University of New Hampshire - Manchester
Mentor: Lynn Stearney, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Communication
An Investigation of Conflict Dynamics between Labor and Management from an Intercultural Communication Perspective
Current models of conflict dynamics between labor and management communicate the values and beliefs of the organization as a culture, leaving little room for consideration of subcultural perspectives . This study investigates communication interactions between labor and management as distinct subcultures within organizational culture, and suggests a need for an all-inclusive model of conflict management based on intercultural communication processes.
The anthropological interpretation of culture underlying my research claims culture is the totality of: behavioral norms, communication systems, patterns of thinking, beliefs, and values that are passed on to future generations
Organizational culture has a popular definition, as found in the writings of Schwartz and Davis (1983), "A pattern of beliefs and expectations shared by the organization's members - which produce norms that shape the behavior of the individuals and groups in the organization." By not recognizing organizational subcultures this definition assumes an acceptance of corporate values and beliefs by labor and management. We have only to look at the vast number of books, articles, and seminars on the subject of organizational conflict to see that this logic is flawed.
My study highlights strategies of intercultural communication and applies them to the subcultures of labor and management. Subcultures exist within dominant cultures, and like the dominant culture, provide patterns of behavior and values, Jandt (1995). From this premise, I argue for the restructuring of contemporary models of organizational conflict management to include the intercultural communication perspectives of both labor and management.