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Big Data Patents (Digital Intellectual Property Law)

Article By Sandro Sandri 


Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to deal with them. Challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy. The term “big data” often refers simply to the use of predictive analytics, user behaviour analytics, or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set.1 “There is little doubt that the quantities of data now available are indeed large, but that’s not the most relevant characteristic of this new data ecosystem.”

In another way Big Data is an evolving term that describes any voluminous amount structured, semistructured and unstructured data that has the potential to be mined for information. It is often characterized by 3Vs: the extreme Volume of data, the wide Variety of data types and the Velocity at which the data must be processed. Although big data doesn’t equate to any specific volume of data, the term is often used to describe terabytes, petabytes and even exabytes of data captured over time. The need for big data velocity imposes unique demands on the underlying compute infrastructure. The computing power required to quickly process huge volumes and varieties of data can overwhelm a single server or server cluster. Organizations must apply adequate compute power to big data tasks to achieve the desired velocity. This can potentially demand hundreds or thousands of servers that can distribute the work and operate collaboratively. Achieving such velocity in a cost-effective manner is also a headache. Many enterprise leaders are reticent to invest in an extensive server and storage infrastructure that might only be used occasionally to complete big data tasks. As a result, public cloud computing has emerged as a primary vehicle for hosting big data analytics projects. A public cloud provider can store petabytes of data and scale up thousands of servers just long enough to accomplish the big data project. The business only pays for the storage and compute time actually used, and the cloud instances can be turned off until they’re needed again. To improve service levels even further, some public cloud providers offer big data capabilities, such as highly distributed Hadoop compute instances, data warehouses, databases and other related cloud services. Amazon Web Services Elastic MapReduce is one example of big data services in a public cloud.

Ultimately, the value and effectiveness of big data depends on the human operators tasked with understanding the data and formulating the proper queries to direct big data projects. Some big data tools meet specialized niches and allow less technical users to make various predictions from everyday business data. Still, other tools are appearing, such as Hadoop appliances, to help businesses implement a suitable compute infrastructure to tackle big data projects, while minimizing the need for hardware and distributed compute software know-how.


The General Data Protection Regulation, which is due to come into force in May 2018, establishes a few areas that have been either drafted with a view to encompass Big Data-related issues or carry additional weight in the context of Big Data, lets analyse just two aspects.

– Data processing impact assessment

According to the GDPR, where a type of processing in particular using new technologies, and taking into account the nature, scope, context and purposes of the processing, is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons, the controller shall, prior to the processing, carry out an assessment of the impact of the envisaged processing operations on the protection of personal data. This criterion is most likely going to be met in cases of Big Data analytics, IoT or Cloud operations, where the processing carries high privacy risks due to the properties of either technology or datasets employed. For example, linking geolocation data to the persons name, surname, photo and transactions and making it available to an unspecified circle of data users can expose the individual to a higher than usual personal safety risk. Involving data from connected IoT home appliances or using a Cloud service to store and process such data is likely to contribute to this risk.

– Pseudonymisation


According to the GDPR, ‘pseudonymisation’ means the processing of personal data in such a manner that the personal data can no longer be attributed to a specific data subject without the use of additional information, provided that such additional information is kept separately and is subject to technical and organisational measures to ensure that the personal data are not attributed to an identified or identifiable natural person. At least two aspects link pseudonymisation to Big Data. First, if implemented properly, it may be a way to avoid the need to obtain individual consent for Big Data operations not foreseen at the time of data collection. Second, paradoxically, Big Data operations combining potentially unlimited number of datasets also makes pseudonymisation more difficult to be an effective tool to safeguard privacy.


Big data has increased the demand of information management specialists so much so that Software AG, Oracle Corporation, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, EMC, HP and Dell have spent more than $15 billion on software firms specializing in data management and analytics. In 2010, this industry was worth more than $100 billion and was growing at almost 10 percent a year: about twice as fast as the software business as a whole. Developed economies increasingly use data-intensive technologies. There are 4.6 billion mobile-phone subscriptions worldwide, and between 1 billion and 2 billion people accessing the internet. Between 1990 and 2005, more than 1 billion people worldwide entered the middle class, which means more people became more literate, which in turn lead to information growth. The world’s effective capacity to exchange information through telecommunication networks was 281 petabytes in 1986, 471 petabytes in 1993, 2.2 exabytes in 2000, 65 exabytes in 20073 and predictions put the amount of internet traffic at 667 exabytes annually by 2014. According to one estimate, one third of the globally stored information is in the form of alphanumeric text and still image data, which is the format most useful for most big data applications. This also shows the potential of yet unused data (i.e. in the form of video and audio content).

2 “Data, data everywhere”. The Economist. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2012.

3 Hilbert, Martin; López, Priscila (2011). “The World’s Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information”. Science. 332 (6025): 60-65. doi:10.1126/science.1200970. PMID 21310967.


While many vendors offer off-the-shelf solutions for big data, experts recommend the development of in-house solutions custom-tailored to solve the company’s problem at hand if the company has sufficient technical capabilities.


A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem and is a product or a process. Being so, Patents are a form of intellectual property.

A patent does not give a right to make or use or sell an invention.5 Rather, a patent provides, from a legal standpoint, the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention for the term of the patent, which is usually 20 years from the filing date6 subject to the payment of maintenance fees. From an economic and practical standpoint however, a patent is better and perhaps more precisely regarded as conferring upon its proprietor “a right to try to exclude by asserting the patent in court”, for many granted patents turn out to be invalid once their proprietors attempt to assert them in court.7 A patent is a limited property right the government gives inventors in exchange for their agreement to share details of their inventions with the public. Like any other property right, it may be sold, licensed, mortgaged, assigned or transferred, given away, or simply abandoned.

The procedure for granting patents, requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a granted patent application must include one or more claims that define the invention. A patent may include many claims, each of which defines a specific property right.

4 WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook: Policy, Law and Use. Chapter 2: Fields of Intellectual Property Protection WIPO 2008

A patent is not the grant of a right to make or use or sell. It does not, directly or indirectly, imply any such right. It grants only the right to exclude others. The supposition that a right to make is created by the patent grant is obviously inconsistent with the established distinctions between generic and specific patents, and with the well-known fact that a very considerable portion of the patents granted are in a field covered by a former relatively generic or basic patent, are tributary to such earlier patent, and cannot be practiced unless by license

thereunder.” – Herman v. Youngstown Car Mfg. Co., 191 F. 579, 584-85, 112 CCA 185 (6th Cir. 1911)

6 Article 33 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

7 Lemley, Mark A.; Shapiro, Carl (2005). “Probabilistic Patents”. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Stanford Law and

Economics Olin Working Paper No. 288. 19: 75.


relevant patentability requirements, such as novelty, usefulness, and non-obviousness. The exclusive right granted to a patentee in most countries is the right to prevent others, or at least to try to prevent others, from commercially making, using, selling, importing, or distributing a patented invention without permission.

Under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, patents should be available in WTO member states for any invention, in all fields of technology,9 and the term of protection available should be a minimum of twenty years.10 Nevertheless, there are variations on what is patentable subject matter from country to country.


European patent law covers a wide range of legislations including national patent laws, the Strasbourg Convention of 1963, the European Patent Convention of 1973, and a number of European Union directives and regulations in countries which are party to the European Patent Convention. For certain states in Eastern Europe, the Eurasian Patent Convention applies.

Patents having effect in most European states may be obtained either nationally, via national patent offices, or via a centralised patent prosecution process at the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO is a public international organisation established by the European Patent Convention. The EPO is not a European Union or a Council of Europe institution.[1] A patent granted by the EPO does not lead to a single European patent enforceable before one single court, but rather to a bundle of essentially independent national European patents enforceable before national courts according to different national legislations and procedures.[2] Similarly, Eurasian patents are granted by the Eurasian Patent Office and become after grant independent national Eurasian patents enforceable before national courts.

8 Lemley, Mark A.; Shapiro, Carl (2005). “Probabilistic Patents”. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 288. 19: 75. doi:10.2139/ssrn.567883.

9 Article 27.1. of the TRIPs Agreement.

10 Article 33 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).


European patent law is also shaped by international agreements such as the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement), the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) and the London Agreement.


11 Patent Analytics Solutions That Help Inventors Invent”, Outsell Inc, June 3 2016

Patent data is uniquely suited for big data tools and techniques, because of the high volume, high variety (including related information) and high velocity of changes. In fact, patents are leading the way with big data and analytics in many ways. “The patent space offers a fascinating insight into the potential of big data analytics, rich visualization tools, predictive and prescriptive analytics, and artificial intelligence”.11 Especially recently, big data tools and technologies are being used in several ways in the patent world to transform and improve patent analysis.

Patents and Intellectual Property are gradually gaining significance around the world. This is leading to a bottleneck-large databases and ever growing information. A new way around the innovation problem is to acquire patents. With examples such as Nokia, Motorola, Twitter, the patent purchases seem rather straightforward. Nokia sold a large chunk of its company to Microsoft, but held on to the crucial patents by signing a licensing deal. They can now earn a revenue using patents licensed to Microsoft. Google bought Motorola and its patents and later sold the company to Lenovo while holding on to the patents. There are ample such examples in the industry.

Transactions of Intellectual Property (IP) are rather complex. Per example, a basic component to be verified before a patent is granted, is novelty. In other words, if a priorart describing the invention is found, the application stands to be rejected. A prior-art could be in the form of a publication, a blog post, a lecture, a video, or a book. With a massive amount of information generated, that doubles every 18 months, it is extremely difficult to found prior-art. One way, some organizations follow, is crowdsourcing the prior art search. Details about the patent are published on a website asking IP professionals from around the world to find a prior-art. The emergence of Big Data analytics, on the other hand, has provided a clear solution. In addition, the outcomes through this method get better and precise with each operation.

Since Big Data analytics is still not commonly used by most government authorities, prior-art gets overlooked and many false patents are granted. This comes out when-in litigation-the opposing parties put all their efforts in looking for a prior-art to invalidate each other’s patents. More often than not, a prior-art is found or there is an out of court settlement. Hence, a concept called patent wall has gained traction. It is very common for companies to file as well as acquire a number of patents around the technology they are working on. This serves as a defence against litigators and allows the companies to market and sell their products/services without any fear of litigation.

The core value of patents is that the invention must be publicly disclosed in exchange for a time-limited monopoly on the invention. Patents are not only a legal asset that can block competitors, they are potentially a business and financial asset. For market participants, patents can provide direct insight into where competitors are headed strategically.

Big Data is the key to unlocking this inherent value. Patent information is comprised of vast data sets of textual data structures involving terabytes of information. When unlocked through Big Data techniques and analysis, the insights are compelling, revealing the direction a technology is headed and even uncovering the roadmap for a specific company’s product plans. But, deriving these insights from the proliferation of information requires truly sophisticated Big Data analysis.

While Big Data is quickly growing as a trend, what’s delivering more value these days are Big Data services that optimize specific data sets and create specialized analysis tools for that data. Technology teams that are dedicated to certain data sets will curate and improve the data, learn the specifics of that data and how best to analyze it, and create selfservice tools that are far more useful than generic Big Data technologies.

A key part of the Big Data service is a specialized analysis engine tailored to particular data. For example, a patent analysis engine must understand the dozens of metadata items on each patent in order to group patents correctly and traverse the references. To be most effective, Big Data services need to automatically keep up with the data updates, as patents are living documents that change over time. Even after the patent Big Data Patents is finalized and issued, it can be reclassified, assigned to a new owner, reexamined and updated, attached to a patent family or abandoned.

Most importantly, Big Data services are only as good as the insights they deliver – a Big Data service should provide a specialized user interface that allows real-time, userdriven analysis with search, correlations and groupings, visualizations, drill down and zooms. The patent data analysis must be presented in a manner that is compelling and consistent.

There are more than 22,000 published patent applications between 2004 and 2013 relating to big data and efficient computing technologies, resulting in almost 10,000 patent families. Patenting activity in this field has grown steadily over the last decade and has seen its highest increases in annual patenting over the last two years (2011-2012 and 2012-2013) of the present data set. The growth has continually been above the general worldwide increase in patenting, showing a small increase of 0.4% over worldwide patenting for the 2005-2006 period and showing a maximum increase of 39% for 2012-13.~

“Using” a patent effectively means suing a competitor to have them blocked access to market, or charge them a license for allowing them to sell. When a patent holder wishes to enforce a patent, the defendant often can invoke that the patent should not have been granted, because there was prior art at the time the patent was granted. And, while patent offices do not seem to have a clear incentive to take into account actual reality, including the exponentially available information created by Big Data, when reviewing the application, the situation is very different for a defendant in a patent lawsuit. They will have every incentive to establish that the patent should never have been granted, because there was pre-existing prior art, and the information in the patent was not new at the time of application. And one important consequence of Big Data will be that the information available to defendants in this respect, will also grow exponentially. This means that, the probability of being able to defend against a patent claim on the basis of prior art, will grow significantly. Because of the lag of time between patent applications and their use in court, the effect of the recent explosion of information as a result of Big Data is not very visible in the patent courts yet.

A patent is, of itself, an algorithm. It describes the process of a technical invention – how it works (at least, that’s what a patent is theoretically supposed to be doing). It is therefore quite possible that a lot of algorithms around analysis of Big Data will become patented themselves. It could be argued that this will act as a counterweight against the declining value and potential of patents.

Many of these algorithms are, in fact, not technical inventions. They are theoretical structures or methods, and could therefore easily fall into the area of non-patentable matter. Algorithmic patents are particularly vulnerable to the ability by others to “innovate” around them. It is quite unlikely that a data analysis algorithm would be unique, or even necessary from a technical point of view. Most data analysis algorithms are a particular way of doing similar things, such as search, clever search, and pattern recognition. There is, in actual fact, a commoditization process going on in respect of search and analytical algorithms. Patents are “frozen” algorithms. The elements of the algorithm described in a patent are fixed. In order to have a new version of the algorithm also protected, the patent will either have to be written very vague (which seriously increases the risk of rejection or invalidity) or will have to be followed up by a new patent, every time the algorithm is adapted. And the key observation around Big Data algorithms is that, in order to have continued business value, they must be adapted continuously. This is because the data, their volume, sources and behaviour, change continuously.

The consequence is that, even if a business manages to successfully patent Big Data analytical algorithms, such patent will lose its value very quickly. The reason is simple: the actual algorithms used in the product or service will quickly evolve away from the ones described in the patent. Again, the only potential answer to this is writing very broad, vague claims – an approach that does not work very well at all.

80% of all big data and efficient computing patent families (inventions) are filed by US and Chinese applicants, with UK applicants accounting for just 1.2% of the dataset and filing slightly fewer big data and efficient computing patents than expected given the overall level of patenting activity from UK applicants across all areas of technology.

Against this, however, it should be borne in mind that many of the potential improvements in data processing, particularly with regard to pure business methods and computer software routines, are not necessarily protectable by patents and therefore will not be captured by this report. UK patenting activity in big data and efficient computing has, on the whole, increased over recent years and the year-on-year changes are comparable to the growth seen in Germany, France and Japan.12

12 Intellectual Property Office, Eight Great Technologies Big Data A patent overview



ï‚· Herman v. Youngstown Car Mfg. Co., 191 F. 579, 112 CCA 185 (6th Cir. 1911)

ï‚· Hilbert, Martin; López, Priscila (2011). “The World’s Technological Capacity to

Store, Communicate, and Compute Information”. Science. (6025).

ï‚· Lemley, Mark A.; Shapiro, Carl (2005). “Probabilistic Patents”. Journal of

Economic Perspectives, Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No.


ï‚· Springer, New Horizons for a Data-Driven Economy –

ï‚· “Data, data everywhere”. The Economist. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 9

December 2012.

ï‚· Eight Great Technologies Big Data – A patent overview, Intellectual Property


ï‚· “Patent Analytics Solutions That Help Inventors Invent”, Outsell Inc, June 3 2016

ï‚· Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

ï‚· Article 33 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property

Rights (TRIPS).

ï‚· 75. doi:10.2139/ssrn.567883.

ï‚· TRIPs Agreement.

ï‚· WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook: Policy, Law and Use. Chapter 2: Fields of

Intellectual Property Protection WIPO 2008

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David Hume: An Inquiry Concerning the Principals of Morals

Reason Versus Sentiment:

There has been a controversy started of late, much better worth examination, concerning the general foundation of morals; whether they be derived from reason, or from sentiment; whether we attain the knowledge of them by a chain of argument and induction, or by an immediate feeling and finer internal sense; whether, like all sound judgment of truth and falsehood, they should be the same to every rational intelligent being; or whether, like the perception of beauty and deformity, they be founded entirely on the particular fabric and constitution of the human species.

The ancient philosophers, though they often affirm, that virtue is nothing but conformity to reason, yet, in general, seem to consider morals as deriving their existence from taste and sentiment. On the other hand, our modern enquirers, though they also talk much of the beauty of virtue, and deformity of vice, yet have commonly endeavored to account for these distinctions by metaphysical reasonings, and by deductions from the most abstract principles of the understanding. Such confusion reigned in these subjects, that an opposition of the greatest consequence could prevail between one system and another, and even in the parts of almost each individual system; and yet no body, till very lately, was ever sensible of it.

The Case for Reason:

It must be acknowledged, that both sides of the question are susceptible of specious arguments. Moral distinctions, it may be said, are discernible by pure reason: Else, whence the many disputes that reign in common life, as well as in philosophy, with regard to this subject: The long chain of proofs often produced on both sides; the examples cited, the authorities appealed to, the analogies employed, the fallacies detected, the inferences drawn, and the several conclusions adjusted to their proper principles. Truth is disputable; not taste: What exists in the nature of things is the standard of our judgment; what each man feels within himself is the standard of sentiment. Propositions in geometry may be proved, systems in physics may be controverted; but the harmony of verse, the tenderness of passion, the brilliancy of wit, must give immediate pleasure. No man reasons concerning another’s beauty; but frequently concerning the justice or injustice of his actions. In every criminal trial the first object of the prisoner is to disprove the facts alleged, and deny the actions imputed to him: The second to prove, that, even if these actions were real, they might be justified, as innocent and lawful. It is confessedly by deductions of the understanding, that the first point is ascertained: How can we suppose that a different faculty of the mind is employed in fixing the other?

The Case For Sentiment:

On the other hand, those who would resolve all moral determinations into sentiment, may endeavor to show, that it is impossible for reason ever to draw conclusions of this nature. To virtue, say they, it belongs to be amiable, andvice odious. This forms their very nature or essence. But can reason or argumentation distribute these different epithets to any subjects, and pronounce before-hand, that this must produce love, and that hatred? Or what other reason can we ever assign for these affections, but the original fabric and formation of the human mind, which is naturally adapted to receive them?

The end of all moral speculations is to teach us our duty; and, by proper representations of the deformity of vice and beauty of virtue, beget correspondent habits, and engage us to avoid the one, and embrace the other. But is this ever to be expected from inferences and conclusions of the understanding, which of themselves have no hold of the affections, or set in motion the active powers of men? They discover truths: But where the truths which they discover are indifferent, and beget no desire or aversion, they can have no influence on conduct and behaviour. What is honourable, what is fair, what is becoming, what is noble, what is generous, takes possession of the heart, and animates us to embrace and maintain it. What is intelligible, what is evident, what is probable, what is true, procures only the cool assent of the understanding; and gratifying a speculative curiosity, puts an end to our researches.

Extinguish all the warm feelings and prepossessions in favour of virtue, and all disgust or aversion to vice: Render men totally indifferent towards these distinctions; and morality is no longer a practical study, nor has any tendency to regulate our lives and actions.

The Limited Role of Reason:

These arguments on each side (and many more might be produced) are so plausible, that I am apt to suspect, they may, the one as well as the other, be solid and satisfactory, and that reason and sentiment concur in almost all moral determinations and conclusions. The final sentence, it is probable, which pronounces characters and actions amiable or odious, praise-worthy or blameable; that which stamps on them the mark of honour or infamy, approbation or censure; that which renders morality an active principle, and constitutes virtue our happiness, and vice our misery: It is probable, I say, that this final sentence depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species. For what else can have an influence of this nature? But in order to pave the way for such a sentiment, and give a proper discernment of its object, it is often necessary, we find, that much reasoning should precede, that nice distinctions be made, just conclusions drawn, distant comparisons formed, complicated relations examined, and general facts fixed and ascertained.

Some species of beauty, especially the natural kinds, on their first appearance, command our affection and approbation; and where they fail of this effect, it is impossible for any reasoning to redress their influence, or adapt them better to our taste and sentiment. But in many orders of beauty, particularly those of the finer arts, it is requisite to employ much reasoning, in order to feel the proper sentiment; and a false relish may frequently be corrected by argument and reflection. There are just grounds to conclude, that moral beauty partakes much of this latter species, and demands the assistance of our intellectual faculties, in order to give it a suitable influence on the human mind.

Arguments Against Other Roles of Reason in Morality:

This partition between the faculties of understanding and sentiment, in all moral decisions, seems clear from the preceding hypothesis. But I shall suppose that hypothesis false: It will then be requisite to look out for some other theory, that may be satisfactory; and I dare venture to affirm, that none such will ever be found, so long as we suppose reason to be the sole source of morals. To prove this, it will be proper to weigh the five following considerations.

Approval as Not a Judgment About Fact Or Relations:

It is easy for a false hypothesis to maintain some appearance of truth, while it keeps wholly in generals, makes use of undefined terms, and employs comparisons, instead of instances. This is particularly remarkable in that philosophy, which ascribes the discernment of all moral distinctions to reason alone, without the concurrence of sentiment. It is impossible that, in any particular instance, this hypothesis can so much as be rendered intelligible; whatever specious figure it may make in general declamations and discourses. Examine the crime of ingratitude, for instance; which has place, wherever we observe good-will, expressed and known, together with good-offices performed, on the one side, and a return of ill-will or indifference, with ill-offices or neglect on the other: Anatomize all these circumstances, and examine, by your reason alone, in what consists the demerit or blame. You never will come to any issue or conclusion.

Reason Judges Either of matters or Fact or Relations:

Enquire then, first, where is that matter of fact, which we here call crime; point it out; determine the time of its existence; describe its essence or nature; explain the sense or faculty, to which it discovers itself. It resides in the mind of the person, who is ungrateful. He must, therefore, feel it, and be conscious of it. But nothing is there, except the passion of ill-will or absolute indifference. You cannot say, that these, of themselves, always, and in all circumstances, are crimes. No: They are only crimes, when directed towards persons, who have before expressed and displayed good-will towards us. Consequently, we may infer, that the crime of ingratitude is not any particular individual fact; but arises from a complication of circumstances, which, being presented to the spectator, excites the sentiment of blame, by the particular structure and fabric of his mind.

No New Fact Is Discovered:

When a man, at any time, deliberates concerning his own conduct (as, whether he had better, in a particular emergence, assist a brother or a benefactor), he must consider these separate relations, with all the circumstances and situations of the persons, in order to determine the superior duty and obligation: And in order to determine the proportion of lines in any triangle, it is necessary to examine the nature of that figure, and the relation which its several parts bear to each other. But notwithstanding this appearing similarity in the two cases, there is, at bottom, an extreme difference between them. A speculative reasoner concerning triangles or circles considers the several known and given relations of the parts of these figures; and thence infers some unknown relation, which is dependent on the former. But in moral deliberations, we must be acquainted, before-hand, with all the objects, and all their relations to each other; and from a comparison of the whole, fix our choice or approbation. No new fact to be ascertained: No new relation to be discovered. All the circumstances of the case are supposed to be laid before us, ere we can fix any sentence of blame or approbation. If any material circumstance be yet unknown or doubtful, we must first employ our enquiry or intellectual faculties to assure us of it; and must suspend for a time all moral decision or sentiment. While we are ignorant, whether a man were aggressor or not, how can we determine whether the person who killed him, be criminal or innocent? But after every circumstance, every relation is known, the understanding has no farther room to operate, nor any object on which it could employ itself. The approbation or blame, which then ensues, cannot be the work of the judgment, but of the heart; and is not a speculative proposition or affirmation, but an active feeling or sentiment. In the disquisitions of the understanding, from known circumstances and relations, we infer some new and unknown. In moral decisions, all the circumstances and relations must be previously known; and the mind, from the contemplation of the whole, feels some new impression of affection or disgust, esteem or contempt, approbation or blame.

Hence the great difference between a mistake of fact and one of right; and hence the reason why the one is commonly criminal and not the other. When OEdipus killed Laius, he was ignorant of the relation, and from circumstances, innocent and involuntary, formed erroneous opinions concerning the action which he committed. But when Nero killed Agrippina, all the relations between himself and the person, and all the circumstances of the fact, were previously known to him: But the motive of revenge, or fear, or interest, prevailed in his savage heart over the sentiments of duty and humanity. And when we express that detestation against him, to which he, himself, in a little time, became insensible; it is not, that we see any relations, of which he was ignorant; but that, from the rectitude of our disposition, we feel sentiments, against which he was hardened, from flattery and a long perseverance in the most enormous crimes. In these sentiments, then, not in a discovery of relations of any kind, do all moral determinations consist. Before we can pretend to form any decision of this kind, every thing must be known and ascertained on the side of the object or action. Nothing remains but to feel, on our part, some sentiment of blame or approbation; whence we pronounce the action criminal or virtuous.

Similarity Between Moral and Aesthetic Perception:

This doctrine will become still more evident, if we compare moral beauty with natural, to which, in many particulars, it bears so near a resemblance. It is on the proportion, relation, and position of parts, that all natural beauty depends; but it would be absurd thence to infer, that the perception of beauty, like that of truth in geometrical problems, consists wholly in the perception of relations, and was performed entirely by the understanding or intellectual faculties. In all the sciences, our mind, from the known relations, investigates the unknown. But in all decisions of taste or external beauty, all the relations are before-hand obvious to the eye; and we thence proceed to feel a sentiment of complacency or disgust, according to the nature of the object, and disposition of our organs.

Euclid has fully explained all the qualities of the circle; but has not, in any proposition, said a word of its beauty. The reason is evident. The beauty is not a quality of the circle. It lies not in any part of the line, whose parts are equally distant from a common centre. It is only the effect, which that figure produces upon the mind, whose peculiar fabric of structure renders it susceptible of such sentiments. In vain would you look for it in the circle, or seek it, either by your senses or by mathematical reasoning, in all the properties of that figure.

Attend to Palladio and Perrault, while they explain all the parts and proportions of a pillar: They talk of the cornice and frieze and base and entablature and shaft and architrave; and give the description and position of each of these members. But should you ask the description and position of its beauty, they would readily reply, that the beauty is not in any of the parts or members of a pillar, but results from the whole, when that complicated figure is presented to an intelligent mind, susceptible to those finer sensations. ’Till such a spectator appear, there is nothing but a figure of such particular dimensions and proportions: From his sentiments alone arise its elegance and beauty.

Again; attend to Cicero, while he paints the crimes of a Verres or a Catiline. You must acknowledge that the moral turpitude results, in the same manner, from the contemplation of the whole, when presented to a being, whose organs have such a particular structure and formation. The orator may paint rage, insolence, barbarity on the one side: Meekness, suffering, sorrow, innocence on the other: But if you feel no indignation or compassion arise in you from this complication of circumstances, you would in vain ask him, in what consists the crime or villainy, which he so vehemently exclaims against: At what time, or on what subject it first began to exist: And what has a few months afterwards become of it, when every disposition and thought of all the actors is totally altered or annihilated. No satisfactory answer can be given to any of these questions, upon the abstract hypothesis of morals; and we must at last acknowledge, that the crime or immorality is no particular fact or relation, which can be the object of the understanding: But arises entirely from the sentiment of disapprobation, which, by the structure of human nature, we unavoidably feel on the apprehension of barbarity or treachery.

No Distinctly Moral Relation:

Inanimate objects may bear to each other all the same relations, which we observe in moral agents; though the former can never be the object of love or hatred, nor are consequently susceptible of merit or iniquity. A young tree, which over-tops and destroys its parent, stands in all the same relations with Nero, when he murdered Agrippina; and if morality consisted merely in relations, would, no doubt, be equally criminal.



Thus the distinct boundaries and offices of reason and of taste are easily ascertained. The former conveys the knowledge of truth and falsehood: The latter gives the sentiment of beauty and deformity, vice and virtue. The one discovers objects as they really stand in nature, without addition or diminution: The other has a productive faculty, and gilding or staining all natural objects with the colours, borrowed from internal sentiment, raises, in a manner, a new creation. Reason, being cool and disengaged, is no motive to action, and directs only the impulse received from appetite or inclination, by showing us the means of attaining happiness or avoiding misery: Taste, as it gives pleasure or pain, and thereby constitutes happiness or misery, becomes a motive to action, and is the first spring or impulse to desire and volition. From circumstances and relations, known or supposed, the former leads us to the discovery of the concealed and unknown: After all circumstances and relations are laid before us, the latter makes us feel from the whole a new sentiment of blame or approbation. The standard of the one, being founded on the nature of things, is eternal and inflexible, even by the will of the Supreme Being: The standard of the other, arising from the internal frame and constitution of animals, is ultimately derived from that Supreme Will, which bestowed on each being its peculiar nature, and arranged the several classes and orders of existence.


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Epidemiology of Alcoholism


Explain the epidemiology of Alcoholism. Critically discuss the public policy options which are available to address this problem.


According to Alcohol Concern Organisation (2015) more than 9 million people in England consume alcoholic beverages more than the recommended daily limits. In relation to this, the National Health Service (2015) actually recommends no more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day for men and 2 to 3 units a day for women. The large number of people consuming alcohol more than the recommended limits, highlights the reality that alcoholism is a major health concern in the UK which can lead to a multitude of serious health problems. Moss (2013) states that alcoholism and chronic use of alcohol are linked to various medical, psychiatric, social and family problems. To add to this, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (2014) reported that between 2012 and 2013, a total of 1,008,850 admissions related to alcohol consumption where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary cause for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis. This shows the detrimental impact of alcoholism on the health and overall wellbeing of millions of people in the UK. It is therefore vital to examine the aetiology of alcoholism in order to understand why so many people end up consuming excessive alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (n.d.) supports this by stating that learning the natural history of a disorder will provide information essential for assessment and intervention and for the development of effective preventive measures. This essay will also look into the different public health policies that address the problem of alcoholism in the UK. A brief description of what alcoholism is will first be provided.

What is Alcoholism?

what is alcoholismIt is safe to declare that alcoholism is a lay term that simply means excessive intake of alcohol. It can be divided into two forms namely; alcohol misuse or abuse and alcohol dependence. Alcohol misuse simply means excessive intake of alcohol more than the recommended limits (National Health Service Choices 2013). A good example of this is binge drinking.

Alcohol dependence is worse because according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2011, n.p.) it “indicates craving, tolerance, a preoccupation with alcohol and continued drinking regardless of harmful consequences” (e.g. liver disease). Under the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)- 5, these two have been joined as one disorder called alcohol use disorder or AUD with mild, moderate and severe sub-classifications (NIAAA 2015).

Genetic Aetiologic Factor of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a complex disorder with several factors leading to its development (NIAAA 2005). Genetics and other biological aspects can be considered as one factor involved in the development of alcohol abuse and dependence (NIAAA 2005). Other factors include cognitive, behavioural, temperament, psychological and sociocultural (NIAAA 2005).

According to Goodwin (1985) as far as the era of Aristotle and the Bible, alcoholism was believed to run in the families and thus could be inherited. To some extent, there is some basis that supports this ancient belief because in reality, alcoholic parents have about four to five times higher probability of having alcoholic children (Goodwin 1985). Today, this belief seems to lack substantially clear and direct research-based evidence. On the other hand, studies also do not deny the role of genetics in alcoholism. With this view, it is therefore safe to argue that genetics is considered still as an important aetiologic factor in alcoholism.

The current consensus simply indicates that there is more to a simple gene or two that triggers the predisposition of an individual to become an alcoholic. Scutti (2014) reports that although scientists have known for some time that genetics take an active role in alcoholism, they also propose that an individual’s inclination to be dependent on alcohol is more complicated than the simple presence or absence of any one gene. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2008) states that there is no one single gene that fully controls a person’s predisposition to alcoholism rather multiple genes play different roles in a person’s susceptibility in becoming an alcoholic. The NIAAA (2005) further claims that the evidence for a genetic factor in alcoholism lies mainly with studies that involve extended pedigree, those that involve identical and fraternal twins and those that include adopted individuals raised apart from their alcoholic parents.

For pedigree studies, it is believed that the risk of suffering from alcoholism is increased four to seven fold among first-degree relatives of an alcoholic (Cotton 1979; Merikangas 1990 cited in NIAAA, 2005.). First degree relatives naturally refer to parent-child relationships; hence, a child is therefore four to seven times at higher risk of becoming an alcoholic, if one or both of their parents are alcoholics. Moss (2013) supports this by stating that children whose parents are alcoholic are at higher risk of becoming alcoholics themselves when compared to children whose parents are non-alcoholics.

A study conducted by McGue, Pickens and Svikis (1992 cited in NIAAA 2005) revealed that identical twins generally have a higher concordance rate of alcoholism compared to fraternal twins or non-twin siblings. This basically means that a person who has an alcoholic identical twin, will have a higher risk of becoming an alcoholic himself when compared to if his alcoholic twin is merely a fraternal twin or a non-twin sibling. This study further proves the role of genetics in alcoholism because identical twins are genetically the same; hence, if one is alcoholic, the other must therefore also carry the alcoholic gene.

The genetic factor in alcoholism is further bolstered by studies conducted by Cloninger, Bohman and Sigvardsson 1981 cited in NIAAA 2005 and Cadoret, Cain and Grove (1980 cited in NIAAA 2005) involving adopted children wherein the aim was to separate the genetic factor from the environmental factor of alcoholism. In these studies, children of alcoholic parents were adopted and raised away from their alcoholic parents but despite this, some of these children still develop alcoholism as adults at a higher rate than those adopted children who did not have an alcoholic biological parent (Cloninger et al., 1981 cited in NIAAA 2005 and Cadoret et al., 1980 cited in NIAAA 2005).

One interesting fact about aetiologic genetic factor is that although there are genes that indeed increase the risk of alcoholism, there are also genes that protect an individual from becoming an alcoholic (NIAAA 2008). For example, some people of Asian ancestry carry a gene that modifies their rate of alcohol metabolism which causes them to manifest symptoms such as flushing, nausea and tachycardia and these generally lead them to avoid alcohol; thus, it can be said that this gene actually helps protect those who possess it from becoming alcoholic (NIAAA 2008).

Environment as an Aetiologic Factor of Alcoholism

Another clearly identifiable factor is environment, which involves the way an individual is raised and his or her exposure to different kinds of activities and opportunities. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2005) relates that the genetic factor and the environmental factor have a close relationship in triggering alcoholism in an individual. This can be explained by the simple fact that even if an individual is genetically predisposed to becoming an alcoholic, if he is not exposed to a particular kind of environment which triggers activities that lead to alcohol intake, the likelihood of his becoming an alcoholic will be remote.epidemiology of alcoholism

There are certain aspects within the environment that makes it an important aetiologic factor. According to Alcohol Policy MD (2005) these aspects include acceptance by society, availability and public policies and enforcement.

Acceptance in this case refers to the idea that drinking alcoholic drinks even those that should be deemed excessive is somewhat encouraged through mass media, peer attitudes and behaviours, role models, and the overall view of society. Television series, films and music videos glorify drinking sprees and even drunken behaviour (Alcohol Policy MD 2005). TV and film actors and sports figures, peers and local role models also encourage a positive attitude towards alcohol consumption which overshadows the reality of what alcohol drinking can lead to (Alcohol Policy MD 2005). In relation to this, a review of different studies conducted by Grube (2004) revealed that mass media in the form of television shows for instance has an immense influence on the youth (age 11 to 18) when it comes to alcohol consumption. In films, portrayals regarding the negative impact of alcohol drinking are rare and often highlight the idea that alcohol drinking has no negative impact on a person’s overall wellbeing (Grube 2004). In support of these findings, a systematic review of longitudinal studies conducted by Anderson et al. (2009) revealed that the constant alcohol advertising in mass media can lead adolescents to start drinking or to increase their consumption for those who are already into it.

Availability of alcoholic drinks is another important environmental aetiologic factor of alcoholism simply because of the reality that no matter how predisposed an individual is to become an alcoholic, the risk for alcoholism will still be low if alcoholic drinks are not available. On the other hand, if alcoholic beverages are readily available as often are today, then the risk for alcoholism is increased not only for those who are genetically predisposed to alcoholism but even for those who do not carry the “alcoholic genes”. The more licensed liquor stores in an area, the more likely people are to drink (Alcohol Policy MD 2005). The cheaper its price, the more affordable it is for people to buy and consume it in excess (Alcohol Policy MD 2005).

Another crucial environmental aetiologic factor is the presence or absence of policies that regulate alcohol consumption and its strict or lax enforcement. It includes restricting alcohol consumption in specified areas, enacting stricter statutes concerning drunk driving and providing for penalties for those who sell to, buy for or serve to underage individuals (Alcohol Policy MD 2005). It is worthy to point out that in the UK, the drinking age is 18 and a person can be stopped, fined or even arrested by police if he or she is below this age and is seen drinking alcohol in public (Government UK 2015a). It is also against the law for someone to sell alcohol to an individual below 18; however, an individual age 16 or 17 when accompanied by an adult can actually drink but not buy alcohol in a pub or drink beer, wine or cider with a meal (Government UK 2015a).

Policies to Combat Alcoholism

One public health policy that can help address the problem on alcoholism is the mandatory code of practice for alcohol retailers which banned irresponsible alcohol promotions and competitions, and obliged retailers to provide free drinking water, compelled them to offer smaller measures and required them to have proof of age protocol. It can be argued that this policy addresses the problem of alcoholism by restricting the acceptance, availability and advertising of alcohol (Royal College of Nursing 2012). Another is the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which is a statute that enables local authorities to take a tougher stance on establishments which break licensing rules about alcohol sale (Royal Collage of Nursing 2012).

There is also the policy paper on harmful drinking which provides different strategies in addressing the problem of alcoholism. One such strategy is the advancement of the Change4Life campaign which promotes healthy lifestyle and therefore emphasises the recommended daily limit of alcohol intake for men and women (Government UK 2015b). Another strategy within this policy is the alcohol risk assessment as part of the NHS health check for adults ages 40 to 75 (Government UK 2015b). This policy aims to prevent rather than cure alcoholism which seems to be logical for after all, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.


Alcoholism which includes both alcohol misuse and alcohol dependence is a serious health problem which affects millions in the UK. Its aetiology is actually a combination of different factors. One vital factor is genetics wherein it can be argued that some people are predisposed to becoming an alcoholic. For example, an individual is at higher risk of becoming an alcoholic if he or she has a parent who is also alcoholic. When coupled with environmental factors, the risk of suffering from alcoholism becomes even greater. Environment refers to the acceptability and availability of alcohol and the presence or absence of policies that regulate alcohol sale and consumption. Vital health policies such as Harmful Drinking Policy Paper advocated by the government, are important preventive measures in reducing the incidence and prevalence of alcoholism in the UK.


Alcohol Concern Organisation (2015). Statistics on alcohol. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

Alcohol Policy MD (2005). The effects of environmental factors on alcohol use and abuse. [online]. Available from:[Accessed on 28 September 2015].

Anderson, P., de Brujin, A., Angus, K., Gordon, R. and Hastings, G. (2009). Impact of alcohol advertising and media exposure on adolescent alcohol use: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 44(3):229-243.

Goodwin, D. (1985). Alcoholism and genetics: The sins of the fathers. JAMA Psychiatry. 42(2):171-174.

Government UK (2015a). Alcohol and young people. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

Government UK (2015b). policy paper 2010 to 2015 government policy: Harmful drinking. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

Grube, J. (2004). Alcohol in the media: Drinking portrayals, alcohol advertising, and alcohol consumption among youth. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

Health and Social Care Information Centre (2014). Statistics on alcohol England, 2014. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

Moss, H.B. (2013). The impact of alcohol on society: A brief overview. Social Work in Public Health. 28(3-4):175-177.

National Health Service (2015). Alcohol units. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

National Health Services Choices (2013). Alcohol misuse. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2015). Alcohol use disorder: A comparison between DSM-IV and DSM-5. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2008). Genetics of alcohol use disorder. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2005). Module 2: Etiology and natural history of alcoholism. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2011). Alcohol-use disorders: Diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

Royal College of Nursing (2012). Alcohol: policies to reduce alcohol-related harm in England. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015.

Scutti, S. (2014). Is alcoholism genetic? Scientists discover link to a network of genes in the brain. [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 28 September 2015].

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The Effects Of Parental Involvement In The Education

The Effects Of Parental Involvement In The Education Essay

Parent involvement is a valuable component of any students education. It is a well-established fact that parental involvement is linked to childrens success at school. When parents are involved in their children’s education at home, they do better in school. (Henderson and Berla, 1994) The level of parent-school involvement is a better predictor of grades than are standardized test scores. (Desimone, 1999) The 12 years of 180 six-hour days spent in school add up to only 13% of a student’s waking, learning time during the first 18 years of life. The rest, 87% is spent out of school, primarily at home. (Walberg) What is important is not the type of school, or who goes there, but the quality of its relationship with the families. (Henderson and Map, 2002)

Research indicates that there are positive academic outcomes stemming from parental involvement with benefits beginning in early childhood, throughout adolescence and beyond. (Henderson and Mapp, 2002; Patrikakou, Weisberg, Redding, and Walberg, 2005)

Henderson and Berla (1994) in an article A New generation of Evidence, state that the family is critical to student achievement. When parents are involved in school, children go farther in school and the schools they go to are better. There is a strong correlation between parental involvement and increased academic achievement.

2.2 Conceptual Underpinnings of the study

Parental involvement was defined as including several different forms of parent participation in education and with the schools. Parents can support their children’s schooling by attending school functions, responding to school obligations (parent-teacher conferences, for example), and becoming involved in their children’s schoolwork. They provide encouragement, arrange for appropriate study time and space, model desired behavior (such as reading for pleasure), monitor homework, and actively tutor their children. (Henderson and Berla, 1994)

Parent is used in this study to include guardians, grand-parents, foster parents and anybody who takes care of the children. (Kathleen & Karen, 1989)

In the 1980s, the United States became particularly concerned with the quality of its educational system. Parental involvement in schools became a major issue.

Communities also become more watchful of the expense of public education, while local schools became concerned with continuous provision of high-quality teaching and other services. All of this occurred in a time of dwindling resources. Additionally, parents wanted assurance that their children were receiving preparation adequate to lead rewarding adult lives (Kathleen & Karen, 1989).

Riley (as cited in Moles, 2000) explained that “parents are the essential link in improving American education, and schools simply have to do a better job of reaching out to them” (p. vii). Parental expectations regarding their children appear to be a constant in children’s academic achievement and social adjustment. Although many parents may not be certain how to help their children with assignments, with guidance and support they can become actively involved in home learning activities, have an opportunity to teach, be models, and guide their children (Michigan Department of Education, 2001).

He became interested in how schools in the U.S. involve parents in the education of their children because of the situation in my home country, Cameroon. During his education in Africa, I observed that students whose parents were not involved in their education did not perform well. Many dropped out of school or failed to further their education. In the United States, parental involvement is discussed as a major focus. That is not the case in Cameroon. There, parents have little voice in pedagogy and content.

According to Keane (2007), parental involvement improves the chances of children’s success at school, yet research suggests that parent participation may be on the decline. Keane further asserted that student achievement represents more than just grades.

Attendance, students’ attitudes toward school, student behavior, and the drop-out rate all connect with student achievement. A report conducted by Desforges and Abouchaar (2003), showed that enhanced parental involvement leads to better academic performance, better attendance, and improved behavior at home and school (p. 44).

2.3 Context of Parental Involvement

In the post-World War II Era (1945-1950s), parental involvement included participation in parent conferences, monitoring of homework, signing of report cards, attending PTA meetings, and fundraising events. In the 1960s educators and policy makers focused on parental involvement as a way to improve educational success for the poor and underachieving students. This led to the development of a variety of models and strategies to promote such parental involvement (Milbrey & Shields, 1987).

In 1965, Haiman began experimenting with parent involvement program strategies. He designed and wrote the Parental Involvement Performance Standards for the National Head Start and this was used as a consultant to Head Start throughout the nation (Haiman, 1965). In 1968 he spoke on the relevance of curriculum, administration and community involvement (Chicago Tribune, 1968). By 1979, many schools had started incorporating parental involvement into their school programs. Parental involvement in special education programs also increased (Los Angeles Times, 1979).

By 1989, the National Education Organization had started incorporating parental involvement programs in their agendas. They provided training to school staff and parents on parental involvement. The School Board Association produced sample school policies on parental involvement which they believed would make schools more secure and more likely, academic development would take place. Best practices and models to support parental involvement were developed. Many reports were written to recommend the necessity of parental involvement in school improvement (USA Today, 1989). In the 1990s, studies demonstrated that parental involvement could predict academic achievement. Parental involvement was considered an integral part of the school curriculum. The level of parental involvement was increased in most of the school districts across the nation (USA Today, 1990).

Today, laws have been created to enforce parental involvement in schools including provisions of NCLB and School Accountability Teams. Movements for community control of education such as the education of low-income children, special education students, and English Language Learners have been developed to meet the needs of students. Districts focus on implementing strategies to promote parent, family, and community involvement (National Center for School Engagement, 2004). The Family Strengthening Policy Center (2004) established that states can develop a state-wide network to support teachers’ preparation for parental involvement, and also provide technical assistance to local districts and schools on how to get parents involved. School districts must have a written policy for administrative support and training for staff, parents and community members on parent involvement programs. The community should be able to advocate with state education agencies and school districts to promote widespread and effective parental involvement policies and practices.

According to the U.S. Department of Education (1997) a sustained mutual collaboration, support, and participation of school staff and families are required for a successful school-family partnerships and children’s learning. Although the success of school family partnerships is difficult to reach, it is important to note that the benefits to children and their educational success depends on hard work required to sustain the school-family partnerships (Epstein, Coates, Salinas, Sanders, & Simon, 1997).

In line with the mandates of NCLB, the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) has developed statewide standards which establish expectations for all New Mexico public school students. These standards require every district in New Mexico to develop an Education Plan for Student Success (EPSS) — a long-range strategic plan to promote students’ success and continuous school improvement (Parents Searching Out, 2009).

Parent involvement in learning activity is a strategy that was found by Epstein (1995) to increase the educational effectiveness of the time that parents and children spend together at home. Teachers and parents agree on the involvement of parents, seventy one percent of principals and fifty nine percent of teachers called it a priority based on research conducted by. Those schools whose parental involvement is strong provide a lot of benefit to the students. ” How Strong Communication Contributes to Student and School Success: Parent and Family Involvement” shows that improved parental involvement not only leads to academic achievement, but to better attendance and improved behavior at home and school as well. When school and home work together collaboratively, and using a competent approach to education, it can make a huge difference in student achievement. (Padgett 2006) The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) suggests that a formal policy be created. Lack of planning was seen as one of the most challenging aspects to more involvement.

Walberg on “Families in Educational Productivity” states that there is no question that parent involvement represents an exceptionally powerful way of making schools more effective, and of dramatically enriching children’s experiences. Some research indicates that achievement among students in primary schools have identified theories and policies which play significant roles in parent involvement in education (Fan and Chen, 2001; Hill and Tyson, 2009). These theories and policies not only closed the education gap in terms of demographics they also maximize student potential. Parent involvement is so important that The No Child Left Behind Act (National PTA, 2006) is a Federal Policy that puts a mandate on parental involvement in education and family-school relations across primary school levels. However, despite the consensus about how important it is for family and school to work together across developmental stages, theories of parent involvement in education have been based on the primary school students in their context and do not focus on the changes that occur with middle school and early adolescent development (Hill and Taylor, 2004; Hill and Tyson, 2009). The Title 1 program is also a government mandated program developed to increase parent involvement and educational services for disadvantaged children. This program placed the emphasis on parental involvement as the primary means of improving the quality of education of low income children (Kim O. Yap and Enoki, 1995).

One may ask the question why parents should become involved in their children’s literacy activities. The evidence about the benefits of parents being involved in their children’s education in general and literacy activities in particular is overwhelming. (Fan and Chen 2001) in their meta-analysis found that parental involvement positively affects academic performance. Feinstein & Symons, 1999 point out in their research that parental involvement leads to academic achievement.

Epstein’s framework of six types of involvement are as follows: parenting which help all families establish home environments to support children as students; Communicating from home to school and school to home about school programs and student progress; Volunteering by organizing parent help and support. Learning at home by providing information and ideas from families about how to help students at home with homework and other curriculum-related activities; decisions and planning; Parents should be included in decision making; involve parent leaders and representatives; Collaborating with the community by identifying and integrating resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development.

Students value their education when they see the interest shown by their parents. Barge, & Loges (2003), highlight the fact that government supports parental involvement.

According to Moosa, Karabenick, & Adam (2001), “…the alliance between home and school has dramatically changed throughout the history of formal education, as have the roles and functions that parents and teachers are expected to fulfill” (p. 477). Throughout time, parents have been “portrayed as both friend and foe in the course of educational reform” (Callahan, Rademacher, & Hildreth, 1998). Historically, parental involvement wasn’t always a welcomed addition to the school community, and even today some view parent-school relations as a power struggle. Shaver and Walls, (1998) reported that some research found little to no effect of parental involvement on school achievement for middle age students. For the most part however, teachers and administrators welcome a helping hand in the overcrowded classrooms of the public schools and agree that parental involvement is one way to bridge reading comprehension gaps. Today, it is widely recognized that parents play an essential role in their children’s school life. Numerous types of parental involvement have been shown to develop cognitive growth and success in school (Shaver and Walls, 1998). Schools are working hand in hand with parents, Edwards, and Alldred (2000); describe parents and schools as policy makers with similar functions when it comes to children.

Research indicates that there are positive academic outcomes stemming from parental involvement with benefits beginning in early childhood, throughout adolescence and beyond (Henderson and Mapp, 2002; Patrikakou, Weisberg, Redding, and Walberg, 2005). Shaver and Walls, (1998), are also in support, they point out that the connection between parents and school achievement is real.

The Epstein case studies are another research that supports parent involvement. Epstein (2002), used the Comprehensive School Reform Model (CSR) demonstrates how collaborative work produces positive outcomes. These studies were conducted in certain states, in selected school within the school districts. Educators, parents and community partners worked collaboratively on action teams to plan the curriculum. The programs are evaluated before being implemented in order to assess how well the plans connected family and school-community involvement.

Henderson and Berla (1994) in an article “A New generation of Evidence”, state that the family is critical to student achievement. When parents are involved in school, children go farther in school and the schools they go to are better. “Regardless of socioeconomic status or race, studies show a direct correlation between parental involvement and a child’s academic achievement (Williams 1992).

2.4 Parental Involvement and Achievement

It is well established that parental involvement is correlated with school achievement of both children and adolescents (Long, 2007). Primary school children gain greater academic, language, and social skills (Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994), primary school students have greater achievement and future aspirations (Eccles & Harold, 1993) and spend more time doing and completing homework (Epstein & Sanders, 2002). Research shows that parental involvement is more important to children’s academic success than their family’s socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or educational background (Amatea & West, 2007).

Parental involvement can encourage children’s and adolescents’ achievement in many ways. One way that parents can contribute positively to their children’s education is to assist them with their academic work at home. Parents who read to their children, assist them with their homework, and provide tutoring using resources provided by teachers tend to do better in school than children whose parents do not assist their children (Izzo et al., 1999). Additionally, in a study conducted by Callahan, Rademacher and Hildreth (1998) on twenty-six lower to middle-class “at risk” sixth and seventh grade white students, students’ mathematics scores increased when parents became involved with assisting them at home. In the Callahan et al. study, parents were trained for duration of ten weeks on how to implement home-based self management and reinforcement strategies. Shaver and Walls (1998) conducted a similar parent training with seventy-four Title I students in second to eighth grade. Their study showed that regardless of gender or socioeconomic status of the child, parent involvement increased the scores of both mathematics and reading. Other parental involvement strategies that are said to assist children academically are for parents to have books, newspapers, and computers in their homes (Suizzo, 2007).

This is not to say that just because there are books and newspapers in the home that children will read them; children do, however, fare better with their reading when there are books and computers in the home.

Research shows that the level of parental involvement is associated with academic success. Children whose parents are actively involved in their schooling benefit better than children whose parents are passively involved. Specifically, if parents attend teacher conferences, accept phone calls from the school, and read and sign communications from the school, their children will benefit academically more than children whose parents do none of the above. Furthermore, children excel even more when their parents assist them at home with their homework, attend school sponsored events, and volunteer at their children’s schools (Suizzo, 2007).

Children’s academic success also may be related to school-level parental involvement. Parental involvement can be defined as participation by a child’s mother and/or father, or legal guardian in a child’s education. Children who attend schools where there is a high level of parental involvement evidence greater achievement. School-level parental involvement seems to benefit children and adolescents academically and behaviorally by promoting information sharing and control over children’s behavior. Coleman (1990) asserted that children whose parents know each other promote school identification and success for their children. Broh (2000) also mentioned that students at school-level parental involvement schools were more likely to do their homework because completing their homework was considered the norm at these schools.

2.5 What is Parental Involvement?

Parental involvement means different things to different people. A recent newsletter published by The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement (2006) explained that some people equate involvement to chaperoning field trips or volunteering for PTA committees while others define it as attending an open house or signing off on homework folders. National PTA (2006) described parental involvement as regular participation of parents, a two-way process, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities. National PTA pays particular attentions to parents, who are economically disadvantaged, disabled, have limited English proficiency, have limited literacy, or are of any racial or ethnic minority background. Under National PTA, schools are required to do evaluation and design strategies for more effective parental involvement, and also to revise, if necessary, the parental involvement policies. It also places the responsibility for schools to be certain that parent involvement initiatives are properly developed and evaluated.

National PTA reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, 1965) with four principles to frame ways in which families, educators, and communities can work together to improve teaching and learning. These principles include: accountability for results, local control and flexibility, expanded parental choice, and effective and successful programs that reflect scientifically based research. Enhancing connections within families, between families, and with their communities and the institutions that affect them should result in better outcomes for children and their families. These principles stress that parents and schools should be accountable for students’ achievement. In addition, plans for parental involvement should be flexible to address the local needs and build parents’ capacity to improve on their children’s achievement (U.S Department of Education, 2004; Family Strengthening Policy Center, FSPC, 2004). The Family Strengthening Policy Center, FSPC (2004), observed that there is no universal definition of what parental involvement in education entails. Some definitions include greater participation in the life of a school, while others are focused on the increased contributions to an individual child’s learning process. Still others incorporate the family into the learning process through adult education, parenting, and after school activities. Reenay et al., (2007) defined parental involvement as encompassing three areas: a) direct contact with teachers, b) parental actions at school, and c) parental actions at home. In many schools, parents are engaged in the governance and planning processes in building students’ achievement goals (FSPC, 2004). Nonetheless, parental involvement takes place when parents actively, resourcefully and responsibly contribute to promote and develop the well being of their communities (Northwest Regional Education, 2001; Jesse, 2009)

Davies (1991) defined parental involvement from a shifting perspective. Restructuring the society, communities, and schools leads to the transformation of parental involvement. The following evolving definition illustrates this paradigm shift.

2.5.1 Evolving Definition

Parental involvement shifts from “parent focus to family focus, family to community agencies, school to home/neighborhood setting, eager parents to hard-to reach families, teachers/administrators agendas to family priorities, and deficit view of urban families to emphasis on inherent strengths of families” (Davies, 1991). He further explained that even though non-traditional families are much more common nowadays than they were in the 1950s, alternative family structures are effective and should be recognized by the school.

Liontos (1992) mentioned recent beliefs about parents and families that schools should consider when involving them in their children’s’ education: “1) All families have strengths, 2) parents can learn new techniques, 3) parents have important perspectives about their children, 4) most parents really care about their children, 5) cultural differences are both valid and valuable, and 6) many family forms exist and are legitimate” (pp. 30-31).

Jesse (2009) noted that parental involvement has two independent components: parents as supporters and parents as active partners. This approach of parental involvement would be insufficient if schools make use of only one of these components. Parents can be active, yet not supportive of the education process and vice versa. He further indicated that parental involvement should take many forms. For example, parental involvement can be reading to children, volunteering at the school, collaborating on decision making committees, and advocating for children. Hewison and Tizard (1980) explained that parental involvement can be focused if the school addresses the following issues: a) define what is meant by parent involvement, b) define what the school means by parental involvement, c) provide examples of parents’ decision making roles, d) remove structural barriers, and e) identify who else has an interest in increasing the parents’ role in the school.

2.6 Why parents help?

Parents, teachers, and administrators should be equally responsible for the education of children. If schools want to truly ensure academic success of children, schools need to make sure that all educational planning passes through parents first (Patrikakou et al., Weissberg, 2005). According to the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA), although parents often state that they would like to be more involved in their children’s education, they complain that they feel left out of decision-making at their children’s school. Frankly, some school personnel are not comfortable with the idea of having parents involved in more than the traditional fundraisers. These personnel feel that as long as parents stick to traditional fundraiser events, everything else will be okay. Shatkin & Gershberg (2007) and Seeley (1992) found that parental involvement at some schools is seen as a power struggle. When teachers believe that they are the primary person to handle a child’s education, then they create an unbalanced and unequal partnership. Nevertheless, at least theoretically, most teachers welcome the idea of parent involvement. According to a teachers’ perceptions study published by the National Parent Involvement Network, 83% of teachers wanted an increase in parental involvement at their schools, and 95% of inner city teachers felt that parental involvement was lacking (Funkhouser, Gonzales, & Moles, 1997).

Many parental involvement strategies have been used in the past, but schools are still baffled by the lack of parental involvement at the secondary level (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001; Drake, 2000). Antiquated parental and family involvement strategies are often cited as a major problem in research. Schools that update their strategies to accommodate the characteristics of their community benefit more than those schools that only use a standard program (Drake, 2000). Other problems may be that most parental involvement strategies are aimed at helping middle class families (Crozier, 2001), focus mostly on primary schools, and do not place much emphasis on minority families. The increased diversity of students and their families presents an even greater challenge to schools and teachers (Lewis, 1992; Wanders et al., 2007).

Teachers recognize the benefits of including parents, but consistently complain that parents do not assist in their children’s education (Lewis, 1992). Administrators and educators should not assume that parents automatically know how to involve themselves at school or home. Parents need to be taught how to effectively involve themselves in their children’s schooling. The assumption that every parent knows how to teach their children should be admonished. Parents are not teachers and need to be instructed on how to teach, assist, and encourage their children at home (Quigley, 2000). Ineffective instruction at home by a parent could hinder the academic progress of their children.

The National PTA (2006) gave the following suggestions on how to involve parents: a) schools should host orientation sessions for parents on how to be involved, b) have an onsite family resource center, which will give parents access to materials on parenting, c) give parents handouts on curriculum information and teaching methods, d) encourage parents to volunteer in school and at school events, and e) invite parents to sit on committees to participate in school-decision making.

Likewise, it should not be assumed that teachers automatically know how to effectively involve parents in the classroom and at home. Epstein (1985) pointed out that the majority of teachers have little to no training on how to involve parents in the classroom. Therefore, most teachers lack necessary skills and knowledge on how to effectively work with parents. Kesslar-Sklar and Baker (2000) found that teachers need guidance from school administrators and consultants such as school psychologists to communicate with parents. In-services and workshops could provide guidance on how to effectively engage parents. Parent engagement is important on all levels of school involvement; however, sometimes schools are confused on what is considered parent engagement or involvement. School administrators and teachers feel that parental involvement is important for the academic success of children, but sometimes the definition of what constitutes parent involvement is often misconstrued between parents and teachers. According to Epstein and Sanders (2002), there are six types of involvement: a) parenting- assist families with parenting and child-rearing skills, understanding child and adolescent development, and setting home conditions that support children as students at each age and grade level; b) communicating- communicate with families about school programs and student progress through effective school-to-home and home-to-school communications; c) volunteering improve recruitment, training, work, and schedules to involve families as volunteers and audiences at the school or in other locations to support students and school programs; d) learning at home- involve families with their children in learning activities at home, including homework and other curriculum-linked activities and decisions; e) decision making-include families as participants in school decisions, governance, and advocacy through PTA/PTO, school councils, committees, and other parent organizations; and f) collaborating with the community- coordinate resources and services for families, students, and the school with businesses, agencies, and other groups, and provide services to the community. Schools play an important role in assisting parents with the aforementioned strategies. When these strategies along with parents feeling welcome are in effect, children thrive academically and socially. If parents do not feel welcome at their child’s school, they are less likely to be involved (Constantino, 2003).

2.7 How do Schools Engage Parents?

Hanke (2006) pointed out that lack of parental involvement is due to lack of helpful information to parents. Emails, phone, letters, newsletters and personal contacts can be made by schools to reach out to parents. If schools communicate with parents regularly and consistently using the various means, the gap between school and parental involvement will be reduced. Students’ expectations and achievement will increase if families show high levels of interest (National PTA, 1998). Six different areas of parental involvement are identified by Epstein et al., (1997): parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community. Two types of communication exist (The Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, 2006). These two types include one-way (transmittal) and two-way communication. In one-way communication, the school disseminates information to parents on how they can help their children at home. Examples of this type of communication are newsletters and informational fliers. The two-way communication is considered much more interactive and perceived as a partnership between the school and families. Examples include surveys and questionnaires structured to collect informational data pertaining to students (The Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, 2006).

Reenay and Vivian (2007) explained that even though the invention of new technologies has made it easier for schools to reach out to parents (through emails, cell phones and internet websites), the use of traditional methods in communication has been found to be an effective way for schools to communicate with parents, but this has been limited in use by schools because of time constraints. In addition, it has been assessed that the frequent use of mass communications (newsletters, calendars, letters and handbooks) by school educators has not been effective in changing student behaviors.

However, as Jonson (1999) reported, many parents do not communicate with their children’s schools due to a vast number of reasons. For example, their concerns might not be heard or responded to promptly, or they are busy at work. Despite the fact that technology is a tool providing new channels for communication, studies have shown that parents and teachers find difficulty in using them or lack access to them (Weifeng & Jialing, 2007).

2.7.1 Parental Effect on Academic Performance

According to the New Skills for New Schools (1997) teacher organizations acknowledge the need for teachers to develop skills to involve families in their children’s education. For example the National Board for Professional Teaching Standard integrated parental involvement as a separate standard into the Professional Teaching Certificate (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1991). The aim of these organizations is to provide pre-service and in-service training to teachers on parental involvement. However, little is known about preparing teachers to work with families (New Skills for New Schools, 1997).

The school exists in a society representing people in many walks of life, all of whom have passed through some form of schooling, be it formal or informal. Most people in the community have an interest in, and are willing to contribute to the success of children and their safety in school. The school receives input from the society (e.g., students, staff and resources) and, consequently, graduates students into professions addressing the needs of the society. Thus, it is an open system. It is, therefore, important that members of the community – parents, business companies, seniors, and stake holders – work in partnership with the school for the success of children. Specifically, parents have direct impact on their children’s progress in school.

Zero Tolerance. A constructive way that school personnel could involve parents is to involve them in school policy issues. School policies such as Zero Tolerance, for example, could benefit from parent feedback and parent support. Initially, Zero Tolerance policies were set up in 1989 in three school districts (California, Kentucky, and New York) to punish students for drugs, fighting, and gang related activities. In 1993, schools across the country adopted the policy and eventually added smoking and school disruption to the policy (Skiba & Rausch, 2006). Zero Tolerance arose in response to the increase in violent interactions in some schools; murder, murder suicides, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes have increased in the media and concern for safety on school campuses has increased (National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), 2001). Urban schools and low income schools have seen an even greater increase in the adoption and implementation of Zero Tolerance policies with current Zero Tolerance policies targeting any behavior the district deems punishable.

Schools that follow “Zero Tolerance” policies by suspending and expelling students for minor reasons are at a greater risk for having student’s dropout (Skiba & Rausch, 2006). The prompt to develop and strengthen zero tolerance policies have not gone unnoticed by mental health professionals and researchers. NASP has reviewed these zero tolerance policies and has condemned them to anyone who would listen. NASP (2001) disagrees with this policy because students who are often suspended or expelled because of the Zero Tolerance policies often drop out of school or become part of discriminatory practices. Ensuring that parents are a part of policy making decisions with Zero Tolerance policies and other pertinent school policies will help to keep students in school. When parents are a part of important school decision-making policies, they feel more of an ownership in maintaining the policy. When parents feel included, school climate improves and in turn, student’s achievement improves. Besides involving parents in school policies such as Zero Tolerance, obstacles prohibiting parents from becoming involved must first be fixed. Recently, numerous research findings show that students who have been retained in the ninth grade also are at a higher rate for dropping out of school.

Grade Retention. Another policy issue that should be discussed with parents is that of grade retention versus social promotion. Recently, research findings show students who have been retained in the ninth grade also are at a higher rate for dropping out of school (Gewertz, 2007). Research shows that students transitioning from primary school to middle school to only get retained in the ninth grade are more likely to feel like an outcast. Most of these failing students view primary school completion as an unattainable goal. Some feel that if they cannot complete ninth grade, then they definitely cannot complete the following grades. Supportive staff and faculty at primary schools geared towards assisting students at-risk of failing the ninth grade could definitely assist in stopping students from dropping out of school. Making parents aware of transitional issues for ninth graders could also assist in keeping students on track. Schools could offer parents informational workshops or handouts at open house meetings on how to assist their children with the first year of primary school (Deslandes & Bertrand, 2005).

Schools that have effective transition programs include parents when transitioning students (Phelan, Yu, & Davidson, 1994). Schools can start the transition process by providing information about the new school to the student and the parent. Schools can do this through tours of the school, small-group sessions with counselors, and newsletters and websites that provide information to parents and students. Schools can further include parents with transitioning by using existing 9th grade parents to serve as ambassadors for providing information to new 9th grade parents (Paulson, 1994).

2.7.2 Parental Involvement-Parent Level

Wandersman et al. (2002) found that parents of all ethnic and diverse backgrounds want to participate and feel that it is important to participate in their children’s education. Although research shows that some parents are becoming more educated and want to do more than the traditional fundraiser, there are some parents who do not participate at all. Mostly, parents who do not participate at all in their children’s schooling come from the lower socioeconomic class and ethnic minority groups (Constantino, 2003). Although the U.S Census Bureau found a decrease in the white non-Hispanic population from 76% to 72% and an increase in the Hispanic population from 9% to 13% and the Black population from 12.3% to 12.9% (Constantino, 2003), parental involvement strategies still derive from the majority culture. Davies (1987) proposed that the majority of parental involvement strategies are biased towards the middle-class parent. Kaplan, Liu, and Kaplan (2000) found that parents are more likely to participate when they can communicate with same class personnel. Moles (1987) reinforced the idea of parents being comfortable with others from socioeconomic backgrounds similar to their own by portraying the typical involved parent as being female, white, high-income, and college-educated. Furthermore, Ingram et al. (2007) and Ramsburg (1998) found that parents who view education as part of parenting will be more involved than parents who do not view education as part of their role as parents.

2.7.3 Parent Involvement and Socioeconomic Status

Parent involvement varies from school to school with lower income schools having a difficult time getting parents involved, especially at the secondary level. The National PTA (1998) cited three reasons for parents not participating: a) a lack of time due to employment, b) parents not making themselves available for involvement, and c) inability to obtain a babysitter. In a survey completed by the National PTA (1998), 52% of the parents polled reported that “time constraints” was the main reason for not participating at their children’s school; however, 91% of the parents agreed that parental involvement was important for academic success. Other studies have found similar responses relating to time and employment (e.g., Collins et al, 1995). Other reasons that parents don’t get involved with their children’s school include language barriers and previous horrible school experiences (Delgado, 2007; Finders & Lewis, 1994). With this in mind, Robertson (1998) reported that one way schools can accommodate day working parents is to hold night events.

Antiquated methods of involving parents also play a role in how parents become involved at their children’s school. Epstein (1982) found that while schools used traditional methods of involving parents such as having parents volunteer in the classroom, they rarely used other methods that might work for increasing parental involvement. Methods better preferred by Epstein (1995b) are as follow: (a) help parents increase their child development knowledge; (b) encourage different types of parent involvement; (c) reach out to families through home visits, informal meeting settings, and written correspondence that the parent can understand; (d) communicate with parents using a variety of methods so that they could be kept abreast of their child’s progress; (e) accommodate parents work schedules when hosting school projects; (f) ensure school staff and faculty are accessible to parents; (g) reach out to families whose first language isn’t English by learning about their culture; (h) begin building relationships with parents at the opening conferences of the school year and continue this relationship by making parents comfortable at other teacher-parent conferences; (i) make parents comfortable by allowing them to visit the classroom and give feedback; (j) parent centers also should be established as a way for parents to gain knowledge; and (k) write a school policy statement that ensures a positive school climate for family involvement.

2.7.4 Parent Involvement and Parental Skill Level

At the secondary level, another reason why parents tend to drop off involvement is that the curriculum is more difficult and the students are wanting to be more independent (Collins et al., 1995; Ross, 2006). Some parents reported that they can no longer assist their children with completing their homework assignments due to their own skill limitations. Ballen and Moles (1994) countered this by advising that if parents monitor their children’s homework they can assist them with matriculation.

Furthermore, helping secondary students make postsecondary decisions and assisting them to select courses that will support their postsecondary plans is also good. Also, parents should not forget to regularly correspond with their children’s school by contacting teachers, and reading and signing correspondence sent to them. The positives for being involved at the secondary level outweigh all the negatives of not being involved at all; while parents cited reasons that they could no longer assist secondary level children, research shows that any level of participation is better than none.

2.7.5 Parental Involvement and Ethnicity

Teachers and school administrators need to appreciate the customs and beliefs of culturally and linguistically diverse parents if they truly want them to be involved in their children’s schooling (Wandersman et al., 2002). Parental involvement has long been associated with increased academic achievement; it also has been correlated with a decrease in minority dropouts (Rumberger et al., 1990). Recently, literature has given even more power to parents by stating that parents play a major role in assisting their children with matriculation (Vaden-Kiernan & McManus, 2002-2003). Literature also has shown that teacher’s perceptions of minorities also play a role in minority children matriculating. Teachers must first reflect on their own values and attitudes and see if their attitudes are keeping them from developing a positive relationship with minority parents (Weaver, 2005). A strong partnership between teachers and minority parents contributes tremendously to minority children’s matriculation (Espinosa, 1995). Hispanics and African-Americans were more likely to dropout than Caucasians; the Hispanic dropout rate for the year 2003 was 23.5% and the African- American rate was 10.9%, while the dropout rate for Caucasians was 6.3% for the same year (National Center for Education Statistics, 2006). Steele (1992) found that the school achievement and retention rate gaps between African-American and Caucasian students have been persistent throughout history. If minorities continue to dropout of school, they will continue to make less, depend on the federal government for assistance, and have less positive outcomes overall.

Epstein (1991) found that parents from all ethnicities care about the education of their children, yet parent involvement is often low for minority parents. The problem isn’t that minority parents aren’t interested in their children’s education; rather, they are unsure of what schools expect from them and how they might contribute at their children’s school. It is a lack of knowledge on how to participate that leads to low levels of minority parent involvement (Epstein, 1991). Sometimes barriers and stereotypes exist that prohibit parental involvement of minority parents (Moosa, Karabenick, & Adams, 2001).

In an Arab-American study conducted by Moosa et al., they found that oftentimes teachers thought that Arab parents did not want to be a part of their parental involvement process, which usually entailed parents going to a parent training workshop. When polled, it was found that parents simply were not comfortable with the traditional parent training workshop. Instead, they preferred a one-on-one parent training workshop with the teacher. Arab-American parents felt uncomfortable because of their language proficiency, which they felt would be called into question in a larger setting. Similarly, one reason for why parents tend to drop off involvement at the secondary level identified by Collins et al. (1995) included the increased number of teachers to deal with and language barriers.

African-American parents also have a hard time with involving themselves with their children’s schooling (Koonce & Harper, 2005). Unlike the language barrier of Arab parents, some African-American parents find it difficult to trust their children’s school. Horrible childhood experiences of their own, continuous pessimism from teachers, and feelings of helplessness have led some African-American parents to not trust their children’s school (Brandon, 2007). Furthermore, African- American parents complain that they do not feel welcome at their child’s school (Dauber & Epstein, 1993). Nevertheless, involving African-American parents in their child’s school is an important factor for academic progress. When African-American parents are academically involved in their children’s schooling, behavior problems decrease and academic achievement increase. (Hill & Taylor, 2004)

Cultural and language differences hinder Hispanic parental involvement at schools; parents who do not speak English in their homes are least likely to participate in activities at their children’s schools (Koonce & Harper, 2005). Espinosa (1995) argued that successful involvement of Hispanic parents begins with understanding their culture and values. Failure to understand Hispanic parents’ values and culture may lead to negative outcomes for schools and students. For instance, Hispanic parents prefer face-to-face communication versus handwritten notes sent home by teachers. Additionally, American teachers traditionally prefer a structured parent conference, whereas Hispanic parents prefer a more relaxed conference setting. Failure to recognize simple cultural values could hinder the academic success of the Hispanic child and the involvement of the Hispanic parent (Inger, 1992).

Martinez and Velazquez (2000) found that engaging migrant families in the school process is an added challenge to schools. Children of migrant workers have greater risks of failing in school than the non-transient child. To effectively involve migrant parents, schools should first understand their background and cultural beliefs, and then base involvement strategies around these beliefs. School activities that may assist with involving migrant workers may include providing transportation, refreshments at school activities, and evening and weekend events (Inger, 1992).

2.7.6 Levels of Home-School Communication

In their research on School, Family and Community Partnership, Epstein et al., (1997) developed six types of parental involvement frameworks to help educators develop more comprehensive programs for school, family, and community partnerships. Although this framework may be used by schools as a guide, it is important to note that each school must choose practices that will help achieve its goals and meet the needs of its students and families. The six types of parental involvement framework include parenting, communication, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community (NMSA Research Summary, 2006). Epstein and her colleagues also emphasized the duty of the school in helping families establish home environments that will support children, design effective forms of home-school communication about students’ progress and school programs, and provide training and schedules that allow parents to get involved. Parents must be involved in the school decision-making process, governance, and advocacy through PTA/PTO, school councils committees, and other parent organizations. Schools have the responsibilities to work in partnership with businesses, agencies and other groups to coordinate resources and provide services to the school and the community (Epstein, Coates, Salinas, Sanders, & Simon, 1997).

Parental involvement has always been a key component in Title 1 Law (Wayne, 2008). This law requires that each school develop and distribute to parents a written parental involvement policy they agreed upon. National PTA (2006) required districts receiving Title I funds to notify parents on their rights to get information from the school regarding the professional qualifications of the child’s classroom teacher and paraprofessionals.

2.8 Importance of Parental Involvement at primary level

Extensive research has shown that student achievement increases when parents get involved (Harris et al, 1987). Teachers have acknowledged that priority be given in the public education policy to strengthen parents’ roles in the education of their children.

Comer (2001) explained that research on K-5 schools have linked parental involvement to student out comes including increased achievement in test results, a decrease in dropout rate, improved attendance and student behavior, improved parent teacher relations, greater commitment to schoolwork, and improved attitude toward school (Rich, et al., 1979). The following conclusions were made by Public School Review (2003) on parental involvement:

Increase in parental involvement leads to an increase in academic achievement, better classroom behavior and conduct, greater self esteem, increased motivation and attitude towards school, low rate of absenteeism, increased school satisfaction, and increased school climate (Russell & Reece, 2000).

Desforges and Abouchaar (2003) advised that parents should start getting involved in their children’s education from pre-school which can also make a positive difference at all levels, especially in the early years of school. In their study, Feinstein and Symons (1999) came up with the finding that parental involvement has been identified as a predictor for students’ achievement at the age of sixteen. Other studies have also shown that parental involvement of primary students is equally important.

Taylor (1999) has as one of its goals to get parents of under-achieving and low-income children involved in their education by providing them with adequate training and encouragement. Through parental involvement teachers’ morals are improved as parents develop greater appreciation of the challenges they are facing in the classroom. Teachers become aware of whom students are when they communicate with parents, and through that, they are able to develop individual teaching styles to meet the students’ needs. Many researchers have also confirmed to the fact that parents become more supportive and engage in their children’s schooling when two-way communication is established by the school. (Bauch, 1989)

2.8.1 Parent involvement for their child’s better education

Parent involvement is important across cultures and school levels. Children whose parents are actively involved in their education do better academically and socially. Furthermore, children whose parents are actively involved in their education have not a higher rate of primary level education. It is important that schools collaborate with parents in order to facilitate a climate of cohesiveness. (Harris et al, 1987)

When parents are actively involved in their children’s education at school and at home, students do better in school. Parent involvement is critical to helping children succeed regardless of grade level. A home environment where learning is promoted is a better predictor of academic success than income or cultural background. Reading aloud to children helps them to become better readers in school. Children perform better when parents talk to them about school on a daily basis. In addition to reading books and talking to their children about school, parents can organize and manage their children’s time spent doing academics in the home setting. Parent involvement in the home and school setting has showed improved achievement, absenteeism, behavior, and self confidence. (Inger, 1992)

Parent involvement drops off significantly after admission of school. Students whose parents stay involved in their schooling do better academically and socially. Transitioning from primary to middle school can be hard for some children. Without parent support at home and school, children may be at a risk for dropping out of school. Literature shows that minority children are at an even greater risk of dropping out. Obstacles that may prevent parents from becoming involved at the secondary level include: (a) not knowing how to be involved, (b) parents feel schoolwork is beyond their knowledge, and (c) previous negative school experiences. Schools can increase parent involvement by sending positive notes home, phone calls, and home visits. The current research focused on obtaining teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement at the primary and middle school levels. It was hypothesized that there would not be a significant difference between primary and middle school teachers’ perceptions of parent involvement; in fact, the results indicated that there was no significant difference in teachers’ perceptions of parental involvement at the primary and middle school levels. Because parental involvement may be more of an issue in low income areas with high minority populations, the Title I status and the interaction between Title I status and percent minority was accounted for by school characteristics. (Moosa, Karabenick, & Adams, 2001)

2.8.2 Parent involvement for better School Climate

Parent involvement is important to children’s success. However, parents may not become involved in their children’s education if schools do not have a positive school climate. Schools that create a positive school climate by reaching out to parents in turn create an atmosphere where parents want to be involved. When schools encourage parents to become involved, parents’ perceptions of schools improve. Schools can improve their school climate by facilitating positive home-to-school communication. (Davies, 1987)

When teachers send correspondence home about classroom activities and strategies for assisting children at home, parents are more likely to volunteer at school. Teachers create an atmosphere of partnership when they communicate with parents. Teachers also create an atmosphere of collaboration when they show enthusiasm towards working with students and parents from different cultures. (Kaplan, Liu, and Kaplan, 2000)

The current research focused on teachers’ perceptions of school climate at the primary and middle school levels. It was hypothesized that there would not be a significant difference between primary and middle school teachers’ perceptions of school climate; the results indicated that there was a significant difference in teachers’ perceptions of school climate at primary level. (Moles, 1987)

2.9 Better effective of Parental Involvement at primary level

Epstein (1995) found that schools also affect parent involvement levels and evidence shows that parents want to become involved but are not allowed to have open communication with the school. Conventional avenues for involving parents in school can be closed to parents due to specific cultural knowledge. Parents have a lot of difficulty adapting to the school culture especially in non English speaking communities, but cultural knowledge is power and it can prevent parents from participating fully.

Parental involvement benefits children, parents, as well as the community, at different levels. By becoming involved in their children’s education, parents have a better understanding of the school curriculum and activities. This makes parents more comfortable with the quality of education their children are receiving. Studies have shown that children whose parents are involved show greater social and emotional development (Allen & Daly, 2002). In addition, parental involvement leads to greater self-satisfaction, self-direction and control, social adjustment, and competence; more supportive relationships, positive peer relations, tolerance, successful marriages; and less delinquent behaviors (Desforges & Abouchaar, 2003)

The U.S. Department of Education (1997) research on parent involvement outlined three important aspects for children’s development and academic success. These include demonstrating attitudes, values, and interactions about learning through parenting; creating partnerships between schools and homes using two-way communication; and developing a sense of shared responsibility for learning outcomes by both schools and parents (Supreme Education Council, 2008).

Henderson and Berla (1994) explained that when parents are involved in education, teachers build high expectations for students, and high expectations for parents’ opinions on their ability to help their children at home. As a result of parental involvement, parents develop more self-confidence and become motivated to advance their own education. Families are willing to support children’s learning to increase achievement and, thus, the school gets a better reputation from the community (National PTA, 1998).

The New Skills for New Schools (1997) reported that research reviewing historical trends on parental involvement and student achievement has shown inconsistency in their findings and do not support the relationship. A number of studies have revealed that the benefits of family involvement are not restricted to student achievement but also include other factors based on educational accountability. For example, in Kentucky, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence provided parents and the community with information on specific components of school reform and informed them about their roles in implementing the education reform law.

2.10 Barriers to Effective Parental Involvement

Sanders and Sheldon (2009) highlighted minimal resources parents acquire through social networks as one reason parents are less involved in their children’s education. Another is the educational level of the parents can present a barrier to the school involvement, Stevenson and Baker (1997). The parents with more education are actively involved in Parent Teacher Association meetings and conferences. The involvement decreases as the students move from primary to middle school because parents are less knowledgeable in some of the academic subjects. Eccles and Harold (1993) found that less educated parents shift their attention away from school because they feel inadequate to help their children with homework.

The quality of parental involvement makes all the difference according to Zellman & Waterman (1998). We need to understand the underlying relationship between parent and child that supports children’s achievement and positive educational outcomes overall. A parent’s enthusiasm about education is, in most instances the underlying factor that contributes the child’s academic success. “Parent involvement programs might be more effective if they focus on such underlying constructs.”

It is believed by Lazar and Slostad (1999) that parents are willing to get involved in the education of their children, but the negative perceptions of parents persist because teacher education programs do not educate teachers to work with parents. Foster and Loven (1992) shared that the major explanation for this, according to researchers, is the fact that “very little attention is given to preparing teachers to work with parents and other adults” (Lazar & Slostad, 1999).

Despite the importance attached to parental involvement, it is still being ignored in schools (The New Skills for Schools, 1997). According to Lazar and Slostad, (1999) “the way parents viewed their roles was shaped by the circumstances and norms of particular cultures” and “their beliefs about their own effectiveness as teachers or tutors” (p. 208). Major barriers to parental involvement in schools include the school environment, school culture, time constraint, changing demographics and employment patterns, and the lack of teacher preparation in involving parents in their children’s schooling (New Skills for Schools, 1997).

In her study of school programs and teacher practice of parental involvement at inner-city primary and middle schools in 1991, Epstein found out that teachers had doubts whether they could motivate parents to become more involved even though they thought that parental involvement would improve students’ achievement. Teachers lack the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and strategies needed to collaborate with families leading to a weak school-family partnership (De Acosta, 1996). A report by the U.S. Department of Education (1997) indicated that 48 percent of principals who participated in a study believed that lack of staff training on parental involvement posed a barrier to parents’ involvement. The lack of preparation by teachers to involve parents in the education of their children remains a weakness in teacher education programs (Bredekamp, 1996).

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Henry Ford And John Gray

Henry Ford and John Gray founded Ford Motor Company in 1903 with the intent of making automobiles affordable to the average American family. In 1908, Ford was credited with producing one of the “most popular cars in the world,” the Model T (NPR, 2006). The company was highly profitable in its early stages, operating on a model of Taylorism and pioneering the use of assembly line in automobile production. The company has since moved to a more Holistic approach, creating a diverse and motivated workplace culture. Through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), innovative technologies, international presence, and strong leadership practices the Ford Motor Company has established themselves as a worldwide leader in the automotive industry. Their place has been determined by a few significant operational and design decisions, such as maintaining affordability and high safety standards, but continued success is reliant upon maintaining successful innovation to meet evolving customer expectations.

This analysis does not include Lincoln, the luxury brand of automobiles produced by Ford Motor Company.

Output Analysis

The Output Analysis will focus on the organizational effectiveness of Ford Motor Company. To assess its effectiveness, Ford’s outputs will be analyzed with respect to several output factors and how they compare to other American automobile manufacturers. The output factors this analysis will focus on are customer results in the automobiles produced, business and financial indicators, employee engagement in the output measures, company innovation, and Ford’s global/societal responsibility.


This analysis will focus on two primary customer satisfaction factors in 2012 vehicle models: Dependability and safety.

For dependability, or reliability, Ford has performed very well. J.D. Power & Associates 2012 US Vehicle Dependability Study shown below shows Ford well above average in problems per 100 vehicles. While Toyota received the most awards with eight, Ford Motor Company did receive three awards for vehicle dependability (J.D. Power & Associates).

Figure . J.D. Power and Associates – 2012 Dependability Study

(Power and Assocates 2012)

For safety, Ford has a very good history of good safety performance highlighted by their #1 ranking in 2010. (Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, 2009) Ford’s exceptional safety record continues but has fallen slightly behind competitors in 2012 where it received 12 top safety awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, 2011) compared to Toyota/Lexus/Scion at 15 winners, General Motors with 14, and Volkswagen/Audi with 13. Ford’s Top Safety Picks for 2012 include the following vehicles:

Fiesta (Mini Car)

Focus (Small Car)

Fusion (Midsize Car)

Taurus (Large Car)

Edge (Midsize SUV)

Explorer (Midsize SUV)

F-150 (Large Pickup)

Overall, the results indicate a steady safety performance for Ford vehicles. However, the results also show a significant increase in competitor safety performance and Ford is no longer the industry vehicle safety leader as it was a few years ago.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement can mean many things but perhaps the best definition of it that engagement “is a positive work-related psychological state” and “a motivational state reflected in a genuine willingness to invest focused effort toward organizational goals and success”. (Albrecht, 2010) How much, or how well, the employees buy-in to the company’s strategic goals and success can greatly affect the company’s performance. One could reasonably assume that an employee who really cares and is invested in the success of his or her employer would be more productive and more likely to recommend improvements and seek to improve quality and performance of the products.

While employee engagement is something companies strive for and want to foster, gaining it, maintaining it, and measuring it is another thing entirely. Employee engagement is something that will likely be varied individually and over time, fluctuating constantly depending on many variables. With that in mind, perhaps the best way to look at employee engagement is to look at company practices that are intended to foster employee engagement positively.

On Ford Motor Company’s employee web page (Ford Motor Company, 2012), the company lists many of the things they do to foster engagement in their employees, including town hall meetings, intranet surveys and chats, joint labor/management committees and diversity councils. Ford also conducts employee “Drive Events” to give employees the opportunity to test drive new vehicles before they are released. This provides customer perspective to the employee and helps promote the vehicles to the public.

Ford also uses employees in beta testing of new applications and equipment to provide real-world feedback during product development. This gives the employees a sense of contribution and ownership in the development process they may not otherwise have.


Two key sources of innovation within Ford are electric vehicles and connectivity within vehicles.

Electric vehicle technology has come to the forefront of clean energy initiatives for automotive manufacturers and Ford has created a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in U.S. and European vehicles by 30% by 2020 with a global electrification strategy. (Hughes-Cromwich, 2011) The strategy is a long-term strategy that starts with hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) in the short term and full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the long term.

The strategy is to create a high level of sustainability for its vehicles in the future. However, Ford is not unique in this innovation and may even be a little behind the technology curve. Nissan, GM, Toyota, and others are currently producing multiple electric vehicles. There are also several other smaller start-up manufacturers producing electric vehicles such as Tesla and Fisker. Ford, on the other hand, is taking a much more deliberate approach to their electric vehicle plan, the electrification strategy, that will result in an across the board electrification of their entire vehicle fleet. (Herron, 2012)

The success of Ford’s deliberate approach will not be known for several years as their strategy plays out, but they are clearly not being as aggressive as other manufacturers in the field of electric vehicle production. This year have they produced new Ford Focus Electric, which will soon be followed by four others including the Ford Fusion Electric.

Vehicle connectivity is another key factor in vehicle innovation as the world in general becomes more connected and technology application based. What started out several years ago with installed global positioning satellite (GPS) systems and Bluetooth connection is now evolving to constant Internet connection with in-vehicle mobile services that include streaming audio/video.

Ford’s Sync system is a factory installed hands-free communication and entertainment system that enables drivers to use voice activation to perform numerous digital functions while driving. These functions include phone calls, radio controls, mapping functions, and vehicle climate control. The system is programmed for operator voice recognition and customizable for operator needs. (Ford Motor Company, 2012)

Other manufacturers also have similar technology such as GMs OnStar, Toyota’s Entune, and Chrysler’s Uconnect systems. OnStar was the industry leader for in-vehicle communications for several years after starting in 1996 (Borgia, 2009) but other manufacturers are catching up. Comparing the systems to each other is an extremely quirky and personal endeavor with different people rating each one differently depending on their personal needs and uses.

In summary, Ford’s SYNC system has reached the forefront of in-vehicle connectivity technology in five short years and competes with the technology of the other manufacturers. The system is continuing to evolve as technology increases.


Corporate Societal Responsibility has integrated into Ford Motor Company intrinsically through their ONE Ford Mission and Vision, as shown in Figure below.

Figure . Ford Motor Company business strategy: ONE Ford

Ford maintains an in-depth sustainability strategy with the ONE Ford business strategy with the goal to create three primary outputs: Great Products, Strong Business, and a Better World. (Ford Motor Company, 2011) Within the primary company output of a Better World, Ford has built a sustainability strategy to “create value consistent with the long-term preservation and enhancement of environmental, social and financial capital.”

Ford, as part of its sustainability strategy, maintains seven primary focus areas to achieve sustainability: Fuel Economy, Vehicle Safety, Income, Employee Satisfaction, Supply Chain, CO2 Emissions and Water Use. Nearly all of these are societal in nature as they deal with environmental, education, safety, and energy.

There are also numerous examples of Ford’s commitment to society that includes working and building partnerships with communities. These include Operation Goodwill, Ford Mobile Food Pantry Program, Pride and Honor Flight, The Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3), Ford Community Corps, Ford Blue Oval Scholarships, and the Ford Volunteer Corps just the name a few. (Ford Motor Company, 2011)

External Business Environment Analysis

Ford, like all American auto manufacturers, experienced a significant downturn in the auto industry during the recent economic recession. What separates the successful companies is how they deal with a volatile economy and how they are able to exploit the business environment during the economic recovery. Ford has not only weathered the recession rather well, but also expanded into Asia where the economy remained strong and established long-term production capability. This section will look at several characteristics of the external business environment as it relates to Ford and will discuss Ford’s environmental initiatives.

Business and Economic Characteristics

The automotive industry has struggled over the past several years while working through a tumultuous economy in the United States and Europe. However, the significant drop in production in 2008 and 2009, and the slow recovery since, has been offset dramatically by sales in China where “production grew a staggering 32.4% in 2010, led by the country’s rising income, expanding urbanization and growing population.” (IBIS World Industry Report, 2012)

The production growth in China and other emerging markets is expected to continue along with the economic recovery in the U.S. and Europe, which IBIS expects to produce a 2012 growth of 5.2% in total industry revenue worth an estimated $2.2 trillion. However, despite this projected growth the longer-term outlook to 2017 is more conservative. There is potential growth of less than 5%, as the U.S. and European economies will likely remain sluggish as they deal increasing debt.

Forces Driving Change in the Industry

Several forces drive change in the auto industry. This analysis will focus on three: gas prices, industry structure, and emerging markets.

Gas Prices

A significant increase in fuel prices over the past several years has caused a shift in automobile production away from larger vehicles with high fuel consumption in favor of smaller fuel efficient vehicles. Figure shows regular gas prices have doubled over the past 7 years. This has driven auto manufacturers to be much more competitive in fuel economy in their vehicles.

Figure . 96 Month Average Retail Gas Price Chart

(, 2012)

Industry Structure

Another example of external forces affecting the auto industry is the increase in steel prices. Significant growth in developing countries, primarily China, has led to increased raw material prices industry wide. For example, the price of iron ore increased from $60 a ton in 2009 to $180 a ton in April 2010. (International Trade Administration, 2011) Similar increases were experiences for thermoplastics, which increased 16% in 2010.

Dramatic price increases in raw materials put the manufacturers in a tough position. Steel suppliers seek shorter term contracts with auto manufacturers to protect themselves from the rising price of ore and while the auto manufacturers want to stabilize the steel costs to better manage car costs and profits. The results is an extremely competitive environment where the demand for cheaper and more fuel efficient vehicles must be balanced with higher material costs.

Emerging Markets

The BRICs (China, Russia, India, and Brazil) represent emerging economies with a rapidly expanding industrial capacity. While their industrial capacity increases, so does their demand and middle class families emerge and are able to purchase cars. (IBIS World Industry Report, 2012) This affects U.S. manufacturers such as Ford in a couple of different ways, both positive and negative. First, the growing economy in the emerging markets has created demand for U.S. cars and helped grow sales in a tough U.S. economy. However, U.S. automakers have been getting a lot of their raw materials, iron ore in particular, from China in recent years and China’s own increased industrial manufacturing has affected both price and availability. (International Trade Administration, 2011)

Competitive Forces in the Industry

Auto manufacturing is an increasingly competitive industry. The primary competitive force in play is market share concentration. In Ford’s case, market share concentration is relatively low with the four largest automakers accounting for 33.7% of industry revenue in 2012 (IBIS World Industry Report, 2012) and will continue to drop as new companies emerge and large companies split into smaller divisions as Chrysler did in 2007.

However, as the market share concentration drops, competition increases as smaller automakers hone in on niche cars that meet the demand for cheap, economic transportation. While many of these smaller manufacturers are not a real competitive threat at this time, they are quickly gaining ground.

Major Threats and Opportunities

Perhaps the best example of an up and coming automaker threatening big automakers like Ford is Tata Motors in Mumbai, India. While Tata Motors has been manufacturing cars in India since 1954, the last decade has seen an incredible expansion to other parts of the world. Tata began a big push by acquiring Daewoo truck manufacturing in 2004 and culminated in purchasing Jaguar Land Rover from Ford in 2008 for $2.3 billion in the middle of the U.S. financial crisis. (Fitzwater, 2012) Now, Jaguar Land Rover is producing substantial profits for Tata Motors with sales of $15.4 billion in 2011, a 48% increase from 2010.

Tata Motors is a company on the rise. While Ford and other U.S. and European automakers were trying to survive and recover for a recession from 2008 to 2011, Asian companies like Tata are charging full speed ahead taking advantage of a growing market in China. Figure below shows Tata Motors’ growth since 2002.

Figure . Tata Motors Growth

(Fitzwater, 2012)

In 2009, Tata Motors introduced a car called the Nano, which sells for approximately $2100 and is currently working on a car that will run on compressed air. (Fitzwater, 2012) This is simply a price point that companies like Ford cannot compete with. Companies such as Tata may not be an immediate threat to U.S. markets due to stringent safety and environmental requirement laws, but they cut into sales in the BRICs. Also, with Tata’s quick rise, it should be assumed they are targeting U.S. and European markets in the near future.

Keys to Competitive Success

Given Tata Motors’ history, a key to Ford’s success may lie in Asia. Fortunately, Ford has not been blind to the emerging markets in the BRICs. Ford has already built a new assembly plant in Chongqing, China and plans to build three more assembly plants in Asia-Pacific in the near future, highlighted by a $1 billion facility investment in Sanand, Gujarat in India. (Ford Motor Company, 2011)

Another key to Ford’s success is in vehicle profitability. Ultimately, as in any business, Ford’s success depends on how profitable it is. However, profitability varies greatly depending on the line of vehicle. Large, expensive SUV’s that are popular in America carry a large profit margin and smaller, less expensive cars have a much smaller profit. Given the global demand for affordable and efficient cars, Ford is exploiting that segment of the market by increasing production efficiency and sales of smaller vehicles. With the increases production capacity of four new assembly plants in Asia, Ford will be able to increase their profit contributions from smaller vehicle through greatly increased sales in the BRICs.

Inputs and Internal Business Environment Analysis

The internal business environment within the Ford Motor Company has as much to do with its success or failure, as do any external factors. The Ford Motor Company has been able to weather bad economic conditions in the automotive industry and come out ahead, internal business organizational and process changes, and external pressures that could have forced the company to collapse. The internal environment of the Ford Motor Company has been changed significantly over the past decade for the better. If it were not for the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the company might not be alive today. Ford is divided into two separate companies, Ford Motor Company and Ford Motor Credit Company, that can provide a full spectrum of automobile selling, lending, and buying (MarketLine, 2012).

Alan Mulally took over as the CEO of Ford in 2006. Before him, under the leadership of Bill Ford Jr., the Ford Motor Company was divided between each of its separate geographic regions and the regions acted independently, without cooperation. The geographic regions could be described as different factions that are in conflict with each other. There existed no sharing of information, ideas, technology, or designs between each of the regions before Mulally took over as CEO (The Associated Press, 2012). Ford has historically operated separately in each of its four main geographic regions, North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. These regions also have their own distinct and duplicative processes (Ford Motor Company, 2008). In addition, before 2006, Ford factories around the world produced too many varieties of vehicles and vehicles themselves; Ford dealerships had to even offer discounts in order to sell all of the vehicles (The Associated Press, 2012). Initially this operation made sense for the Ford Motor Company because of sparse communication and transportation infrastructure. As technology has increased, this led to inefficiencies, duplication of effort, and waste of resources, talent, and money (Ford Motor Company, 2008).

In 2006, everything for Ford began changing. Alan Mulally took over the company from William C. “Bill” Ford Jr., a direct descendent of Henry Ford, realized that the way his company was headed was going to devastate the company. Bill stepped down as CEO but continued to remain on as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Alan Mulally, after realizing how separated each of the operating regions had become, instituted a completely new management, manufacturing, and design plan across the board. To fix and improve the broken manufacturing process, Mulally introduced what is called a Direct Labor Management System (DLMS) to assist in the production and planning of vehicles. The DLMS improves the assembly process by standardizing everything. Also, the DLMS was implemented to help provide a generic manufacturing process across many different vehicles types. For instance, vehicle structure and frames were standardized across trucks so that one type of frame could be used in multiple vehicle models. The DLMS provides consistent and accurate estimates of product (technical) and non-product (clerical) labor times. By using the DLMS, Ford was able to remove all non-product tasks from engineers, allowing them to focus more time on product processes (John O’Brien, 1989).

In addition to the new DLMS, Mulally’s new management style was implemented and executives completed training on procedures and processes. Any executives not onboard with the changes were let go. First, Mulally implemented a new procedure to match production to demand and were able to demand higher vehicle prices. This strategy prepared Ford to better weather the impending harsh economic environment. Ford executives across the company changed the way they conducted business. Executives established weekly business review meetings in which employees voiced concerns and opinions, called Mutual Growth Forums (MGF). This way, direct change is implemented more often. These meetings have become so successful that they trickled down to lower level managers and are considered a staple of the company’s management at all levels. In addition to managers and executives working together, engineers and designers are also encouraged to collaborate to make better products through MGF (The Associated Press, 2012).

Alan Mulally remarkably transformed the way the Ford Motor Company operates. Ford still operates internationally, but is more successful and informed in the way it markets, manufactures, designs, sells, and buys vehicles. Ford still has an extensive, strong, and diversified operational network of manufacturing, assembly, distribution, warehouse, sales, administrative, and engineering centers. As a result, the company is better able to manage the way it operates now than it has been in the past. Ford is made up of 69 manufacturing plants, 41 distribution centers and warehouses, 56 research and development and engineering centers, 11,790 dealerships, and 110 sales offices after Mulally condensed operations (MarketLine, 2012). In conjunction with shaking up the organizational structure and physical footprint of the company, Mulally also substantially changed the products that Ford produces.

Over the past several decades, Ford has relied mostly on the sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). Ford also manufactured vehicles under the Ford, Mercury, Volvo, and Lincoln brands (Chakraborty, 2012). Before the economic and auto crisis hit in 2008, Ford had begun to restructure its brands and image. Ford shifted to creating additional types of cars including electric and hybrid cars and staking more of its revenue on selling more cars than trucks with the ability to shift production based on demand (MarketLine, 2012). The shift that Mulally instilled in the Ford Motor Company allowed it to survive the 2008 economic downturn where other American car manufacturers could not. Ford is now has a net income which is approximately $6.56 billion higher than its main competitors. Another contribution to a hefty increase in net income was Ford’s investment in alternative fuel technologies to improve fuel efficiency (Chakraborty, 2012).

An inhibitor to Ford’s restructuring efforts can be partly attributed to its contract with the United Auto Workers (UAW) Union. The impact of the closure of unneeded manufacturing plants which would result in the layoff of workers cannot be fully seen immediately. Any hourly employees that are members of the UAW must still get paid at a rate of 90% with full benefits until the end of the contract. This pattern bargaining plan, accepted by Ford in 1990, prevents auto companies from easily laying off hourly employees.

Mulally’s restructuring efforts will only be fully realized in the future (Maynard, 2006). The change that Mulally has implemented in the Ford Motor Company will be hard pressed to keep up when he is scheduled to retire within the next couple of years. The man that will take over the helm of Ford, Mark Fields, is the current director of North, South, and Central American operations and actually wrote the restructuring plan that Mulally implemented (The Associated Press, 2012). It is yet to be seen of the new organizational changes will survive this change in leadership.

Transformation/Execution Systems

Reward System

Motivation is generally linked to reward, and it is accepted that maintaining a healthy reward system is central to the regulation of employment. Reward systems vary between organizations, including: monetary or non-monetary, tangible or intangible, and physical or psychological. Rewards are offered to the employees as compensation for the productive work they execute. (Reward System in Organizations, 2009)

Ford Motor Company incorporated an effective reward system exemplified by the restructuring of its operations and its organizational chain of command. The company incorporates a team-based methodology in its manufacturing process to give employees more control over their responsibilities (2006).  Instead of simply following the instructions of managers, workers can directly contact suppliers to talk about quality of equipment or fix the product defects. At Ford, employee’s decisions are valued by their organization; they can exercise personal judgment to increase their productivity. Â

Ford is one of the numerous organizations in the United States that use the Internet to run incentive programs for employee motivation, recognition, award selection, and award fulfilment. Online-oriented employee motivation poses various benefits that are advantageous for employees and the organization itself. For instance, promotional events are posted online, reducing the use of paper. These materials can be immediately and efficiently managed.  Hence, online incentive programs save time, money, and even permit greater control for the organization and employees.

Ford also acknowledges corporate social responsibility (CSR) to benefit employees, consumers, dealers, suppliers and community. Hence, Ford is able to provide a quality life to its employees and their families (Reward System in Organizations, 2009)

Other forms of compensation for Ford employees are programs for Employee Involvement (EI).  Some of the EI programs are Mutual Growth Forums (MGF), as discussed previously, and the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP).

Through MGF the relationship between employees and administration is developed through two-way communication. To do this, the concerned parties conduct regular meetings to discuss matters of mutual interest, such as product plans, competition, economics, holiday schedules and work conditions.

The EI program is completely voluntary and takes care of workers who have health problems, drug dependency, or other immediate concerns. The program also includes a referral technique for professional counselling, assessment, and treatment, as well as wellness activities for health risk evaluations, stress management, hypertension monitoring, and so on. These compensations benefits to Ford with enhanced employee creativity, lessened absenteeism, better quality of products, and improved relations between employees and the administration.

Team design

Ford incorporated the Ford Production System (FPS) in the mid-1990s, an initiative to restructure its manufacturing process to enhance flexibility and efficiency in its automobile production systems. Under FPS, factory employees form teams called “work groups.” (Liker & Morgan, 2011). With this new format, managers of the workgroups are given the authority to make independent work decisions, which eventually result in time savings.

In 2000, Ford concentrated its product development teams into three centers of competence. Small cars developed at co-centers in Cologne, Germany and Dunton, U.K., and large-car and truck teams are in Dearborn, Michigan. (Wernle, 2000)

Product Design Team

Product design team has a parallel approach, improving on the linear process. These teams are task-focused and the level of communication and decision-making is high. The project team design begins with the empowering and staffing the team, the team members are chosen according to the company history and breakdown of the task. Then, the design engineers, responsible for the development of the product are selected. (Therese, 1990)

Leadership/decision making

Bill Ford is the chairman of Ford Motor Company and most of the decisions in the company are taken care by CEO, Alan Mulally, and a board of directors. The CEO makes the majority of the executive decisions. The role of the board is to select and evaluate the CEO and other top-level executives. (Ford Motor Company 2011 Annual Report, 2011) The board of directors has 17 members.

Through Ford Production System (FPS) work groups were formed which gave powers to the managers of the work groups to make their own decisions. Employees were significantly involved in the decision-making process as they could directly contact the suppliers and discuss the quality of the products. (Liker & Morgan, 2011)

Human Resource System

When CEO Alan Mulally came to Ford in 2006, he developed the “One Ford” plan. Under One Ford, all Ford workers are integrated into a system where employee opinions are valued. (White, 2011). Since 2009, Ford has been encouraging social networks in order to enable easy communication among employees so that employees can more easily engage customers. (Khan & Khan, 2011)

Cross-cultural Human Resource Management at Ford

Ford is putting efforts to reach diverse communities by targeting universities with higher percentage of women and minority groups (Reward System in Organizations, 2009). Ford launched its global diversity initiative in 1994 to improve diversity and work life throughout the company. Of its 157,000 U.S. employees, 12.8% of Officials and managers are minorities. African Americans represent 8.7% of all top management posts and 17.3% of the workforce overall (Reward System in Organizations, 2009). Ford has also launched some programs and processes for managing diversity. This has been a key-contributing factor to Ford Motor Company’s goal of global markets and corporate efficiency.


In 1933, Henry Ford had outlined on what makes a great product when he said, “It is the type of engine and it’s reliability; the structure of chassis and body, durability; preference should be given to safety factors; a steady development in comfort, convenience of driving and economy of the vehicle and these factors make the car.” These basic principles as envisioned by Henry Ford are very closely monitored as the Four Pillars, which are the main areas of focus for Ford today. (Armbruster, 2011)

The four pillars are: Drive smart, Drive safe, Drive quality, and Drive green.

Drive Smart

Ford is committed to deliver industry-leading technology that enhances driving experience at a value to the customer. Ford’s history of technological innovation goes way back from 1906 with the unitary engine and transmission and also the 1908 Model T which had the standard interchangeable parts. In 1936, for its Lincoln Zephyr, Ford came up with new alligator type hood, which made it way easier for consumers to access and service the engine. Ford introduced many new technologies to their customers in 1980s such as electronic message centers (1980), keyless entry systems (1980), heated front seats (1984) and insta-clear windshields (1986) which are amongst the few. Ford added more to their technology list in 1990s with auto-glide front seats (1993) which gave more comfort to the drivers of their vehicles, the seat and mirror positions had memory recall function (1994), voice activated cell phones (1995) and reverse activated rearview mirrors (1995). It’s true that some of these technologies mentioned above are no longer in use today, but they surely demonstrate the innovative atmosphere that still Ford has maintained. (Armbruster, 2011)

Their latest technology as part of drive smart include

Sync- This is an award winning communication and entertainment system developed by ford and Microsoft. Sync integrates most Bluetooth enabled mobile phones and digital media players. Sync Wi-Fi mobile hotspot makes the vehicle a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot which allows all passengers to access the internet.

MyFord touch- An LCD touch screen is mounted on the dashboard which has multiple features like App links, voice command system, 911 assist etc…

Blind spot Information System with cross traffic alert system.

Rear view camera system

Parking assistant and Electric power assisted steering (Technology fact sheet, 2012)

Drive Safe

Ford has been continuously thriving hard to introduce new designs to keep customers safe in its vehicles. Beginning in 1909, Ford gave an option to use acetylene headlamps which would provide more safety during low light conditions. In 1927, Henry and Edsel Ford came up with an idea of installing laminated safety glass in the windshields of the Model A which would reduce the injuries from flying glass in the event of an accident. After few years of research, Ford introduced many other features in their model line in 1956 such as steering wheel which could absorb energy, door latches with impact resistance, padded instrument panels, seat belts for driver and passengers. They also introduced airbag systems in the 1980s which made Ford’s customers of all ages feel much safer. (Armbruster, 2011)

Latest technology as part of Drive safe:

Roll stability control- Sensors are placed intelligently to detect vehicle roll motion and automatically engage measures to maintain control of the vehicle.

Curve control technology- Helps driver to maintain control over the vehicle while making a quick curve. The technology rapidly reduces the torque and also applies brakes to slow down the vehicle.

Lane keeping technology

Forward collision warning with brake support

Next generation air bags for extra protection to the driver and passengers. (Technology fact sheet, 2012)

Drive Quality

Ford offers world-class quality which challenges the best in the industry. As Henry Ford’s vision, he always wanted to give people most reliable transportation at lowest possible cost. This focus on quality has been the biggest weapon in Ford’s business. Henry Ford II even launched a new campaign called “Quality and Demand Go Hand in Hand” (Armbruster, 2011). The aim of this campaign was to improve quality in Ford products from the very first step of production. Henry Ford II believed that quality would be the determining factor for Ford to lead the market in the tough competition. Ford In 1981,launched the “Quality is Job 1” program which showed Ford’s dedication towards maintaining the quality.

Seventy-nine percent of Ford customers who purchased 2011 model year cars and trucks were satisfied with the quality of their vehicles, according to the 2011 full-year GQRS study. (Armbruster, 2011)

Latest technology:

Error proof manufacturing- Error proof systems are incorporated to ensure critical-to-quality assembly process which allows constant monitoring during the build.

The new technologies include an environment friendly anti-corrosion system that reduces the use of water to half.

A 3-wet paint technology that reduces CO2 emission by 15%.

Electrical systems of the vehicles are thoroughly checked to ensure electrically driven features operate properly. (Technology fact sheet, 2012)

Drive Green

As early as 1913, Henry Ford had started to design and experiment batteries which would be an alternative power source for Ford vehicles (Armbruster, 2011). He also promoted experiments on botanical sources of ethanol in search for an inexpensive, renewable fuel. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, fuel economy was a major deciding factor in purchasing a car for a common man because of emissions and safety legislation, and also the oil crisis at that time. Ford Motor Company responded to this crisis quickly by launching more fuel-efficient vehicles and also educated people about optimum driving techniques to attain better fuel efficiency. (Armbruster, 2011)

Latest Technology:

Eco boost, ford’s latest technology smaller displacement turbocharged gas engines reduces fuel consumption by 20% and also reduces CO2 emission by 15%.

Ford is planning to advance transmissions to six-speed gearbox, which improves fuel efficiency.

Ford’s hybrid vehicle C-MAX energi is expected to deliver greater fuel efficiency than Toyota Prius

Ford’s first all-electric vehicle is rated by U.S environmental protection agency as America’s most fuel-efficient vehicle. (Technology fact sheet, 2012)

Problem Statement

Ford Motor Company continues to lead the automobile industry on an international level, but will face many challenges as the marketplace evolves. In order to remain competitive, it is recommended that Form motor company improve its investment in the electric car market, facilitate a smooth CEO leadership transition, and evolve CSR programs with customer and environmental demand.

Electric Car Market

Ford has taken a very deliberate approach to developing electric vehicles. While Ford plans to develop and market electric vehicles rather slowly, 25%-30% of the fleet electric by 2020, other manufacturers are leading the way. Tesla Motors’ Model S is a fully electric vehicle that was selected as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for 2013 (Motor Trend, 2013), representing the arrival of a truly impactful electric car. The Model S was also selected as Car of the Year for multiple other publications including Automobile Magazine. Other manufacturers are introducing electric cars already or in the near term.

The recommendation is that Ford monitors the electric vehicle market very closely and look for ways to expedite production of fully electric vehicles if the market demands it. Technology is increasing at a rapid rate with manufacturers like Tesla taking full advantage of the availability of it while claiming over 250 patents related electric car production. Ford should not stand by and let companies like Tesla set the pace in the electric car market.

This is not to say that Ford should abandon its current strategy for full electric competition, but simply that Ford needs to stay engaged to be able to respond shifts in electric car technology and market demand. The market for electric vehicles is still emerging, nobody knows the long-term demand, but it is recommended that Ford be at the forefront of that emerging market, in terms of both technology and availability.


The Ford Motor Company has been transformed significantly since Alan Mulally took over the helm of the company from Bill Ford Jr. Ford improved under Mulally’s leadership because of his proactive approach to decision making and his stringent plan for leadership and executive reform. A new Direct Labor Management System (DLMS) was implemented under Mulally’s leadership that allows Ford employees to utilize common practices, equipment, and automobile parts.

Ford might have some challenge in maintaining its current level of efficiency and its positive revenue flow when Mark Fields takes over as CEO. Even though Fields created the restructuring plan that was implemented by Mulally, Mulally held most of the executives responsible for Ford’s previous decline.

It is recommended for Fields to expand upon Mulally’s leadership shakeup and continue to replace executives that have previously contributed to the decline of Ford. Bringing in new management could also introduce a revitalizing spark for the future of Ford.

Corporate Social Responsibility

A study by Sun Mi Ha on Ford Motor Company and CSR shows that Ford’s consumers prefer the company’s product based on its reputation for social and environmental responsibility (Ha, 2008).

Ford produces electric automobiles, efficient gasoline and diesel powered cars, and is working on reducing the carbon impact on the world (Ford & Mullaly, 2012). Through these initiatives, Ford has excelled; however, CSR is more about reacting to the present scenarios quickly and addressing the demands and needs of the customers.

It is recommended that Ford focus more on environmental impact in the future. These requirements continuously evolve and may again in the future as impact of carbon on the environment and water in the manufacturing plants are further quantified. Implementing a minimum CSR requirement will not help Ford compete in future expansion. In these ways, they must be proactive. Top management should manage their environmental and societal impact to ensure a constructive influence.

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