Conflict management skills acquisition and usage in student affairs mid-managers: a phenomenological study

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Cherise N.W. James (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Laura Gonzalez

Abstract: This phenomenological study examined the lived experiences of 14 Student Affairs mid-managers. These mid-managers represented a variety of student affairs functional areas including Residence Life, Service Learning, Student Conduct, and Student Union/Activities/Government. Study participants met the following criteria: (a) mid-managers with at least 3 years of experience supervising full-time professional staff; (b) oversaw a functional area; and (c) exhibited a willingness to openly discuss professional conflicts in their role as supervisor. The method of gathering data was individual interviews, as noted by the phenomenological nature of the study. The specific research questions for the study were: 1. How have conflict management skills been developed (graduate programs, workshops/conferences, on-the-job experiences) by mid-managers in student affairs? 2. How have these skills been utilized in their role as mid-managers? 3. What is the gap between the “real” state of affairs in higher education conflict management and the ideal as represented by conflict studies models and competency statements offered by Student Affairs related professional organizations? The following conclusions emerged from the results of the study: (a) lack of formal training both as individuals and as a profession; (b) individual responsibility in the development of skills; (c) the impact of on-the-job experiences (as a result of insufficient training); and (d) the active exploration of training opportunities outside of the field of student affairs. Implications for practice as a result of the study are (a) the need to imbed conflict management skills courses into graduate preparation programs; (b) the creation of formalized continued training or professional development opportunities for mid-managers; and (c) the importance of micro- and macro-development of skills throughout the organization as a deterrent for poor conflict management skills within the institutional environment.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Conflict Management, Higher Education, Mid-Managers, Student Affairs, Supervision
Conflict management
Personnel management
Student affairs administrators
Middle managers

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