15 Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Q. 5 (1986)

handle is hein.journals/npvolsq15 and id is 1 raw text is: 






The Use of Conflict Management Behaviors

             in Voluntary Organizations:

                   An Exploratory Study


                 Terrie Temkin and H. Wayland Cummings


      This study sought to determine how conflict is managed in voluntary organiza-
      tions. One-hundred sixty-two subjects, randomly selected from 18 organizations
      with various missions, were sent a conflict situation and the Organizational Com-
      munication Conflict Instrument (OCCI). Results of a three-factor MANOVA
      show no significant differences in conflict management style attributed to position,
      sex, or tenure. Significant differences in conflict management style are attributed to
      content of a conflict situation. The findings are discussed in terms of implications
      for those working in voluntary organizations.


  Conflict is a primary target of organizational research (Dunnette, 1976). Most
of the conflict research is conducted in profit and government organizations.
While the results are generalized to voluntary organizations, such generalization
may not be appropriate (Filley, 1978; Gatewood and Lahiff, 1977; Howell, 1981;
Rawls, Ullrich, and Nelson, 1975). We believe it important to explore ways con-
flict is managed in voluntary organizations.
  An estimated 107,000 nonprofit voluntaries function in this country (Salamon,
1984). The Reagan administration's reduction of federal funding for health, edu-
cation, and social services has created an increased demand for the services of
the voluntary sector. Over 40 million people, or close to one-third of all adults,
offer their services to one or more voluntary organizations annually (Gallup,
1981). Men and women contribute equally-providing 84 billion hours of work
each year free to organizations, saving those organizations approximately $64.5
billion in salaries (Cheatham, 1982).
  The potential for conflict is great in voluntary organizations. First, the perspec-
tives, viewpoints, values, needs, and interests of staff members, board mem-
bers, and direct-service volunteers are often different (Blumenthal, 1954;
Kramer, 1975). Such differences increase potential for conflict (Berlew, 1980;
Corwin, 1969; Thompson, 1961). Second, defining the lines of authority in vol-
untaries is often difficult (Yarbrough, 1983). Without clearly defined limits po-
tential for conflict is increased (Berlew, 1980; Filley, 1975). Third, the opportunity
to avoid, resolve, or reduce any negative impact of conflict through informal ne-
gotiation (Berlew, 1980) often is inhibited by the lack of daily interaction among
volunteers.

Terrie Temkin, executive director, Women's American ORT, District VI, Hallandale, Fl
33009. H. Wayland Cummings, Department of Communications, University of Ok-
lahoma, Norman, OK 73019.

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