Some Normative Issues in Conflict Management

by A. Filley



The article addresses several issues related to conflict resolution and conflict management. It will consider the causes and consequences of conflict resolution methods by discussing three major premises. In discussing these premises, it will suggest why power-oriented methods such as bargaining and domination are popular for the resolution of conflicts and why methods of joint problem solving may be underutilized. The first premise may help one to understand the relative frequency with which power-oriented rather than problem-solving methods are used for conflict resolution. The premise states that knowledge is unlimited, but perceptions are very limited. The second major premise underlying the use of conflict resolution methods is that practiced behaviors are self-reinforcing. Behavior is a function of its consequences, and behaving in a familiar way is generally more comfortable than behaving in an unfamiliar way. The third major premise in this discussion is that in the same conflictive situation, the parties may choose to engage in conflict behavior or in problem-solving behavior.

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