Integrative Conflict Resolution: Tools for Loving Praxis in Organizational Leadership

Integrative Conflict Resolution: Tools for Loving Praxis in Organizational Leadership

Amanda Smith Byron (Portland State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8376-1.ch004
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This chapter explores the use of integrative conflict resolution as a foundational means for loving praxis to emerge in effective cross-cultural organizational leadership. The work of Mary Parker Follett is introduced, and is recognized as formative to the disciplines of conflict resolution and organizational development. Follett's work is compared and contrasted with other strategies for conflict management, with attention to the advantages of an integrative approach. Integrative conflict resolution is situated within a loving praxis, which occurs when the theory of loving is brought into practice to strengthen organizational leadership, specifically within the increasingly diverse landscape of globalization. Curiosity, creativity, and compassion are understood within the context of integrative conflict resolution, and are recommended as key tools for achieving a loving praxis within organizational culture.
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Identity and Cultural Conflict

Although cultural identities are deeply imbedded within each of us, they can be difficult to articulate until we are in some way confronted, or presented with a conflict that causes us to reflect on our own values and beliefs (Avruch, 1998; Lederach, 1995). Even if we have not previously reflected on how our cultural identity influences us, conflict can provide a powerful catalyst to recognize the distinctiveness of our values and beliefs, and to find their origins in our cultural identity. This phenomenon is especially true in countries where populations are diverse, such as in the United States, and is due in part to the ways in which power and privilege operate (Johnson, 2006).

Members of cultural groups that are dominant within society are less likely to face the kinds of challenges that require them to examine their identities, their relative power, or the privileges that result from their identity group; whereas, members of non-dominant or subordinate groups regularly experience challenges that require them to examine the lack of power and privilege that result from their particular identities (Johnson, 2006; Feagin, 2014). In the United States this can be most clearly illustrated in terms of race. People of color are structurally marginalized in the United States, and experience regular opportunities to acknowledge, understand, and reflect on their marginalization (Bonilla-Silva, 2006; Feagin, 2014). Michelle Fine explains, “…the cultural gaze of surveillance – whether it be a gaze of pity, blame, or liberal hope – falls on persons of color” (1997, p. 64), providing ample opportunities to reflect on what it means to be a person of color, and to be outside of the dominant racial group.

In contrast, white people have structural advantages in the United States that can make them unaware of their whiteness (Johnson, 2006; Bonilla-Silva, 2006; Feagin, 2014). The norms and behaviors associated with dominant white culture are viewed as normal by dominant culture, often regarded as plain, natural, average, and right, and wholly exempt from ‘cultural’ influences. The behaviors associated with non-white groups, by comparison, can be regarded as exotic, novel, inappropriate, deviant, or simply wrong (Feagan, 2014). While this is most true about race in the United States, this pattern can be seen in the intersectionality of non-dominant social identities throughout the world, including (but not limited to) religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disability, and/or class.

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