Handbook of Conflict Management

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

4

Experiential Learning

Culture and Conflict

Mary Wenning
Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A.

As individuals and as groups, human beings are not well equipped to deal with important differences among themselves or others, and they often engage in behaviors that make the situation worse (1, p.167).


I.

INTRODUCTION

The composition of the civilian workforce is changing for the better. Peoples of color and women represent a growing proportion of employees and, to a lesser extent, managers in public and private organizations. Projections based on statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor indicate that diversification of the workforce will continue as the composition of the nation's population continues to change (2,3). The potential for interpersonal conflict in the workplace grows as the composition of the workforce changes precisely because employees lack experience with, and an understanding of, multicultural differences. The premise of this chapter is that efforts to foster multicultural awareness, tolerance, and understanding in attempts to reduce interpersonal conflict should begin before individuals enter the workforce. The responsibility for these efforts should not fall solely on managers and human resource departments in the workplace.

There are initiatives at the primary and secondary education levels to promote a greater understanding of, and tolerance for, student diversity (4,5). Broadbased conflict resolution endeavors are also being integrated into primary and secondary education. However, it appears that higher education may be lagging

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