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Journal of Information Systems Education

Abstract

Conflict among Information Systems (IS) employees, and between IS employees and others outside their group, has the potential to add significantly to the cost of doing business for U.S. firms. While some conflict may serve the purpose of crafting a more refined product, significant or unresolved conflict can effectively serve to delay or scuttle even the most well-planned or well-designed project. Information Systems educators are in a unique position to contribute to the effective management of conflict. By using assessment/measurement techniques such as those illustrated in this study, opportunities to understand and manage conflict in the classroom and in classroom projects may be enhanced. Further, conflict assessment techniques learned and utilized by students in classroom exercises may be carried forward by those students as they begin their professional careers, thereby possibly contributing to the more effective management of conflict by IS organizations. This study was designed to demonstrate how educators may objectively measure or assess the conflict resolution traits of students who in many cases represent prospective/emerging IS employees. Some 200+ college students, the majority of whom were Information Systems majors, were assessed regarding their tendency toward collaboration, cooperation, accommodation, compromise, competition, and conflict avoidance. Results of the study reinforce previous studies which support the reliability of such assessment techniques. Other findings indicate that overall group means for the students were quite comparable to industry norms but that differences in a number of aspects related to conflict resolution styles exist between males and females, traditional and non-traditional age students, and between those with and those without work experience. Participants scored highest on the compromising construct, followed in order by the modes of avoiding, accommodating, collaborating, and competing.

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