Power Training: An Alternative Path to Conflict Management

by Mark Chesler, James Crowfoot, Bunyan Bryant



The article explores different meanings of "conflict" and "conflict management" and suggests some programs to train people to gain and use organizational power. A key to effective management is power; its location, basis, and use reflect organizational priorities and often define the outcomes of social conflicts. Thus, training in the use of various forms of social power seems central to management, per se, and certainly to the management of conflict. Conflict is a natural condition existing in any multiparty, heterogeneous system. It is an inherent social condition derived from the fact that persons, parties, social groups, and collectivities differ from one another on a variety of values, goals, and material resources; in addition, they are interdependent and must interact with regard to these differences. In the organizational sphere, assimilation is evident in the ways agency or corporate hierarchies tend to be dominated by the values, norms and work styles of white, male, and affluent people, and the implicit or explicit demand that others adopt and support this dominant organizational culture. Segregation within organizations is also common as reflected in the frequent exclusion of nonwhites and women or their relegation to certain organizational roles and statuses.

California Management Review

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