Handbook of Conflict Management

By William J. Pammer Jr.; Jerri Killian | Go to book overview

2

The Qualities of Peacemakers

What Can We Learn from Nobel Peace Prize Winners About Managing Conflict Within Organizations?

Di Bretherton and Jackie Bornstein
International Conflict Resolution Center, University of Melbourne,
Victoria, Australia


I.

A STUDY OF PEACEMAKERS

There's a tension at the heart of human nature. And whenever we set out to dream our dreams and to build our temples, we must be honest enough to recognize it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 2001 we conducted a study on the qualities of peacemakers (1). The study involved the analysis of autobiographical material of eight Nobel Peace Prize Winners to discover common characteristics that aid the process of resolving conflict and striving for the attainment of peace. Although the qualities that emerged from our analysis were exhibited by Nobel Peace Prize Winners, largely within the context of national and international political conflict, it seems that some of our results may be relevant to leadership practices and the management of conflict within organizations.

The aim of our study was to discover and describe the qualities of peacemakers relative to broadening research on conflict resolution. Psychological research has generated much work on problem-orientated behavior, such as aggression. There has been less work on what makes individuals prosocial and altruistic. We conducted our study in an attempt to extend this area of knowledge by identifying the qualities characteristic of those who excel in peace action.

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