فرهنگ، جنسیت، نقش سازمانی و سبک های حل تعارض: یک فرابررسی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Volume 29, Issue 2, March 2005, Pages 165–196
The popularity of self-report five-style conflict resolution instruments, spawned by Blake and Mouton's [(1964). The managerial grid. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing] dual concerns theory, resulted in a plethora of research studies examining possible differences in culture, gender and organizational role. Using the Managerial Grid, dual concerns theory postulates that conflict involves balancing the desire to meet production goals (x) versus concern for personal relationships (y). Five styles of managing conflict are then revealed: smoothing, withdrawing, compromising, problem-solving, and forcing. Numerous studies using instruments derived from this theory validate its basic premises, but results have provided confusing results. Given the disparity of results, a meta-analysis was conducted to provide a clearer overall picture for the variables of culture (individualistic versus collectivistic), gender, and organizational role (superior, subordinate, and peer). Based upon 123 paired comparisons within 36 empirical studies, the results of the meta-analysis indicate: (1) individualistic cultures choose forcing as a conflict style more than collectivistic cultures; (2) collectivistic cultures prefer the styles of withdrawing, compromising, and problem-solving more than individualistic cultures; (3) in individualistic cultures, compromising is endorsed more frequently by females; (4) females are more likely to endorse the use of compromising than males, regardless of culture; (5) males are more likely to report using forcing than females in individualistic cultures; and (6) with regard to organizational role, males are more likely than females to choose a forcing style with their superiors. Further research is needed, particularly on the variable of cultural status.
Multiculturalism, to flourish, relies on effective, expedient management of disputes. Addressing conflict effectively becomes more urgent as social change accelerates. (Duryea, 1992, p. 1) On a global level, people are increasingly concerned with creating and maintaining peace. Understanding conflict and how to resolve it are two issues directly related to accomplishing this goal, given that resolution of conflict helps to sustain peaceable relations (Blumberg, 1998). Cultural differences both within and across countries can result in conflictive communication; therefore, communication strategies such as conflict resolution may provide an important means of bridging diverse cultural perspectives (Dubinskas, 1992; Gabrielidis, Stephan, Ybarra, Pearson, & Villareal, 1997; Hofstede, 1983; Holt, 2000; Ting-Toomey et al., 1991; Ting-Toomey et al., 2000). Goodall (1996), for example, states: Professionals and academics are being called upon to articulate some new revolutionary ‘communication’ breakthrough capable of teaching us how diverse peoples can learn to live together meaningfully without destroying each other and—in the process—the planet itself. (pp. 1–2) Perhaps never before has this been more important, given the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States’ World Trade Center and Pentagon and its consequences (Kliman & Llerena-Quinn, 2002; Schuman, 2002). Clearly, conflict and violence are at the heart of the world's problems, on both microcosmic and macrocosmic levels; thus the study of conflict resolution vis-à-vis culture is an important endeavor. In addition, gender would appear to be a significant way that human beings differ in relationship to conflict resolution style. Similarly, within the workplace, how one chooses to resolve a conflict may be affected in large part by the status of the other party—whether superior, subordinate or peer to oneself. Despite the fact that intuitively, individuals from various cultural backgrounds, of different genders, and within the workplace would appear to solve conflicts in very different ways, there are no conclusive findings. In fact, the results of myriad studies using one of the many five-style conflict resolution instruments and measuring the variables of culture, gender, and organizational role, whether alone or in combination, yield confusing results. Therefore, this study used meta-analytic techniques to contribute a more complete picture of possible conflict resolution style differences among cultures, between genders, and with regard to organizational role. 1.1. Background Conflict resolution, defined as “the process used by parties in conflict to reach a settlement” (Sweeney & Carruthers, 1996, p. 328), first gained professional interest in the 1960s due to seminal research conducted by Blake and Mouton (1964). Initially using a population of managers, then eventually extending their ideas to the general population, Blake and Mouton's dual concerns theory proposed that individuals have two primary motivations with regard to interpersonal conflict: the desire to obtain one's own goals (concern for production) versus the desire to retain interpersonal relationships (concern for people). By mapping these two concerns on the “Managerial Grid,” five discrete styles for resolving conflict resulted: smoothing (high concern for people and low concern for production); withdrawing (low concern for both people and production); compromising (medium concern for production and people); problem-solving (high concern for production and people); and forcing (high concern for production versus low concern for people). For example, an individual who is ultimately concerned with meeting production goals, and is willing to sacrifice the desires of others (relationships) to reach these goals would fall under the “forcing” style of conflict resolution. At the opposite end of the grid, someone who is far more concerned with preserving the goodwill of others may choose not to press their particular goals in a conflict, resulting in the style of “smoothing.” Another person might feel both relationships and production are equally high in importance, exhibiting the style of “problem-solving,” in which win-win solutions are generated. On the other hand, for someone who dislikes conflict of any kind, neither meeting production goals nor retaining relationships may be important enough to risk engaging; the style of “withdrawing” would then be a probable choice. Finally, for someone who is willing to give up some of both—goals and relationship—in order to resolve conflict, there is a style in the middle referred to as “compromising.” “When these basic styles are understood, one can predict for each how a man [sic] operating under that style is likely to handle conflict” ( Blake & Mouton, 1970, p. 419). In this article, “five-style paradigm” will refer to the set of beliefs Blake and Mouton (1964) and authors with subsequent conflict resolution instruments share: that conflict comes from the opposing forces of production (trying to meet one's own goals) versus people (attempting to honor the needs of others), and that five basic styles of dealing with conflict are the result: smoothing, withdrawing, compromising, problem-solving, and forcing. If dual concerns theory is valid, and if the instruments utilizing this theory are valid and reliable, then true differences regarding culture, gender, and organizational role should become clear through meta-analytic techniques. It is important to note, however, that one's cognitive choices on a self-report instrument are not the same as one's behavior. For the purposes of this research, conflict choice is viewed as a cognitive orientation, and “all measures including choice of conflict style will be assessed cognitively rather than behaviorally” ( Sorenson, Morse, & Savage, 1999, p. 30). Blake and Mouton's (1964) theory became a popular means of conceptualizing and simplifying a complex issue, given that the grid enabled numeric assignation to each conflict style. Several conflict resolution self-report instruments were subsequently spawned from dual concerns theory, the four most prominent being Hall's (1969) Conflict Management Survey (CMS); Rahim's (1983) Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventories I and II (ROCI-I and ROCI-II); Renwick's (1975) Employee Conflict Inventory (ECI); and Thomas and Kilmann's (1974) Management-of-Differences Exercise (MODE). While the labels provided for each conflict style vary among instruments (e.g., smoothing is also known as accommodating, obliging and yield-lose), the general principles of the grid (people concerns versus production needs) and basic descriptions of the styles appear very similar (Fig. 1). For purposes of simplification, the names of the styles as originally provided by Blake and Mouton will be utilized throughout this article. It is important to note an implicit value judgment within Blake and Mouton's (1964) original theory (Dena, 1994). That is, problem-solving was considered the superior mode of solving conflict, being high in concern for people as well as production. This assumption formed the basis for many popular treatises on “win-win” business strategy, including Getting to Yes ( Fisher & Ury, 1981). Blake and Mouton admit this style is more popular as a choice for respondents from the United States than any other countries; the ethnocentric bias appears to be very clear: “Regardless of national grouping, managers agree that the 9, 9 [problem-solving] Grid style represents the soundest way to manage” (p. 16). In other cultures, however, problem-solving may not be the preferred choice, nor the best means of solving conflict ( Kilmann & Thomas, 1978; Lewicki, Weiss, & Lewin, 1992). For example, researchers have provided evidence that, depending upon the particulars of the situation, other styles may be preferred ( Elangovan, 1998; van de Vliert, Euwema, & Huismans, 1995). By the late 1970s, the vanguard of conflict resolution researchers had begun to eliminate this bias toward problem-solving in updated work (Kilmann & Thomas, 1978). Initial research by Thomas (1976), one of the most prolific and well-researched conflict resolution experts, stated: People who practice the withdrawing style tend to behave as if they were indifferent both to their own concerns and to the concerns of others. The withdrawing orientation is often manifested through nonassertive and uncooperative behavior. Those who avoid conflict tend to prefer apathy, isolation and withdrawal to facing conflicts. (p. 892) However, two years later, Thomas, in research with Kilmann, indicates opposition toward value judgments being placed on any one style (Kilmann & Thomas, 1978). Withdrawing, in fact, has been found to be the superior style for many Asians (Chua & Gudykunst, 1987; Ting-Toomey, 1988), perhaps because it is considered more respectful not to argue. Given the wide assortment of research studies that have examined conflict resolution styles, conducted over a span of nearly half a century, an overall evaluation to assess possible culture, gender, and organizational role differences is an important contribution to the field. This research is unique; to the authors’ knowledge, no research has yet been done using rigorous statistical procedures via meta-analysis to analyze the results of conflict resolution self-report instruments within the five-style paradigm. 1.2. Variables of interest Rankings of the five styles of handling conflict were examined with special emphasis on the following variables: cultural status (comparing inter-country, as well as among ethnic minorities of the United States; for the purposes of this research study, the term “Americans,” along with an ethnic identifier, is being used to denote United States citizenship, e.g. “African Americans”); gender (including females and males); and organizational role (peer, subordinate, and supervisor—the three levels typically present in hierarchical work settings). 1.3. Cultural status With regard to cultural status, the growing diversity of the United States has resulted in a multicultural workforce of its citizens (Gabrielidis et al., 1997; Kozan, 1990; Lagao, 1996; Oetzel, 1998). Given this increasing multiculturalism, Yinger (1994) cautions, “How the United States develops as a multi-ethnic society will be of critical importance…for its own quality of life” (p. 35). Indeed, many researchers validate the fact that diversity can result in increased conflict. As individuals attempt to communicate and work together, they may react negatively to the cultural practices of others (Gudykunst et al., 1996; Pearson & Stephan, 1998; Ting-Toomey et al., 2000). Yet until recent years, this crucial element was ignored in studies assessing conflict resolution styles, according to researchers such as Gudykunst (1998): Most, if not all, of the cross-cultural [conflict resolution] studies comparing the United States with other cultures have focused on European Americans. There also are differences across ethnic groups in the United States. …For instance, …there are several…areas where European Americans’ and African Americans’ styles of communication may be problematic when they communicate with each other, particularly in a conflict situation. (pp. 253–254) The decrease in the popularity of conflict resolution self-report instruments, most “in vogue” in the United States from the late 1960s into the early 1980s, may be due, in part, to such a lack of cross-cultural inclusiveness. However, a number of research studies, primarily in the past two decades, have measured styles across cultures and/or countries, thus providing the self-report conflict resolution five-style paradigm with current relevance, and an updated appeal (see D’Silva & Whyte, 1998; Elsayed-Ekhouly & Buda, 1996; Gabrielidis et al., 1997; Gudykunst et al., 1996; Lee, 1990; Lee & Rogan, 1991; Oetzel, 1998; Pearson & Stephan, 1998; Smith & Haar, 1990; Ting-Toomey et al., 2000; Trubisky, Ting-Toomey, & Lin, 1991). The concept of individualism and collectivism provides one means of distinguishing broad differences in cultural values (Hofstede, 1980). While many theories have branched off of this concept, such a distinction continues to be the basis of discussions concerning how styles of conflict resolution may vary across cultures (Elsayed-Ekhouly & Buda, 1996; Oetzel, 1998; Ting-Toomey et al. (1991) and Ting-Toomey et al. (2000)). According to Ting-Toomey (1988), members of individualistic cultures prefer direct and assertive methods when resolving conflict. Typically, when comparing communication styles inter-country, such countries as the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, and England are considered individualistic (Elsayed-Ekhouly & Buda, 1996; Hofstede (1980) and Hofstede (1983); Trubisky et al., 1991). Individualistic cultures, characterized as more concerned with self than others, are hypothesized to prefer the conflict styles of problem-solving, compromising and forcing. Such styles involve strong verbal communication, less emphasis on internal aspects of communication, and less concern with the needs of others (Hofstede, 1983; Rahim, 1992; Rahim & Blum, 1994). On the other hand, in collectivistic cultures such as China, Japan, Korea, the Middle East, and Mexico, the needs of one's group are considered more important than oneself (Hofstede (1980) and Hofstede (1983)), and conflict communication will reflect this. Styles high in relationship preservation, such as smoothing and compromising, are thus hypothesized to be preferred over forcing (Elsayed-Ekhouly & Buda, 1996; Rahim, 1992; Rahim & Blum, 1994). Withdrawing may also be employed in an effort to “save face,” rather than embarrass others (Ting-Toomey, 1988). Several research studies corroborate these hypotheses. For example, Kagan, Knight, and Martinez-Romero (1982) found that subjects from Mexico (collectivistic) reported using withdrawing and smoothing more than European American (individualistic) subjects, who preferred more active, confrontational strategies such as forcing and problem-solving (see also Gabrielidis et al., 1997; Soto-Fulp, 1996). Pearson and Stephan (1998) found Brazilians (collectivistic) to be more likely to report the use of smoothing and withdrawing with members of their in-group, while United States subjects reported treating out- and in-groups the same. Other studies of conflict resolution instruments utilizing the five-style paradigm have yielded differing results. For example, Lagao (1996) found no significant differences in reported conflict styles between European Americans (individualistic) and Filipinos (collectivistic). Research results validate the postulation that ethnic minorities within the United States may not use the same conflict resolution styles as European Americans ( Haslam, Turner, Oakes, McGarty, & Hayes, 1992; Pearson & Stephan, 1998; Ting-Toomey, 1986). African Americans have been hypothesized as individualistic in conflict style; however, regardless of job level status, an African American male may never feel comfortable using certain styles of conflict, such as forcing, due to fear of being negatively stereotyped ( Firebaugh, & Davis, 1988; Haslam et al., 1998). Ting-Toomey (1986) conducted research comparing conflict resolution style choices of African American and European American subjects, finding African American males reported less use of forcing and problem-solving conflict strategies than European American males. Interestingly, African American females were more likely to choose the forcing conflict style than African American males or European Americans of either gender. Algert (1998), however, studied conflict style preferences with European Americans, African Americans, and Latin Americans, and found no significant differences among all three. Dena (1994) found significant differences between European Americans and Latin Americans, but the results were counterintuitive—the European Americans preferred the styles of smoothing and withdrawing. In Kim and Kitani's (1998) research, a comparison of European American and Asian American students bears out individualistic versus collectivistic theory in that Asian American (collectivistic) students preferred smoothing and withdrawing; however, contrary to theory, they also preferred problem-solving. Comparisons with the United States and Middle Eastern countries, the latter of which are considered collectivistic, have yielded notable differences in conflict resolution styles as well. Elsayed-Ekhouly and Buda (1996) compared conflict styles between United States and Arab Middle Eastern [sic] executives, finding United States executives’ conflict style preferences to be forcing, in keeping with predictions, but also smoothing, and compromising. The Arab Middle Eastern executives preferred withdrawing, considered typical of collectivistic cultures, but also problem-solving. Similarly, Kozan (1990) found that Turkish/Jordanian managers and United States managers all chose problem-solving as their primary style, but the former “prefer[red] obliging [smoothing] the least and in this regard differ[red] significantly from the US managers” (p. 179; see also Agee & Kabasakal, 1993). The contradictory results of such studies indicate the need for a meta-analysis to more thoroughly understand true cultural differences as measured by instruments within the conflict resolution five-style paradigm. 1.4. Gender Socially appropriate behavior differs for females and males in many countries around the world; thus, it is probable to assume that females and males would prefer to resolve conflicts with different conflict style choices (Shockley-Zalabak, 1981). In the United States, historically, males have been socialized to communicate in direct, confrontational ways, assuming the dominant power position; females have been socialized to take care of others, and play a more receptive role (Gilligan, 1977; Stockard & Lach, 1989; Zammuto, London, & Rowland, 1979). Kolb (1993) states: Existing research and our own experience suggest that the voices of women are often hushed in formal negotiation. Conflict and competition are important in formal negotiation, and therefore, it may not be a comfortable place for many women. (p. 139) Given this difference, styles such as forcing (high in production, low in relationships) or problem-solving (high in production and relationships) have been postulated as popular choices for males on conflict resolution self-report instruments (Mills & Chusmir, 1988). Females, for whom relationships may be of greater importance, and for whom aggressive behavior is less condoned (Ting-Toomey, 1986), would seem more likely to prefer such styles as smoothing (high in relationships, low in production), withdrawing (low in production and relationships), and compromising (medium in production and relationships). As Ting-Toomey (1986) states, “[M]ales typically engage in more direct, ‘up-front’ strategies. …Females typically engage in either indirect, ‘smoothing’ communication strategies to diffuse the conflict topic, or engage in avoidance or withdrawal strategies” (p. 79). In the first two decades after the inception of conflict resolution self-report instruments, conflict studies primarily used a respondent base of males. Renwick (1977) was one of the first researchers to examine differences in conflict resolution styles between male and female management personnel in the United States. While Renwick argued from a feminist point of view that females ought to be no less apt to choose aggressive styles than males, her results indicated males tended to rate the forcing style higher than females. Mills and Chusmir (1988), studying managers in the United States, found similar results: “[N]ot surprisingly, men were slightly more likely to compete [force] at work” (p. 307). Nelson and Lubin (1991) determined that females were significantly higher on smoothing, when asking United States politicians about their conflict styles. Content (1986) found female principals in the United States reported higher use of the compromising mode than male principals. Cardona (1995) found females from a Midwestern university population in the United States to report more use of withdrawing than males. Rahim (1983) created norming data with one of his instruments (ROCI-II), using a population of 1219 United States executives. Interestingly, his data indicated males rated smoothing higher, while females preferred problem-solving, withdrawing and compromising (however, only 50 female subjects were included). Zammuto et al. (1979) reported supervisors in United States companies who were asked to rate their subordinates’ use of conflict resolution styles rated males as more frequently using compromising; females were rated as predominantly using forcing. Muir's (1991) research, in which middle managers in the United States were studied, was intended to corroborate Rahim's general findings. However, she was unable to duplicate his results—no significant differences were discovered. Likewise, no significant differences were found between genders by Shockley-Zalabak (1981), in studying managers at Colorado companies; or in Sternberg and Soriano's (1984), and Sternberg and Dobson's (1987) research with United States college students. Such contradictory results indicate a meta-analysis of all data on male and female conflict style choices may reveal true differences, if they exist. Correlating gender with culture may also prove important, given perceived gender differences within various ethnicities indigenous to the United States, as well as in comparison with other countries. 1.5. Organizational role Given the history of Blake and Mouton's (1964) Managerial Grid, and its origins in analyzing company conflict, the plethora of studies exploring conflict resolution style differences within the organizational hierarchy (superiors, peers, and subordinates), is unsurprising (see Conrad, 1985; Harris, 1988; Mills & Chusmir, 1988; Musser, 1982; Oetzel (1998) and Oetzel (1999); Rahim (1986) and Rahim (1992); Rahim & Buntzman, 1989; Renwick (1975) and Renwick (1977)). Theoretically, given power differences, superiors are generally predicted to prefer problem-solving, compromising and forcing, peers are predicted to be less aggressive with superiors than each other, but more so with subordinates, and subordinates are predicted to tend toward the least aggressive styles—withdrawing and smoothing (Mills & Chusmir, 1988; Musser, 1982; Oetzel, 1999; Rahim & Buntzman, 1989; Renwick (1975) and Renwick (1977)). That is, given inherent power differences, a subordinate may not be willing to engage in any conflict style that challenges a superior, while a superior may have more leeway to use aggressive techniques, particularly in order to meet company production goals (Rahim & Buntzman, 1989). Peers are considered most likely to use compromising with each other, given the equality of power. Research would appear to bear organizational role predictions out to a certain extent (Mills & Chusmir, 1988; Musser, 1982; Oetzel, 1999; Phillips & Cheston, 1979; Rahim & Buntzman, 1989). For example, Phillips and Cheston (1979) studied business managers, and found that superiors were more likely to choose the use of forcing with subordinates than vice versa, while compromising was the style most likely to be chosen for use with one's peers. Several researchers have found subordinates to prefer the styles of withdrawing or smoothing when in conflict with superiors, perhaps due to the risk of negative consequences such as job loss (Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964; Phillips & Cheston, 1979; Rahim, 1986). However, Renwick's (1975) research with United States business companies found the top three styles for superiors to be problem-solving, compromising and smoothing, contrary to theorized predictions. Renwick also measured subordinates’ conflict style rankings, finding the top three styles to be compromising, problem-solving, and forcing. Similarly, Rahim (1983) found subordinates most likely to prefer the use of problem-solving and forcing. Paulson's (1986) research with middle managers from the United States, on the other hand, found no significant differences. Such conflicting results again indicate the need for a thorough overall evaluation of the findings via meta-analytic techniques.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Although this meta-analysis was conducted with a relatively small number of groups for comparisons from even fewer studies, it produced results that clarify and quantify the comparative use of conflict resolution styles by culture, gender within culture, gender, comparative organizational level, and gender within organizational level. Results for culture indicate individuals within a collectivistic orientation prefer withdrawing and compromising more than those with an individualistic cultural orientation. Second, the latter choose forcing more than the former. In all three findings, the group means differ by more than one standard deviation, strong evidence of true differences. The results regarding withdrawing corroborate prior research and discussion on the subject, given that individuals within collectivistic cultures prefer strategies that “save face” (Ting-Toomey, 1988). Similarly, compromising, in which one gives up some of one's needs, can be understood within the collectivistic paradigm, given that the needs of the group supercede one's own (Hofstede (1980) and Hofstede (1983)). The finding that forcing, high on concern for production, and low on concern for others, is endorsed by individuals from individualistic cultures by over one standard deviation, also backs up the theorized emphasis on “me” as opposed to “we” in such cultures (Hofstede (1980) and Hofstede (1983)). A final interesting result within culture concerns problem-solving. Contrary to original theory (Blake & Mouton, 1964), collectivistic cultures prefer problem-solving more than individualistic cultures by over half a standard deviation. This is ironic, considering Blake and Mouton's contention that “[m]anagers from South America and Japan identify themselves as the least likely to possess the 9, 9 [problem-solving] style” (Dena, 1994, p. 33). In fact, collectivistic cultures are more concerned with creating a “win-win” situation. Regarding gender comparisons, the results indicate differences in the self-reported use of compromising and forcing; however, compromising is the only style for which differences in gender exceed the study criteria for true differences. Females report using compromising more than males by a sizable margin (over half a standard deviation). Such results support societal notions in the United States concerning gender differences, where females may be more likely than males to give up part of their own needs in order to compromise (Kolb, 1993; Ting-Toomey, 1986). That there are no differences between females and males in reported use of smoothing and withdrawing, however, is contrary to popular notions that females are more willing to smooth over conflict or withdraw from it altogether. When gender and culture are analyzed together, results indicate, as in the results for gender alone, that compromising is used more frequently by females in both individualistic and collectivistic cultures, although the difference is greater for individualistic females (three-quarters of a standard deviation). In addition, both individualistic and collectivistic males choose forcing more than their female counterparts (nearly half a standard deviation for each). This reinforces the idea that males are more likely to use aggressive tactics in order to achieve their own ends (Kolb, 1993; Ting-Toomey, 1986). Interestingly, collectivistic males report preferring withdrawing and collectivistic females report preferring problem-solving. However, the results regarding collectivistic cultures are very tentative. With regard to organizational role, patterns of difference are stronger than for culture or gender. Employees endorse the use of smoothing as a conflict resolution style more with superiors than with peers by nearly three standard deviations. Such results corroborate current literature: The more power or status another worker has in a job situation as compared to the respondent, the more likely the respondent's own goals will be sacrificed in order to preserve the relationship when conflict arises ( Kahn et al., 1964; Phillips & Cheston, 1979; Rahim, 1986). Compromising shows an equally strong effect, in that the style is preferred more with one's peers than one's superiors (three standard deviations). This backs up organizational theory concerning the sharing of power, “whereby both parties give up something to make a mutually acceptable decision” ( Rahim & Buntzman, 1989, p. 197). That is, peers would seem more likely to compromise and “share” with each other, than with superiors, who have greater power. Employees report using the withdrawing conflict style more with peers than with subordinates by almost a standard deviation. This also supports literature and research; simply, workers in conflict with peers may be more concerned with negative outcomes than when in conflict with subordinates, given that the latter have less power and status ( Kahn et al., 1964; Phillips & Cheston, 1979; Rahim, 1986; Rahim & Buntzman, 1989). Similarly, employees report preferring the forcing conflict style more with subordinates than with peers by over a standard deviation. As past research indicates, the lower the status of the other worker versus oneself, the less inclined an employee will be to use passive styles, and the greater the inclination to endorse the use of aggressive conflict styles ( Rahim & Buntzman, 1989). Somewhat weaker results indicate forcing is used less with peers than with subordinates. This is again in keeping with organizational modes of behavior. As Lee (1990) states, employees in conflict “tend to use different influence tactics, depending upon the relative status of the agent and target. More often assertive [forcing, problem-solving] tactics…were used to influence subordinates rather than peers or superiors” (p. 331). Regarding gender across organizational role, the pattern of females choosing problem-solving more than males and males choosing forcing more than females is maintained regardless of organizational role. Kolb (1993) notes: “[T]here are significant differences in the ways men and women approach negotiation and the styles they use in searching for an agreement [in the workplace]” (pp. 138–139; see also Soto-Fulp, 1996). 4.1. Limitations First and foremost, a significant number of studies could not be included for analysis due to insufficient information. In fact, two-thirds of the studies using self-report conflict resolution style instruments were not viable. The five-style paradigm, upon which the “old guard” of conflict resolution theory and subsequent instruments are based, achieved its zenith during the 1970s and early 1980s. Historically, this era preceded the advent of stringent statistical standards in measurement and publication of study results. Thus, many of the studies did not publish the means and/or standard deviations for style preferences, which are the necessary statistics for a meta-analytic calculation. Second, there are some indications that the five-style paradigm has become outdated, as several interesting, rigorous studies from the more recent past have employed newer evolutions of conflict resolution self-report instrumentation (Knapp, Putnam, & Davis, 1988; Sternberg & Dobson, 1987; Sternberg & Soriano, 1984; Thomas, 1988; Trubisky et al., 1991; van de Vliert & Hordijk, 1989; van de Vliert et al., 1995). As van de Vliert et al. (1995) indicate, it is entirely possible that the five styles are too parsimonious to realistically represent the continuum of conflict resolution strategies. In addition, van de Vliert et al. argue that conflict styles may operate together, rather than discretely: “Rather than a single behavior [resulting from one conflict style], handling conflict is a conglomeration of behavioral components” (p. 271; see also Elangovan, 1998; Musser, 1982; Volkema & Bergmann, 1995). Researchers have also critiqued the validity and distinctness of each style. Van de Vliert and Hordijk (1989) found that “the social-psychological consequences of compromising and problem-solving tend to be the same, however different the behaviors may be” (p. 681). That is, there may not be a solid justification for viewing compromising as a strategy equally differentiated from the other four styles. Social desirability is important to mention when discussing self-report instruments, due to the invalid assumption “that cognition is [necessarily] associated with choice of [conflict] style” (Sorenson et al., 1999, p. 26; see also Cosier & Ruble, 1981; Drake, Zammuto, & Parasuraman, 1981; Elangovan, 1998; Kabanoff, 1987; Musser, 1982; Putnam & Wilson, 1982; Thomas & Kilmann, 1975). That is, what a respondent reports for preference regarding conflict resolution style may be far different from the style utilized in real-life situations. With regard to another self-report instrument, the Argumentativeness Scale, Nicotera (1996) states, [S]ince the act of argument is sanctioned more for men than women, women answering the scale may be reluctant to rate themselves as argumentative. Such reluctance may or may not reflect their actual level of trait argumentativeness. (p. 25) Similarly, females filling out a self-report conflict resolution instrument may be less inclined than males to report using conflict styles considered “unfeminine,” such as forcing. Instead, females may self-report preferring styles that emphasize a relational perspective, such as smoothing and compromising (Ting-Toomey, 1986). However, their actual behavior may not mirror such societal mores. Some researchers in conflict resolution eschew the implicit assumption that conflict can and/or should be resolved, arguing that in many cases, conflict “resolution” may only be a temporary solution, leaving deeper issues unresolved. Thus the idea of full agreement may not be realistic and in fact, in many circumstances, conflict resolution engagement may not produce long term successful results or generate cooperative work relationships ( Rubin, 1993). 4.2. Conclusion In conclusion, within conflict resolution research, the five-style paradigm as created by Blake and Mouton (1964) and developed into self-report instruments by a number of researchers, appears to yield significant, if limited, results regarding differences among cultures, between genders, and among organizational roles, when tested via meta-analytic techniques. In a very practical sense, understanding cultural background and how this affects preferences regarding conflict resolution style may create greater understanding and less conflict in the workplace, as well as in communities at large. For example, a client of the first author who supervises nursing staff in a large, diverse hospital setting received several complaints from other staff members about a Chinese-born nurse. This nurse would react with disapproval and withdrawal when emergency situations necessitated the use of conflictual barked orders. A deeper grasp of cultural differences enabled the supervisor and all of the health workers to better understand each other's behavior; this in turn allowed for greater respect and a more cohesive work environment. Future research may wish to concern itself with the creation of a statistically rigorous conflict resolution instrument that will measure conflict behavior, rather than simply self-reported conflict style preferences. In addition, research contrasting respondents’ own interpretation of conflict style versus perception by others of their conflict style is important. Often, an individual's perception of their style of resolving conflict may be far different from the receiver's perception. For example, consider the following conversation within a peer mediator focus group: Peer Mediator 1: “[We] were accused of not understanding her [an African American woman in mediation]. The other person was white, the rest of us were white, how could we understand her, [yet] part of how I saw her, my perception, was that she was a very powerful woman. And she was—even and including her body language. And she intimidated this white woman.” Peer Mediator 2: “We gave her feedback that [her behavior] was aggressive and she told us, ‘No, in fact, I’m passive.’” Peer Mediator 1: “In her culture she is [passive], but in our culture she is a very powerful woman.” ( Holt, 2000, p. 64) Research specifically concerning conflict resolution styles may thus wish to include an emphasis on perceptions and actual behavior, as a means of updating the five style paradigm. Such research is vital, given its potential for creating greater understanding among cultures, between genders and within organizations.