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Conflict Managment

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Conflict Management ­HRM624
Lesson 21
"If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge
always pays the best interest."
Benjamin Franklin
Summary impediments to cooperative settlement of interpersonal conflict
Motivation to seek
A disputant wants
Knowing she will lose in court, a plaintiff
retribution against
pursues a lawsuit because of the
another participant more
inconvenience she knows it will cause the
than he or she wants a
Conflicts and disputes
During a labor dispute, one side accuses the
that relate to how the
other of unfair practices.
main conflict is or has
been handled.
A disputant believes that
During the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the
the other disputant is
Israeli government is unwilling to take the
like to use a settlement
world of Palestinian leadership that they will
process as an
take care of anti-Semitic terrorists; as a result,
opportunity for
Israel takes violent action against Palestinian
Vastly differing
Each side believes a
An employee files a grievance, claiming
perceptions of
completely different
discrimination on the basis of gender against
version of the situation.
her supervisor, who believes that no gender
discrimination has take place.
Over commitment
A disputant's team
After committing $50,000 to preparing for
and entrapment
commits so much time,
trial, a plaintiff refuses an eleventh-hour offer
resource, or
to settle for an amount the plaintiff originally
psychological energy to a
felt would be in his best interests.
competitive position that
they feel that to settle
would be a waste of
would create intolerable
loss of face.
Conflict Management ­HRM624
Lack of ripeness
One or both teams have
An auto accident plaintiff has filed suit, the
not yet come to believe
case is schedules for trial in fifteen months,
that there is an urgent
and the plaintiff's legal team sees no harm in
need to settle.
letting the case sit. They use the requests for
settlement discussions by the other side for
strategic advantage, hoping that playing hard
to get will sweeten the eventual outcome.
Jackpot syndrome
One of the parties is
A plaintiff sues for $10 million and refuses to
willing to take a huge
settle, despite her attorney's warning that
risk that he or she will
she's unlikely to beat the defendant's latest
lost for the opportunity
to obtain a huge
Loss aversion
A disputant would rather
A defendant, faced with an offer of
gamble on a likely huge
settlement if he pays $2,5000, prefers to try
loss than pay out a
the case although his lawyer warns that he's
smaller loss now.
very likely to lose more than that.
Settling this case will
A prosecutor refuses to accept a plea-bargain
affect other situations in
offer from a defendant accused of accounting
unpredictable or
fraud ­ even though the evidence in the case
damaging ways.
is weak ­ because of the slap-on-the-wrist
message that might be sent to others with
similar cases pending.
Conflicts of
A settlement that
A mother refuses to settle a pending child
interest among
addresses the interest of
custody case with her child's father because
team members
one team member well
civility with this man enrages her present
does a bad job of
addressing the interests
of another team
One of the important
During negotiations over custodial
stakeholders in the
arrangements for a teenager, parental efforts
conflict is left out of the
to institute visitation arrangements fall apart
negotiations and
when the teenager refuses to go to the
therefore sabotages
mother's house as specified in the agreement.
efforts to complete a
Conflict Management ­HRM624
A disputant feels
A major corporation can't convince a
overmatched during a
frightened consumer to settle a warranty
conflict and is fearful
claim despite the honest beliefs of corporate
that agreeing to a
counsel that they have bent over backward to
settlement well harm
accommodate the consumer.
A disputant, or a
A defendant can't bring herself to settle with
member of the
the plaintiff: the latter has made the
disputant's team, is so
defendant's life so miserable that the
unpleasant that settling
defendant finds giving her any sort of
with her leaves a bad
satisfaction to be intolerable.
A disputant or
In a dispute over baseball salaries, both
culture or
negotiator comes from a
owners and players believe that it is
culture or subculture in
inappropriate to cooperate with the
which competition is the
primary blueprint for
conflict management.
In the previous lecture we discussed the first three impediments in resolving the conflict. The remaining
points will be discussed in this lecture.
Over-commitment and entrapment
A disputant over-commits when he or she pours so much time, money, and energy into preparing for a
battle that it is seemingly wasteful to back out of the project. The result is that the disputants feel trapped.
Over-commitment is a toxic combination of inattention and fear of losing face. It is insidious; it happens
inch by inch, creating entrapment by degrees. The best ways to combat entrapment are to make disputants
attentive to the process of commitment and to avoid the loss of face issue that comes with it. It creates
entrapment. Avoid over-commitment by avoiding loss of face situation.
Rubin, Pruitt, and Kim (1994, 114-16) recommended four tactics designed to avoid over commitment and
First, before entering into a negotiation, it helps to set some boundaries on how much the disputant will lay
on the line.
Second, during the negotiation, one can schedule "points of decision", at which the decision to stay
involved is periodically reevaluated.
Third, attention should be paid, during analysis of whether to continue committing resources to a conflict,
on the costs, non-monetary and monetary, of continuing the conflict.
Fourth, it is very useful to build in ways to save face wherever possible. As entrapment builds, the
participants continue to persist in the dispute to avoid loss of face.
Lack of Ripeness
Resolving a conflict is perceived as costly, difficult, and unpleasant. Many times, disputants won't confront
the work needed to resolve a conflict until they find no alternative. This situation of conflict is called
Conflict Management ­HRM624
In legal disputing, ripeness is often created by the proximity of the trial. A trial usually has many unexpected
twists and turns; it is expensive, time consuming and emotionally disturbing.
Jackpot Syndrome
The Jackpot Syndrome, identified by prominent law professors Frank Sander and Stephen Goldberg
(Sander & Goldberg 1994), involves apparently irrational behavior by a disputant who is risk-tolerant.
Disputants afflicted with this syndrome believe that they have a chance of "winning big" if they hold out
and refuse to settle. The irrationality comes because their chances of actually getting the big payoff are
Apparently irrational behavior by a disputant who is risk-tolerant.
Believe in a chance of winning big.
Need to be educated: jackpot syndrome is unrealistic.
Differing views about reality and expecting a chance to become rich or famous.
Loss Aversion
Loss aversion is the propensity of many people to prefer to gamble on an uncertain outcome rather than to
take on a certain but manageable loss. Loss aversion is the complement of Jackpot Syndrome; it involves
people who would rather gamble, knowing they have a good chance of losing than give up a sure thing of
lesser value.
A linkages problem (sander & Goldberg 1994) occurs when the conflict under consideration is interlinked
with other conflicts and other parties. The implications of settlement may be hard to clarify or may
overwhelm the stakes in the current conflict. It may seems safer just to avoid settlement altogether.
Linkages are a reality of many interpersonal conflicts and effective conflict diagnostician deals with linkages
by performing detailed interest analyses to determine the nature of each interdependent relationship
affecting the conflict.
Interest analysis is necessary to understand the linked conflicts or parties. Being unaware about underlying
interests of disputants, agents, and constituents will be harmful in conflict management.
Conflicts of interest among team members
Non disputant can put a variety of barriers in the way of conflict resolution. Constituent agents and other
influential parties can all impede the otherwise effective work of disputants. Conflicts of interest can
sometimes be treated as separate interpersonal conflicts, subject to creative resolution. When advocates and
agents have clear conflicts of interests with their disputants, sometimes they must withdraw from
representing the disputants to prevent the conflict of interest from doing harm to those they ostensibly
Excluded Stakeholder
Another group of people who frequently impede the smooth resolution of a conflict are those who are not
at the negotiation table but feel they should be. In a complex conflict, sometimes the disputants are difficult
to identify. There may be a number of advocacy groups, each of which claims to be an interested party. Or,
within a single group of disputants, there may be conflict over who should be physically performing the
negotiation of the conflict.
Any individual who feels a need to contribute to the resolution of a conflict, but who isn't invited to do so,
is likely to feel slighted about the lack of consideration. This psychological string typically prompts the
person who has been left out to dislike any settlement being considered (in a phenomenon closely related to
reactive devaluation), and this person will often seek to sabotage the settlement process.
Conflict Management ­HRM624
At times, unimaginable forces or interests could impede resolution of conflicts. They could duly become
part of negotiation. For example an adult ward (child) may like to sit on the negotiation table on property
Disempowered Disputant
A disempowered disputant is a disputant who feels he or she has insufficient power in the relationship with
the other disputant. For example one brother or partner is active while other is passive or sleeping partner.
A disempowered disputant fears coming to agreement, because he or she is afraid to be taken advantage of
and doesn't know how to protect him ­ or herself. Often, the disempowered disputant cannot assess the
utility of a proposed settlement, because he or she lacks essential knowledge. A disempowered disputant is
very likely to dig his or her heels into the sand and become paralyzed.
A seeming paradox is that a very powerful disputant in negotiation with a much disempowered disputant
often benefits from conferring power on the latter. A conflict diagnostician who finds a disempowered
disputant impeding settlement should look at ways that the disputant can be empowered.
Unpleasant Disputant
Some disputants are so irritating that no one wants to please them. Their unpleasant personalities generate
intense hostility in those who have to deal with them. They push conflicts into a competitive cycle by
directly generating enmity between the participants. Helping the irritating person may feel psychologically
intolerable to the other participants (contrient interdependence results). Sometimes, the problem is
"goodness of fit" ­ a disputant is only unpleasant to single other disputant ­ but sometimes the unpleasant
disputant is directed almost universally as impossible to work with.
Bossy attitude, unpleasant face, body, or outlook may also be the impediments. The solution may be to
create distance between disputants.
Competitive culture or sub-culture
A competitive culture or subculture breeds competitive conflict escalation in numerous ways. Alternative
ways of behaving are misunderstood, decried, or ridiculed. Efforts to create a cooperation cycle are met
with efforts to exploit the opening thus created. It is difficult to deal with conflict in such an environment
without retreating to the self-protective illusion of competition. The most common competitive subculture
is the legal subculture. Lawyers are inculcated in the ways of competitive conflict resolution.
Obviously, trying to establish a cooperative relationship within a competitive culture or subculture involves
one of two approaches: either creating enough incentive for the other disputant to break cultural traditions
or moving the site of the conflict out of the competitive setting. Both of these approaches are used for legal
The importance of fourteen impediments to resolve conflict may have been known to you by now. If you
can identify the active impediments by doing interest analysis, you will be able to resolve conflict easily.
Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION TO CONFLICT:Dispute, Legal Dispute, Call the police
  2. DISPUTE RESOLUTION 1:Positive affect in Negotiation, Alternative Dispute Resolution
  3. DISPUTE RESOLUTION II:Adjudication, Litigation, Mediation-Arbitration
  4. PRECONCEPTIONS ABOUT CONFLICT I:Pedagogical development, Pressures against Innovation
  5. PRECONCEPTIONS ABOUT CONFLICT II:Cultural beliefs about interpersonal conflict, Why strategies of change fail
  6. CONFLICT DIAGNOSIS:Who Needs to Know About Conflict Diagnosis?, Steps in Conflict Diagnosis
  7. RECURRENT THEMES IN CONFLICT DIAGNOSIS I:The Seven Steps of Social Behavior, Seven steps to diagnose conflict
  9. DESCRIBING THE CONFLICT I:Description of Conflict, Identifying Interpersonal Conflict
  10. DESCRIBING THE CONFLICT II:Step 1 for Conflict Diagnosis, interpersonal or intrapersonal
  11. SOURCES AND CAUSES OF CONFLICT I:Main Sources of Conflict, Discussing major sources of conflict
  13. INTEREST ANALYSIS I:Analyzing your interests, Analyzing the other disputant’s interests
  14. INTEREST ANALYSIS II:What are interests?, Tips for Interest Trees
  15. INTEREST ANALYSIS II:Principles and values, Basic Human Needs
  16. ASSESSING THE CHARACTER OF THE CONFLICT I, Premises of Deutsch’s Theory
  17. ASSESSING THE CHARACTER OF THE CONFLICT II:Techniques to transform competitive conflict into cooperative
  18. TRUST AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE I:What is Mistrust,Trust and business,Three levels of trust
  19. TRUST AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE II:Advantages of high trust level, Building of trust
  20. ASSESSING IMPEDIMENTS TO RESOLVE THE CONFLICT I:Motivation to seek vengeance, Mistrust
  21. ASSESSING THE IMPEDIMENTS TO RESOLVING THE CONFLICT II:Disempowered Disputant, Unpleasant Disputant
  22. ASSESSING THE NEGOTIATING STYLE I:Dual Concern Model, Dominating or competition style
  23. ASSESSING THE NEGOTIATING STYLE:Dual Concern Model, Tactics Used In Integrating
  24. ASSESSING POWER AMONG DISPUTANTS:Conflict and Power, Kinds of power in the Relationship Domain
  25. ASSESSING POWER AMONG DISPUTANTS II:Sources of Relationship Power, Context and Power
  26. POWER, CONFLICT, AND BATNA III:Role of Third Party in BATNA, Dealing with Power Imbalance
  27. STEREOTYPES, DIVERSITY, AND CONFLICT I:Stereotyping, Stereotyping in Interpersonal Conflict
  28. STEREOTYPES, DIVERSITY, AND CONFLICT:Categories of Diversity Issues, Seven Mental Processes to Prove Stereotypes
  29. STEREOTYPES, DIVERSITY AND CONFLICT III:Individual Difference and Social Category, Cultural differences in values
  30. MEDIATION I:When is mediation required, Processes Related to Mediation, Product of Mediation
  31. MEDIATION II:Important distinguishing factors, More Advantages and Disadvantages of Pure Mediation
  32. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF MEDIATION I:Efficiency Consideration, Conflict Management and Prevention
  33. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF MEDIATION II:Quality of Consent, Effects on the parties to mediation
  34. PROCESS OF MEDIATION:Stages of Mediation, Facilitative tactics in mediation
  35. LAW AND ETHICS OF MEDIATION I:Characteristics of mediation, Confidentiality
  36. LAW AND ETHICS OF MEDIATION II:Role of ethics in mediation, 8 Dimensions of Ethics in Mediation
  37. ARBITRATION I:Ways to Resolve Conflict, Advantages of Arbitration, Disadvantages of Arbitration
  38. ARBITRATION II:Varieties of Arbitration, Process of Arbitration, Contents of Arbitration Act
  39. NON BINDING EVALUATION:Disadvantage, Varieties of Non-binding Evaluation
  40. NON BINDING EVALUATION II:Varieties of Non-binding Evaluation, Advantages and disadvantages of Non-binding Evaluation
  41. MIXED AND MULTIMODAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION:Six System Design Principles, Extensions of Dispute Systems Design
  42. POWER TOOLS AND MAGIC KEYS I:Introduction, Necessity of conflict diagnosis, Using conflict diagnosis
  43. POWER TOOLS AND MAGIC KEYS II:Proposed Contents of a Clients’ Interview, Impediments to use facilitative mediation
  44. PANCHAYAT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM, AND ADR, Definitions of Panchayat, Definition of Jirga
  45. SUMMARY AND MESSAGE OF THE COURSE:Definitions of conflict, Negotiation, Meditation, Adjudication