Conflict Management Is More Than Dispute Resolution

Article excerpt

Conflict Management Is More Than Dispute Resolution Managing Conflict at Work By Clive Johnson and Jackie Keddy. London: Kogan Page Ltd. (www.koganpage.com), 2010. Hardcover. $39.95. 260 pages.

Think of conflict management as a living organism, such as the human body. Authors Clive Johnson and Jackie Keddy say that conflict management, like the human body, is composed of a "web of veins and arteries" that spread out but are ultimately connected.

"This approach is relevant both for diagnosing and in - forming how to manage the resolution of a single dispute, as well as for monitoring and de - veloping a cross-organization strategy for CM [conflict management]," write Johnson, a coach and consultant, and Keddy, a mediator and grievance investigator. They are co-founders of the Inter na tional Conflict Management Forum and the Janus Partnership, a consulting and training organization.

For example, under the category of conflict management "resourcing," the authors list a host of subcat - egories-the equivalent of arteries and veins in a human body-such as whether to outsource or undertake in-house dispute resolution; whether and when to mediate, arbitrate, or coach; and what venue to use for convening a dialogue.

This book focuses on workplace conflict and emphasizes the importance of taking it as seriously as other aspects of a business. During these economically challenging times, em ployers need to be doubly mindful about the cost of unresolved conflict.

The authors make a distinction between conflict management and dispute resolution. The latter focuses on resolving existing disputes, while the former is much more. CM in - volves the conditions that will minimize conflict to begin with and the ability to recognize and quickly defuse potential triggers of disputes. "The task of managing conflict is therefore closely integrated with managing people in a more general sense," the authors say. …