Employees’ Perspectives Regarding Conflict Resolution

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Introduction

The current study intends to examine the attitudes of employees toward conflict resolution methods and determine the most effective and ineffective practices in their opinion. The participants are the employees as they tend to encounter everyday conflicts and can be subjected to mitigation practices implemented by managers (Bailey, Madden, Alfes, and Fletcher, 2017). Interviews will allow revealing a range of opinions on the chosen phenomenon. Notably, the current study will have limitations such as the bias of participants as well as their relatively low number. It is also essential to obtain informed consent from the interviewees for the latter to understand the reasons behind the study and their role in it.

Literature Review

The research is intended to expand the existing literature by focusing solely on employees rather than all of the company’s personnel, including managers and owners. Such an approach would contribute to a better understanding of ongoing processes regarding the emergence and resolution of conflicts at work (Roche, Teague, and Colvin, 2014). Moreover, it would provide the feedback of employees on the conflict resolution methods typical for their company, which is usually lacking in most studies (Bailey et al., 2017). Therefore, the primary research question is: What effect does the choice of a conflict resolution method have on the quality of communication between employees? The secondary research question is: How to choose a suitable conflict resolution method while taking into account the opinions of employees?

The primary sources chosen for the study would provide extensive information on the current status of the issue. They can be divided into several categories in accordance with the data they contain. The first and most important category is quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods. It is crucial for the choice of proper data collection methods in the context of the study. The second category is the previous studies of social issues and related subjects. It would be beneficial in terms of building on the experience of other researchers for a more precise outcome of the study. It is followed by the assessment of possible issues emerging in the course of the study.

Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Research Methods

The inclusion of literature on available research methods and their assessment in terms of correspondence to the current study is the primary task of a researcher. Hence, the consideration and the comparison of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods will contribute to a more precise outcome of future research. In the case of social issues such as conflict resolutions, qualitative data is more beneficial than other types (Austin and Sutton, 2014). However, its combination with quantitative data or, in other words, the use of mixed research methods, would possibly be more beneficial. Thus, the importance of a data collection method choice for future study defines the inclusion of these primary sources.

The decision on the data collection method will be made on the basis of the comparison of their advantages and disadvantages as well as suitability for this type of research. It is critical for receiving meaningful results allowing to imply them in further research on the subject. However, the choice of a data collection method should be followed by its evaluation of rigor and trustworthiness (Nowell et al., 2017). It will be accompanied by the consideration of research methods typical for social sciences and their possible application for this study (Nachmias and Nachmias, 2008). Hence, the experience of other scholars who examined related subjects would facilitate the research.

Social Sciences and Related Subjects

The next category of primary sources for the study covers the existing knowledge in the area of employees’ relationships and related issues. The principal subject of consideration would be employee engagement, as it is directly connected to the research questions (Bailey et al., 2017). It will be accompanied by societal inequalities and their application to the chosen context (Chapman, 2016). Lastly, the information on factors influencing job satisfaction will be included in the study and compared to the conflicts at work and their impact on employees (Roche, Teague, and Colvin, 2014). All in all, the available data gathered from the existing primary sources would contribute to the definition of future implications of the current study.

Consideration of Possible Issues

In such a study connected to the participation of employees, it is vital to anticipate possible complications resulting from ethical and legal considerations. The research implies interviews with people, and this approach requires their informed consent (Nijhawan et al., 2013). Hence, the study is possible only in the case of the provision of sufficient information on its course in accordance with universally accepted principles (Nijhawan et al., 2013). For this purpose, the literature containing such regulations would help avoid problems from participants’ discontent regarding the observance of their rights, procedures, risks, benefits, expectations, and other factors. This aspect of concern would be completed by other primary sources regarding the emergence of issues. It would be done after the consideration of the potential inclusion of different methods in the study and the accompanying tools for receiving information.

Research Design

Examining the perspectives of employees regarding Human Resource Management (HRM) practices and conflict management implies primary empirical research and the analysis of collected data. Gathering data from employees will reveal first-hand information, and such data will be of a qualitative nature. Qualitative data characterizes and approximates, can be observed and recorded, and is non-numerical (Mohajan, 2018). It is likely that the data will be collected with the help of face-to-face interviews with employees to gain their insight into the conflict management practices associated with the responsibilities of an HR professional.

Research Philosophy: Interpretivism

Due to the focus on inductive reasoning, the study will correlate to the interpretivism research philosophy. Interpretivism assumes accessing reality with the help of social phenomena containing shared meanings, language, and instruments. The emergence of interpretivism has been attributed to the critique of positivism in social studies. Therefore, inductive reasoning emphasizes the role of qualitative analysis over quantitative methods (Creswell, 2014). Within the perspective of interpretivism, the researcher is able to attain a deeper understanding of the studied phenomenon and its complexity within the unique set of variables instead of trying to generalize the base of understandings for the entire population (Pham, 2018). Since the study will deal with face-to-face interactions between the researcher and participants, interpretivism will encourage him to appreciate differences existing between individuals. These differences are essential as they may reveal a variety of perspectives in conflict resolution within HRM frameworks.

Research Approach: Inductive Reasoning

Based on the research onion framework presented by Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2009), interviews represent longitudinal methods of data collection, which implies action research, and an inductive approach toward interpreting information. The inductive approach starts with observations and theories proposed toward the final stages of the research process as an outcome of observations. Inductive research is linked to the search for patterns from scholarly observation and the emergence of explanations for the models through a series of hypotheses.

It is usually accepted that no hypotheses would work in inductive studies at the primary stages of the research, and there is freedom in terms of changing the direction for the exploration after the process of inquiry has commenced. Therefore, it is highly likely that after data collection, the course of the study would change based on the findings of interviews (Chapman, 2016). However, this does not mean that the inductive approach does not consider disregarding the existing theories when shaping research objectives and questions (Bendassolli, 2013). Instead, it is linked to learning from experience and determining the patterns in experiences observed for reaching research conclusions.

Sample

For the study exploring effective conflict resolution practices, it is expected to interview employees from two different organizations to compare the perspectives of workers (Roche, Teague and Colvin, 2014). Within HRM, conflict resolution plays a vital role because it helps find solutions to issues associated with internal relationships, prevent occurrences that bring negativity to the workplace and eliminate stress, reduce levels of employee satisfaction, demotivation, and overall employee unrest (Overton and Lowry, 2013). There are different approaches HRM professionals use when resolving conflicts, and it is vital to determine the attitudes of employees toward them.

Data Collection

Interviews represent a qualitative data collection method that implies a researcher talking to study participants about the subject. Individuals participating in a study are asked to share their experiences and suggestions to assist in answering research questions that will guide the study. A qualitative interview entails discovering the perspectives of interviewees, which are valuable within the inductive research approach (Bradshaw, Atkinson, and Doody, 2017). The research must avoid imposing any preliminary assumptions that may influence the answers. Any bias that may be included in the interviews will belong to respondents and not the researchers. Moreover, variables that emerge in the course of interviews may be different from those that have been initially predicted.

It is expected that the researcher uses semi-structured interviews, which contain the qualities of both structured and unstructured interviews. In this model, an interviewer develops a set of questions that will be asked to interviewees. There is a possibility of asking additional questions for clarifying answers. The researcher will engage in conversations with respondents to reveal their perspectives on conflict management (Newcomer, Hatry, and Wholey, 2015). Semi-structured interviews allow for flexibility in terms of gathering information for a study and provide for the possibility of the research shifting and fluctuating its objectives based on the findings attained in the course of the interviews.

Data Analysis

When it comes to processing qualitative data obtained with the help of interviews, thematic analysis is expected to be implemented. This method underlines the emphasis, analysis, and interpretation of patterns, or themes (Bengtsson, 2016). It is often perceived as a technique used to contrast other analytic approaches, which are the methodologies or theoretically informed research frameworks. Moreover, it is essential to note that thematic analysis represents an umbrella term for a wide range of different approaches.

Thematic analysis is a method focused on the organization and detailed description of data sets and theoretically informed interpretations of meanings. With the help of coding, the researcher will develop themes through the identification of items of analytic interest. Due to the semi-structured nature of the interviews, some themes may already be pre-determined because of the pre-prepared questions (Kobayashi, 2019).

However, other themes will be open to development in the course of coding based on the answers given by the study participants in their interviews. The flexibility of the thematic analysis is highly relevant for the current research because it offers opportunities for adjusting research objectives when new findings emerge. Moreover, the thematic analysis is used to explore questions about the experiences of participants, their behaviors in the workplace with co-workers, and norms and rules governing practices, including the social construction of meanings.

The framework of thematic analysis implies several steps that the scholar will follow when analyzing the information. The first step is familiarizing oneself with data, usually through transcribing the interviews that were taped. The second step is assigning preliminary codes to data for the purpose of describing the content of the interviews. The third step implies searching for themes or patterns in the codes across the answers given by different interviewees (Nowell, Norris, White, and Moules, 2017).

Some of the answers to questions will have similar content, which means that they can be attributed to the same themes. However, codes can be different because not all respondents will have a positive reaction to the same phenomenon. The fourth step implies reviewing themes to come up with the most appropriate ways to identify them. While thematic analysis procedures take more time for comparison, they offer an opportunity to have in-depth information regarding the way in which employees perceive conflict management within HR practices.

Limitations and Benefits of the Approach

The qualitative methodology is aimed at understanding a complex reality and the meanings of actions within a given context (Almeida, Faria, and Queiros, 2017). It is concerned with aspects of reality that cannot be quantified, focusing on the range of explanations on how social relations work (Nachmias and Nachimias, 2008). The framework of qualitative data use is intended to align with the universe of meanings, aspirations, beliefs, and attitudes corresponding to a deeper set of relationships, processes, and phenomena that cannot be diminished to the operationalization of variables (Maxwell, 2013). The benefits of the chosen design method are vast and predominantly associated with volumes and details of data.

The first benefit of qualitative research is the capacity to produce detailed descriptions of participants’ opinions and interpret their meanings and actions (Rahman, 2016). Second, qualitative research, or interpretivism, implies a holistic understanding of human experiences in specific settings, which is highly valuable for the current research. Third, qualitative research is regarded as ideographic study, which explores individual cases or events, as well as the abilities to understand the voices and perspectives of people and the meanings behind them (Grossoehme, 2014).

In the context of the present research, the broad range of views is invaluable because it offers various data on the subject. Fourth, qualitative research methods, such as semi-structured interviews, imply interactions between study participants and the interviewer, which are essential for reaching a level of mutual understanding (Austin and Sutton, 2014). Lastly, qualitative research is highly flexible in structure and can be reconstructed.

Despite the broad range of advantages of qualitative research, it is essential to mention its limitations. First, a qualitative methodology can leave out contextual sensitivities and pay too much attention to meanings (Rahman, 2016). Therefore, there is an increased risk of focusing on the experiences of participants instead of other imperative issues. Second, decision-makers may attribute low levels of credibility to qualitative research results.

Organizational managers who make decisions on appropriate ways of conflict resolution may not consider the findings of qualitative interviews important due to the lack of statistical data. The third limitation refers to the issue of sample generalisability (Flick, 2017). Finally, since there is a smaller sample size, it would be more complicated to generalize findings to the entire population.

Ethical Considerations

While interviews present immense opportunities for collecting valuable information, it is essential to consider the harms of this method. Social studies do not include physical harm; there is a potential for psychological or social harm (Radley and Dart, 2019). In the current context, breach of confidentiality and privacy presents challenges for the researcher and the study population. Because of this, the researcher should be careful while protecting the information.

The primary ethical consideration associated includes obtaining proper consent before an interview begins. Informed consent is a process associated with getting permission from study participants based on their clear understanding of facts, implications, and consequences of the study. Study participants who sign an informed consent form understand their role in the study (Nijhawan et al., 2013). The researcher should respect the privacy of participants by not asking them questions, including any sensitive information. In addition, respect for cultural norms is imperative due to the need to avoid taboo topics. The data collected during interviews should remain confidential and protected from access by third parties. Finally, the information should be reported accurately and honestly, which means that it must be reported word-for-word without identifying any names.

Reference List

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Austin, Z., and Sutton, J. (2014) ‘Qualitative research: getting started,’ The Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 67(6), pp. 436-440.

Bailey, C., Madden, A., Alfes, K. and Fletcher, L. (2017) ‘The meaning, antecedents, and outcomes of employee engagement: a narrative synthesis,’ International Journal of Management Reviews, 19, pp. 31-53.

Bendassolli, P. (2013) ‘Theory building in qualitative research: reconsidering the problem of induction,’ Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(1), pp. 1-10.

Bengtsson, M. (2016) ‘How to plan and perform a qualitative study using content analysis,’ NursingPlus Open, 2, pp. 8-14.

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Maxwell, J. (2013) Qualitative research design: an interactive approach. London, UK: Sage.

Mohajan, H. (2018) ‘Qualitative research methodology in social sciences and related subjects,’ Journal of Economic Development, Environment and People, 7(1), pp. 23-48.

Nachmias, C. F., & Nachmias, D. (2008) Research methods in the social sciences. New York, NY: Worth.

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Nijhawan, L. P., Janodia, M. D., Muddukrishna, B. S., Bhat, K. M., Bairy, K. L., Udupa, N., and Musmade, P. (2013) ‘Informed consent: issues and challenges,’ Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, 4(3), pp. 134-140.

Nowell, L., Norris, J., White, D., and Moules, N. (2017). ‘Thematic analysis: striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria‘. International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

Overton, A. and Lowry, A. (2013). ‘Conflict management: difficult conversations with difficult people,’ Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, 26(4), pp. 259-264.

Pham, L. (2018). A review of key paradigms: passivism, interpretivism, and critical inquiry.

Radley, K. and Dart, E. (2019). Handbook of behavioural interventions in schools: multi-tiered systems of support. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rahman, S. (2017). ‘The advantages and disadvantages of using qualitative and quantitative approaches and methods in language “testing and assessment” research: a literature review,’ Journal of Education and Learning, 6(1), pp. 102-112.

Roche, W., Teague. P. and Colvin, A. (2014). The Oxford handbook of conflict management in organizations. New York: Oxford University Press.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business students (5th ed.): Pearson Education Limited, England.

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