Using The Boundary Model of Conflict Management In A Real Conflict Situation

Situation Description

In this particular case, Ben is an auditor in an organization XYZ which has two subsidiaries A and B where James works as the auditor. Ben approaches James reporting that he wanted to write the company XYZ audit report. He is thus intending to do an audit of the company subsidiaries A and B so that he may be have an overview of the company situation and get an oversight of what to include in the report. James disagreed with Ben and demanded that Ben should respect his professionalism boundaries. James urged that Ben should consider taking his report to get the oversight he needed. Insisting on doing the audit himself was demeaning and disrespectful since that what James has been doing. However, Ben was not ready to listen and subsequently, this resulted to a serious conflict between them.

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Model Used – Boundary Model of Conflict Management

The model used to resolve this conflict was boundary model of conflict management. This model contains four elements that include behavior standard, jurisdiction, authority and norm. The boundary model evaluates the root cause of conflict from behavioral and structural view point, but proposes that conflict happens due to how individuals interact with or related to boundaries. These boundaries include limits, rules, norms, laws, cultural expectations, and contracts of any kind. The model proposes that conflict happens when parties differ on boundaries, break or expand boundaries or refusal to accept jurisdiction and authority essential in a boundary. It in addition provides unique approaches to work with conflict initiated by boundary issues (Furlong, 2005).  

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How the Model was Used?

I used the boundary model to make both James and Ben realize where their work boundaries lie and how Ben’s behavior could be stretching beyond the acceptable boundary limits. The two are auditors of the same operational level in their respective companies. Being assigned duties in the mother company did not give Ben more power or authority over James. Thus, the boundary are set that each should operate in his unit and only consult report made by the other in case there is clarification needed. Even the overall senior auditor of the company always works with them respectfully and uses their recommendation as long as he or she ascertains that the right process was considered. I also used the boundary legitimacy element to determine the law or policy that governs Ben’s and James operations limits.

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I identified the company’s collaboration policy that clearly shows roles and duties and how any collaboration between workers of similar levels from the mother company and the subsidiaries should be conducted.  I used this policy to determine Ben and James authority towards each other. I established that being in the same working level, they can only collaborate by using other’s report to make deductions. None of them have the authority to overstep the working jurisdiction of the other. I used the norm element of the boundary model to determine the level of tolerance in case the actual boundary was to be violated. With analysis I established that the two auditors could work together to audit each other’s firm with clear agreement from the scratch. This can only be done through consensus and ensuring that the other party does not feel demeaned, supervised or disrespected. I thus talked to the two made them understand their boundaries and the laws that govern them, and also made them consider working together as a team and re-audit the three companies; the two subsidiaries and the mother companies to get the most optimal results that Ben can use to make his report. Ben refused to use James report and James refused to allow Ben to reedit his work. They however settled on proposed norm where they opted to work together to re-audit each company together as a team with intention of offering the most optimal result (Furlong, 2005).

Lesson Learnt

From this incident, I learnt that conflict can be easily be created by one party refusal to acknowledge the set boundary. This is a sense of bride where one person feels superior to others and hence forcing others to only work with what he wants. The refusal to obey the law and to trust others initiated this conflict. I also learnt that conflict can easily be solved by understanding the law that govern the operation in question, and each party mandate to obey the law. I also learnt that the easiest way to address a conflict is determining a point where both parties are ready to compromise to bring equal satisfaction without breaking the law or overstepping the boundary.

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Improvement Needed

Auditing is a sensitive activity that requires high level of professionalism. In a merged firm I would propose clear policies stating that being assigned duties in the mother company does not makes you senior than those in subsidiaries. Clear hierarchy of leadership should be defined in the company’s workers collaboration policies to ensure those in the mother company do not show any sense of supremacy.

Question to Mediator

I would ask the mediator whether it is right for one employee to approach another employee in the same level of operation demanding to redo his work to supplement his. I would also ask the mediator, to identify what can be done to enhance mutual respect of all workers in an organization despite of their working position.

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