Tuesday, April 2, 2013

James Douglas Smith's dissertation on, "A Synthesis of the Prevailing Conflict Management Paradigms: Toward a Unity of Conflict"

James Douglas Smith, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This synthesis of 5 prominent conflict management paradigms uses power differential as the single most contributing variable to their process and outcome of conflict. Efforts of scholars to integrate or synthesize conflict paradigms have been unsuccessful or clumsy by the scholars’ own assessments. The 5 selected paradigms represent an interdisciplinary set of normative and descriptive paradigms from different social contexts and intellectual frameworks. The 5 share the common traits of rival goals, three levels of socially constructed power differential, and outcomes relative to the total value of the rival goal. An inverse relationship between power differential and the total value of conflict outcomes is supported by all 5 paradigms and empirical data. Explanatory metatheory is the methodology used for synthesis.

An increase in power differential results in a decrease in total value of the rival goal. Power differential is constructed using Max Weber’s ideal-type method. The power differentials are abstracted from the paradigms themselves. Empirical work form secondary sources and case studies complete the analysis.

Keywords: social conflict, communicative action, organizational conflict, game theory, leadership grid, dual concerns, strategic choice, managerial grid, interest-based bargaining, integration, power differential, Rummel, Northern Ireland, interdisciplinary, typology of conflict, authoritarian, synthesis, ideal type, social change, absolute value, transformation, change management.

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