Handbook of Conflict Management

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

6

Assessing Group Conflict

Understanding the Line-Staff Relationship in Fire Service

Kevin Baum
Southwest Texas State University and Austin Fire Department, Austin,
Texas, U.S.A.


I.

INTRODUCTION

Discussions on conflict within the fire service literature have centered mostly on labor and management relations (Grant and Hoover, 1994; Coleman and Gravito, 1988). The literature, however, has not explored the effect of functional specialization w ithin departments that create a “chasm” between line and staff. It has been my experience that as officers and fire department personnel move from line assignments to staff assignments, and back again, they have at endency to adopt different attitudes, perceptions, and feelings toward the organization and its decisions. Furthermore, philosophical differences between line and staff are exacerbated as the mission of fire departments change from emergency response to emergency prevention.

This dichotomy in function and perception has a tendency to create an attitude of animosity and negative energy between the two functional groups of line and staff. To illustrate these points this chapter offers a quantitative and qualitative examination of line and staff interactions in a large southwestern metropolitan fire department. At a minimum, this research seeks to provide a greater understanding of the root causes of conflict, which interplay in line-staff relations. The chapter concludes by discussing the implications of the findings.

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Handbook of Conflict Management
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • 1 - Conflict Resolution Education 3
  • 2 - The Qualities of Peacemakers 33
  • 3 - Contested Truths 49
  • 4 - Experiential Learning 85
  • Discussion Questions: Part I 101
  • 5 - Dispute System Design in Organizations 105
  • 6 - Assessing Group Conflict 129
  • 7 - Workplace Bullying 149
  • 8 - Political and Administrative Roles in School District Governance 169
  • Discussion Questions: Part II 203
  • 9 - Mediated Negotiation and Democratic Theory 207
  • 10 - Conflict Management and Community Partnering 219
  • 11 - The Method of Dialogue 243
  • 12 - The Only Game in Town 257
  • Discussion Questions: Part III 269
  • Index 271
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