Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Zinser


This qualitative method research dissertation explored the reactions, insights, and current business practices as they pertained to effectively training workers in areas such as problem-solving, higher order thinking and customer service. This body of work examined both changing economic shifts and global paradigms as well as how a systems thinking approach can help educators prepare students for the 21st century and beyond by implementing action research-based methodologies through effective professional learning communities. The problems to which this study addressed were namely (1) to what extent and in what way are there disparities and similarities between career and technical education settings and workplace training; and (2) in what ways manufacturing trades can sustain growth through training in both the school and business aspects?

Phenomena related to successful Michigan businesses, with a technical and manufacturing focus, that operate within the parameters of this design were explored in this study. Qualitative narrative and ethnographic designs were applied using interviews, observations, artifacts, and document analysis, in order to ascertain similarities and differences between successful Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers and Manufacturing Technology (MT) businessorganizations and the extent in which they responded to a global environment. Furthermore, the research examined ways businesses were able to train employees to insure survival in a global economy.

Analysis of the data, using Grounded Theory and Phenomenology utilized comparative methods of semi-structured interviews with 20 open-ended questions, natural-setting observations, and artifacts. The total population included 12 subjects who were comprised of 4 individuals who served in a leadership role and 8 middle-level managers who implemented training of students or employees. Two different modes of operation were discovered for both MT businesses and CTE schools. MT1 was reported to be reactive where globalization was viewed as a threat. MT2 was discovered to be proactive where globalization was viewed as an opportunity. CTE1 was reactive and globalization was viewed as an opportunity. CTE2 was proactive where globalization was viewed as an opportunity and the focus of the organization was customer-service driven. Results from this study indicated that there was some degree of articulation between MT and CTE settings.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access