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Section 1: Overview, Theoretical Basis, and Hypothesis
It is believed that a well-managed and financially healthy fire department leads to a more efficient outcome as it pertains to emergency response. Even though this has been widely accepted across society no formal study has been done on the topic before. The article was written by Amy K. Donahue titled “The Influence of Management on the Cost of Fire Protection” is a prime example of quantitative research on how the core purpose of emergency response is influenced by management. Donahue’s article examines management within the fire department quantitatively by researching the impact of decisions made by management as it pertains to spending and other costs that assist or enhance public protection. The researcher needed to have a clear understanding of the fundamentals of the organization in order to determine the theoretical basis for the research. In traditional organizational theory, the principle idea of fundamental organizational characteristics is the size of an organization, the difficulty of objectives as well as operational control and command, and the development of procedures and order in which to follow. The main purpose of this article is to analyze the correlation between funds required or spent on improving fire protection and spending practices of management and the impact of their decisions. “To test a simplified version of a theoretical cost model for the case of the production of fire protection using survey data drawn from fire departments and secondary data” (Donahue, 2004, p. 89).
There is has always been this correlation that management influences the cost-efficiency of a public organization. According to Donahue, management is viewed “as the process of directing, controlling, and coordinating the human, capital, and information resources of an enterprise to achieve specific, established collective objectives” (Donahue, 2004, p. 74). In order to analyze the impact that management has on cost-efficiency, the author stated that there are three fundamental dimensions: strategic, administrative, and operation. A strategic dimension is when objectives are designed, and an informed plan is developed in order to understand the purpose. What this means for fire service managers is that they must have a plan for the present as well as for the future and how that plan correlates to the needs and wants of the community they serve as well as a knowledge of the capabilities and resources at their disposal. The administrative dimension is all about “optimize yield from resources” (Donahue, 2004, p. 74). This means arranging resources in an orderly fashion, ensuring the proper amount of resource are sustained and ensuring that there is control over the organization’s resources. The last managerial dimension that has an impact on cost-efficiency is operational. This dimension focuses on making sure essential services are being used from the organization’s resources while accomplishing the organization’s goals.
Through the use of a simplified version of a theoretical cost model and two-stage least squares regression analysis, the researcher intends to support six different hypotheses. The first hypothesis states that the more rigid, centralized and hierarchical a fire department is the less efficient it will be. Similarly, hypothesis two stated “the better develop a fire department’s performance monitoring and measurement ability is, the more efficient it will be” (Donahue, 2004, p. 76). Hypothesis three stated the better developed a fire department’s, financial, capital management and HR department systems where the more efficient the department will be. The fourth hypothesis state efficient fire departments are those with more knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced firefighters. The fifth hypothesis stated that use of modern firefighting technology would make a fire department more efficient. Finally, the sixth hypothesis stated the more service responsibilities that the fire department has the less efficient they would be. The answer to each of these hypotheses will be addressed later in the writing.
“The management of occupational health and safety in the emergency response services is an emerging area of interest to both academics and practitioners” (Cooper, 2000, p. 39). The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) has taken a new interest in the efficiency and the technical capabilities of organizations since both private and public businesses strive on top performance from workers to maintain competitiveness. The article was written by Mark Cooper titled “Safety Management in the Emergency Response Services”, is qualitative research on how current knowledge of occupational safety and health in emergency response services must be improved and purpose explained. The charge is led with the modernization in the current field of occupational health and safety with the hope that safety management is motivated to make the necessary changes. The study shows that management that is not motivated have a tendency to affect occupational health and safety in emergency response services. In the article, Cooper uses the framework of theory X and theory Y, which is said to explain how managers belief about what motivates their workers, can affect their management style. Cooper uses this premise to determine the correlation between the studies objectives. “Theory X managers tend to take a pessimistic view of their people and assume that they are naturally unmotivated and dislike work. Theory Y managers have an optimistic, positive opinion of their people, and they use a decentralized, participative management style” (Mind Tools Content Team, 2019).
There are various safety management systems that have been mentioned as they pertain to OHS in emergency response services that are in existence such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also known as the Health and Safety Guidance No. 65 (HSG(65)), the British Standard 8800 of OHS, and the environmental management system ISO 14001. Cooper also talks about motivational factors both extrinsic and intrinsic, which are analyzed to help determine what motivation managers and works of emergency response services. A Generic Model of Management Motivation is established based on what is thought to lead to improved motivation. The model showed that “emergency response services are clearly highly inelastic; in that, they have little control over the nature and demands of their workload” (Cooper. 2000, p. 43). According to this model, the member associated with these organizations has low motivation. There are five factors that Cooper believe can promote improved motivation in emergency response services and they are legislation, fatalities, regulator’s intervention, civil litigation, and operational training. At the conclusion of the study, the researcher address areas that require further research that can provide continued support in promoting motivation of occupational health and safety in emergency response services. They are the successful implementation and effectiveness of safety management within the emergency response and formal programs of management education for senior and strategic managers.
Section 2: Methods, Theoretical Model, Population and Sampling, Validity and Reliability
The study conducted by Donahue uses various quantitative research methods such as surveys and analysis of statistical data. “Quantitative research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into usable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables – and generalize results from a larger sample population” (DeFranzo, 2011). The researcher has broken the study into five categories of variables which are cost, outcomes, management, inputs, and the environment. To analysis each variable, the researcher used six equations that estimated spending considerations for each of the fire departments that participated in the study. The researcher used scholarly sources that had connections to public management to strengthen her study. The researcher then modified the equations to better suit the study at hand, harping on the three fundamental dimensions of each organization and their management situations. A two-stage least squares regression analysis (2SLS) was utilized to see the connection between management and the cost of fire protection. Following the analysis, it can be determined that decisions made by management have a huge impact on not only fire protection, but the cost associated with said protection and public service. The researcher uses an inductive and deductive data analysis which is when you create categories to find the cause and effect of something and then find the reasoning why it occurs in general. “Qualitative researchers typically work inductively, building patterns, categories, and themes from the bottom up by organizing the data into increasingly more abstract units of information. This inductive process illustrates working back and forth between the themes and the database until the researchers have established a comprehensive set of themes. Then deductively, the researchers look back at their data from the themes to determine if more evidence can support each theme or whether they need to gather additional information” (Creswell, 2018, p. 180).
The target population for the study “was a single-stage cluster sample of fire departments, where the clusters were 20 counties in New York State” (Donahue, 2004, p. 82), which accounted for 9.6% of the population of fire departments in the state. “A t-test for sample independence shows that differences in the mean values between the sample counties and the remainder of the population with respect to a wide array of environmental and demographic criteria relevant to fire protection (such as urbanization, wealth, and building condition)” (Donahue, 2004, p. 82). Furthermore, the chosen county for the study have all different types of economic development represented and are scattered geographically throughout New York.
The researcher collected data about expenditures and outcomes within the fire service from secondary sources which are the New York State Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Affairs and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Controls. A 100 multipart closed-ended questionnaire was utilized to collect data on the fire department’s missions and service responsibilities, financial, human resources, capital management practices, and organizational structure. It is believed that the systematic study would provide insight into the correlation between inputs and outcomes of managers decisions for organizational success. The biggest difficulty the researchers faced was measuring the government sector variables of quality, quantity, intermediate outputs, price of inputs and final outcomes without bias. The only way the study could be done without any elements of bias was by the use of a validated statistical test that determined fire protection cost. The uses of a standard for validity and reliability was established by the researcher when she instrumented a pilot-test between ten fire chiefs in two counties and made revisions to her study and questionnaire prior to mailing out the remaining surveys.
In Cooper’s article, he uses a qualitative research design to characterize various managerial and developmental hypothetical viewpoints as is shown from his analysis of current classic and modern literature. Validation of a precise principle or phenomenon through the use of a combination of various evidence obtain throughout the study is a very common qualitative method of research. “Qualitative methods rely on text and image data, have unique steps in data analysis, and draw on diverse designs” (Creswell, 2018, p. 179). The research conduct uses a systematic approach will gather various evidence from a multiple of sources that aids in establishing an operational principle that a motivated manager can use to improve OHS in emergency response services. The researcher used an inductive process of literature review, which helps him develop categories that determine intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, the generic model of management motivation and models of safety system management, which led to the continuation of the study. The outcome of the study addresses an issue at the managerial level about OHS and gave a foundation for improvement by using the list of motivation factors.
There was no sample strategy or target population for the study because the researcher’s design was a content review. Instead, the researcher used a widespread scholarly literature review to gather information to establish his research objectives. Cooper used quotes directly from accredited publications, reports from the UK government, manuals on management that have been intertwined to enhance the study and lastly scholarly articles and journal on management practices. Unfortunately, sections of the study and design have a strong personal bias factor. Continuing on the bias notion, interpretation of the study can be seen as personally beneficial to the researcher’s point of view while ignoring conflicting supportive documentation from scholarly publications.
Section 3: Underlying Hypothetical Position and Alternative Methods
The researcher established six hypotheses for her study with each of them meant to determine the impact of management on the influence of fire protection outcomes and service as well as how efficient each organization is. The main stance of the researcher is that through the use of a systematic study of each fire departments inputs and outputs, a clear understanding of the cost-efficiency by management can be determined. The use of mathematical equations to calculate the cost for each department statistical has made the use of a qualitative method not appropriate for this study. The analysis was quite difficult to interpret at times due to the use of acronyms for variables throughout the study, but in the end, lead to a more direct conclusion. A two-stage least squares regression analysis (2SLS) was used over a “more advanced analyses using multiple measures of variables as found in a structural equation modeling” (Creswell, 2018, p. 54). Structural equation modeling is a very powerful multivariate analysis that uses a special version of sequences within its analysis method. Separate investigative outlines could have been carried out equally on managerial practices and the production of public service municipalities. Additionally, the results of the 2SLS analysis have been characterized by accepting semi-log function where only the dependent variable is recorded, and other variables such as per unit basis are being noted independently. By using structural equation modeling, a more accurate relationship between said variables can be determined without conviction. Furthermore, little to no effort has been done to find the connection between the awareness of the fire chiefs and their subordinates and the rise or drop in cost associated with services provides, operations, and production. If the researcher would have expanded on these major issues and developed a model that analysis it, a determination could be made as to why efficiency is being affected in the public sector organizations within the study. By using a mixed method research design, the researcher may be able to blend qualitative and quantitative data, thus providing for more definitive findings, which can be extremely beneficial for this study.
Following the overall design of the study the researcher used, his literature review could have elaborated more on key elements of the study. Combining of the managerial approach and behavior necessary to improve motivation among workers would have provided a reasonable design that explores the overall objectives of the study. Needless to say, managers of an organization and workers within an emergency response center play a vital role of communicating, designing, and implementing of operational agendas based on their knowledge, skills, social orientations, perceptions, and their developmental purpose both within the organization and outside of it.
A qualitative research design was what the researcher believed would provide the best foundation for his study, it still could have been enhanced by developing interviews to obtain some current factual data based on the issue he was researching. The researcher took us on a journey that begins with a literature review of established models, followed by theories use within organizational structures that affect motivation and concluded with five factors that can promote motivational change. The researcher states the five factors that he believes will promote improved motivation among occupational health and safety emergency response service workers, but never analyzed the impact of these factors. One way the researcher could have added an analytical element to his study, which would have made it comprehensive, was by determining the correlation between these factors.
Section 4: Playing “Devil’s Advocate”
For the purpose of Donahue’s research study with the established guidelines, a quantitative method should be used because it requires the use of mathematical equations and statistical analysis. That being what it is, “survey research provides a quantitative or numeric description of trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population by studying a sample of that population. It includes cross-sectional and longitudinal studies using questionnaires or structured interviews for data collection—with the intent of generalizing from a sample to a population” (Creswell, 2018, p. 11) but it doesn’t take into account the social behavioral norms and approaches of the study group. Using a mixed method research design and not relying solely on statistical data but also using qualitative methods, a more through credible conclusion with validity and reliability can be ascertained. Utilization of a qualitative approach by establishing small focus groups of managers and subordinates and conducting interviews within these small groups can aid by providing detail information as to why they believe efficiently is affected by managers. Performing this analysis can help the researcher see another angle in the problem that might have gone overlooked such as cost-cutting strategies that have already been implemented, and opinions of individuals within the organization and their spending habits.
The relationship between management practices and the way these practices are interpreted by subordinates as well as budgeting and providing resources requires a more detailed analysis that can’t be done with just a quantitative research design. Implementing the use of qualitative research design allows the research to look at the humanistic behaviors and precisive notions that can be overlooked by quantitative statistical analysis. In qualitative research design, the researcher can see what really happens by using interviews that can explain excessive or efficient spending on the part of management, which is what Donahue was ultimately trying to decipher with her study. Lastly, by using a mixed method research design you can take the responses from the quantitative survey and ask the surveyor what he/she meant in their response (qualitative research) to have a better understanding to what is actually trying to be answered in the study, thus giving you a more detailed analysis.
Surprisingly enough, Cooper’s study did not factor in the human element merely stating the general meaning determined from scholarly publications of organizational motivation and change. On the bases of his research, combining a variable such as an employee perspective and his/her motivation to work for an organization could have enhanced his argument and objectives stating that managerial motivation in OHS must be addressed. Occupational health and safety is not just an organizational standard but must also be a personal consideration and consistent analysis should measure the extent of the motivational method that managers of said organizations implements in promoting OHS in the fire service. The use of a quantitative research method would have enabled the researcher to conduct a sample of fire service personnel and obtain data that could of help provide a general adaptation of managerial effects on motivation in emergency response services. Also, the use of statistics could develop a chart that shows what motivates fire service workers to put a premium on OHS. The use of interviews and even a survey tailored to ask specific questions could have prompted more information as to what factors motivate personnel of emergency response service, thus improving the researcher’s study. By using a quantitative research approach, the researcher could have formulated a hypothesis and test to see the outcome through the use of reliable study design. If the researcher would have used a questionnaire that was arranged to ask the question on managerial and organizational behaviors, perhaps a more conclusive understanding as to what influences motivation among fire worker could have been determined and changes implemented.
Section 5: Opposing Views of the Authors
In Donahue’s study, there are several systematic and design gaps which can challenge the reliability of the research. First, the cost data that the researcher is using for her study comes from the New York State Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Affairs and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Controls which are in the same state. Distributions of finance can be extremely different if compared to other surrounding states or any other state in the United States, thus changing the outcome of the study. Not to mention that the researcher uses a simplistic sampling method instead of selecting a more consistent sample for her analysis, this leads to the first sign of doubt in the reliability of the nature of the study. The fact that Donahue’s study is said to represent the outcome of fire protection throughout the entire state of New York, is a falsely because it only amounts to 9.6 % of the fire departments in the state. The study continues to exhibit defects when grouping fire departments in different categories of the target population. There is no way of representing the demographic and social or economic qualities of the target population. By Donahue using two-stage least square regression analysis she tends to harp on the statistics of production cost and distort the relevance of the subordinates and their opinions. Unfortunately, the one variable, human resources, that could have the greatest impact on cost efficiency has gotten little to no attention throughout the analysis.
The use of qualitative or quantitative methods comes with its share of bias on the part of the researcher thus bringing the questions of validity and reliability into the mix. That being said, qualitative research methods tend to have a greater possibility for extreme bias. To prove my point, the article written by Mark Cooper is extremely subjective, he single-handedly selected each literature review and sorted the material to his likely, without following any type of procedure and has not shown any validity or procedural competence of said resources. Cooper also provides limited information on the proposed motivational approaches. The researcher continues by stating “creating a culture of safety means that the employees are constantly aware of hazards in the workplace, including the ones that they create themselves” (Cooper, 2000, p. 42). He does not develop a level of motivation for either weakening or strengthening awareness of OHS. Lastly, the researcher suggests other areas that should be researched but never suggest a need to conduct experimental research on what motivates fire workers to join in occupational health and safety practices. Before the implementation of a new standard, through testing should be done to determine what can come from the findings and suggestions listed above.
- Cooper, M. (2000). Safety Management in the Emergency Response Services. Risk Management: An International Journal, 39-49.
- Creswell, J. W. (2018). Research Design Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 5th Edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
- DeFranzo, S. E. (2011, September 16). What’s the difference between qualitative and quantitative research? Retrieved from Snap Surveys: https://www.snapsurveys.com/blog/qualitative-vs-quantitative-research/
- Donahue, A. K. (2004). The Influence of Management on the Cost of Fire Protection. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 71-92.
- Mind Tools Content Team. (2019, June 14). Theory X and Theory Y: Understanding People’s Motivations. Retrieved from Mind Tools: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_74.htm
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