Conflict Resolution Case Study Analysis Overview: The healthcare providers market has become very competitive and

the bo ard of Directors of a large medical organization (HMO XYZ) wants providers (Doct ors) to see patients every 15 minutes. They have stipulated that the Doctors do a complete job of caring for the patient and documenting to support high level r eimbursement, which management claims will help the hospital remain solvent. The provider’s on the other hand claim that they cannot do their job effectively if t hey have to push patients through in 15 minutes. The providers felts that their feedback was not solicitated and this has led to dissatisfaction, frustration an d griping among them. The providers’ have also complained to the patients about th is issue and this has led to higher patient dissatisfaction. The issues: a. Competitive marketplace b. Managements arbitrary stipulation of Doctors needing to see patients every 15 min c. Doctors feeling not part of the team d. Dissatisfaction, frustration and griping e. Patient dissatisfaction Problems: Major – Hospital profitability; Doctor Dissatisfaction, Patient Dissatisfaction; L ow employee morale; Poor service Minor – Employee frustration, Griping, Time wasted on rumours Tying theory to the issue: Mullins (1999) suggests that good management and leadership helps to develop tea mwork and the integration of individuals and groups with organizational goals. H owever, the board of directors’ management style demonstrated an inability to lead and work with the providers. It appears they did not call for an initial meetin g with the providers, conduct a feasibility study or discuss with them individua lly before setting the guidelines and expectations. Instead the Board of Directo rs displayed an autocratic leadership style where there were no consultative pro cesses and management alone was involved in decision making (Mullins 1999). Clea rly this management style not only failed to gain employee commitment to meeting organizational goals but also underpinned many of the problems that have since occurred. Deutsch (2000) states that “Most conflicts involve a mix of cooperative and compet itive motives,” and has developed a theory of cooperation and competition in order to better understand conflict processes and resolutions. As per Deutsch (2000), a key element in understanding cooperation/competition is the type of goal inte rdependence found between the involved parties. Parties goals can be positively interdependent--success correlating with success, or failure with failure. Thes e situations tend to yield cooperative relationships where the parties have a wi n-win orientation. In the above case, management needs to ensure that their reco mmendation to the Doctors is a win-win scenario. The management team needs to be able to communicate to the Doctors that to keep the hospital solvent, the 15min per patient rule needs to be enforced and seek their feedback as to how it can be done. As per Deutsch (2000), co-operative relationships display a number of positive c haracteristics, including more effective communication and coordination, open an d friendly attitudes and a sense of mutuality. In the above scenario, the manage ment team needs to develop a co-operative and collaborative relationship with th e Doctors by building effective communication channels rather than Competitive p rocesses which tend to yield the inverse, negative effects: obstructed communica tion, inability to coordinate activities, suspicion and a lack of self-confidenc e which has been happening at the hospital. Deutsch s research "suggests that constructive processes of conflict resolution are similar to cooperative processes of problem solving, and destructive process es of conflict resolution are similar to competitive processes."(p. 27) and he i dentifies some of the implications that this theory of cooperation and competiti



on has for our understanding of conflict, for conflict management and conflict r esolution. A cooperative orientation on the part of the Management & Doctors wil l facilitate constructive resolution of a conflict. Constructive resolution is a lso more likely when the parties can reframe their understanding of their goals and conflict, coming to see their respective goals as positively interdependent and the conflict as a joint problem. Constructive conflict resolution rests on t he very basic values of reciprocity, human equality, human fallibility, shared c ommunity, and nonviolence. As these values are widely shared, they can provide c ommon ground between the otherwise starkly opposed parties (Management & Doctors ). Krauss, 2000 suggests “The dialogic model” which views communication as a cooperativ e, collaborative process. Meaning arises from the communicative situation, and can only be understood within that context. This model, unlike the others, tre ats the listener as an active participant in the creation of a shared understand ing. "Active listeners raise questions, clarify ambiguous declarations, and tak e great pains to ensure that they and their counterpart have the same understand ing of what has been said."(p.140) Principle five is: Be an active listener. I n conflict situations, principle six suggests "focus initially on establishing c onditions that allow effective communication to occur; the cooperation that comm unication requires, once established, may generalize to other contexts."(p. 141) In the above scenario, management could have avoided dissatisfaction and distru st by adopting the “Dialogic Model”. Instead of creating dissention and poor custome r service, they could have initiated better communication which would have led t o collaboration and cooperation. By treating the Doctors as active participants on the issue of “getting higher reimbursement”, management would have had partners w ho would have contributed to the solution. Solution: Communication and management were two major issues identified in this case study . Potential solutions to improve the communication issue could be: Involve providers in decision making process. Advantages: It is important that all members of an organizational team, however low in the hierarchy, are consulted regarding proposed changes to operations and guidelines. Staff input into changes need to be factored into any fiscal decisi ons as their practical experience provides management with valuable knowledge an d information regarding implementation issues an indeed the feasibility of any c hanges. Further, consultation therefore allows collective ownership of any chang es and hence increases commitment to making changes work. Disadvantages: A possible disadvantage is that consultation requires substantial time commitment. Personnel need to be paid for time spent in meetings and there fore can incur costs. Also, open consultation requires tolerance and the ability to manage conflict from all stakeholders. This can be “difficult” and can take cons iderable time to develop in an organization. Recommendations: Communication • Consultation • Meetings Leadership • Team building • Participative leadership style References: Morton Deutsch. "Cooperation and Competition." Morton Deutsch and Peter T. Colem an, eds., The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, 2000; Peter T. Coleman. "Power and Conflict." Morton Deutsch and Peter T. Coleman, eds ., The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, 2000, pp. 108-130; Robert M. Krauss and Ezequiel Morsella. "Communication and Conflict." Morton Deu tsch and Peter T. Coleman, eds., The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, 2000, pp. 131-143;

Mullins, J. (1999) Management and Organizational Behaviour

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