COMMGMT 3506NA - Managing Conflict and Change III

Ngee Ann Academy - Trimester 1 - 2015

This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of negotiation, conflict management and change management in the workplace. Using various models the course will help students to develop an understanding of the importance of structured negotiation as a means of achieving effective organisational outcomes. It will also explore different strategies for dealing with conflict and implementing organisational change and the potential outcomes, both positive and negative, of the chosen strategy.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMMGMT 3506NA
    Course Managing Conflict and Change III
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Business School
    Term Trimester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s Ngee Ann Academy
    Units 3
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites COMMGMT 2500 or COMMGMT 2500NA
    Course Description This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of negotiation, conflict management and change management in the workplace. Using various models the course will help students to develop an understanding of the importance of structured negotiation as a means of achieving effective organisational outcomes. It will also explore different strategies for dealing with conflict and implementing organisational change and the potential outcomes, both positive and negative, of the chosen strategy.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Chris Smith

    Location: Room 10.35 10, Pulteney Street
    Telephone: 61 8 83138332
    Course website:
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    First Intensive:
    Date 0900 – 1000 1000 – 1300 1400 – 1530 1530 – 1700
    12  March 2015 Lecture Tutorial Consultation
    13 March 2015 Consultation Lecture Tutorial Consultation
    16 March 2015 Consultation Lecture Tutorial Consultation
    17 March 2015 Consultation Lecture Tutorial Consultation


    Second Intensive:
    Date 0900 - 1000 1000 -1300 1400 - 1530 1530 -1700
    23 April 2015 Lecture Tutorial Consultation
    24 April 2015 Consultation Lecture Tutorial Consultation
    27 April 2015 Consultation Lecture Tutorial Consultation
    28 April 2014 Consultation Lecture Tutorial Consultation

    Notes: Consultation times are available for student or lecturer initiated discussions with individuals or groups. They are not compulsory lecture sessions and are based on prior appointments. I.e. they are not ad hoc ‘drop-in’ arrangements.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    By the end of this course, students should be able to:
    1) Diagnose the dynamics of environmental and organizational change.
    2) Identify the major processes and practices that underlie successful and unsuccessful change
    3) Critically analyse different frameworks and methods of organizational change.
    4) Demonstrate an understanding of the causes of conflict in organisations and different mechanism for its management and resolution.
    5) Apply conflict management and concepts and theory to real world situations.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1,2,3,4,5
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1,2,3,4
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 5
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1,2,3,4,5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    There is no prescribed text for this course but readings have been provided. It is expected that students will research and read beyond the material provided. There is a vast literature on change and conflict and using ‘Google Scholar’ and search terms such as ‘change management’; ‘conflict resolution’; ‘negotiation and conflict’; etc. is a good place to start.

    Recommended Resources

    International Journal of Conflict Management
    Journal of Change Management
    Negotiation journal
    Strategic Change

    Online Learning
    Students are encouraged to read widely to enhance their learning of change and conflict. For wider reading, other sources include academic journals. The list below is by no means comprehensive and is offered as a launching point for additional readings. These journals are available through the Barr Smith Library in online databases.

    Academy of Management Executive
    Academy of Management Journal
    Academy of Management Perspectives
    Administrative Science Quarterly
    (Harvard Business Review – not peer reviewed)
    Human Relations
    Journal of Applied Psychology
    Journal of Change Management
    Journal of Organizational Behaviour
    Organization Science
    Organization Dynamics
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    This course is taught in intensive mode. Each day there is a three hour lecture and a one and a quarter hour tutorial. Tutorials are an important component of your learning in this course. Students are expected to attend all classes and ensure that they complete the required exercises and assignments before coming to class. Students are encouraged to actively participate in tutorial discussions as a way of developing sound communication skills.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The University expects full-time students to devote approximately 12 hours a week to each subject they study. The intensive mode of your study means that for each subject you are likely to concentrate your time over the two weeks devoted to the course. However you will need to find time for private study between intensives.

    Learning Activities Summary

     Intensive 1

    Session 1

    Managerial judgement in conflict and change
    Our prime learning outcome from the course is to be able to better understand, and therefore to better manage change and conflict in organizations. In this session we will establish an overview of the organization as the prime context (environment) within which to understand these dynamics. 
    Guidelines for drawing causal loop diagrams. The Systems Thinker, 3(1):5-6.Quarterly May: 1-9.

    Managers would be better off if they did less and thought more, The Economist 17/08/13

    Session 2
    Models and dynamics of change
    In this session we examine the core dynamics underpinning change and change theories. We will engage with the idea that the preferred approach of managers is only a good ‘tool’ in the right environment

    Beer, M. and Nohria, N. (2000) Cracking the Code of Change, Harvard Business Review, May-June, 133-141.

    Oxman, J. A. Smith, B D. (2003). The limits of structural change, Sloan Management Review, Fall: 77-82.

    Seel, R (1999) Complexity and OD-An Introduction.

    Session 3

    Change success and failure
    A commonly cited statistic is that over 70% of change initiatives fail. ‘Fail’ means that the intervention does not achieve its aims, incurs more costs than benefits and/or makes things worse than they were before. Here we will come to understand some of the dynamics/methods/systems that underpin successful and unsuccessful change management

    Beer, M., Eisenstat, A. & Spector, B. (1990) Why Change Programs Don’t Produce Change, Harvard Business Review, November-December: 158-166.

    Kotter, J. P. (1995) Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail, Harvard Business Review, March- April, 59-67.

    Successful change – McKinsey Surveys McKinsey Quarterly, (2006, 2010).

    Session 4
    Methods and processes of intervention (the change ‘toolkit’)
    Heeding the warnings of previous sessions we will discuss the variety of methods and processes that are available to managers once they have decided to embark on the change journey. We will also pay close attention to the (implicit) assumptions underpinning these methods.

    Boaz, N. and Fox, E. A. (2014) Change leader, change thyself. McKinsey Quarterly March 1-11.

    Kotter, JP and Schlesinger, LA. 2008 "Choosing strategies for change" Harvard Business Review, July-August, p130-139.
    Lawson, E. and Price, C. (2003). The psychology of change management’ The McKinsey Quarterly Special Edition. p. 30-41.

    Intensive 2


    Session 1

    Theories and reflections on conflict
    Conflict at national, organizational, group and individual levels is an ever-present human dynamic. In this session we examine the concepts and manifestation of conflict in its various forms.

    Pondy, L. R. (1967) Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Methods, Administrative Science Quarterly, 12(2): 296-320

    Thomas, K.W 1992 “Conflict and conflict management: Reactions and update” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13(3): 265-274.

    Session 2
    Conflict in organizations
    In this session we consider the organization and the dynamics of various forms of conflict We will debate whether conflict is an inevitable part of organizational life
    A matter of trust The Economist, Feb15th 2001

    Tjosvold, D. 2008 “The conflict-positive organization: it depends on us” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29(1), p19-28.

    Session 3

    Resolution and management of organizational conflict
    At individual and managerial level the management of conflict and either its elimination or resolution is something that all members of the organization are involved with.

    Miller, K. 2012 "Conflict Management Processes", chapter 9 in Organizational Communication. Approaches and Processes 6th ed. P161-178, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston MA

    Ridley-Duff, R. and Bennett, A. 2011 “Towards mediation: developing a theoretical framework to understand alternative dispute resolution”, Industrial Relations Journal 42(2), p106-123.

    Weiss, J. and Hughes, J. 2005 "Want collaboration? Accept and positively manage conflict", Harvard Business Review, March, p93-101.

    Session 4
    Negotiation – perspectives and practice
    Negotiation is a key process by means of which intra and inter-organizational conflicts are settled. There is a vast literature (and consultancy) on this particular approach and we will come to understand and practice it to some extent in this session.

    Fells, R. 1996 "Preparation for negotiation, issues and processes", Personnel Review, 25(2), p50-60.

    Kolb, DM. and Williams, J. 2001 "Breakthrough Bargaining", Harvard Business Review, February, p89-97.

    Malhotra, D. and Bazerman, M.H. 2007 “Investigative negotiation, Harvard Business Review, September, p72-78.


  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment item Due date and time Weighting
    Group assignment In-class exercises 30%
    Individual assignment 1 22/04/15 35%
    Individual assignment 2 29/05/15 35%
    Total 100%

    Assessment Related Requirements

    Students must achieve a pass mark of 50% of individual components of the course.
    Assessment Detail
    Assignment 1 (35%)
    The CEO of a 300 person high tech company in Singapore has approached you for advice. She is new to the position but already she has noted that the culture of the organization is focussed on the technology and its improvement and not on the user/customer. She has announced to you that she plans to put in place a series of ‘customer first’ training programmes for all the staff in order to move the company to a customer focussed culture.
    She has asked you what you think of this idea.
    Write her a brief report explaining (using various theories from the change literature and lectures) why her plan will probably fail and what she might do to improve her chances of success.

    Approximately 2000 words to be handed in via MyUni by midnight on Wednesday 22nd April 2015

    Assignment 2 (35%)
    The world is beset with international conflicts. Take one of these and put the positions of the opposing factions. (One page each). Having done this analyse the conflict using models from the course and the conflict literature. On the basis of this analysis give some broad ideas as to how long term management/resolution (distinguish between the two) might be attained.

    Approximately 2000 words to be handed in via MyUni by midnight on Friday 29th May 2015

    Group assessment (30%)
    This will comprise a number of in-class and tutorial cases and exercises.

    Please note that to be eligible for Additional Assessment (previously referred to as Supplementary Examinations) in this course ALL required assessment tasks must be submitted.
    For information on Harvard referencing refer to:
    1. Please note that all requests for extensions should be directed in writing to the Lecturer no later than 48 hours before the due date. Extension requests after this time will only be granted for exceptional circumstances. This does not include poor time management or poor file management.
    2. Extensions to the due date of individual and group assessment may be granted under special circumstances. An extension request based on illness or on exceptional personal circumstances must include the "Supporting Statement / Certification Form" that is on p. 4 of the Supplementary Assessment application available at:
      b. Students applying for an extension based on medical reasons must visit their medical practitioner, with the approved University form, and have the medical practitioner complete it. A normal doctor's certificate will not be accepted.
    3. All assignments are to be lodged at, or prior to, the due date and time. A late assignment where no extension has been granted will be penalised by a reduction of 5% of the mark given for each day, or part of a day, that it is late.
    Presentation of Assignments
    1. Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.
    2. All individual assignments must be attached to an Assignment Cover Sheet that must be signed and dated by the student before submission. Lecturers will withhold students’ results until such time as the student has signed the Assignment Cover Sheet.
    3. All group assignments must be attached to a Group Assignment Cover Sheet that must be signed and dated by all group members before submission. All team members are expected to contribute approximately equally to a group assignment.
    4. Students may not submit work for an assignment that has previously been submitted for this course or any other course.
    5. Markers can refuse to accept assignments that do not have a signed acknowledgement of the University’s Policy on Plagiarism:
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    This course is regularly revised and updated in response to student feedback.
  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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