Union Steward's Self Confidence

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One-to-One Contact’s Effects on Enhancing Self-Efficacy in Becoming a Union Steward

In The Potency of One-to-One Contact With Union Leaders: Enhancing Self-Efficacy to Become a Union Steward, Steven Mellor et al. try to identify the importance of 4 enhancers to self-efficacy (self-confidence). Mellor and others built upon the work of P.A. Roby’s 1995 report which first identified the importance of one-to-one contact with a union steward to become union stewards themselves (403).

When I first saw the title I thought that this article was not going to be very ground breaking. After reading the article my suspicions were confirmed. Much of it is common sense, but I suppose there is not much research remaining the field of labor organization. It seems common sense that increasing a potential steward’s self confidence would help them do a better job. At the end the paper advocates training for stewards to increase self confidence. I thought the self confidence training is already a key component of almost every self-help and leadership training programs. For example, the "GO" program for 9th graders at Haverford High School attempts to increase self confidence.

However the paper did also point out some of the free-response reasons of why people became stewards, including personal growth, the ability to stand up to management, and because their dislike of the previous steward.

The authors found that 82% of stewards became stewards because someone had asked them to, with 58% of them receiving encouragement from the union leader.

I suppose that the writers’ goal in producing this paper was "publish or perish." Many universities pressure their professors to conduct research and publish papers. It seems to me that all of the substantive research in this field has already been completed. However, I think that the author did achieve their goal of confirming the obvious. However, the sample size of 44 mail-in surveys was inexcusably small especially when broken down into subgroups for race and gender. Since the survey was mail in – it should have been very easy to distribute more surveys.

The authors did convincingly and comprehensively confirm their hypothesizes however their survey size was way too small. They did not neglect anything besides a large sample.

I do not believe that this article was biased in its writing. However their sample was 70% women, while union officials reported that 48% of stewards were women. This is slanted especially when coupled with the small survey size.

I enjoyed how the authors broke down the 4 "modes" which enhance self confidence. I also found it interesting that women and people of color were more likely to receive a personal invitation to become a steward than white men (417). Women and people of color were historically unrepresented and underrepresented in leadership positions. However is should be noted that 70% of respondents to the survey were women. Are women more likely to respond to mail-in surveys about their jobs?

Unique aspects of this research include the above findings about the importance of race and gender in affecting what it takes to become a union steward. However, the findings are marred by the small sample size.

This is a scholarly article because it was published in a scholarly journal. It also makes use of statistical techniques to make sure the findings are not simply due to chance. A popular article would not mention these necessary steps.

The article mentions 24 sources, the majority being from reputable journals. These sources are believed to be primary sources since journals usually publish unique material.

In summation the article was primarily common sense, however there were sections of non-obvious material, for example that most stewards are asked to serve by another steward, not their coworkers they will represent. In addition I found some of the non-invitation reasons interesting, such as ’I wanted to confront management about what was really going on’ (413). However the statistical sections were hampered by the small sample size.

Works Cited

  • Mellor, Steven, Carrie A. Bulger, and Lisa M. Kath. "The Potency of One-to-One Contact With Union Leaders: Enhancing Self-Efficacy to Become a Union Steward." Journal of Psychology. 141.4 (July 2007): 403-422.

AP Psychology Scholarly Paper Series