Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Robert O. Brinkerhoff

Second Advisor

Dr. Uldis Smidchens

Third Advisor

Dr. John Rizzo


This study was designed to investigate the factors associated with success in a participative decision making program, based on the quality circle concept, involving teams of first-line supervisors, managers, and salaried professionals. The teams were formed to initiate and implement cost saving projects. A total of 35 subjects from six teams participated in the study conducted in a food processing company located in the Midwest. Cross-functional teams representing the main functional areas of a company were ranked on the basis of their success, defined as the proportion of the savings goal the team attained. From this ranking, the top three teams and the bottom three teams were selected for inclusion in the study.

The study used post hoc methods of analyses and explored differences in the teams’ responses to a survey regarding perceptions of team behaviors, and a survey and interview regarding the way in which the teams executed problem solving procedures for initiating, researching, and implementing cost savings projects. Statistical analyses revealed several key differences were found between the top three and bottom three teams. There were six major conclusions drawn about factors associated with successful team performance. It was concluded that successful team performance was associated with: (a) a clear understanding among team members of team goals, (b) a clear understanding among team members of their roles on the team, (c) using a variety of problem solving tools and techniques to obtain a more thorough understanding of their projects, (d) team member perception of positive recognition from senior management, (e) making stakeholder participation a high priority among project activities, and (f) using a variety of means to overcome resistance. Recommendations were made for practice and further research.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access