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1)         Question 1: What are the differences among the traditional, interactionist, and managed-conflict views of conflict? Please provide examples to support your answers.

Every organization or project team is prone to have conflicts among the members. Just like the change, conflict is inevitable in any organization. Since an organization is composed of people having diverse qualifications and backgrounds, it is practically impossible to meet the goals, without having conflicts among the team members (Almost, 2006). It is up to the project managers to identify the conflicts. The project managers need to analyze and evaluate what the positive or negative impacts these conflicts will have on the performance. For this reason the project managers need to know about the different views of conflicts that exist. Based on this knowledge they can deal with the conflicts in a much better way.

There are three different views of conflicts in organizations. These views have evolved over years. Researchers have been working on these views for decades. The following are the three views of conflicts in organizations:

  1. Traditional View
  2. Human Relations View (Managed View)
  3. Interactionist View

Traditional View of Conflicts

The traditional view of conflicts has been around since late nineteenth century. According to this view, the conflicts are always bad for an organization (Bacal, 2004). It always leads to failure and always has a negative impact on the performance of an organization. According to this view, a conflict is synonymous to violence, destruction and irrationality.

According to the traditional view, a conflict must always be avoided at all costs. The manager should try to reduce, suppress or eliminate it. The manager is allowed to take authoritative approach to rid the organization of conflicts. The problem with this view is that the root cause of the conflict is left undetermined (Martínez-Corts, et al., 2011).

A good example of such a case is when workers strike for certain grievances. It is in the knowledge of a manager that the strike will affect the organization negatively. Because of the authority bestowed on the manager, he or she fires the leaders of the strike instead of addressing the grievances of the workers. For this reason, employees are forced to go back to work, but the root cause of the strike is left unattended and thus poses a threat of another strike.

Human Relations View (Managed View)

While the traditional view relates the conflicts with destruction and a negative impact and tries to ensure the removal of conflict, the human relations view acknowledges the existence of conflict in an organization. According to this view, in an organization, conflict is inevitable and natural. A conflict has the potential to have a positive impact on the performance of an organization (Bacal, 2004). A conflict cannot be totally eradicated and there are times when this conflict may even benefit an organization.

The managers should accept the conflict and should try to manage it effectively instead of suppressing or totally eliminating it. They should not allow the conflict to increase more than a certain level and they should also not leave the conflict unresolved. This may lead toward the decrease in performance.

Taking the striking employees of an organization as an example, the manager calls upon the leaders of the strike and enquire about their grievances. After establishing the cause, they try to negotiate with the employees’ strike leaders on the way forward. Finally, the grievances are attended to by the organization the best way they can and if the grievances are long-term, for example an increase in salaries, the employees are promised for change.

Interactionist View

The third view which is also the latest view on conflict is called the interactionist view. According to this view, a conflict is mandatory for an organization’s better performance. A conflict helps an organization to cope with changes in a better way. This view encourages the conflicts based on the rationale that if there is no conflict in an organization, it may become stagnant, lethargic and non-responsive to needs for change and improvement (Bacal, 2004).

This view encourages the project managers to keep a controlled amount of conflict going. Using striking employees as an example, the manager attends to some grievances and leaves some unattended. For this reason, another strike becomes eminent and the managers take this as an opportunity to know the development of the project and how well to improve it through the striking employees’ grievances.

References

Almost, J. (2006). Conflict within nursing work environments: concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 53(4), 444-453.

Bacal, R. (2004). Organizational Conflict-The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Journal for Quality and Participation, 27, 21-22.

Martínez-Corts, I., Boz, M., Medina, F. J., Benítez, M., & Munduate, L. (2011). Coping with Interpersonal Conflict at Work in Small Business: The Moderating Role of Supervisor and Co-Worker Support Afrontamiento del Conflicto Interpersonal en el Trabajo en Pequeñas Empresas: El Papel Moderador del Apoyo del Supervisor y del Compañero. Revista de Psicología del Trabajo y de las Organizaciones, 27(2), 117-129.

Robbins, S. P. and De Cenzo, David A. (1995). Fundamental of Management (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1995)

Chang, H. C. (2007). The Impact of Conflicts and Expectations on M & A

Question 2: Why is it important for managers to be good negotiators? Why is mastering the art of persuasion important to effective negotiation? Provide examples.

One of the most important skills that managers need to have these days is the ability to influence and persuade others at work. The responsibilities of a manager are no more limited to just managing his team. The manager is expected to play far bigger roles in the development and growth of an organization these days (Conger, 1998). A manager should know and apply the concepts of influencing and persuasion, in order to get more work done and with much more effectiveness.

Managers are expected to optimize the resource they have. What this means is that a manager should be able to get more done with fewer resources. He should be able to deliver more using fewer people, less time and within reduced budget. On the other hand, the team working under the manager demands for more resources in order to get the work done. A managers needs to find a middle route. To achieve this, a manager should be equipped with new and innovative ways of inspiring and motivating his team. This makes it absolutely mandatory for the managers to utilize the negotiation skills in order to guide the employees towards the solution of the problem (Perloff, 2010).

A manager should think of the firm he is working in, as an open market, where people including the manager himself come to buy and sell the ideas. He should know how to sell what he thinks is the best. He should also know how to negotiate with other teams in order to get to a mutually agreeable decision (Munter, 1992). Without being able to negotiate properly, the other party/parties will resist to compromise.

A manager should not resort to an up-front, hard sell approach. They often strongly state their position at the outset, and then they attempt to make their case using persistence, logic, and a lively presentation. They may think that adopting this approach will lead to a quicker and faster conclusion, but normally this isn’t the case. The other party gets a clear target to shoot at.

Persuasion is a process of learning and negotiating. This process involves discovery, preparation and dialogue. Before trying to persuade anyone, one needs to properly plan (Conger, 1998). And this planning may take weeks or months. Dialogue is an essential part of persuasion. Dialogue happens throughout this process. A manager should understand that to be an effective persuader, one should be open-minded. Being dogmatic will not help. When the other party/parties see that you are willing to compromise and to hear to what they have to say, they will also respond positively.

Examples of situations that requires negotiations by the manager is during procurement, negotiations on salaries, negotiations on performances, negotiations on expected results, negotiations on expected time frames and negotiations on the use of resources. It is, therefore, essential that the manager possesses good negotiation skills and must master the act of persuasion to win all the above mentioned situations for successful completion of projects.

 

References

Conger, J. A. (1998). The necessary art of persuasion. Harvard Business Review, 76, 84-97.

Perloff, R. M. (2010). The dynamics of persuasion: communication and attitudes in the twenty-first century. Routledge.

Munter, M. (1992). Guide to managerial communication. Pearson Education India.

Borchers, T. (2012). Persuasion in the media age. Waveland Press.

Mortensen, K. W. (2004). Maximum influence: The 12 universal laws of power persuasion. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.

Question 3: What are the unique challenges to oral, written, and nonverbal communication for expatriate managers (e.g. American managers working in a China). Please provide examples.

The economic globalization has resulted in the explosive growth of the number of multinational corporations. The number of human resources moving across the globe has also increased tremendously. So, a lot of multinational companies hire the people who manage their overseas businesses. These expatriate managers who manage the business in a country which is not their own can prove to be a great asset for an organization. But unfortunately, the expatriate managers are not always successful. According to a study, the failure rate of the expatriate assignments ranges from 16% to 40% (Dowling, Festing & Engle, 2008).

The main reason for these failures is the difference in the culture of the two countries. If the expatriate manager doesn’t have cultural knowledge and the language of that country, he is definitely going to have to face the problems in performing effectively. He will face many different types of problems. Communication is one of them. He will have issue with oral, written and nonverbal communications.

Communication can be defined as: “the simultaneous encoding, decoding and interpretation of verbal and nonverbal messages between people” (Löppönen, 2012).

The oral and written communication challenges sprout mainly from the language barrier. If an American manager is working in China, he will have problem communicating with them. But this issue can be resolved easily by the help of translators or some software. This notwithstanding, there is much to learn for an American manager in China. For example, there are differences of the English language and Chinese on many grounds which are hard to adapt namely phonologies and intonations. Americans speak politely to their employees but Chinese speak authoritatively.

The non-verbal communication challenges, on the other hand, come from the difference in the two cultures. A certain gesture could mean one thing to the manager and a completely different thing to the employee. For example, Americans acknowledge to look an individual directly in their eyes when addressing them but in China, the gesture of looking somebody directly into their eyes when addressing them is rude. This may lead to conflicts and eventually to the failure (Sparrow, Brewster & Harris, 2004).

To overcome any communication challenges, an expatriate manager needs to be trained about the culture and language of the country he is going to (Deshpande & Viswesvaran, 1992). He should know this before the departure. This will enormously increase the chances of his success.

Followings are the insights two expatriate managers shared:

‘People usually speak very loud … Rather than “imposing” my view and my method; I tend to adopt a “smoother” management style’ (French manager in China).

‘When I arrived, I was very easily pissed, shouting on people, having an aggressive attitude, … 6 months later, I was quite depressed as it seems nobody would listen to me… then I understood that shouting or expressing in “front line” the negative things was not the way to manage properly my projects. I had to become more diplomatic, find some compromises, you have to be like the bamboo under snow: you bend a little to adapt yourself, otherwise you will just break. Basically it’s either “you love (adapt) China or you leave China” (French manager working in China).

References

Löppönen, H. (2012). Communication challenges in an expatriate program: case Company: IKEA LTD.

Dowling, P., Festing, M., & Engle Sr, A. D. (2008). International human resource management: Managing people in a multinational context. Cengage Learning.

Sparrow, P., Brewster, C., & Harris, H. (2004). Globalizing human resource management. Routledge.

Fiedler, F. E., Mitchell, T., & Triandis, H. C. (1971). The culture assimilator: An approach to cross-cultural training. Journal of applied psychology, 55(2), 95.

Deshpande, S. P., & Viswesvaran, C. (1992). Is cross-cultural training of expatriate managers effective: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 16(3), 295-310.

Question 4: What is acculturation? Do you think that this is one of the keys to success for expatriate managers? Please provide a rationale for your response.

There are a lot of multinational companies who have expatriate managers who are managing the organizations from the countries that are not their own. There are many challenges for such expatriate managers. The main challenge is that of communication. Since there can be a huge distance between the two cultures, not knowing the culture of the other country can lead to certain problems. This is the reason why there are so many failures in the expatriate assignments (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1985).

To avoid these problems and failures, the expatriate managers should go through the process of acculturation. Acculturation is the process of cultural and psychological changes that occur in an individual as a result of meeting and interactions between the two cultures (Black, 1988). This is a process in which the groups or individuals adopt the beliefs or cultural behaviors of other groups or individuals.

Acculturation can help the expatriate managers in achieving their goals and deliver the work more effectively. It can help get rid of the cultural and nonverbal communication barriers. Without the acculturation, the manager may not be able to understand certain cultural behaviors of his subordinates or superiors. This may lead to conflicts.

There are studies that show that working in an unfamiliar culture may lead to stress (Shay & Tracey, 1997). An expatriate manager should be able to cope with the stress. In a study, it was shown that the expatriates in Afghanistan, who were well adjusted had less stress, depression and loneliness related problems as compared to those who were poorly adjusted.

Another report shows that the well-adjusted expatriates have a stability zone. They retreat to this zone when there is stress caused by the host culture. This zone includes writing in diaries, meditation and religious worship. These breaks lead the expatriate gradually towards the acculturation.

Acculturation definitely helps the expatriate managers perform better and deal with the stress in a better way (Zakaria, 2000). This leads to the success and growth of the organization. A good example of acculturation of an expatriate American manager in China is establishing a trustworthy relationship with a Chinese employee or better still a friend who will gradually introduce him or her to the new culture. The manager should, therefore, be inquisitive about an unusual act by a Chinese native from the acquaintance. This way, he or she will have an easy time assimilating to the Chinese culture.

References

Mendenhall, M., & Oddou, G. (1985). The dimensions of expatriate acculturation: A review. Academy of Management Review, 10(1), 39-47.

Black, J. S. (1988). Work role transitions: A study of American expatriate managers in Japan. Journal of International Business Studies, 277-294.

Deshpande, S. P., & Viswesvaran, C. (1992). Is cross-cultural training of expatriate managers effective: A meta analysis. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 16(3), 295-310.

Shay, J. P., & Tracey, J. B. (1997). Expatriate managers: reasons for failure and implications for training. The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 38(1), 4-35.

Zakaria, N. (2000). The effects of cross-cultural training on the acculturation process of the global workforce. International Journal of Manpower, 21(6), 492-510.

 

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