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COM 597, Summer 2015 – Reading Guide Questions for 
June 18

For Harrison and Morrill (2004):

1. p. 319: So what exactly is an ombudsperson?  Have you had an ombudsperson anywhere you’ve worked or gone to school or at any organizations of which you’ve been a member?

2. pp. 319-320:  And what exactly is reconciliation?  What is its relationship to forgiveness?  
What’s the link between reconciliation and the three goals?

3. pp. 320-321: What do the authors mean by social context?  Why is it significant for the study of conflict?  What’s the distinction between uniplex and multiplex ties?  Why is it significant for the study of conflict?  Merry’s distinction between ending and continuing relationships?  What’s its significance for the study of conflict?  Which of the three goals is emphasized most in these concepts?

4. pp. 322-323: In your own words, what is normative pragmatics?  How does their discussion of active listening v. interrogation illustrate the utility of normative pragmatics for studying conflict processes?

5. pp 324-326: What are their research questions?  How did they gather data?  From whom? About what specifically?

6. p. 327: Did the students tend to share the ombudsperson’s goal of reconciliation?  How do you account for that?.......

7. p. 328: ........And how do the authors account for that?  Does that make sense?  How does the student-professor relationship differ in the regard to other relationships?  Landlord – tenant? Employer-employee? Romantic partners? 

8. bot, p. 328-mid p. 329: The authors identify four elements of the ombuds process and then note contradiction between the university’s goal of fairness and justice and the ombudsperson’s goal of relationship reconciliation.  Which goal is better served by these four features?  Why?  Is that appropriate?  To what extent was the ombudsperson able to enact the goal of reconciliation?  What prevented it?

9. mid p. 329: What tended to happen when the disputants had face-to-face interaction?  How do the authors account for that?

10. bot. p. 329 - top p. 330: What was the result of the ombudsperson allowing the participants to dictate the subject matter?

11. bottom p. 330 - top  p.331: Explain Nader and Todd’s distinction among grievance, conflict, and disputes?  How does it compare to Felsteiner, Abel, and Sarat’s?  What does it mean here to say that these disputes “bypassed the conflict stage and progressed immediately to the dispute stage?”  Why is that significant?

12. Case 14 (pp: 331-332):  What are the student’s 3 goals in this case?  What features do the authors identify that made relational maintenance successful in this case?

13. Case 8 (pp. 332- 333): What are the student’s 3 goals in this case?  How is the ombudsperson approach different here than in case 14?  Why would it be successful?

14. Case 17 (p. 333): What are the student's 3 goals here?  What did the ombudsperson do?  Why would that be successful?

15. Case 43 (p. 334):  Student's 3 goals here?  Was justice & fairness achieved?  Was reconciliation achieved?  What factors lead to those results? 

16. p. 335: So what do the authors agree is the link between a dispute system’s design and its goals?  What examples do they use to back this up?  What would you choose as the goals of a dispute system at IPFW?  (Reconciliation?  Justice & fairness?  Both? Something else?) How would you design it? 

17. p. 336: How do the authors suggest fixing the system studied here to enhance reconciliation?  Do you agree?

18. p. 337: What questions do the authors suggest be asked about the disputes regarding relationships and about how to use the answers to those questions? Do you agree?

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

For Kolb (1992):

1. What does she have to say in the article’s intro about formal v. informal disputing in organizations? What is the significance of that distinction?  Is it consistent with what authors we’ve already read have said (pp. 63-65)?

2. Please put in your own words the three things she says distinguishes “informal peacemaking” from formal workplace conflict interventions ( bottom p. 65-top p. 66).

3. Please put in your own words her three suggestions as to why the study of conflict has focused  on the formal methods.  Do each of these make sense to you (pp. 66-68)?

4. How did she get to know the peacemakers she studied?  How did she gather her data (pp. 68-70)?

5. Read each of the three cases: Olivia Lane, Patricia Loomis, Betty Armstrong.  For each: 
a) What specific things did she do to foster unofficial peacemaking? 
b) What phenomena or concepts that we have already talked about in this course do you notice in their stories?

In class, we’ll put you in groups to compare notes and come up with good examples for each (pp. 70-77).

6. Kolb notes that informal peacemaking isn’t in the job description for any of the three women, then suggests three reasons people ask then to be involved.  Please put each in your own words (pp. 77-78).

7. Kolb also identifies three reasons these women find it beneficial to get involved in informal peacemaking.  Please put each in your own words (pp. 79-80).

8. Are women expected to play this role in the organizations you’ve been part of?  Are any men?  Are the people who play these roles where you worked asked to for the same reasons as in Question 6 above?  Do they do it for the same reasons as in Question 7 above?

9. What are the four major types of activities Kolb says the informal peacemakers engage in?  What examples does she offer for each?  Do the informal peacemakers where you work engage in these activities?  In others (pp 80-84)?

10. What are the rewards and problems Kolb’s informal peacemakers find in this role?  Would the informal peacemakers where you work agree?  Would they add anything to that list (pp. 84-86)?

11. What are the costs and benefits Kolb suggests for engaging conflict informally?  Do you agree (pp. 86-88)?

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

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