This chapter is concerned with the difficult question of what our field can contribute to preventing and resolving the sorts
of destructive conflicts which are so prevalent in our world today at the interpersonal, intergroup, interethnic, and international
levels. In this chapter, I outline an approach to this question. The chapter is divided into three parts. The first is a brief
discussion of some of the factors which determine whether a conflict will take a constructive or destructive course. The second
deals with the prevention of destructive conflicts—here I consider the potential roles of government, education, the media,
religion, and industry. The third is concerned with how to manage intractable, destructive conflicts.
KeywordsDestructive conflict-Prevention-United Nations-United States-Education, Media-Religion-Industry
This chapter suggests that conflict and cooperation are part of the many pairs of opposing tendencies that characterize organizational life. It provides a case study of intergroup conflict through collective bargaining in the public sector. It examines the way in which clashing on issues, disagreeing on courses of action and enacting disputes aids in constituting group and organizational identities.
It questions how ritualized conflict management becomes productive and beneficial, not only through obtaining particular goals, but through promoting effective communication and building relationship from the on-going struggle between intergroup forces. This struggle extends beyond the traditional boundaries of collective bargaining to coalitions between members of opposing groups, alliances with external ties, and interdependent organizational linkages that give symbolic meaning to this event. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Research on layoff victims reports that interactional justice judgments influence important work-related attitudes, such as organizational commitment. In this paper, the authors build on this emerging literature through an examination of the role that both interactional justice and organizational support have in explaining the organizational commitment of 147 layoff victims at a major manufacturing plant. Ss completed surveys concerning organizational commitment, interactional justice, and organizational support. The results of structural equation analyses support the hypothesis that organizational support mediates the relationship between interactional justice and organizational commitment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This study empirically examined the antecedents of verbal and physical assaults on managers perpetrated by subordinate employees. A model was presented and hypotheses developed that were tested with data obtained through the content analysis of published arbitration decisions. The findings indicated that such assaults were more likely to be verbal than physical, preceded by aversive treatment, and targeted at managers directly involved in the negative outcomes. Additionally, the severity of the incident varied across the different types of triggering events. Individuals who had been aggressive in the past but had not been disciplined were more likely to subsequently engage in physical than verbal assaults. The implications of these findings for future research and organizational practices were also discussed.
Theories of ethnic conflict often assume that the cause of political violence is the same across actors and constant over time. I propose that causes differ, depending upon the identity, grievances, and strategy of the perpetrator as influenced by the cultural, economic, and political contexts in which they operate. Together with Granger causality tests, multivariate time-series analyses of political deaths in Northern Ireland support a multi-causal perspective. Reflecting identity differences, Loyalist violence but not Republican violence was likely to increase during months when high levels of protest coincided with annual commemorations. By deepening grievances related to ethnic stratification, rising unemployment contributed to Republican violence, but not to Loyalist violence. Repression of Nationalists increased Republican violence but decreased Loyalist violence, supporting a see-saw conceptualization of political opportunities in divided societies. The findings highlight the need for sensitivity in both conflict research and management to differences between actors and across social contexts.
Many relationships between politicians and bureaucrats are based on an energy-equilibrium model where the politicians provide energy and the bureaucrats, equilibrium. According to this model, conflicts occur when one partner does not adequately fulfill his or her expected role. This model may be fruitfully used to study the relationship between the politician, the career bureaucrat, and the political appointee. The division of roles among this “ménage à trois” is particularly difficult and often generates tension. The situation is most prone to conflict when the government is in a period of change. At such times, the newly elected politicians have a tendency to mistrust the established bureaucracy and to depend almost exclusively on their political appointees. The dysfunctions induced by this phenomenon, in regard to the capacity of the bureaucracy to adequately fulfill its equilibrium role, are very clearly illustrated by the Canadian political transition of 1984, when the federal government was handed over to the Progressive Conservative Party. A series of interviews with ministers, senior civil servants, and senior policy advisors, all of whom had ringside seats to this transition, shows how the extensive power granted to ministerial offices aggravated the difficulties usually associated with a period of transition. This particular transition illustrates how important it is for the newly elected to ensure that their partisan policy advisors play their roles without getting in the way of the indispensable cooperation which must be established between ministers and senior civil servants.
Intractable conflicts are characterized as protracted, irreconcilable, violent, of zero-sum nature, total, and central. They are demanding, stressful, exhausting, and costly both in human and material terms. Societies involved in this type of conflict develop appropriate psychological conditions which enable them to cope successfully with the conflictual situation. The present paper proposes the following societal beliefs which are conducive to the development of these psychological conditions: beliefs about the justness of one's own goals, beliefs about security, beliefs of delegitimizing the opponent, beliefs of positive self-image, beliefs about patriotism, beliefs about unity and beliefs about peace. These beliefs constitute a kind of ideology which supports the continuation of the conflict. The paper analyzes as an example one such intractable conflict, namely the one between Israel and Arabs, concentrating on the Israeli society. Specifically, it demonstrates the reflection of the discussed societal beliefs in the Israeli school textbooks. Finally, implications of the presented framework for peaceful conflict resolution are discussed.
The purpose of this study was to determine if arbitrators use all seven of Dougherty's tests of just cause in cases involving discharge for excessive absenteeism. One hundred and ninety-five absenteeism cases published by the Bureau of National Affairs and Commerce Clearing House between 1980 and 1990 were analyzed. Four of Dougherty's key tests were found to be critical: Penalty, Equal Treatment, Proof, and Notice. Logistic regression analysis of the data reveals that if these four tests are met by management, there is an almost certain probability that a grievance for excessive absenteeism discharge will be denied. If, however, any one of these tests is not met, the probability is greater than 99 percent that the grievance will be fully sustained or split.
Much of the prior literature on arbitrator acceptability is focused primarily on demographic characteristics of arbitrators and parties. This article draws from several behavioral theories to build a single conceptual model of arbitrator acceptability. Key concepts from the theory of planned behavior, control theory, organizational justice theories, and the decision making literature are integrated into a single framework that enhances our understanding of this topic and provides useful directions for future research.
While prior work has focused on the importance of visual access and visual cues to targets of deception, this article highlights its importance to deceivers. We introduce a new approach for conceptualizing deception and distinguish between two types of lies according to the relative value to the deceiver of being able to monitor the target's reaction to the lie; deceivers telling monitoring-dependent lies benefit significantly more from being able to monitor their target than do deceivers telling monitoring-independent lies. We examine this distinction and its implications for the strategic use of deception, by manipulating visual access in a negotiation experiment with teleconference and videoconference media. We find consistent differences between deceivers use of and consequences of these two types of lies as a function of visual access. First, the use of monitoring-dependent lies was significantly greater with visual access than without it, while the use of monitoring-independent lies was unaffected by visual access. Second, consistent with our conceptu-alization, participants who lied were trusted less by their counterpart than were participants who did not lie, except when participants with visual access told monitoring-dependent lies. In these cases deceivers were actually trusted more by their counterpart than participants who did not lie. These results support our conceptualization and suggest that visual access may actually harm potential targets of deception—by increasing their risk of being deceived and inappropriately increasing their interpersonal trust.
This study presents an investigation of the communicative behaviors and strategies employed in the stimulation and management of productive and destructive conflict in culturally heterogeneous workgroups. Using communication accommodation theory (CAT), we argue that the type and course of conflict in culturally heterogeneous workgroups is impacted by the communicative behaviors and strategies employed by group members during interactions. Analysis of data from participant observations, non-participant observations, semi-structured interviews, and self-report questionnaires support CA T-based predictions and provide fresh insights into the triggers and management strategies associated with conflict in culturally heterogeneous workgroups. In particular, results indicated that the more groups used discourse management Strategies, the more they experienced productive conflict. In addition, the use of explanation and checking of own and others' understanding was a major feature of productive conflict, while speech interruptions emerged as a strategy leading to potential destructive conflict. Groups where leaders emerged and assisted in reversing communication breakdowns were better able to manage their discourse, and achieved consensus On task processes. Contributions to the understanding of the triggers and the management of productive conflict in culturally heterogeneous workgroups are discussed.
This study explores the effects of different structures of accountability on the development of groupthink. Specifically, the differences between individual and collective accountability are examined and contrasted to a condition with no accountability. The groupthink phenomenon can be differentiated into collective avoidance, arising from a pessimistic perception of a decisional issue, and collective overoptimism. It is argued that structures of accountability can either promote or reduce groupthink, depending upon the way group members perceive the decisional issue. We tested the hypothesis that accountability can prevent the collective-avoidance type of groupthink, and that individual accountability will be more effective in doing so than collective accountability, by preventing the possibility to “hide in the crowd.” The results confirm that under conditions conducive to collective avoidance, individual accountability is more effective in reducing groupthink-like tendencies than collective accountability. However, group members expecting to be collectively responsible still display less symptoms of groupthink than control groups. In particular, accountability makes groups display more difficulty to reach consensus, stimulates group members to try to influence the decision making, results in a more equal dispersion of influence within the group, and in less risky decisions. Some methodological concerns regarding research on groupthink and accountability, and the implications of the findings for future research in this area are discussed.
A laboratory experiment examined the effects of time pressure (high versus low) and accountability to constituents (not-accountable-to-constituents versus accountable-to-constituents) on the competitiveness of negotiators' interaction and on the outcome (i.e., agreement or impasse) of the negotiation. Using a newly developed negotiation game with the payoff structure of a game of chicken, we predicted and found an interaction effect. Based on the pattern of results we conclude that the effect of time pressure is contingent on the accountability to constituents of the negotiator. When negotiators are negotiating only for themselves, time pressure makes the negotiators act less competitive, and a higher proportion of the negotiations will result in an agreement. In contrast, when negotiators are negotiating on behalf of their con-stituents, time pressure will result in more competitive interaction and in a higher proportion of impasses.
Misunderstanding, or misconstrual, is a major exacerbating factor in conflict escalation and an impediment to negotiation and resolution. Laboratory work has identified characteristic errors of construal which partisans make in assessing the views of their opponents. This paper examined whether these same phenomena could be observed in a traditional real-world conflict, that between trade unions and management. In two studies, union representatives and managers reacted first (in Study 1) to an actual contract negotiation that the two sides were involved with, and then to a hypothetical unjust act. Results revealed that the two sides indeed display many characteristic errors of construal. Specifically, union representatives underestimated management concern for harmful acts against workers, or management's sincere wish to negotiate in good faith within financial constraints, and were generally highly suspicious of management motives and intentions toward workers. Managers saw union representatives as unreasonable, and greatly overestimated union militancy and unwillingness to accept extenuating circumstances. Negotiations will be greatly improved if such misconstruals can be exposed and debunked prior to, or during negotiations.
This study used a critical incidents methodology to examine the influence of accounts on perceived social loafing and evaluations of team member, and to investigate the face management and responsibility explanations of account-giving. The results of this study suggest that communicative acts such as accounts may reduce perceived loafing. In addition, perceived loafing and evaluations of the team member were influenced by the type of account provided; concessions were more effective in decreasing perceptions of social loafing and increasing evaluations of the team member than excuses and justifications which, in turn, were more effective than refusals. These findings indicate tentative support for the face management explanation of account effectiveness.
This study examines the relationship between decisions of arbitrators and the accounts provided by grievants in a sample of discipline arbitration cases. It was hypothesized that arbitrators' decisions would be influenced by both the type of accounts used (refusals, excuses, and justifications) and the quality of accounts. The results suggest that grievants providing refusals are most likely to have their suspensions reduced, and grievants providing justifications are least likely to have their suspensions reduced Also, the quality of accounts influences reduction in suspension. These findings help broaden our understanding of the arbitration decision-making process and explain how grievants' accounts can bias arbitrators' decisions. Implications for policy-makers, management, employees, and unions are provided, along with suggestions for future research.
This research examined the relationships among a number of outcomes of mediation. The sample consisted of 73 hearings at two dispute settlement centers in New York State. Predictions from goal achievement theory were contrasted with predictions from procedural justice theory. In accordance with goal achievement theory, disputants who attained their goals in the agreement indicated immediate satisfaction with that agreement and with the conduct of the hearing. However, goal achievement was unrelated to long-run success or long-run satisfaction with the agreement, a result which may apply primarily to the mediation of interpersonal disputes. The predictions from procedural justice theory were more successful. Disputants who perceived that the underlying problems had been aired, that the mediator had understood what they said and that they had received a fair hearing also showed immediate satisfaction with the agreement and with the conduct of the hearing. In addition, these and related perceptions—especially in the eyes of the respondent—were predictive of several aspects of long-run success.
When organizations with disparate cultures are merged, the culture of the acquired organization often represents a counterculture for the acquiring firm. Scholars and consultants frequently recommend avoiding integration of an acquired company if it has a sharply different culture. This paper presents a case study of a recent hostile takeover that disproves the conventional wisdom and shows that careful implementation processes enable the company, not only to overcome post-merger integration barriers due to culture clash, but also to maximize strategic benefits from those cultural differences. It shows that integration can be achieved through a process in which only some specific cultural dimensions are integrated while others are preserved.
This paper proposes an anthropology-based theoretical model describing the impact of top management culture clash on the commitment of the acquired team to the new organization and on its cooperation with the acquiring team. It suggests that three factors are influential, namely the degree of cultural differences, the nature of the contact between the teams, and the intended level of integration between the companies. The paper generates numerous propositions for predicting the impact of the culture clash. It also offers suggestions for further theoretical and empirical study, and presents some of the model's practical implications.
This study investigated the unpad of culture on styles of handling interpersonal conflicts. The Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventory was used to collect data on the conflict management styles of integrating, obliging, avoiding, dominating, and compromising. Two regions of the world were chosen: Middle Eastern countries and states (n = 913) and the United States (n = 144). MANCOVA was used to analyze the data. The results indicate that Arab Middle Eastern executives use more of an integrating and avoiding style in handling interpersonal conflict while U.S. executives use more of an obliging, dominating, and compromising style. Implications of the findings and future research are discussed.
Effects of voice, compensation, and responsibility attribution on justice perception and post-complaint behavior in a consumer setting were studied in a cross-cultural study. Hotel school students in China and Canada (N = 168) read and responded to a scenario which described how a service provider handled the complaint from a customer whose coat was stained with tea. The results showed that collectivists were more likely than individualists to blame the service provider. Also, voice offered by the service provider failed to reduce its blame, and compensation actually led to more blame attributed to the service provider. Responsibility attribution was found to be able to mediate the effect of culture on post complaint behavior. A culture by voice interaction indicated that when voice was offered by the service provider, Canadians were less likely to attribute the responsibility to themselves than were Chinese. The implications of these results on justice, culture, and responsibility attribution are discussed.
Over the past decade there has been an upsurge of interest in the study of mediation. Much of the current interest is the consequence of mediation's apparent success in the management of labor-management conflicts. It is suggested here that a critical examination of mandated mediation—a long standing, but neglected part of negotiation under the Railway Labor Act of 1926—can make substantive contributions to the development of mediation theory. This paper proposes a conceptual model for understanding context, process, and outcome constraints on the performance of mandated mediation.
The doctrine of employment-at-will has been the rule of law for over 100 years in the United States. Under it an employee can be terminated for a good reason, a bad reason, or for no reason at all. Because of real abuses when firing employees, generally called wrongful termination, all but five U.S. states have now carved out at least one of three exceptions to the rule. They are implied contract, public policy tort, and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Although created with good intentions, all three exceptions have spawned a legal environment of judicial inconsistency and unpredictability and a climate of expensive litigation and monetary judgments. The Model Employment Termination Act, if adopted by all the states, would establish a uniform legal system for managing employee terminations. The Act's major provisions require that an employee can be terminated only for “good cause,” and, in the “preferred version” that arbitration be used in settling disputes. However, an employee's remedies are limited and can include reinstatement, back pay, lump-sum severance payments, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, but no compensatory or punitive damages.
Because of their relationship-oriented values, avoiding conflict is thought to be particularly prevalent and appropriate in collectivist societies like China Although research in the West has assumed that avoiding conflict is one approach and a largely ineffective one, collectivists may use conflict avoidance in different ways, including protecting the other protagonist. Eighty-five managers and employees in six State Owned Enterprises in South China described concrete incidents when they avoided conflict and responded to specific items to measure the prior relationship, motivation, strategies, and consequences. Results identify major motivations and strategies used in conflict avoidance. Findings indicate that Chinese managers and employees relied upon the other person, promoted task productivity, and strengthened the relationship when they had a prior strong relationship and cooperative goals. Cooperative goals and fear of revenge were both found to underlie outflanking (trying to work around the other). Results were interpreted as indicating that avoiding conflict can be useful and even reaffirm an already effective relationship, but like open conflict, it must be managed constructively.
This paper uses 1992 nonunion employment arbitration awards to examine how parties currently use arbitration outside collective bargaining. It presents descriptive data on the costs of arbitration. It compares employer and employee claims, and finds that employees win higher damage awards. Employees recover a higher proportion of the damages they claim or have a better outcome than employers, notwith-standing the theory that an arbitrator will rule in favor of employers because they have more resources to pay the arbitrator. While both employers and employees have lower outcomes when the arbitrator is paid a fee, this appears to be because the fee-paying cases are higher stakes claims, and higher stakes claims result in proportionally lower damage awards. The findings tend to contradict the theory that employment arbitrators will be biased in favor of employers in a nonunion setting.