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Organizational Conflict Management as Disputing Process: The Problem of Social Escalation
Human Communication Research
  • Calvin Morrill, Berkeley Law
  • Cheryl King Thomas
Publication Date

In this article, organizational conflict management is conceived as a "disputing process" involving the social escalation from grievance stage to conflict and dispute stages. The Disputing Process Instrument (DPI) was designed us a way to study these phenomena quantitatively. Seven behuviors are represented in the instrument: conciliatory negutiution, third-party mobilization, overt retaliation, covert retaliation, toleration, avoidance, and discipline. The DPI demonstrated high reliability, content, discriminant, and construct validity relative to wrlier conflict instruments. An empirical study of sociul esculution was conducted among peers with different strengths of informal relations in an electronicsfinn. Thestudy results rewaled that interpersonal problems among weakly tied peers are likely to be contained at thegrievance stage using covert behuviors or to be socially escaluted to disputes involving third parties. More strongly tied peers are likely to emlute their problemsfrom grievances to dyadic confrontations only. These results have implications for understanding disparate results from earlier studies of peer conflict in organizations and for arguments regarding the introduction of external third-party conflict consulting in organizations.

Citation Information
Organizational Conflict Management as Disputing Process: The Problem of Social Escalation, 18 Hum. Comm. Res. 400 (1992)