RANGE ROVER AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Applying Performance Management Strategy to Solving the Current Public Policy Conflict in Wisconsin

Introduction

In assessing the current situation brewing in Madison, WI in which public service labor unions are showing resistance to proposed legislative changes proposed by Governor Walker, there are two ways of looking at the conflict. Both Walker and collective bargaining representatives need to be committed to overcoming differences in political perspectives, be they conservative or liberal. Another point of view comes from the field of performance management, specifically in regards to the theory known as Total Quality Management (TQM) as proposed by Demming .

Understanding the Conflict over Wisconsin S.B. 11

The challenge in understanding the long-term effects of this struggle, it might work better to avoid politicizing the concerns of all stakeholders in order to find a common-ground resolution. By looking at the text of S Tri-spoke Carbon Wheels.B. 11, and by comparing proposed changes to Wisconsin law to actual TQM goals, it might shed more light than heat at this point. It is crucial to look at both the context of the bill and scholarly examinations of TQM in the public sector with a focus on whether or not they are compatible with each other in both theory and practice. Additionally, there is a need for a non-adversarial organizational paradigm in order to avoid such conflicts in the future.

The text of S.B Evaporative Air Cooler. 11 (2011) states from the outset the purpose of this pending legislation:

AN ACT relating to: state finances, collective bargaining for public employees, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees, the state civil service system, the Medical Assistance program, sale of certain facilities, granting bonding authority, and making an appropriation (p. 1).

On the surface, there is more to this bill than just collective bargaining issues that affect public employee unions. While news reports focuses on union-led protests, there are other provisions that might prove objectionable when seen from a TQM perspective. This discusson centers on those changes directly regarding public sector TQM matters and how these changes would affect all stakeholders in the State of Wisconsin–namely, its residents. Finally, there is a need to understand the environmental factors that exacerbate this situation and offer a solution to mitigate such weaknesses in the public sector.

Fryer, et al. (2007) address the challenges faced by the public sector that has been evident prior to and which has been exacerbated by the current economic downturn:

In the public sector, the motivation for improvement is not increased profit but that public sector organisations are being faced with ever greater demands, (due to demographic and societal changes outwith their control), on their (relatively) diminishing funds. They are being charged with providing “Best value” with the monies that they have, along with calls for increased accountability and transparency (p. 501).

Additionally, there are thirteen critical success factors which can determine how and why a TQM approach can work in the context of the public sector and the ones that apply specifically to public sector employees are teamwork, communication, training and learning, and employee empowerment (Fryer, et al., 2007, p. 503). In addressing these specific concerns, the text of the proposed law avoids to consider these valid considerations.

For example, Wisconsin’s SB 11 (2011) states one change, which has sparked the massive protests among public sector workers:

Current law provides that state and municipal employees who are represented by a labor organization have the organization dues deducted from their salaries. Except for salary deductions for public safety employees, this bill prohibits the salary deductions for labor organization dues. [emphasis added] This bill also allows a general employee to refrain from paying dues and remain a member of a collective bargaining unit (p. 2).

Such changes could be justified by distributive justice arguements if it was written to permit voluntary salary deductions for union dues or addreses changes to collective bargaining rules applicable to all public sector workers. However, a complete prohibition on any dues-related deductions with the exception of one specific sector gives the appearance of favoritism and violates the spirit of distributive justice. This, in turn, could set up resistance to any demonstrative TQM-related benefits by those who would be directly affected by the legislative changes should they become law.

One of the factors that leads to such resistance has been identified as “[t]he constantly changing goalposts imposed by external (political) factors” as typified by “[q]uality initiatives [that] are frequently imposed on the public sector and seen as a desire to score political points rather than [motivated by] a genuine desire to improve services” (Nwabueze and Kanji, 1997 as cited in Fryer, et al., 2007, p.508). In light of this, one aspect of S.B. 11–permitting the state Department of Administration to sell off any state-owned utilities without approval of the Public Service Commission (p. 6)–seems to be completely unrelated to any TQM standards in relation to employee productivity and has the potential to increase utility rates based solely on the privatization of state-administered resources. “[Public Utility Districts] have consistently offered electricity at rates that are substantially lower than investor-owned utilities” (OPUDA – About us, 2011, para. 8), which is why this provision of S.B. 11 would be objectionable to the people of Wisconsin.

Additionally, the bill abolishes the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Board, described as “a state agency [contractually empowered] to provide the services of state employees who are in clerical, blue collar and nonbuilding trades, building trades crafts, security and public safety, and technical collective bargaining units” (S.B. 11, 2011, p. 7). This could serve to reduce any potential state employee TQM buy-in as it focuses on a program which has been well-established. It might also serve to increase costs for private insurance coverage, specifically the proposed increased employee contribution mandates (S.B. 11, 2011, pp. 3-4). There are additional changes in Chapter 149 of the 2010 Wisconsin Code which impact the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan Authority and prohibit limited term appointments from participating in the both the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) and the Group Insurance Board (GIB) programs. It is not clear if the aforementioned changes would actually prove cost-effective in the long-term.

The bill makes significant changes in public health policy as well. It transfers the authority to make changes in the Medicaid program from the legislature to the state Department of Health Services (Wahlberg, 2011, para. 4) and completely eliminates the Wisconsin Quality Home Care Authority (QHCA) from the list of official state agencies (S.B. 11, 2011, p. 62; Wahlberg, 2011, para. 10), a fact that has been mostly unreported by major news organizations. Regarding the former proposal, Wisconsin Code 15.05(1)(a) stipulates, “If a department is under the direction and supervision of a secretary, the secretary shall be nominated by the governor, and with the advice and consent of the senate appointed, to serve at the pleasure of the governor” (2010 Wisconsin Code, 15.05). By removing such changes from the legislative process, this prevents any future changes from being made at the behest of Wisconsin’s citizens.

In regards to the elimination of the QHCA, this public authority was created in 2009 to “include the creation of a registry of independent home care workers and the ability for independent home care workers to organize as a union to bargain for wages and benefits” (Quality Home Care Authority, 2010, para. 1). While some may argue that having in-home support workers covered under collective bargaining is untenable, Gerrick (2003) notes that “unions, in improving benefits and pay, could decrease turnover and attract more workers to the profession, reducing staffing concerns” (p. 133). Stevens (2008, as cited in Guion, 2010) notes that reducing turnover is one of the primary goals of an effective TQM approach (p. 20). Therefore, eliminating the QHCA might increase turnover of unskilled home care providers and could actually result in increased Medicare costs for skilled nursing home care (Wahlberg, 2011, paras. 10-14). This seems counter-intuitive to the understanding that “TQM is not about tools, techniques and doing the bare minimum” (Youssef and Zairi,1995, as cited in Fryer, et al., 2007, p. 506).

Applying Performance Management Theory Towards a Resolution

Terziovski et al. (1996, as cited in Fryer, et al. 2007) make a valid point that one of the primary goals of TQM is an internal focus on customer focus (p. 505); it can be argued that the “customers” of the State of Wisconsin are its citizens. Therefore, it is possible that the focus of these changes have very little to do with meeting the specific needs of Wisconsin residents. If news reports of the growing numbers of those protesting Governor Walker’s proposals are any indication, not all stakeholders are pleased by his suggestions for organizational change.

The most fascinating aspect of this conflict stems from the common assumption among management theorists that resistance to TQM is solely a function of workers, in this case those covered by collective bargaining agreements. Schoetzau (1998) observes, however, that “part of the difficulty in creating lasting changes…can be attributed to top-down approaches that initiated change from above” (p. 9). Aquinis (2009) affirms this observation by stating, “successful implementation requires wide organizational support and acceptance” (p. 154), which applies to not only performance management but TQM initiatives as well.

In light of available information, there is a need for a process designed to disarm the sort of resistance to improvement observed in situations such as the one still occurring in Madison, WI. By looking at the Japanese management style known as Participative Decision Making (PDM), Hasegawa (1986) notes that:

[o]ne of the most appealing characteristics of Japanese personnel practices is their people-centered approach to management. Japanese organizations are bound together by such guiding principles (but not guarantees) [emphasis original] as lifetime employment, harmony and consensus in decision making, and a preoccupation with the quality of goods and services provided (as cited in Kearney & Hayes, 1994, p. 45)

What seems absent from TQM discussions that focus solely on TQM resistance from public sector labor unions is an acknowledgement that governmental processes are adversarial due to the dual nature of representational political processes in light of trends indicative of increasing partisan animosity. Such considerations are essential when applying TQM priniciples to changes affecting the public sector.

Overcoming Adversarial Weakness Through Cooperation

This may simply be ‘the nature of the beast’ in regards to representational democracy, or it may be a reflection of human nature to seek conflict despite one’s best interests. “American society itself is characterized by individualism and adversarialism. [...] Even our education system is premised on individual competition-not cooperation” (Kearney & Hayes, 1994, p. 48) RANGE ROVER AUTOBIOGRAPHY. In order to get beyond these limitations, it might behoove both conflicting parties to adopt a win-win attitude in order to negotiate towards a common ground.

In both private enterprise and the public sector, “[w]in-win experiences have been achieved through vehicles other than collective bargaining. QCs, TQM, LMCs, QWL programs, and other cooperative endeavors have reported integrative outcomes in a variety of jurisdictions” (Kearney & Hayes, 1994, p. 47). In light of this observation, perhaps a true paradigm shift is in order that stresses cooperation over victory. This means that all parties involved must be willing to make concessions; the burden must not be placed on organized labor to their perceived detriment.

While it is crucial for labor unions to embrace cooperation, it is not prudent from their perspective to do so when such an attitude is not shared by the other negotiating parties, be they representatives of private industry management or public service administration. “Where management itself designs a representational structure for employee participation in decision making, the employee response is likely to be a presumption of management insincerity, manipulation or corruption” (Kearney & Hayes, 1994, p. 48). Aquinis (2006) describes the need for an environmental analysis that takes into account organizational strengths and weaknesses and their effect on internal processes (p. 57). A deliberative process based on adversarial relationships is a definite environmental weakness within in the public sector, particularly in the case of the ongoing conflict in Madison, Wisconsin. All indications point to additional conflicts of this nature occuring in other portions of the United States, stressing a real need for cooperation among all public policy stakeholders.

Conclusion

From a performance management perspective, the best way to defuse this situation and mitigate similar situations in other governmental agencies is to insist upon all parties involved to find a common ground by abandoning partisan ideologies based on authoritarian business models and accepting the reality that effective policy decisions–as well as balanced budgets–benefit by applying PDM principles to public policy negotiations. It is simply untenable for the public sector to continue embracing an adversarial concept that one side must ‘win’ over the other, as the situation in Madison, Wisconsin illustrates. In order to create a more lasting and professional reality, both Governor Walker and the representatives of collective bargaining units in Wisconsin must work with a neutral arbitrator in order to find common ground. As long as even one of these parties shows unwillingness to budge from partisan agendas, there will be no viable way to resolve this situation.

Resources:

2010 Wisconsin Code 15.05. Retrieved from: http://law.justia/wisconsin/codes/2010/15/15.05.html

Aquinis, H.. (2009). Performance management (2nd edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Fryer, K.J., Antony, J. & Douglas, A.. (2007). Critical success factors of continuous improvement in the public sector: A literature review and some key findings. The TQM Magazine, 19(5), 497-517. Retrieved February 19, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1325786291).

Gerrick, K. (2003). An inquiry into unionizing home healthcare workers: Benefits for workers and patients. American Journal of Law & Medicine, 29(1), 117. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Guion, C.. (2010). The impact of TQM and Six Sigma improvement methodologies on organizational performance. Ph.D. dissertation, Capella University, United States — Minnesota. Retrieved February 19, 2011, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text.(Publication No. AAT 3398717).

Kearney, R.C, & Hays, S.W.. (1994). Labor-management relations and participative decision making: Toward a new paradigm. Public Administration Review, 54(1), 44. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 709193).

OPUDA – About us. (2011). Oregon People’s Utility District Association (Organization website). Retrieved from: http://.opuda.org/about-us/

Quality Home Care Authority. (2010, August 24). Retrieved from: http://.dhs.wisconsin.gov/LTCare/QHCA/Index.htm

S.B. 11, 2011-2012 Leg., Spec. Sess. (Wis. 2011). Retrieved from: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/JR1SB-11.pdf

Schoetzau, E.S.. (1998). Principals’ support for teacher leaders at elementary schools in a large suburban school district in Virginia. (Ed.D. dissertation). Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, United States — Virginia. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text. (Publication No. AAT 9831668).

Wahlberg, D.. (2011, February 14). “Walker budget proposal would impact how health care works in state”. Wisconsin State Journal (Online edition). Retrieved from: http://host.madison/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_a28507fa-38a7-11e0-a87e-001cc4c002e0.html

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