1st Module - Cooperation and Competition, Conflict Styles and Outcomes
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The way people approach conflict is decisive in determining its course and outcomes. This Module, first, is concerned with understanding the processes involved in cooperation and competition, their effects and with exploring the factors that contribute to developing a cooperative or competitive relationship between people. Second, “conflict styles” are introduced to help participants examine how they react to conflicts when they first arise and how they respond after conflicts become more intense - primary reference is made to the Thomas-Killmann instrument. Third, this module introduces also a theory background to “conflict outcomes”, with reference to the Transcend outcome matrix and game theory “zero-sum” and “non-zero-sum” situations.
- Deutsch, Morton., "Cooperation and Competition" in Deutsch, M., Coleman, P. (eds.) The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2000.
- Johnson, D. W., and Johnson R. T., Cooperation and Competition: Theory and Research, Edina, Minn.: Interaction, 1989.
- Spangler, Brad "Competitive and Cooperative Approaches to Conflict", in Beyond Intractability, Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess, Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: July 2003 http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/competitive_cooperative_frames/
- Conflict Research Consortium Staff, "Article Summary of Cooperation and Conflcit by Morton Deutsch", in CRInfo, http://www.crinfo.org/articlesummary/10166/
- Deutsch, Morton, "Cooperation and Competition" (based on interview), in Beyond Intractability, http://www.beyondintractability.org/audio/10323/
- Beersma,Bianca, et al., Which Reward Structure Works Best? A New Perspective on Cooperation and Competition in Teams, http://gbspapers.library.emory.edu/archive/00000156/01/GBS-OM-2002-003.pdf
- Saveri, Andrea, Rheingold, Howard, Soojung-Kim Pang, Alex, Vian, Kathi, Toward a New Literacy of Cooperation in Business – Managing Dilemmas in the 21st Century, Institute For The Future, 2004, http://www.iftf.org/docs/SR-851A_New_Literacy_Cooperation.pdf
- Conflict Handling Styles. Many tools are available to help individuals be aware of the way they act in conflict. For peacebuilding, knowing how you react to conflict and communicate with people is very important. Here we focus on the “Personal Conflict Style Inventory” developed by Ron Kraybill and Mennonite Conciliation Services (1987). It is a brief questionnaire that uses the five conflict styles identified in the Thomas-Kilmann instrument – accommodation, compromise, competition, avoidance and collaboration.
- Conflict Outcomes (Zero-sum and Non-zero-sum situations). Frequently, who is in conflict thinks that one party will win and the other will lose, or the parties will find a compromise. Conflict is perceived as a zero-sum situation, i.e. a situation where the gain of one part corresponds to the loss of the other. In other words, the outcome is seen as a fixed pie: the more I get of it the less you’ll get; if I get it all you’ll get none. In compromise we split the pie. Nonetheless, experience tells us that very often in violent conflicts both parties lose. Frequently, if no party can impose herself over the other(s) and they cannot compromise, the costs of fighting of each party will be so high that - no matter what the gain is - costs are higher. In other words, frequently parties in conflict lose more than they gain. A traditional aim of conflict transformation is to help the parties to see conflict as a non-zero-sum situation, where both parties can win or both can lose. That is, to expand the pie.
Activities you can use when working on this content include
- Popeye. A quick to organise, easy to understand and funny to play activity. Though quick to play, it can provide for hours of reflection on adversarial and competitive assumptions about negotiation and how these can influence the outcome;
- Green Card, Red Card. Inspired by Game Theory, specifically by the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”, this activity provides a situation where participants’ choice of cooperating or competing have evident effects in terms of their outcomes;
- Win All You Can. A version of the "prisoner's dilemma" that can be played in teams. This powerful game can provide for a thorough debriefing.
- Shall We Negotiate? Five sets of cards of different colours. Each colour has a different negotiating "power". Each participant has 5 cards of the same colour as start up - different participants, different colours. Each colour card has a specific value. Participants do not know who has which colour, they walk the room and try to make as many points as possible through one-on-one secret negotiations.
- Trucks. A simulation that explores cooperation and competition between groups, specifically how the use of threats affects it. It needs some preparation and the rules of the game need to be explained carefully to participants.
- Personal Conflict Style Inventory. There are a number of ways of responding to conflict and this tool is designed to help participants identify how they respond to conflict as soon as it occurs and after it has continued for a while. It is a self-assessment tool in a questionary format.