Some students initially find case analysis of conflict problems to be difficult and uncomfortable. This is due to the relative lack of structure of most dispute-oriented problems. No correctly answered list of prequestions or mechanical process will lead to the right resolution. In fact, there usually is no single, definitively right solution to most managerial problems. When analyzing a case, remember that there are often many possible solutions.The goal is not to find the solution,but to examine the case and practice analyzing and solving real-world conflict issues using the concepts and theories you learn about in this course.
Our goal is to focus on the problem, the parties involved, and to examine the case and to practice analyzing and solving real-world conflict resolution situations.
Please use the following format to guide your thinking and to frame your written case analysis (if required).This works if you are formally presenting a case analysis or merely using the analysis for your own discussion purposes.
Conflict Assessment: Part of your analysis is to define the conflict and identify the issues, emotions, and relationships involved. (Often there are multiple, interacting conflict resolution issues). Look to any case guide questions (if provided) for some conceptual direction, but do not seek merely to address these questions. (30 points)
¨ Define the major conflict issue.
¨ Identify the conflict resolution components.
¨ Remember: Often, the issues, emotions, and relationships are directly described in the case, whereas the source of the conflict is not.
¨ If necessary, indicate how organizational factors affect the conflict resolution process.
Situation Analysis: Another part of the analysis is to explain the mechanisms that are causing the conflict.(35 points)
Ø Incorporate specific and relevant conflict resolution concepts.
Ø Avoid providing general or commonsensical responses that do not incorporate course concepts, as well as just simply summarizing case facts or examples.
Ø Don’t make assumptions that cannot be supported by the facts in the case.
Ø Be wary of imposing personal opinions on the case that cannot be supported by case facts or relevant conflict resolution concepts; try not to place blame.
Ø Avoid providing viewpoints that are sketchy or overlook important course concepts, case facts, and events.
Recommendation: All recommendations must be developed that are appropriate measures that will ensure that the conflict is resolved in order to develop a structured plan of action. Who is to do whatand when?(35 points)
¨ Your solutions should follow logically from your analysis.
¨ Focus on the problems not the parties.
¨ What are the expected outcomes (both positive and negative) of the solution?
¨ What aspects of the conflict remain unresolved by your solutions?
¨ Make sure recommended actions incorporate conflict resolution concepts and theories. Although these recommendations are speculative, you still need to be sure to incorporate relevant conflict resolution concepts and provide specific, concrete examples to help demonstrate or support your points.
Evidence of Data Usage: Finally, there must be evidence of strong use of data to support your arguments and substantiate your recommendations. (10 points)
Some other helpful hints for Case Study preparation
- 1. The case analysis needs to be clear, crisp, and concise. Facts from the case are stated only to make a point, not to retell the story. Do not rehash the minutia, or details, in the case. The case analysis needs to be organized; spelling, grammar, and word usage must be correct.
- 2. Make sure your paper (if required) has a logical flow. Make clear links between the identified conflict resolution, the analysis of the conflict resolution, and the solutions proposed.
- 3. Provide analysis, not description. Demonstrate your ability to use and apply theories and concepts from the course material; integrate course material where it is useful. Mine the text for nuggets of conflict theories that help explain the issues. For example, it’s not enough to say that conflict applies here; you must show how it applies. You can’t simply say negotiation is the best conflict solution that applies; you have to show how Mrs.X used an assertive style when a collaborative style would have been appropriate because…….
- 4. Be thorough. It is better to give a thorough, explicit analysis focused on one or two primary conflict resolutions than it is to barely touch upon six conflict resolution strategies.
- 5. Sometimes students come up with amazing recommendations (for better and worse) that have no relationship to their analysis. I want to see that it’s the analysis that frames decisions made about the case. A poor analysis that results in good decisions means that somewhere or other, you have intuitively understood the case, but you need to backtrack and figure out what you understood. A great analysis that results in decisions that come from left field signals that you are not applying what you learned in your assessment or analysis of the situation.
Some helpful hints for participating in Case Study discussions, whether in the online threads, or elsewhere
- 1. Keep in mind that there is usually more than one effective approach to resolving the conflict. A case is a conflict resolution-solving situation, and conflict management effectiveness often depends on seeing different possible solutions.
- 2. Offer your ideas, substantiating them with facts from the case and course material. Don’t fall into the trap of being told, “That’s an interesting idea, but you have no data or case facts to support your conclusions.”
- 3. Be assertive, yet professional and respectful in questioning or disagreeing with a classmate. Case discussions are an important opportunity to refine interpersonal skills. “I see some drawbacks to your proposal,” or “I’m wondering if you considered the effects of X on Y” creates a much different climate than “You’re wrong” or “That’s not a good idea.” Adopt an open-minded stance. Entertain new ideas from others, and consider how your recommendations might change in light of these new insights.
- 4. Write down new ideas that occur to you and make note of any theories or course concepts brought to bear that you did not apply in your initial analysis.
- 5. Evaluate the discussion and your participation in it. What could you do to improve in the next Case Study discussion?
- 6. Enjoy yourself! Case studies can be an exciting way to learn, and working in a structured way, one finds each new Case Study easier than the last.