Toward a Theory of Loosely Coupled Systems: The Implementation of Federal Youth Employment Policies

Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten

Chapter IV

STREET-LEVEL BUREAUCRATS IN ACTION
PART 1 A REPORT AND ANALYSIS OF A SURVEY
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A. INTRODUCTION


This chapter presents an item-by-item analysis of responses to questions on the participant survey. The questions are grouped into five general categories: personal background, organizational subgoals, personal subgoals, overall opinion of the project and professional subgoals. Professional subgoals, however, are only touched on since they are analyzed in more depth in following chapters. Questions are analyzed in terms of their prevalence in high-, medium-, and low-slippage sites. 

Essentially the chapter is surprise-free. Preliminary data are in line with what was expected in Chapters II and III. There are systematic variations in individual subgoals across high-slippage, medium-slippage, and low-slippage sites. While tentative explanations are suggested for some causes and effects of these differences, the analysis of the interactions of subgoals with each other and with outputs is reserved for future chapters.

The terms ďparticipantĒ and ďmemberĒ, as used in this chapter, refer to those persons who provided services, and not to students or youths.

B. PERSONAL BACKGROUND OF PARTICIPANTS

Simon suggests that subgoals are derived from a personís experiences and background. Data were collected on five variables that could affect personal, organizational and professional subgoals. It was asserted that persons with similar education, experience, age and race would be likely to have similar professional subgoals. Moreover, it was asserted that these background characteristics might influence how a person defined personal subgoals, or estimated their fulfillment.

1. Individual Background Questions

Question 1: Individual ID. Computer-supplied. 

Question 2: Position. This question sought to identify the roles of individuals in the projects so that these roles could be compared to subgoals. The following categories were used: (1) project administrators; (2) all other project staff members, (3) cooperating employers; (4) principals in cooperating schools; and (5) oversight personnel, such as CETA staff, board of directorís members, advisory committee members or Department of Labor regional office staff. Graph 4.1 shows the distributions. 

Overall, of those surveyed, 13 percent were project administrators, 62 percent were classified as staff, 10 percent were cooperating principals, another 10 percent were oversight personnel, and 5 percent were employers.

At those sites classified as low-slippage, there tended to be a lower ratio of administrators to staff (1:6 vs. 1:5) and a higher level of employer participation (10% vs. 5%). By contrast, at sites judged to be high slippage, employer participation appears to have been minimal and involvement of cooperating high school principals was considerably lower than at either average- or low-slippage projects. 


Question 3: Time with Project. It was initially thought that the length of time an individual worked with a project might influence the personís sense of security, ownership, commitment to the project, feeling of effectiveness and attitudes toward the projectís effectiveness.  

Unfortunately, the question failed to reveal much of anything for two reasons. First, all Youthwork projects were new, in the sense of the question (i.e., they were new under Youthwork funding). As a result, the question reveals only whether an individual participant was with the project from its start, was employed during the project-year, or was terminated during the year. Had the question related to time with a pre existing program, as was the case with many Youthwork projects which were spin-offs of earlier programs, the responses might have been more revealing. 

The second reason the question failed was that, in most cases, information about the length of time participants had been with host programs was generally not available. 

Question 4: Previous Position. Aís basic hypothesis in this study is that a participantís professional subgoals are strongly influenced by his or her education, training, and other professional experiences. These are the things that help develop a professional attitude, for example, and that distinguish one profession from another.

Overall, it appears that about 60 percent of the participants had previously served in a school-based position, that is, as a teacher, counselor or administrator in a high school or community college. The remaining persons came from backgrounds in private industry, CETA or CETA programs, or had no previous work experience, as Graph 4.2 indicates.

Low-slippage sites differed considerably from high-slippage sites in the overall mix of participant backgrounds. Nearly all project personnel at high-slippage sites came from one class of institutional back grounds, that is, public education. At low-slippage sites, backgrounds were far more diverse, with nearly one in four persons coming from private sector backgrounds.

In part, participant backgrounds reflect the mix of participants found in Question 2. In this instance, however, the concentration of public school persons was greater than that found in the earlier question for high-slippage sites.

As with other questions, the direction and extent of effects are not clear. To some extent, the relative mixes suggested by Questions 2 and 4 may reflect the vision and capability of the director or the project developers, which may have had an independent effect on outputs. On the other hand, it may be that the mix of persons with different subgoals may have made successful implementation of a multi-faceted program is likely.

Question 5 Race. The overwhelming majority of youth served by Youthwork projects were Blacks, Hispanics or member of other minority groups. It was possible, therefore, that minority staff members might have greater empathy with the clients and place a higher value on certain subgoals. Unfortunately, most analyses of this type were not possible. Overall, there were too few non-minority staff members for correlations to have any meaning. Moreover, most minority staff members were at two sites. Although these were low-slippage sites, there does not appear to be sufficient theoretical or empirical reasons to draw any conclusions.

Race, however, was found to be, at best, a weak predictor of an individualís overall judgment about the degree to which the project serves youths (see Question 35, p. 141). Blacks seem to have been most pleased. Hispanics ranked a close second. Whites appear to have given somewhat lower marks to their projects than either Blacks or Hispanics. Because only 4 percent of participants at the three low-slippage sites were Blacks or members of other minority groups, the relationships between race and slippage are impossible to determine.

Question 6 Age. Various studies suggest that an individualís age influences both attitudes and behaviors. In Youthwork projects overall, as Graph 4.3 indicates, about one third of project participants were under 30 years of age and about one-fifth were in the 40 years-old-or-over category. When only staff members are considered, the percentage in the "over 40" class decreases and the percentage of those in the "under 30" category increases.

Two interesting findings occur. One is that age appears to be a high predictor of participant satisfaction with the project (as indicated by Question 35, below). Persons under 30 years of age expressed a much more positive attitude about the success of their projects than did those over 30 years old.

The second finding is that one of the characteristics of low- slippage sites was a heavy employment of young staff. In the three low- slippage projects, more than half of all participants and more than 90 percent of staff members were under 30 years old. At high-slippage sites, however, nearly 73 percent of all participants were in the "30-39 year old" or "40+ categories.

2. Discussion

Unfortunately, the data on personal background did not prove to be as available or discriminating as desired. Only for the variables "age" and "background" were data sufficient for further analyses, and those almost exclusively in terms of personal subgoals. This is one of the limitations of the study.

C. ORGANIZATIONAL SUBGOALS

Another set of questions concerned individually held organizational subgoals, and is derived from one of the three types of subgoals suggested in the Simon Hypothesis. In brief, they refer to the individualís own short-term objectives relating to the organization employing the person.

It is important to note that a distinction is made between the terms "organization" and "project." Youthwork projects existed within the framework of some host organization, typically a school or school district, community-based organization, or a public service agency.

In most cases, the host organization was the projectís immediate, fiscally responsible agent; funds flowed from the Department of Labor, through the local CETA prime sponsor, to a host organization that was responsible for the project.

Consequently, an individual working on a given project usually had identification with an organization that was distinct from the project. One result was that an individual might perceive some element of conflict between his or her organizational subgoals and those of the project. Indeed, in some cases, project teachers actually resigned over this issue.

It is also important to note here that those subgoals labeled as "organizational" in this study do not refer to the goals or subgoals of the organization (e.g., a business goal of making a profit or a school goal of educating students). Rather, the subgoals are more narrowly defined as the extent to which the person feels committed to a part of his or her organization, and therefore might be willing to promote its goals.

Where items refer to "organizations" and "organizational subgoals," reference is to the host organization from the perspective of the person. Thus, for example, the organizational allegiance of a cooperating high school principal is the school, while that of an employer is his or her business. The term "project" refers to the specific Youthwork project.

1. Individual Questions on Organizational Subgoals 

Question 23 Cooperation with Others. At the core of all Youthwork projects was a concern for providing services to youth. In accordance with Youthwork guidelines, all projects promised to work with other organizations and agencies in delivering services to youth. The extent to which staff of an individual project, its host organization, or participating employers were committed to cooperating with each other was expected to vary. An employer who agrees to hire a student may not be willing to also come to meetings or cooperate in other ways.

Overall, about one-quarter of all participants rated cooperating with other individuals and/or organizations in order to provide services to youths as being unimportant. Another quarter seemed to feel that such cooperation was very important. The remaining half indicated it was moderately important.

When results from high- and low-slippage sites were compared, an unanticipated finding came to light. Not only were there more employers and other "outsiders" involved at low-slippage sites than at high- slippage sites, but they were more committed to cooperating with others. Participants, in general, at low-slippage sites almost unanimously ex pressed a strong, positive concern for such cooperation, while, at high-slippage sites almost half of all participants rated this subgoal as being relatively unimportant.

Question 24 Funding Source. Participants were rated on the ex tent to which they emphasized promoting a positive image of their projects with the funding source, that is, Youthwork, Inc. The question is based on a subgoal frequently cited in organizational literature that suggests that members typically want their organizations to "look good" to the public. It might also be expected that enlightened self-interest would increase the Importance to project members of developing and maintaining strong, positive relationships with the funding source. Comprehensiveness, accuracy and timeliness of completing and submitting required reports and materials specified in the contract, as well as the frequency and nature of communications between the individual project and Youthwork staff, were among the types of information sought.

Overall, participantsí attitudes were mildly surprising. Nearly four in ten persons indicated that promoting a positive image of the project to the funding source was of "little" (2) or "no" (1) importance, and only one in seven appears to have believed this was a "fairly important" (3) subgoal. Part of the explanation may be that many staff persons, employers and cooperating high school principals simply felt that such concerns were someone elseís job--the project directorís, for example--or at least not theirs.

Given the general lack of concern indicated on the average for all participants at all sites, the difference between the attitudes expressed by participants at high- and low-slippage sites is almost dramatic. More than 90 percent of low-slippage project members rated promoting the projectís image with the funding source as "quite important" (3) or "very important" (4). In contrast, two thirds of high-slippage site members rated it as of "little importance" (2) or "not important" (1).

Question 25 Community Relations. While the nature of "community" varied widely among projects, it generally refers to the individuals and organizations (a) in the local geographic area that is served by the project and (b) that is directly or indirectly involved in the project.

In the main, project participants live in and are part of a local community. The esteem in which they are held by their neighbors and members of the community is generally important to people. In turn, the esteem in which their organizations are held by the community is felt to reflect on individuals. A series of national studies concerning pre college education, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, supports this position. According to the studies, the community is an Important part of the reality world of school people that they are highly sensitive to the community and responsive to it, and that, in short, the community is among the most important considerations in influencing the behavior of teachers.

Findings from the Youthwork projects generally support this position. Overall, as indicated in Graph 4.4, project participants rated the promotion of positive community relations as being much more important than relations with the funding source. Nearly eight out of ten participants across all sites rated community relations as either "important" (3) or "very important" (4).

Participants in high-slippage projects appear to have been somewhat less concerned about the image of their projects in the eyes of the community than was the case at low-slippage sites. At high-slippage sites, nearly six in ten participants rated community relations as either being of "little importance" (2) or "no importance" (1). At the other end of the scale, low-slippage project staff was overwhelmingly positive in their concern for local community relations. Nearly two out of three low-slippage participants were scored as giving community relations a "very important" (4) rating, and another one in four gave it a score of (3) or "quite important."

Questions 26 Commitment to Organizational Subgoals. In order to explore the relationships among the three sets of individually held sub goals, one question concerned the degree to which each project participant identified with the subgoals of the organization with which he or she was primarily affiliated. The question asked the extent to which the person placed emphasis on promoting the host organization and its goals. A score of 3 or 4 indicated a high commitment.

Overall, project participants appear to have been a fairly highly committed group. Nearly half were rated at a "fairly high" (3) level and about four in ten received ratings of "very high" (4). Fewer than two in ten earned a "quite low" (2) score, while only two in a hundred were rated as having "no commitment" (1). The average rating for all participants at all sites was 3.2.

In the high-slippage group, the strength of commitment of staff to their organizationsí subgoals appeared much weaker than was the case in either medium- or low-slippage projects. Among high-slippage project members, the level of commitment of nearly three persons in ten was judged to be "quite low" (2) or "disaffected" (1). In contrast, all participants in low-slippage projects were rated at a "quite high" (3) level or above.

Question 27 Ownership. A sense of shared ownership is an often cited concept in educational effectiveness literature, and it is frequently used to help explain the success or failure of an innovation or even an organization. For example, it is often claimed that "teacher- proof" materials fail because teachers do not feel a sense of ownership in them, and, conversely, that materials developed, in part at least, by teachers do work (or work better) because the teachers feel a sense of ownership. Again, a recently completed longitudinal study by the Institute of Higher Education, Teachers College, Columbia University found that faculty morale, which declined significantly between 1970 and 1980, seems to be "unrelated to changes in college income or average college salary;" rather, it appears to be tied to the fact that faculty members feel less involved in the important decisions about running their institutions. The study shows that while finance affects successful college functioning, "within the ranges of financial variation that occurred at these 93 colleges and universities, others like leadership style appear to be more important.130-1

It was thought that this concept of ownership might apply to Youth- work projects; those where participants appear to have felt a high level of shared ownership should experience less slippage.

Data from this study at best only partially support this hypothesis, and then only at a weak level. For all sites, nearly three in ten participants indicated they felt no sense of ownership (1) and another four in ten appear to have felt a "fairly low" (2) sense of ownership. Only three in ten seem to have felt a "fairly high" (3) or very high sense of ownership or control of the project.

To some extent, this may be explained by the participation of cooperating organizational members (e.g., a business manager providing "work-sites," a high school counselor referring students to the project). Most of these non-staff members did indeed seem to feel a low level of ownership or participation in the operation of the project.

At the same time, as Graph 4.5 indicates, only moderate levels of ownership were expressed by even low-slippage site participants (2.6 vs. a mathematical norm of 2.5), while medium-slippage sites averaged only 2.1 and high-slippage sites were at a rock-bottom average of 1.8. 

Two important factors may be involved. One is that the expected level of perceived ownership by low-slippage site personnel may have been inappropriate. This is to say that for public school personnel, at least when compared to college and university faculty members, a strong perception of ownership and participation in organizational decision making may not be the norm. Typically, school superintendents and principals may be less likely to consult with faculty members on organizational matters than are college and university presidents. Thus, school staff may simply accept a low sense of ownership as normal.

The second factor is, in a sense, a corollary. It may well be that what is involved in the success of a precollege level project is not that participants feel a strong sense of ownership, but rather that they do not feel completely "disenfranchised." Thus, for example, half the participants at high-slippage sites appear to have felt that they had no say in the way the project was run and another third appeared to feel they had only minimal levels of ownership. In comparison, fewer than two in ten low-slippage project members indicated they felt disenfranchised, while an equal percentage evidenced a "very high" (4) level of ownership. Interestingly, the remaining two-thirds were split evenly between "fairly low" (2) and "fairly high" (3).

2. Discussion

While several questions relating to individually held organizational goals will be discussed later, a few comments may be appropriate at this point.

One involves the question of narrowness or breadth of the "vision" or perspective of project leadership persons and the relationship of that scope to slippage. This subject was raised earlier in Question 4. Questions 23, 24 and 25 concern the degree of participant interest in promoting the projectís image and subgoals beyond the immediate task at hand. In a sense, what is involved is the reverse of the familiar statement, "If it ainít in my job description, I ainít goiní to do it."

What emerges from responses to these questions is a sense of the same narrowness and breadth of thinking that appeared in Questions 2 (Roles) and 4 (Background). Projects which had narrow mixes of roles (administrators, oversight, staff) and narrow mixes of participant back grounds (e.g., above average concentrations of public school and other CETA-type project people) also evidenced less concern for promoting positive relations with either the funding source or with their respective communities. This narrowness of perspective or vision appears to be a syndrome associated with high-slippage sites.

At low-slippage projects, the reverse seems to have been the case. First, these projects characteristically had a far wider range of roles (e.g., the inclusion of private industry employers and of active cooperating high school principals). Second, these participants typically represented a greater diversity of backgrounds. Third, these participants, both individually and as a group, consistently appeared to evidence considerable positive concern for project relations with the funding sources and with the community. Fourth, they also seem to have been far more willing to work with other individuals and agencies in order to secure services for the youths served by their projects.

In brief, it may be that the memberís perspective of his or her job, both in terms of goals and means, may be important in accounting for the individualís role in contributing to slippage.

D. PERSONAL SUBGOALS

The next set of questions concern individually held personal sub goals, the third category of subgoals posited in the Simon Hypothesis. Simon suggests that, in loosely coupled systems, individual behaviors will be strongly influenced by three sets of subgoals, one of which is "personal".

Following Simon, personal subgoals are formulated in terms of safety, economic security, job rewards, career advancement, a sense of helping project youths, and a perception of participating in personally rewarding activities.

In broad terms, it was asserted that an inverse relationship exists between the extent to which an individualís sense of personal needs are threatened and the amount of concern and effort the individual will expend on achieving organizational and professional subgoals. Conversely, it was asserted that the delivery of project services (i.e., out puts) will be directly influenced by the degree to which the individualís personal subgoals are met.

1. Individual Questions

Question 28 Personal Safety. Violence in schools, particularly in those serving large concentrations of disadvantaged, low-income students, has been well documented and widely publicized. In more than a few schools, assaults, rapes and killings are familiar fears. Various polls and other studies have indicated, for more than a decade, that violence and threats to personal safety are among the chief concerns of many school people.

It was hypothesized that, where project participants felt personally threatened, delivery of services would be diminished.

Overall, safety does not appear to have been an important concern for participants in Youthwork projects. Indeed, more than eight in ten persons indicated that they were not concerned. Only one in seven said his or her personal safety was at the "important" level.

Participants at low- and high-slippage sites, however, seem to have differed considerably from each other and from the overall average. At low-slippage projects, more than 95 percent indicated safety was of low concern (1) or (2). At high-slippage sites, however, less than 50 percent gave similar responses, while close to four in ten evidenced that personal safety was "important" or "very important."

Question 29 Economic Security. It has been widely observed that a strong relationship appears to exist between morale and productivity. It has also been noted that morale is adversely affected when oneís economic security is threatened.

Applied to this study, it was hypothesized that sites where members expressed the most concern for job security would experience high levels of slippage.

Overall, three in ten project participants expressed some concern about economic security, while seven in ten evidenced no concern or else indicated that it was not a significant factor influencing their behavior. Fewer than one in twenty, overall, seemed to indicate a high degree of concern for economic security.

As might be expected, participants at low-slippage sites evidenced the least concern, while nearly 30 percent of high-slippage site members indicated that job security was a "important" (3) or "very important" (4) concern for them.

When both personal and economic security are considered together, it appears that a strong inverse relationship exists between the individualís sense of perceived threat and overall performance at the site. At the same time, it is not yet clear as to which, if either, is a causative factor. It is possible, for example, to suggest at this point that a personís performance may have produced actions by others (e.g., students, employers) that were perceived by the individual as threats to either personal safety or economic security.

Question 30 Structure. Given the troubled backgrounds of the students served in Youthwork projects (and, therefore, the likelihood of continued troubling behavior on their parts), it was thought that projects stressing structure and orderliness would be more successful than others. A corollary suggested that persons who held as personal subgoals the value of structure and orderliness would be more successful. In contrast, it was believed that persons who placed lesser concern on such things as helping youths with their personal problems, for example, rather than structure, would have a more difficult time, would be less effective, and that their projects would experience higher levels of slippage.

Overall, most participants were judged to be positively oriented to structure and orderliness, with a strong majority evidencing a "important" (3) or "very important" (4) level of concern. Fewer than one in ten received a rating of "little importance" (2) or "not important at all" (1). For all participants at all sites, the average rating was 3.2.

The data in this study, nonetheless, strongly support the idea that structure is important. When low- and high-slippage sites are compared, it is clear that those projects where participants rated structure most highly were those that experienced the lowest level of slippage. Conversely, those projects where participants rated structure and orderliness as least important were the projects that experienced the highest levels of slippage. At low-slippage sites, for example, 80 percent of the participants gave structure and orderliness a rating of "very important" (4). In contrast, fewer than 20 percent of participants in high-slippage projects gave structure the same level of importance.

Moreover, projects with high levels of slippage were also those which had significantly higher concentrations of participants who felt that structure was either of "very little" (2) or "no" (3) importance. In fact, the ratio of persons at high-slippage sites to those at low- slippage sites who ranked structure and orderliness as relatively unimportant was 61.

The two projects at the slippage extremes (i.e., the lowest and highest slippage sites) dramatize the differences. At the one low- slippage project, 100 percent of the participants were judged to rank structure at the "very important" (4) level, while less than 10 percent of those at the highest slippage site were given the same rating.

Question 31 Rewards. A question was asked concerning the extent to which each individual felt "fairly rewarded" by the project. As with the three previous questions concerning personal subgoals, it was hypothesized that relationships exist between an individualís morale and productivity, and, in this question, that morale would be influenced by a sense of job rewards, defined to include both monetary and psychic factors. The question asked To what extent (on a scale of 1 to 4) does the individual feel "fairly" rewarded for his or her participation in the project?

It should be noted that a rating of 3, that is, "fairly" was expected in most instances, and that a rating of 4, that is "more than fairly" would be most unusual. It was also expected that a rating of 2 (less than fairly) might be common, particularly among those in higher slippage projects, and that a 1 rating ("very unfairly") might appear occasionally.

Overall, regardless of position, most participants seemed to feel fairly rewarded. Fewer than one in five indicated they felt less than fairly rewarded and only three percent evidenced that they felt very unjustly rewarded. Interestingly, about the same number felt they were "more than fairly" rewarded.

It is not surprising to find that nearly all those who indicated they felt "more than fairly" rewarded by the project worked at sites in the low-slippage group. Even more interesting is the fact that almost half of those giving their rewards a 4 rating were employers. It may be that employers, regardless of their personal reasons for participating in Youthwork projects, expected very little in personal terms, and were more than mildly pleased with the outcomes. It might also be noted that a number of staff members also fell into this category, which is particularly interesting because it was not expected that any staff level participant would evidence that he or she was actually "more than fairly" rewarded. Incidentally, in the cases of several staff members, the actual words "more than fairly" or clear facsimiles were quoted by the Cornell ethnographers.

High-slippage sites were predicable. About half the participants there seemed to feel either "less than fairly" or "very unfairly" re warded, and none indicated that he or she was "more than fairly" rewarded.

Question 32 Career Advancement. The extent to which an individual perceives participation in a project as a positive step in advancing on a career ladder was believed to be related to morale and productivity. The question, however, revealed little.

In general, regardless of project, participants seemed to view their participation as either irrelevant to career advancement or the idea of career advancement itself as irrelevant. In retrospect, there appears to be no particular reason to suppose that an employer, for example, would see participation in a local Youthwork project as having any particular influence on his or her career in business. The same could be said for "cooperating" high school principals. At the same time, school teachers and guidance counselors--the majority of project members--do not seem to think in terms of "career ladders" and "career advancement." Oversight persons (i.e., CETA staff, board of directors members) appear to have viewed their participation as "just part of the daily job." Finally, a small number of participants, although far from a majority, were drawn from the ranks of the retired or semi-retired. For them, careers had long since peaked.

Overall, nearly 90 percent indicated their participation had either "no" effect on their careers or that it might have helped "somewhat." Fewer than one in twenty said their participation may have hurt their careers. It might be noted that among the latter were participants who were fired or otherwise dismissed for misconduct, malfeasance or sheer ineptitude. One of the project directors fell into this category.

It is interesting to find that there was no significant difference in this general pattern among high-, medium-, and low-slippage projects-- with one exception almost all of the small group of participants who said their participation had helped their careers "a great deal" were at low-slippage sites.

Question 33 Personally Helping Youths. Since participation in the Youthwork projects was almost exclusively determined on a self-select or similar voluntary basis, and since an overriding concern of all projects was to help a particular group of needy youths, it was hypothesized that participants would have a personal need to help such young people. The question asked the interviewer to rate (on a scale of 1 to 4) just how much the Individual participant felt he or she was helping youths served by the project.

Overall, participants were highly positive about their personal contributions to helping youths, with half giving their efforts a rating of "a great deal" (4)139-1

Of all project participants, fewer than one in twenty rated their efforts at less than a 3 level--which would Indicate they felt they were helping youths "a little" (2) or "not at all" (1).

Low-slippage site participants seem to have felt more positively about their personal participation and its consequences than did those  at medium- and high-slippage sites. The average for all low-slippage site participants was 3.7, compared with a 3.4 for high-slippage project members and a 3.5 overall average. At low-slippage sites, nearly seven persons in ten rated their participation at a 4 level and the remaining participants viewed their contributions to youth as a 3 level activity. This included primarily administrators, CETA staff, employers and cooperating principals. By contrast, about one in ten high-slippage site participant rated his or her performance in this category at a 2 level-just one step above a "not at all" (1) rating.

Question 34 Personally Rewarding. Many suggest that people have a need for activities they feel will contribute to their growth and development as human beings. In Youthwork projects, participants were considered in terms of the extent to which they seemed to feel that the individual project afforded an opportunity to participate in activities that each felt was personally needed and rewarding.

The question was posed in two forms. In its positive sense, the question referred to the opportunities afforded by participation in the project. In its negative sense, the question asked about the extent to which project participation interfered with or otherwise decreased the individualís opportunities to participate in such activities. Given the difficult nature of the students being served and resulting problems serving them, the frustrations associated with organizing and implementing a new project, and the now-traditionally chronic complaints about federal paperwork, a high level of satisfaction on this question was not anticipated.

It is therefore mildly and pleasantly surprising to find that, over all, about half of all participants seemed to find the requirements of their jobs afforded them "somewhat" (3) of an opportunity to participate in personally needed activities, while almost one in five said their participation gave them "a great deal" of opportunity to participate in such activities. About one-third rated their participation at a 2 level ("a little") and one in twenty seemed to feel their ability to work in personally needed and rewarding activities was at a 1 ("not at all") level.

Participants at low-slippage sites had an average of 3.1, compared with those at medium-slippage projects who averaged 2.8 and high-slippage site personnel who had an average of 2.5.

2. Discussion

Overall, there appear to be systematic differences between the extent to which persons at high- and low-slippage sites believe their personal subgoals are fulfilled. High-slippage sites had a greater percentage of persons worried about their personal safety and economic security than did low-slippage sites. In addition, personnel at low- slippage sites were somewhat more convinced that they were helping youth and were participating in rewarding activities than were their counter parts at high slippage sites.

The data do not provide the bases for making firm statements about the nature or direction of causation. Are persons more satisfied because they are in low-slippage sites, or is there low slippage because staff are satisfied? The data do suggest there may be a distinction between having subgoals threatened and having them fulfilled.

E. OVERALL OPINIONS

Participants were asked seven questions concerning their evaluations of the individual project and its success, and their personal feelings of subgoal conflicts--conflicts between the project and organizational subgoals, and conflicts between their project and their professional sub goals. The question derives from the Simon Hypothesis concerning the roles of organizational and professional subgoals in influencing individual behavior in loosely coupled systems, and is designed to help explore the relationships among the various subgoal types within a goal- conflict situation. It would be interesting and possibly instructive, for example, to have some indication as to which type of subgoal, under what circumstances, takes precedence over other subgoal types.

Question 35 Project Helps Youths. Participants were rated on a scale of 1 to 4 on the extent to which they felt the project actually helped the youth clientele.

Overall, participants gave their projects high marks, with nearly 90 percent indicating a rating of "pretty much" (3) or "very much" (4). Only one in ten persons said "only a little" (2) and no one seemed to feel it helped "not at all" (1). The overall average for responses on this question was 3.4--the second highest rating for any question and barely below the average participants registered for their own personal participation (3.5).

This, however, is not particularly noteworthy since, if a project did nothing else--and all did--every project did get money into the hands of demonstrably needy poor youths. Therefore, no matter what any individual might have wished the project to do beyond distributing money, all project personnel can be presumed to have shared that subgoal and, consequently, would have found it next to impossible to give the project a rating of less than (2).

It may be more than mildly interesting, nonetheless, to note that, while the familiar pattern of differences between high- and low-slippage sites was evidenced in this Question (respective average ratings of 3.1 and 3.7), the two groups differed markedly in their responses to this question compared with Question 33, concerning their own performance. Low-slippage site participants gave an overall rating of 3.7 on both questions. High-slippage project members, however, rated project performance well below their own performance level (3.1 vs. 3.4 respectively).

Question 36 Project Quality. Participants were asked to judge the quality of their individual projects against similar projects serving similar youth populations. It should be noted that, during the time of Youthwork projects, the Department of Labor, through CETA prime sponsors and various pieces of CETA legislation and funding, also operated a host of related school-to-work-oriented programs. Moreover, similar programs were funded under federal Vocational Education appropriations. One re- suit was that, in all communities served by Youthwork projects, there were a half-dozen to several dozen other programs serving essentially the same youth groups in work-oriented, federally funded programs. Consequently, nearly all participants (and most youths involved) had some fairly strong basis for comparison.

Across sites, by a ratio of nearly 9 to 1, participants thought their respective projects either served youths "better" (3) or "much better" (4) than related youth programs. Only one in thirty seemed to feel students would be better of f in another program.

Interestingly, the division between high- and low-slippage project participants was unexpectedly small, and the difference between high- and medium-slippage sites was almost non-existent. The average ratings were, respectively, 3.2, 3.1 and 2.9.

At the same time, the relatively modest rating given even by the most positive (low-slippage) project participants (3.2 compared, for ex ample, with a 3.7 on overall project satisfaction) may be indicative of an overall low regard for all federally sponsored programs. There is additional evidence, which will be discussed in later chapters, to sup port this suggestion.

Question 37 Regular Schools. A second question involving project workersí judgments of their respective projects concerned how well they thought that their students would do in other regular school programs. The question asked was, "Compared with this project, how well do you think these same students would do in a regular school program? (1) much worse, (2) about the same, (3) somewhat better, (4) much better."

More than eight in ten participants thought students would do much worse (1) and another 15 percent indicated they thought students would do about the same (2) in regular school programs. Only one in two hundred seemed to think that students would be better off (3) or (4) in a regular school program.

Generally, these responses are probably a fair reflection of reality, and may reveal more about reality than about individual judgments concerning the overall effectiveness of Youthwork programs. For most of the students served, these projects were, indeed, the "last chance." In fact, many of the schools and programs within which Youthwork projects operated were called "last chance" or "schools of last resort."

What is interesting is the apparent overwhelming conviction by participants that students would be "much worse off" in other school programs. The strength of this view is stronger, for example, than participantsí beliefs in the efficacy of either their own performance or that of the project.

Question 38 Future Funding. Jobs for school people were noticeably In short supply during the period of Youthwork projects. Given this fact, and especially since Youthwork projects were rated by participants as the "best game in town" as far as serving the particular client youths, it might be expected that project workers would wish to ensure the continuation of their respective programs.

Such was clearly not the case.

One question asked, "If or when federal funding should no longer be available, should this project be continued with local funds? (1) definitely not, (2) probably not, (3) probably yes, (4) definitely yes."

Perhaps surprisingly, about one in four indicated a clear "definitely not," while almost four in ten were scored as "probably not." Together, about two thirds were given scores of 1 and 2. Only a few of the remaining third indicated anything stronger than a mild affirmative. Overall, then, it is probably fair to conclude that the vast majority of Youthwork project participants liked their projects--as long as the federal government paid the bill--but even when their own current jobs might be involved, local funds should probably not be used to continue them.

There was a marked contrast, however, between the scores of those in different site-slippage groups. In low-slippage projects, about six in ten persons gave a positive response. In contrast, about eight in ten members at high-slippage sites got a negative response.

The discrepancy does not seem to be explainable solely by local socio economic variables. Poor rural communities and poor urban communities are represented, and all the youths served are even poorer. What does not seem to be involved is the case of a wealthy suburban community that may be willing to take a chance and a poor ghetto that cannot afford to do so. It seems that, from the point of view of project workers, even when their own personal subgoals are considered, most would have voted against continuing these project at local expense--if that were the only question.

Questions 39 and 40 Subgoal Conflict. Two questions were aimed at finding subgoal conflicts. Participants were rated on a scale of 1 to 4 as to their perceived levels of conflict between their own professional sub goals and those of the project. The second concerned conflict between individualsí organizational subgoals and the project subgoals.

Across all sites, slightly over half the participants were rated as indicating they felt little or no conflict between their organizational subgoals and the project subgoals, and just under half seemed to experience little or no conflict between their professional subgoals and the project subgoals. At the other extreme, however, about one in ten indicated a very high level of organizational subgoal conflict and one in ten experienced a very high level of conflict between professional and project subgoals.

The differences in levels of perceived conflict between those at high- and those at low-slippage sites is interesting. On both subgoal conflict questions, those at low-slippage sites seemed to have felt a somewhat lower sense of disparity (1.4 and 1.5) than did their counter parts in high-slippage project (2.0 and 2.0). This may be an important point, and is one that will be discussed later.

When responses to these two conflict questions are compared with responses to Question 26 (organizational commitment), a curious inverse relationship appears. High-slippage site personnel, overall, were some what less strongly committed to their organizational subgoals than were participants in low-slippage projects (3.1, 3.4); yet, the same high- slippage participants seemed to experience a somewhat higher level of conflict between their organizational subgoals and their projectsí sub goals than did low-slippage site members (2.0, 1.4).

F. PROFESSIONAL SUBGOALS

Another set of questions involved what are termed in this study as "professional subgoals," and are derived for purposes here from the categories used by Youthwork in its Request For Proposals, as well as by the projects themselves, outside evaluators and other researchers dealing with Youthwork projects. These subgoals are the specific services or outputs which projects contracted to provide.

It is a central assertion in this study that professional subgoals of staff do influence types and levels of outputs delivered. Since each project contracted to provide only certain services and, moreover, since each project differed as to the emphasis and mix of services it agreed to offer, cross-site totals and comparisons are not presented at this point. A discussion of these findings is found in the next chapter.

It is nonetheless interesting to note that there appears to be an overall difference in response to these questions between high- and low- slippage sites. In general, participants in low-slippage projects seem to have had stronger professional subgoals or at least to have expressed themselves more positively on questions of professional subgoals than did participants at high-slippage sites.

It is also interesting to note that low-slippage site personnel seemed generally to have expressed a higher level of conflict between their professional subgoals and the subgoals of their projects than did their colleagues in low-slippage projects.

G. CONCLUSIONS

The purposes of this chapter have been to present the data obtained from analyses of nearly a thousand protocols covering ten Youthwork projects and from one hundred of the many hundreds of project participants encountered, to explain the details of how these data were gathered and aggregated, and to point out a few of the more apparent trends that will be examined in greater depth in subsequent chapters.

One of the most obvious patterns in these data is a decided tendency of low-slippage site personnel to evidence strong, positive attitudes in comparison with those at high-slippage sites. This pattern holds for all subgoal groups.

A second fairly strong pattern is the apparent tendency of low- slippage site participants to be more concerned with quality (both academic and job-site related), with community relations, and with order and structure than appears to have been the case with their counterparts in high-slippage projects.

A third pattern involves strength of organizational commitment and of professional subgoals, and conflict between an individualís professional and/or organizational subgoals and those of the project. In the main, there seems to have been a tendency of persons with relatively strong professional subgoals and comparatively high commitment to their organizations to perceive less subgoal conflict than others did. It is not clear at this point, however, why this particular set of relation ships appears to have existed.

A corollary appears to be that sites where fairly large percentages of participants seem to have perceived relatively high levels of subgoal conflicts also tended to be high-slippage sites.

A final and fairly strongly suggested pattern involves personal sub goals and slippage. There appears to have been a consistent, strong and direct relationship between the extent to which a participantís personal subgoals were perceived to be threatened and the degree of slippage in the project. This does not imply that a high level of concern for personal safety, economic security or a sense of fair reward were necessary conditions for slippage; rather, it suggests that perceived threats to personal subgoals have been a large part of the sufficient conditions.


Footnotes


4-1See Appendix B for additional data.

130-1Jack Magarrell, "Decline in Faculty Morale Laid to Governance Role, Not Salary," Chronicle of Higher Education 25 (November 10, 1982), p.3.

139-1It should 1e noted that these data include not only staff and administrators, but oversight personnel, employers and cooperating high school principals as well. When only staff are considered, the percentage rating their contributions at the 4 level increased from 50 to 75 percent.

148-1See also Tables B-1 to B-l0, "Service Outputs by Sites," Appendix B.

 

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