This article presents an introduction to understanding and addressing conflict in academic departments. Current philosophies toward conflict in organizations include a principled approach encouraging the positive benefits that conflict may bring to institutions. To utilize this approach it is important to understand the nature of conflict, identify effective response options, and develop skills in principled conflict resolution. This paper identifies the structures within organizations which inherently cause conflict. In addition, various strategies for dealing with conflict are outlined based on the Thomas/Killman response modes. Finally, Fisher and Ury's foundation for principled conflict resolution is applied to departments in higher education.
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Walter H. Gmelch received an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in the Educational Executive Program from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is currently professor and chair of the Educational Administration Department at Washington State University and directs the University Council for Educational Administration Center for the Study of Department Chair. His area of interest is in leadership development, managerial stress and academic department chairs. James B. Carroll received his Ph.D. in educational administration from Washington State University. He is currently the associate director of the Center for the Study of the Department Chair, Washington State University. His area of interest is in investigating role orientations and careers of department chairs.
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Gmelch, W.H., Carroll, J.B. The three Rs of conflict management for department chairs and faculty. Innov High Educ 16, 107–123 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00889655
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