How Organizations Can Minimize Conflict in Polarized Environments
New research shows how organizations can best minimize intra-organizational conflict in environments where overarching conflict exists between groups with highly polarized views (e.g., Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the Middle East; Protestant-Catholic conflict in Ireland).
The findings are contained in a recently published article in the Journal of Management titled, “Give Peace a Chance? How Regulatory Foci Influence Organizational Conflict Events in Intractable Conflict Environments”. The article was co-written by Geoffrey M. Kistruck, Professor and RBC Chair in Social Innovation & Impact at Schulich, together with Libby Weber, an Associate Professor of Strategy at the University of California, Irvine, Angelique Slade Shantz, an Assistant Professor of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Management at the University of Alberta, and Robert B. Lount, Jr., a Professor of Management and Human Resources at The Ohio State University.
The researchers undertook a nine-month field experiment involving 80 newly formed cooperatives within Northern Ghana, where ethnic, tribal, and political conflict is deeply rooted, and where cooperative members often differed on such issues. According to their findings, a prevention-focused (avoiding conflict) framing of the behavioral expectations of cooperative members when working together was more effective at reducing organizational conflict than a promotion-focused (embracing peace) framing in such contexts because of its resonance or ‘fit’ with the prevention focus that they had already come to adopt in the face of frequent and intense conflict within the broader environment.
“These findings have important implications for not only organizations operating in regions of the Global South such as Latin America and Africa, but also for those operating in the Global North, where views on political ideology, abortion rights, and even climate change have become increasingly polarized,” says Kistruck.