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A gender-based categorization for conflict resolution

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Purpose - As the workforce becomes increasingly diversified, it becomes increasingly important for managers to understand the conflict resolution attitudes brought to information systems (IS) by both men and women. This research was designed to investigate assumptions that may exist regarding the relationship between gender and conflict resolution. Specifically, the intent of this study was to compare the conflict resolution strategies of males and females majoring in IS in order to determine if gender-based differences exist. Design/methodology/approach - The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument was utilized to assess the conflict resolution styles of 163 traditional-age (18-22) students enrolled in undergraduate IS courses at a large Midwestern university. Both ANOVA and t-test analyses were utilized to investigate the relationship between gender and conflict resolution style. Findings - Results of this study indicate that, when compared with their male counterparts, women are more likely to utilize a collaborative conflict resolution style and men are more likely to avoid conflict. As collaboration is generally considered more productive and avoidance more disruptive in the conflict resolution process, the study suggests that women may possess more effective conflict resolution attributes than their male counterparts. Originality/value - The results of this paper lend support to the theory that an individual's gender may be related to the development of conflict resolution styles. These findings also support the premise that female students in IS are highly adapted with regard to their ability to work collaboratively (and thereby successfully) in situations where conflict is likely to occur.
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Keywords: Conflict Management; Gender; Information Systems

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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