Academic deans and conflict management: The relationship between perceived styles and effectiveness of managing conflict

Mary Marcia Donovan, Marquette University


This study identified which of five styles of managing conflict is the predominant style of academic deans in Wisconsin colleges and universities, as perceived by the deans and a systematic sample of their subordinates. The relationship between the deans' conflict management style and their effectiveness in managing conflict was also investigated. Finally, the relationship of demographic characteristics to the deans' style of conflict management was investigated. Fifty deans and 104 subordinates participated in the study. The questionnaire consisted of a 28-item modified version of the Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventory-II; a single question which measured the dean's effectiveness in managing conflict; and, 15 questions soliciting demographic information. Data was collected over a three month period in a two-step process. A list of subordinates' names was supplied by the deans. A systematic sample of the subordinates provided the subjects for the second step of the survey. The SPSS-X program was used for data analysis. Correlation coefficients were computed between the styles of conflict management and the deans' effectiveness in managing conflict. Cross-tabulation of demographic characteristics yielded chi-square values. The effect of demographic characteristics on conflict management styles was determined through analysis of variance testing. The integrating style of managing conflict was identified as the predominant style of the deans, with compromising being the second most predominant style. A high degree of correlation existed among the styles integrating, compromising and obliging, all of which had significant positive correlations with effectiveness. The dominating style had a significant negative correlation with the variable effectiveness. Demographic characteristics had little effect on the use of the styles, although gender and length of time in present position were factors in the use of the dominating style. While the integrating style is viewed as the most effective, the deans in this study use a variety of styles to manage conflict and are perceived to manage conflict in a constructive manner. A recommendation for future study would be to replicate the study with a larger sample of deans from more diverse areas of the country.

Recommended Citation

Donovan, Mary Marcia, "Academic deans and conflict management: The relationship between perceived styles and effectiveness of managing conflict" (1993). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9325673.