Informal conflict intervention: Advice and dissent

  • Blair H. Sheppard
  • Kathryn Blumenfeld-Jones
  • John W. Minton
  • Elaine Hyder


A disparity appears to exist between how managers are advised to handle conflict and the intervention methods that they utilize in actual practice. Normative advice tends to agree that managers should adopt a facilitative, mediatorlike role (e.g., Walton, 1987; Tjosvold, 1990), while the empirical research suggests that managers are much more controlling, often deciding how to resolve the problem on their own (e.g., Kolb, 1986; Sheppard, 1983). The present study focuses on two potential reasons as to why managers utilize the methods they do: (1) They treat choices instrumentally to achieve key goals and (2) they interpret or frame conflicts in a form that suggests directive action. One hundred and eighty managers were interviewed about a recent effort to intervene in a dispute at work. The results confirm that managers are very controlling when intervening in disputes and relates this to both interpretive frame and, to a lesser extent, managerial goals. A canonical analysis appears to emphasize the pivotal role that frame plays in influencing whether or not managers choose the solution. Implications of these results for managerial action are discussed.

Key words

informal conflict resolution managerial third party dispute resolution conflict and intervention methods third party dispute resolution conflict intervention choices 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blair H. Sheppard
    • 1
  • Kathryn Blumenfeld-Jones
    • 1
  • John W. Minton
    • 2
  • Elaine Hyder
    • 3
  1. 1.Fuqua School of BusinessDuke UniversityDurham
  2. 2.Appalachian State UniversityBoone
  3. 3.Carnegie-Mellon UniversityPittsburgh

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