The state organization operated out of a different organizational culture. It exuded an ethos of professionalization via a managerial ethos, which it desired to foster at least among the larger affiliates, often without a substantial grasp of the culture of the local affiliates. In its differentiation from them, LVA-CT possessed the financial resources and network connections to develop a full time paid staff, which included an executive director, field services personnel, clerical support, and eventually a director of development. Although local affiliates had representation on LVA-CT’s board of directors, the major sources of authority and legitimization within the agency stemmed from the corporate sector and the Connecticut Bureau of Adult Education. Both of these entities stressed the importance of statistical accountability, a management by objective organizational structure, and a functional literacy orientation geared to “re-tool” the workforce to meet the “informational” needs of the post-industrial economy (Adult Education Study Committee, 1985; Alamprese, 1988, 1989, 1993).
Much of the revenue raised by LVA-CT came in the form of grants, which required the state office to move in directions that differed from that of most of the local affiliates throughout the 1970s and 1980s. However, the more sophisticated urban affiliates shared certain affinities with LVA-CT in the embrace of a managerial, corporate vision while maintaining the volunteer ethos of Ruth Colvin as a central component of their organizational culture. Thus, while most of the affiliates shaped their organizational imagery from the paradigmatic student-tutor bond, reinforced via a powerful volunteer ethos, the state organization embraced more of a systems approach, although not at an overly advanced level of complexity. The latter prioritized management over pedagogy and identified the center of organizational power and legitimization with staff, key board members, and funders. This was buttressed by a professional ethos, which placed volunteers and students in a subordinate role within the iconography of the state office’s organizational culture, notwithstanding LVA’s rhetoric, in which, as stated by founder Ruth Colvin “[t]he most important person in the LVA organization is the student, next is each individual tutor” (Colvin, 1992, p. 81).
The gap between this ideal and the reality of practice has generated considerable conflict within the cultural politics throughout the LVA network. In the broadest of socio-cultural terms, the conflict of interest and values within the LVA network in Connecticut may be described as that between the old Yankee traditions of benevolence, charity, and voluntarism on the one hand, and those of the managerial class on the other hand. Conflict over pedagogy, funding, and organizational development between the local affiliate in Hartford and the state organization had their foundation in these cultural tensions. This was indicative of tensions pervasive throughout the LVA network all over the United States.
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