Perry A. Zirkel is dean and professor of the School of Education at Lehigh University and a public sector mediator and arbitrator. J. Gary Lutz is associate professor in the Department of Human Development at the school.
This study explores, on a preliminary basis, the personal perceptions of chief negotiators, board members, and mediators about the nature arid function of mediation in public school teacher-board disputes.
Based on a limited sample in Connecticut, a two-step statistical analysis of questionnaire results revealed that the three groups significantly agreed on the relative importance of 14 selected personal characteristics of mediators. There was also general agreement about the perceived optimal and actual effectiveness of mediation. The discrepancy between optimal and actual effectiveness was notable for the board and the teacher representatives, although only negligible for the mediators. The results seemed to support the need to improve the selection and training of mediators, but further study with larger samples in other labor-management contexts, more specialized subjects, and more sophisticated designs is suggested.