An Investigation of Preferred Conflict-Management Behaviors in Small-School Principals
Vestal, Bradley Dean
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This quantitative study was conducted to investigate the preferred conflict-management behaviors of small-school principals in Texas Education Service Center regions five, six, and seven. The problem facing the small-school principal in conflict-management was knowing how and when to behave towards campus teachers in order to further the goals of the school system and satisfy the needs of its teachers. The study focused on the principal-teacher relationship and the five possible preferred conflict-management behaviors - competing, collaborating, compromise, avoiding, and accommodating. The abilities of gender and experience were analyzed as possible predictors of the preferred conflict-management behaviors of small-school principals. Using a logistical regression analysis, the predictive abilities of gender and experience were evaluated by using the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument in relation to five possible preferred conflict-management behaviors of small-school principals toward teachers. The instrument identified frequencies of preferred conflict-management behaviors. Based on existing literature, the null hypotheses posited that neither gender nor experience would have a significant predictive effect (.05 alpha level) on the preferred conflict-management behaviors of the small-school campus principals under examination. Results indicated that gender could not predict a clear preference for any of the five possible conflict-management behaviors. Thus, the null was not rejected concerning gender. Also, experience was found to have no significant effect on the prediction of collaborating, avoiding, and accommodating. However, findings revealed that experience had a significant positive relationship to a preference for competing behaviors; and experience also had a significant negative relationship to a preference for compromising behaviors in the group of small-campus principals. Findings indicated that more experience came with an increased preference for competing and a decreased preference for compromising behaviors. The study sought to address a gap in the literature as related to the preferred conflict-management behaviors of small-school principals in the principal-teacher relationship. Societal changes and differences in school administrator and teacher viewpoints have necessitated that school principals acquire and improve conflict-management skills in advancing student achievement. By focusing on the small-school principal-teacher relationship and the variables of gender and experience the study contributed to the research-base surrounding small-school campuses. Findings suggested the need for a renewed emphasis on conflict-management skills in principal preparation programs.