Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Freddie A. Banks, Jr.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of principled negotiations in contract negotiations between teachers and Illinois public school district boards of education. The study examined three questions from both the union president's perspective and the superintendent's viewpoint. The first question was "If superintendents and teacher union leaders had the opportunity to become familiar with the principled negotiations model, to what extent did they perceive themselves interested in using this model for negotiations?" The second question was "Why has principled negotiations not been used as a model more often in Illinois public education contract negotiations?" The third question was "What were the perceptions of superintendents and union presidents of the outcomes of using a collaborative bargaining model, rather than an adversarial bargaining model?"

To obtain data to address these three questions, the researcher developed a survey with 25 questions. The survey was mailed to 150 Illinois public school superintendents and 150 local presidents of the Illinois Education Association. Most of the questions on the survey were multiple choice, however, the last seven questions called for a response on a Likert Scale. Eight questions requested responses about the demographics of the district. The requested demographic information included the financial status of the district, the bargaining history of the district, and the administration's relationship with the union in addition to the more common demographic information concerning size and environment. The rest of the survey was devoted to soliciting information to address the three research questions. There were five survey questions that addressed the first research question, four survey questions that addressed the second research question, and eight survey questions that addressed the third research question.

The results of the survey show that many superintendents and the union presidents stated a willingness to use collaborative bargaining in negotiations. In particular, there was a strong interest stated to use the model of principled negotiations described in the survey. Sixty-two percent of the superintendents indicated interest in using principled negotiations, while only eight percent indicated no interest. Fifty-seven percent of the union presidents indicated interest in using principled negotiations, while only 11% indicated no interest. The other respondents were undecided.

The responses indicated that a lack of familiarity with the model, a perception that collaborative models took more skill, and a perception that there was greater personal risk to the negotiator who used a collaborative model were all possible factors that inhibited the more frequent use of principled negotiations. In particular, only 43% of the superintendents and 48% of the union presidents indicated that they had read about principled negotiations. Furthermore, 67% of the superintendents and 77% of the union presidents felt that it took more skill to use a collaborative model than the traditional model. Thirty-seven percent of the superintendents and 41% of the union presidents perceived that there was more personal risk in using a collaborative model.

As a prelude to the discussion of principled negotiations, this study identified the origins of collaborative bargaining from conflict resolution. The reasons for the emergence of collaborative bargaining and the creation of principled negotiations as a subset of those collaborative models were also presented. The definitions of principled, positional, concessional, and win-win negotiations were included in concise form to provide easy comparisons and contrasts between models.

The researcher's personal experiences with principled negotiations were presented. The evolution of bargaining in the Community Unit #2 School District, Mattoon, Illinois, were presented as an example of the historical background of teacher contract bargaining in Illinois.