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COM 597, Summer 2015 – Reading Guide Questions for May 19


For Putnam (2001)

1. What’s the irony of ignoring conflict in the human relations tradition that she describes on p. 12?  Have you seen it in your workplace?

2. What’s the irony of ignoring conflict in the bureaucratic tradition that she describes on p. 12?  Have you seen it in your workplace?

3. What does it mean to frame conflicts in terms of power?  In terms of rights?  In terms of interests? (p. 13) On p. 14 she notes that interest-based approaches tend to be privileged in formal dispute systems.  Do you think it’s always preferable to frame conflict in terms of interests, rather than in terms of power or rights?  When might it not be? 

4. What are the three ironies she identifies in the interest-based approach in formal dispute systems?  Have you seen these in your workplace?

5. What’s her complaint about individualizing disputes on the top of p. 15?  Do you agree?

6. What does she mean by hidden conflict (mid p. 15)?  How does hidden conflict manifest itself where you work?  What are the ironies she identifies in the study of hidden conflict (top p. 16)?

7. What does she mean by a disputing perspective (mid p. 16)?  What’s her argument about the advantages of researchers taking such a perspective?  Is she right?

8. What does she mean by conflict orchestration?  By transformation?

9. What do you think of the process used in the grade dispute case on pages 17 and 18?  How do the different ways the dispute is framed affect the possible outcomes? 

10. What do you think of her criteria for orchestration (top p. 19)?

11. What are the big takeaways of this article for you?

For Katz & Flynn (2013):

1. So if nonviolent, collaborative conflict management methods weren't well known before the 1980s, what do you reckon was done to manage conflicts before then? (p. 393)

2. What's happened in the past 30+ years to promote the use of these collaborative practices? (pp. 393-395)

3. What did classical management folks say about conflict?  Why would they think that? (p. 396)

4. What does their lit review say makes the difference in whether conflict helps or hurts the workplace? (p. 396)

5. What does their lit review identify as the big elements that influence how conflict manifests itself?  What do they say unifies those elements?  Does your own workplace experience bear this out? (pp. 397-398)

6. What's the distinction between "espoused theory" and "theory in use?  Why would it matter for conflict?  (pp. 398-399)

7. So who were the participants in this study?  How'd the authors gather their data? (pp. 399-400)

8. What were their overall findings (p. 400)?  What was the ranked order of types of conflict (p. 401)? Is any of this surprising to you?  Why or why not?

9. What did they find out about the use of formal v. informal conflict procedures?  Is this consistent with your experience? (p. 402)

10. Is the discussion and example of what constitutes a "real conflict" consistent with your experience?  (pp. 402-403)

11. Did the participants'  perception of the variance between "espoused theory" and "theory in use" affect the their perception of how conflict is handled ?  (pp. 402-403).

12. What benefits do you see in the innovative practices they discuss?  What potential drawbacks do you see?  (p. 405)

13. What's their bottom line conclusion on how conflict is handled in the community they studied (p. 406)?  What's their criteria for successful conflict management systems (p. 407)?  Does the value of that criteria make sense to you?  Why or why not?

14.  What are the big takeaways of this article for you?

15. What are the big commonalities and differences you see in tonight's two articles?

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