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Diagnosing the Cause of Organizational Conflict: An Experiential Exercise

Track: Experiential Learning Association (ELA)

Keywords: Conflict Resolution, Inter-dependency, Collaboration


Twenty-first century business demands increasingly result in organizations getting their work done via structures composed of a complex mix of employees, sub-contractors, consultants, vendors and service providers. Organizations that are self-contained units, reliant solely on their own employees and resources to execute core functions, are becoming increasingly rare. Certainly, within these complex, multi-organization, enterprises, all of the entities that contribute to the work product share interests in common. However, it is just as certain that the different elements of the enterprise have their own vested organizational interests. This mix of common and competing interests sets a context ripe for organizational conflict, which can be especially problematic if the nature of the work requires high levels of interdependency and collaboration. The operating room context found in most community hospitals provides an ideal place to explore this complex mix of common and competing interests. The nature of the life-altering/life-saving work done within hospital operating room demands seamless collaboration amongst all of the players, regardless of whether or not they belong to different organizations. This exercise, drawn from an actual conflict resolution case found within a hospital setting, allows students to practice diagnosing the root causes of conflict within a complex enterprise, and suggest recommendations as to how to mitigate such conflict.


Robert Albright -
University of New Haven

Dale Finn -
University of New Haven

Darell Singleterry -
University of New Haven


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