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COM 597, Summer 2015 – Reading Guide Questions for 
June 9

For Kusztal (2002):

1. What’s her argument, in the very first paragraph of the article, for the importance of studying organizational conflicts from when they first emerge?

2. What are her research questions (pp. 231-232)?

3. What does it mean to say that conflict is emergent (p. 232)?

4. Quickly run back to your notes from the first week.  What do Felsteiner, Abel and Sarat mean by naming, blaming and claiming?  When do they say experiences become grievances?  Grievances become disputes?

5. Notice that Felsteiner, Abel and Sarat use the term "conflict transformation" differently than some of the other authors we’ve read.  What do they mean by this term?  How does it differ from how other authors use it (p. 232)?

6. What are the four features of transformation Felsteiner, Abel and Sarat identify?  What does each mean in your own words (p. 232)?

7. What does it mean to use discourse to “make sense of and construct [one’s] social reality?”  To make sense of events by retrospectively apply[ing] categories of discourse to the flow of organized action?”  (If this question gives you trouble, go back to it after you’ve read the whole article.) (p. 233).

8. Where and how did she do the study (p. 234)?

9. As best as you can tell from the first full paragraph on p. 235, how is data analysis done in grounded theory research?

10.  For each of the four discourses she identifies:

– How do people frame events when they use this discourse?
– How do people frame relationships when they use this discourse?
– What examples of this discourse does she offer?
– What examples of this discourse have you encountered where you work?  At IPFW?

On Tuesday night, we’ll divide you up into four groups to compare notes and to come up with good examples for each of the four discourses.

11. The money paragraph for this article is the second paragraph on p. 240.  What’s her argument there? 

12.  Let’s look at each of her examples of discourses in conflict and why they cause problems.  For each: What’s her example?  Why is it problematic?  What examples of these discourses in conflict have you seen?

a) managerial v. professional (pp. 240-241)
b) managerial v. human connection (p. 241)
c) human connection v. professional (p. 241)
d) managerial v. political (pp. 241-242)
e) professional v. political (pp. 242-243)
f) human connection v. political (p. 243)
g) both parties using the same discourse (pp. 243-244)

13.  Why would professional discourse lead to more problems than managerial discourse (p. 245)?

14. So do you buy the multiple discourse theory?  Why or why not?

15.  In what ways is and isn’t the multiple discourse theory similar to the multiple goals theory?

16. What problems does she suggest with interviewing as a research method?  With doing the research at just one organization (pp. 245-246)?

17.  If you skipped question 7, please go back to it now.

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

For Putnam (2010):

1. So what is the difference between a heuristic approach to conflict and a prescriptive approach?  Why does she favor the heuristic (top p. 326)?

2. Why does she say "negotiation enacts a mixture of cooperation and competition?"  Do you agree with that analysis? (bot. p. 326)?

3. What is issue development?  What makes it so important (p. 327)?

4. Why does she argue against "dropping important items off the table or yielding too quickly to the other sides' requests?"  Do you agree with that analysis (bot. p. 327-top p. 328)?

5. What examples can you think of for "different labels to name a conflict?" (p. 329)

6. What examples we haven't talked about yet can you think of for shifting levels of abstraction to redefine a problem?" (pp. 329-330)

7. How might you have used story questions or systematic or circular questioning to help probe an issue we've already talked about in this class (or a new one if you prefer)?  (pp. 330-331)

8. How could the parties have used joint storytelling in a conflict we've already talked about (or a new one you'd like to share with us)? (p. 332)

9. How could the parties have used enacting joint rituals in a conflict we've already talked about (or a new one you'd like to share with us)? (p. 332)

10. Upon reading the conclusion to the article (p. 333), what differences and similarities do you see between Kusztal's discourses approach and Putnam's framing approach?

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

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