The three Rs of conflict management for department chairs and faculty

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Alinsky, S.D. (1971).Rules for radicals: A practical primer for realistic radicals. New York: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bare, A. (1986). Managerial behavior of college chairpersons and administrators.Research in Higher Education, 24(2), pp. 128–138.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bennis, W.G., Benne, K.D., & Chen, R. (1969).The planning of change (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Booth, D.B. (1982).The department chair: Professional development and role conflict. Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Corwin, R.G. (1969). Patterns of organizational conflict.Administrative Science Quarterly, December, pp. 507–520.

  6. Etzioni, A. (1964).A comparative analysis of complex organizations: On power, involvement, and then correlates. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Fisher, R., & Ury, W. (1983).Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in. Ontario, Canada: Penguin Books.

    Google Scholar 

  8. French, J.R.P. Jr., & Raven, B. (1986). The bases of social power. In D. Cartwright, & A. Zander (Eds.),Group dynamics: Research and theory. New York: Harper and Row.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Gmelch, W.H., & Burns, J.S. (1991).Sources of stress for academic department chairs: A national perspective. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Illinois. April 3–7, 1991.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Gmelch, W.H., & Carroll, J.B. (1991).The three rs of conflict management for department chairs and faculty. Paper presented at the Third National Conference on Personal and Professional Renewal for Faculty, Atlanta, Georgia. April 18–20, 1991.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Hall, J., & Williams, M.S. (1966). A comparison of decision-making performances in established and ad hoc groups.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February, pp. 214–222.

  12. Kahn, R.L., Wolfe, D.M., Quinn, R.P., Snoek, J.D., & Rosenthal, R.A. (1964).Organizational stress: Studies in role conflict and ambiguity. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Katz, D., & Kahn, R.L. (1978).Social psychology of organizations (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Keller, G. (1983).Academic strategy: The management revolution in higher education, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Lee, D.E. (1985). Department chairpersons' perceptions of the role in three institutions.Perception and Motor Skills, 61, pp. 23–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Milstein, M. (1987).Dilemmas in the chairpersons'role and what can be done about them. Pullman, Washington: Center for the Study of the Department Chair, Washington State University.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Robbins, S.P. (1974).Managing organizational conflict. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Savage, G.T., Blair, J.D., & Sorenson, R.L. (1989). Consider both relationship and substance when negotiating strategically.The Academic Management Executive, 3(1), pp. 37–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Simmel, G. (1955).Conflict. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Thomas, K.W. (1976). Conflict and conflict management. In M.D. Dunnette (Ed.),Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology. Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Company.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Thomas, K.W., & Kilmann, R.L. (1974).Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument. Xicom Incorporated.

  22. Walton, R.E., & Dutton, J.M. (1969). The management of interpersonal conflict: A model and review.Administrative Science Quarterly, (March), pp. 73–84.

  23. Williams, M.J. Jr. (1985). The management of conflict. In R.J. Fecher (Ed.),Applying corporate management strategies. New dimensions for higher education, no. 50. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Yukl, G.A. (1981).Leadership in organizations. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Additional information

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.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

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

Download citation

Keywords

  • Instructional Development
  • Professional Renewal
  • Conference Program
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Academic Administrator