COM 3700 Systems Theory and Conflict Resolution
Systems Theory and Conflict Resolution
Systems theory provides a framework for understanding the functioning of complex systems and the recurring communication patterns within them. General systems theory, in particular, offers valuable insights into the operations of entire systems and their subsystems, whether in organizations, small groups, or families (Wilmot & Hocker, 2018, p. 231). By applying systems theory, we can analyze conflicts that occur in a sequential manner.
Let’s consider a conflict related to a program used to identify students who fall below the required 12 enrolled credit hours or are at 0 hours, which determines their eligibility to live on campus. The student affairs specialist utilizes the program’s report to identify students with 0 hours and provide them with the necessary steps to rectify their situation. On the other hand, the communication specialist relies on the report to identify students who have less than 12 enrolled hours but above 0, reaching out to them with appropriate guidance.
COM 3700 Systems Theory and Conflict Resolution
During a regular academic semester, the student affairs specialist typically uses the report for approximately 50 individuals. In contrast, the communication specialist relies on it daily and may have contact with 800 or more students at any given time.
However, the report lacks a filtering option, making it challenging to distinguish which students have already received an email when new names are added to the report. Manually sifting through two identical lists to identify any new names would take well over two hours.
Recognizing the need for a more efficient reporting process, the communication specialist requested the addition of a filter option. Conversely, the student affairs specialist, accustomed to the report functioning in a certain way, was unhappy about the proposed change and failed to comprehend the need for it.
By examining this conflict through a systems theory lens, we can explore the interconnections and communication patterns within the larger system. This perspective allows us to understand how changes in one subsystem, such as the report’s filtering option, can impact other subsystems and individuals involved. By considering the system as a whole and the underlying dynamics, it becomes possible to find a resolution that addresses the needs and concerns of all parties involved. COM 3700 Systems Theory and Conflict Resolution
Analysis of the System Knowledge
Nature of the Conflict
The conflict in question came to the forefront due to a triggering event that occurred when the communication specialist had to sift through a list of 800 names to locate a single name that had been added. This arduous and time-consuming task prompted the specialist to recognize the need for a more efficient and streamlined process. Consequently, the communication specialist decided to approach the individual responsible for creating the report, seeking a solution that would expedite the identification of new names.
As the communication specialist presented this proposal to the group, including their coworker, the student affairs specialist who also relies on the report, it unexpectedly sparked outrage and opposition. The student affairs specialist expressed strong resistance and discontent with the idea of altering the established process. The conflict emerged as a result of conflicting perspectives and differing expectations regarding the report’s functionality and the necessity for change.
Orientation to the Conflict
Regarding the conflict at hand, both parties held differing attitudes toward the report in question, but each viewed their stance as valid. The student affairs specialist believed that the current format of the report made their job easier, while simultaneously making the communication specialist’s job more difficult. Conversely, the communication specialist saw the lack of a filter option as a significant hindrance to their work and believed that the addition of one would streamline the process. COM 3700 Systems Theory and Conflict Resolution
While both parties viewed the conflict negatively, it was the mixed company and comments made behind each other’s backs that exacerbated the situation. It is worth noting that this conflict has no bearing on cultural differences or limitations, and is solely a disagreement between two colleagues on how a specific working document should be presented.
Interests and Goals:
Each person involved in the conflict had distinct goals related to their job responsibilities and customer service. The common objective was to make the process easier to deliver efficient customer service. However, there was a difference in how they perceived their roles and the impact of the changes.
The communication specialist viewed their role as part of a larger system and aimed to streamline the process for future employees. On the other hand, the student affairs specialist saw their role as an individual process and had long-term plans to retire from their position in 10 or more years. COM 3700 Systems Theory and Conflict Resolution
After the conflict, the changes suggested by the communication specialist were implemented. However, the relationship between the communication specialist and the student affairs specialist became strained. Recognizing the need for resolution, the Associate Director of the company intervened and proposed a solution. They suggested that the creator of the program maintain the old settings while incorporating the new settings, effectively accommodating both perspectives.
The problem in this conflict was that both individuals were focused on their own perspectives and pushing their own agendas. As pointed out by Daum (n.d.), it is easy to become fixated on one’s own viewpoint during conflicts. However, the supervisor understood the importance of teamwork and the bigger picture. They emphasized that despite the differing perspectives, both individuals were part of a team and needed to find a resolution that served the collective goals and objectives. COM 3700 Systems Theory and Conflict Resolution
Daum, K. (n.d.). 5 Ways Great Leaders Resolve Conflict. Retrieved from
Wilmot, William, Hocker, Joyce. (2018). Interpersonal Conflict, 10th Edition. [Capella].
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