Collaboration as a Long-Term Partnership: Helping Collaborators Manage Conflict

By Martha Lucia Garcia.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Organizational Studies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Successful collaborations, particularly interdisciplinary ones, take effort. The creation of social movements, regardless of their aim, depends on the ability of groups to coalesce, organize, and work towards a common goal (Adams 1993). The findings of a study of management of conflict in mono-disciplinary and interdisciplinary groups is the basis of this article. Experienced collaborators from six professions were observed in the process of collaborating, with the goal of learning about behaviors and processes that potentially hinder or strengthen the collaborative. This study analyzed the process followed by twenty groups to understand how it is that they managed the differences and disagreements that arose. The findings discussed in this article are concerned specifically with the process of collaboration, not so much with the differences between professions. To the goal of learning about participant’s skill and learning from their experience, a four-part model of conflict was adapted and used to understand how conflict emerged, was managed, or resolved. The model allowed for the identification of five routes to conflict. Conflict was either averted or managed constructively by most of the groups and a set of productive behaviors is associated with this ability. Experienced collaborators utilize these behaviors at various times throughout the collaborative process to promote group cohesion, augment the possibility of integrating differences and transforming them into more creative outcomes. Conflict is found to be neutral; for some groups it is stagnating while others are able to use it constructively.

Keywords: Conflict Management, Differences, Collaboration, Effective Collaborators, Successful Collaboration, Movement Building

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Organizational Studies, Volume 11, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 859.030KB).

Dr. Martha Lucia Garcia

Assistant Professor, Masters in Social Work Program, Arts and Sciences, Pacific University, Eugene, Oregon, USA