07/09 7 based on age, sex, ethnicity, etc. + significant statements for case studies Derive themes from interviews + textural descriptions 09/08/09 09/23/09 15 Final round of follow-up interviews + textural descriptions 09/24/09 09/30/09 7 Derive new themes & finalize list of themes + overall and 10/01/09 10/31/09 31 case study textural descriptions Research from agency records 11/01/09 11/30/09 30 Finalize structural description 12/01/09 12/31/09 31 Write narration 01/01/10 02/28/10 60 Peer Review + addressing comments 03/01/09 04/30/09 60 Final drafting of report 05/01/09 05/31/09 31 Submit report June 1, 2009 513 Note: Many sub-activities such as transcription, investigator meetings and fieldwork are subsumed in the above descriptions of activity of the researcher. The days based on approximate output of one principal investigator, 3-4 investigators and two transcribers.
  • Basu 36 IRB Informed Consent Form Revised 11/2006 North Carolina State University Institutional Review Board For The Use of Human Subjects in Research GUIDELINES FOR PREPARATION OF INFORMED CONSENT FORM An Informed Consent Statement has two purposes: (1) to provide adequate information to potential research subjects to make an informed choice as to their participation in a study, and (2) to document their decision to participate. In order to make an informed choice, potential subjects must understand the study, how they are involved in the study, what sort of risks it poses to them and who they can contact if a problem arises (see informed consent checklist for a full listing of required elements of consent). Please note that the language used to describe these factors must be understandable to all potential subjects, which typically means an eighth grade reading level. The informed consent form is to be read and signed by each subject who participates in the study before they begin participation in the study. A duplicate copy is to be provided to each subject. If subjects are minors (i.e. any subject under the age of 18) use the following guidelines for obtaining consent: 0-5 years old – requires signature of parent(s)/guardian/legal representative 6 – 10 years old - requires signature of parent(s)/guardian/legal representative and verbal assent from the minor. In this case a minor assent script should be prepared and submitted along with a parental consent form. 11 - 17 years old - requires signature of both minor and parent/guardian/legal representative If the subject or legal representative is unable to read and/or understand the written consent form, it must be verbally presented in an understandable manner and witnessed (with signature of witness). If there is a good chance that your intended subjects will not be able to read and/or understand a written consent form, please contact the IRB office (919-515-4514) for further instructions. For your convenience, attached find a sample consent form template that contains necessary information. In generating a form for a specific project, the principal investigator should complete the underlined areas of the form and replicate the bold areas.
  • Basu 37 North Carolina State University INFORMED CONSENT FORM for RESEARCH Title of Study: AT-WILL IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR: INTEGRATING CLASSIFIED AND UNCLASSIFIEDSYSTEMS FOR A NEW MODEL OF GOVERNMENT Principal Investigator Shantanu Basu Faculty Sponsor (if applicable) Dr.Julia Storberg- Walker We are asking you to participate in a research study. The purpose of this study is to assess extent of managerial flexibility, motivation and job security perceptions among managers and at- will employees in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) under the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the backdrop of the structural contingency theory. The investigator wishes to gauge the extent of the perceptions and then apply them by age, sex, ethnicity, skills and geographical area to small groups of managers and employees. This would help us in identifying specific areas and concerns that stand in the way of integrating classified and unclassified systems in government. INFORMATION You were selected as a participant because you are a manager or at-will employee of TSA. If you agree to participate in this study, you will be asked to participate in an online, telephone, face-to- face interview, one-on-one with the principal researcher, for a period of 90-120 minutes. There may be an additional shorter follow-up interview. Interviewers will ask you for your perceptions of managerial flexibility, motivation and job security. If you have any disciplinary action pending against you, this may also be disclosed to the interviewer with your perceptions on it. Fictitious names will safeguard your identity. The information in the study records will be kept strictly confidential. RISKS No risks anticipated BENEFITS In addition to contributing to the scholarly research on at-will employment, this study will generate findings that would support the integration of classified and unclassified employees in TSA. CONFIDENTIALITY Data will be stored securely in an electronically locked file cabinet in the principal investigator‘s office. Your name will not be used in any oral or written reports. Your confidentiality will be maintained by the researcher. Only the researcher will have access to the data from your interview (s) before your name is removed. Data will be reported using fictitious names to maintain confidentiality, and any demographic information that could indirectly identify you will be camouflaged so you that you may not be identified. This data will be published in a doctoral dissertation for North Carolina State University and possibly a journal(s) or conference proceeding(s). COMPENSATION (if applicable) No compensation is payable for your participation. EMERGENCY MEDICAL TREATMENT (if applicable)
  • Basu 38 N/A Consent, Right to Withdraw You have the right to withdraw from this research at any time. Withdrawal from this research will not influence your relationship with the researchers on this study. Your signature certifies that you have decided to participate in this research, and have read and understand the information presented in this consent form. CONTACT If you have questions at any time about the study or the procedures, you may contact the researcher, Shantanu Basu at 1810, Crossroads Vista Drive, Apt #105, Raleigh, NC 27606-4197 (shantanu_leo@hotmail.com). If you feel you have not been treated according to the descriptions in this form, or your rights as a participant in research have been violated during the course of this project, you may contact Dr. __________________, Chair of the NCSU IRB for the Use of Human Subjects in Research Committee, Box 7514, NCSU Campus (919/515-3086) or Mr. _________________________, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Research Administration, Box 7514, NCSU Campus (919/513-2148) PARTICIPATION Your participation in this study is voluntary; you may decline to participate without penalty. If you decide to participate, you may withdraw from the study at any time without penalty and without loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. If you withdraw from the study before data collection is completed your data will be returned to you or destroyed at your request. CONSENT ―I have read and understand the above information. I have received a copy of this form. I agree to participate in this study with the understanding that I may withdraw at any time.‖ Subject's signature_______________________________________Date _________________ Investigator's signature__________________________________ Date _________________
  • Basu 39 Selection Criteria List for Managers Name Department Classified/ Sex Age (years) Edu Qual. Prof Qual Ethnicity Service HR = 1 Unclassified M= 1 25-50 =1 HS< = 0 Tech = 1 Majority = 1 (years) Non HR = 2 C=1 F=2 >50 = 2 HS = 1 Non-tech =2 Minority = 2 20≤ = 1 UC =2 ≥ UG = 2 >21 = 2 (Wt*: 0.10) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.10) Selection Criteria List for Employees Name Department Age (years) Sex Edu Qual. Ethnicity Service (years) Centrality of position HR = 1 20-30 = 1 M=1 HS< = 1 Majority = 1 5-15 = 1 Specialist= 1 Non-HR = 2 31-40 = 2 F=2 HS = 2 Minority = 2 >15 =2 Generalist = 2 41-50 =3 UG & > = 2 >50 = 4 (Wt*: 0.05) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.15) (Wt. 0.20) (Wt. 0.10) (Wt. 0.10) *Wt. = Weight Note: Subjects for interview identified from the above database by a weighted score, using appropriate software. Thereafter judgmental analysis by researcher would be required.
  • Basu 40 Interview Protocol for Managers 1. Could you describe the operational flexibility as a manager that you have? Please bear in mind the recent legislation passed by the state legislature and consider its impact. [If the interviewee seems uncomfortable picking an issue or expresses concern about confidentiality, etc.] How about if we talk about how you perceive the recent civil service reforms? probe about degree of flexibility and manager’s perceptions 2. As I mentioned on the phone, I‘d like to talk about your efforts on creating trust between managers and employees. What are you trying to accomplish on this issue and what type of action are you taking to make that happen? probe about rewards, incentives, appraisals, etc. 3. Recap what they’re doing and what they’re trying to accomplish. Who else is involved in this issue both inside and outside of your agency? probe about perceptions about effects on employee motivation and job security. probe about what the reactions of employees are to managerial flexibility. 4. So you‘re talking to these various people [be specific if it’s relevant] about why it‘s necessary to move forward on this issue [or, if relevant, why it‘s necessary to prevent something from happening, etc.]. What‘s the fundamental argument you use to try to convince people to do this? probe about different arguments for different targets probe for secondary arguments probe for partisan differences in terms of how different managers respond to this issue 5. What impediments do you face in achieving your objectives on this issue—in other words, who or what is standing in your way? What arguments do they make? 6. [Recap employee perceptions of lack of motivation and security] Do at-will employees relate skills to their motivation and devotion to duty? 7. [If answer to (5) above affirmative and recap employee perceptions] In that case, why do at- will employees believe that they have no job security? 8. Do age, sex, skills, geographical location and ethnicity affect motivation and job security and perceptions of managerial flexibility? 9. Do you believe that you have more powers to hire and fire personnel that in the pre-reform era? 10. [If reply to (8) above is affirmative] How do laws reduce or enhance your flexibility in firing employees? 11. Why and how would you fire an at-will employee? ?? probe inclination to observe limited due process or none at all
  • Basu 41 Interview Protocol for At-Will Employees 1. Did you have a job offer in the private sector comparable to one in the public sector you now have? 2. [If reply to (1) above affirmative. If not proceed to question (3)] How would you compare the two jobs, for content, remuneration, rewards, etc.? 3. What factors did you consider when you joined the public sector? ?? Probe for intrinsic motivation of public service 4. Were you aware of the recent civil service reforms when you joined this sector? 5. [If reply to (2) above affirmative] How have the reforms influenced you? ?? probe perceptions of unfairness, arbitrariness, etc. [If reply to (2) above negative] Would you have joined the public sector if you were aware of the civil service reforms? ?? probe perceptions of unfairness, arbitrariness, etc 6. How have the reforms affected your motivation to work? probe about degree of lack of motivation, causes and perceptions of arbitrariness, comment on leadership of agency 7. As I mentioned on the phone, I‘d like to talk about your manager‘s efforts on creating trust between managers and employees. How much do you feel have been accomplished on this issue? probe about rewards, incentives, appraisals, etc. 8. [If reply to (5) above speaks of unfairness, etc.] Do you think you would have been treated differently if you had higher skills or came from a different ethnicity, age group or gender? probe about perceptions about causes and effects of all factors probe about what the reactions of employees are to managerial flexibility. 9. What impediments do you face in your daily work that you attribute to your at-will status? 10. [If reply to (7) above includes managerial arbitrariness] Do laws, courts and unions safeguard your job security? If so, how?