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Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Department of Communication
COM 59700 – Organizational Conflict Communication – Summer I 2015 –  Instructor: Irwin Mallin

Response Papers: Critique of Theory/Concept
Response Paper 1 Due at Beginning of Class on Tuesday, June 9
Response Paper 2 Due at Beginning of Class on Thursday, June 25

In this course we are looking at various approaches to studying and understanding conflict communication in organizations.  Since you've all been part of organizations of one form or another – and experienced the conflict that goes along with organizational life – for some time now, you should be drawing upon your experience to develop opinions about the concepts we discuss. Some may strike you as particularly useful in developing your understanding (as when our class discussion or your reading of a theory leads you to think, "Ooh, that explains it!").  Others may strike you as not so useful (as when you think, "Gosh, that's stupid!"), while still others may strike you as incomplete (as when you think, "Yeah, but what about the times when....?")  This paper is your chance to explore those reactions in depth. For Response Paper 1, choose any concept or theory from our course readings for the period May 18 through June 1. For Response Paper 2, choose any concept or theory from our course readings for the period June 9 through 22..

You will draw upon your personal workplace experiences to demonstrate the strengths and/or shortcomings of the theory as well as how the theory may be used to guide organizational practice.  Your goal is to make an argument, illustrate it with examples from workplace events/practices you have participated in or observed, and explain how those illustrations support your argument. That is, you are progressing from your initial reaction to the theory to a developed argument.  That is, you are moving from saying   "Gosh, that's stupid" to "This theory is deficient because....," from  “Ooh, that explains it” to “This theory is useful because....,” or from “But what about the times when...” to “This theory’s utility is limited by....”

Generalizations will not lead to good papers. Support any assertion you make with a specific example from your interaction. When I read the paper I should be able to “see” the interaction to which you're referring. Try to remember exactly what people said and did as best you can.

The best papers will have reasonably detailed analysis, display creativity, insight, and  be logically organized.  They will also demonstrate your understanding of and ability to apply the theory you choose. Of course, they’ll also be grammatically correct and free of spelling and punctuation errors.

The essay should be between three and five pages in length.  It should be typed (double spaced, margins of 1" all around, font no larger than 12).  It should also be stapled.  Of course, keep a copy of your paper.

You shouldn’t do any research beyond the readings for this course to do this assignment, but your paper should conform to APA style (either 5th ed, 2001 or 6th ed, 2009).

Organize the paper into the following sections, using the following section headings:

I. Introduction: This section will include a brief attention getter, a thesis statement in which you  "make the call" on the usefulness of the theory or concept you are examining, and a preview of the paper's structure

II. The Conflict: Explain what the conflict was about.  Although this is the section of the paper that will appear first, it’s actually the section that you should write last, as explained below

III. The Concept: Briefly set forth and explain in your own words the theory (or model or whatever) that you’re using to analyze your conflict.

IV. Analysis of Conflict: This should be the longest section of the paper.  Apply the concept you’ve chosen to your conflict.

V. Conclusions about Conflict: Explain how the concept you chose is and isn’t useful for understanding how to deal with conflicts like the one you’ve analyzed here.  This should be the next-to-longest section of the paper.

VI. Conclusion: Briefly summarize and gracefully conclude the paper.

How to proceed:

I suggest writing Sections III, IV, and V first and then going back and writing Sections I and II, even though Section I will appear first in the final draft of your paper.  That way, you need only include those facts that are necessary to your reader’s understanding of the subsequent sections

Hints for success for these papers:
•Make sure you do everything called for in these directions.
•Don’t wait to do this! Take your time, and use the services of  the Writing Center in Helmke Library if you need to.
•You are invited to show me a draft in person or discuss potential paper topics either in person or via e-mail.

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Last Updated: 4 May 2015