Deutsch, Coleman and Marcus ) Research Paper

Pages: 8 (2561 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Careers

Each of these approaches may be optimal for certain situations, but collaboration is typically regarded as providing "win-win" outcomes in many cases (Bratkovic, 2010). By identifying individual preferences for conflict resolution on both sides of the table, though, practitioners will be in a better position to identify which approach is best suited for a given situation (Bratkovic, 2010). In this regard, Kindler (1999) emphasizes that, "Your challenge is to choose the strategy, or blend, appropriate to each situation. Therefore, it is helpful to determine if you tend to overuse one or two habitual styles and neglect others" (p. 12).

One of the developers of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, Kenneth W. Thomas, emphasizes that resolving deeply entrenched conflicts such as the fast-food workers complaints with the fast-food industry requires a careful assessment of preferred conflict management styles (Bryce, 2000). Besides higher wages, Thomas suggests that other factors such as a sense of meaningfulness, a sense of purpose, a sense of choice, and a sense of competence are also critical components of job satisfaction that should be included in the conflict management framework (Bryce, 2000).

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It is important to note that while thousands of fast-food workers took to the streets in cities across the country to demand higher wages, tens of thousands more stayed at work for whatever reason (many cited a fear of being fired as the main reason) (Bacon, 2013). Therefore, while a blanket increase in the minimum wage would go a long way towards resolving this conflict, this increase in and of itself will be insufficient to ensure a long-term solution. As Bryce (2000) points out, "Each person is individual, and mismatched pieces of standard management practice and rewards for the masses are no longer acceptable" (p. 66).

Anticipated outcomes

Research Paper on Deutsch, Coleman and Marcus (2006), Assignment

The optimal outcome of the fast-food worker strike would be a living wage and the other perquisites that typify meaningful employment for most Americans. As Kindler (1999) points out, "The rewards of managing disagreement well are substantial. Skillfully handling differences boosts productivity, reduces stress, sparks creativity, enhances working relationships, opens career paths, benefits workplace diversity, and builds commitment to a shared vision" (p. 11). These are certainly worthwhile outcomes to pursue, but the fast-food industry's reaction to the recent walk-out strikes has not been encouraging (Conniff, 2014).

Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that there are not going to be any truly major winners in this scenario no matter what conflict management approach is used. Indeed, many authorities believe that the national minimum wage would have to be raised to over $20 an hour to provide workers with a living wage, and this may not even be sufficient in some parts of the country with higher costs of living. As Conniff (2014) emphasizes, "Americans see the widening gap between a gilded elite that has recently enjoyed a stock market surge and the vast majority of working Americans who have watched their wages shrink, their job prospects dim, and their college aspirations buried under crushing debt" (p. 7).

Striking fast-food workers in Seattle made this point during their demonstrations and one protestor emphasized that, "We're asking for $15 because in order to support one person in a one-bedroom apartment, you need to make $14.88. We don't make anywhere near that and we're all on food stamps" (cited in Conniff, 2014, p. 7). Certainly, the minimum wage could be raised to $10 or $12 or even $20 and it is unlikely that the dire outcomes being predicted by the fast food industry will transpire. These are multi-billion dollar enterprises that have a veritable captive market, a sound infrastructure and deep pockets that will ensure their survival in the future.

Of course, concomitant increases to consumer prices for fast food products would have to be made to compensate for these increases to wages, and it is reasonable to assume that these increases made by the fast-food industry would more than offset the costs of the higher wages. Substantially higher prices, though, would likely drive down demand for fast food, especially in the short-term, as consumers react to these increases. Over time, though, other efficiencies of operation and innovations in technology will likely help keep prices reasonable and affordable by the fast-food industry's target market -- which is to say almost everyone.


There are millions of full-time workers across the country that earn minimum wage, and these individuals frequently live below the what is regarded as middle class and even the poverty level because the minimum wage does not represent a legitimate "living wage." This situation has been countenanced for decades by mainstream America because these are largely unskilled jobs that can be learned in a few minutes and were largely regarded as a stepping stone to more meaningful employment later in life. Times have changed, though, and many people must seek full-time employment where it is available, even if this means flipping burgers and cleaning restrooms for a living. The importance of a sound work ethic is driven into schoolchildren from the time they step into the classroom and millions of Americans work at minimum-wage jobs as a result of personal preference or circumstances that demand the same level of dedication and diligence as higher paying positions. By paying these millions of Americans less than a living wage, the fast-food industry is ensuring that this particular conflict will continue for the foreseeable future and the incremental gains they achieve will never keep pace with the cost of living unless and until they employ a conflict resolution approach that can achieve the goals. The research suggests that these goals could best be accomplished by employing a collaborative approach that helps to define all stakeholders' interests and identifying courses of action that will satisfy these interests.


Bacon, J. (2013, December 5). Fast-food workers strike, protest for higher pay. USA Today.

Retrieved from

Bratkovic, B. (2010, June). Managing conflict. Government Finance Review, 26(3), 51-55.

Bryce, D. (2000, November). Motivation by the book. Training & Development, 54(11), 66.

Bussel, B. (2014, January 19). King also dreamed of workers' justice, dignity. The Register

Guard (Eugene, OR), 43.

Conniff, R. (2014, February). The Democrats' progressive turn. The Progressive, 78(2), 6-9.

Deutsch, M., Coleman, P.T., & Marcus, E.C. (Eds.). (2006). The handbook of conflict resolution: Theory and practice (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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