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A metaphorical analysis of organizational conflict

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Title:
A metaphorical analysis of organizational conflict
Creator:
Heath, Laurie Page
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vii, 64 leaves : forms ; 29 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Communication in organizations ( lcsh )
Conflict management ( lcsh )
Communication in organizations ( fast )
Conflict management ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 63-64).
Thesis:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Communication and Theatre
Statement of Responsibility:
by Laurie Page Heath.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
36949126 ( OCLC )
ocm36949126
Classification:
LD1190.L48 1996m .H43 ( lcc )

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Full Text
A METAPHORICAL ANALYSIS OF
ORGANIZATIONAL CONFLICT
by
Laurie Page Heath
B.A., University of Colorado, 1991
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Communication and Theatre
1996


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Laurie Page Heath
has been approved
by
Michael Monsour
Barbara Holmes
-7^5*-^
Date


Heath, Laurie Page (M.A., Communication and Theatre)
A Metaphorical Analysis of Organizational Conflict
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Michael Monsour
ABSTRACT
The perspective on organizational culture held by a member of an
organization influences the member's metaphorical view of organizational conflict.
Metaphors are used symbolically in organizational communication to represent a
concept in terms of another. Describing organizational life as a "well oiled machine"
invokes a metaphor to imply that members or departments work well together to
produce a product. Interdepartmental conflict occurs when one department blocks
the goals of another.
A written survey containing open and closed ended questions was
administered to employees of an organization. Thirty two surveys were used for
analysis, representing 9 departments. Each respondent was placed in a cultural
perspective group.
Eighteen participants hold a functional perspective, that is, culture is defined
and regulated by those in power. They have been employed in the organization for an
average of 95 months. The functional group was unable to metaphorically describe
conflict, this reflects their feeling of powerlessness and uncertainty as to conflict
approach.
Six participants, employed an average of 36 months, hold an interpretive
perspective, that is, culture is defined and regulated by all organizational members.
The members use sensory metaphors like "tunnel vision" to describe conflict
indicating an abstract, subjective approach.
in


Eight participants, employed an average of 110 months, describe the cultural
perspective as a combination of the two perspectives. A game/race metaphor is used
to describe conflict implies conflict moves are rule governed and there will be a
"winner".
Differences in choices of metaphors are most closely associated with
differences in levels of empowerment among the cultural perspective groups. The
more empowerment a member feels the more likely he/she is to use an abstract,
subjective approach; less empowerment decreases the ability to metaphorically
describe conflict and use the metaphor as a framework for approach.
Two different metaphoric subcultures emerged, assigning different meanings
to the same metaphor. The assignment of different meanings is a precursor to conflict
and strengthens the argument that conflict exists in the organization because it is
symbolized differently by the members of different cultural perspective groups.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend
Michael Monsour
IV


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I am very grateful for the support, encouragement and advice of Mike
Monsour. I extend many thanks to Mike for the innumerable hours he spent
advising me on this project. I would also like to acknowledge Dallas Jensen of the
Computing, Information and Network Services department for his help with SPSSx.
Thank-you to Benita Dilley for introducing me to the "magic" of metaphors in her
rhetorical theory seminar and for taking an active role in my oral examinations.
Barbara Holmes was instrumental in seeing that I completed this project by agreeing
to participate in my oral examination, sincere thanks are offered to Barbara.


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION....................................1
Literature Review..............................3
Purpose and Rationale..........................9
2. METHODS........................................12
Participants..................................12
Response Rate...............................13
Procedures....................................14
Variable Definitions..........................17
Data Analysis.................................18
Research Question 1.........................18
Research Question 2........................ 21
Research Question 3.........................22
Research Question 4.........................25
3. RESULTS........................................26
Research Question 1...........................26
Likert Responses to Culture
Perspective Survey Questions................27
Research Question 2...........................30
Research Question 3...........................35
Research Question 4...........................40
4. DISCUSSION.....................................42
Cultural Perspectives and
Metaphors.....................................42
Metaphoric Subcultures........................48
Perspective, Metaphor
and Conflict Approach.........................50
Limitations...................................52
Conclusions...................................54
vi


APPENDIX
A. SURVEY INSTRUMENT...................57
B. INTRODUCTION LETTER.................61
C. CONSENT FORM........................62
WORKS CITED.................................63
vii


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Organizational conflict can be analyzed in terms of the relationship between
deep structure and surface symbolic forms (Mumby, 1988). The everyday activities
of an organization are illustrated in part by the stories told, memos sent and rituals
practiced within the organization. The way conflict is managed in an organization is
in itself a surface symbolic form, sending messages as to the power structure of the
organization. What matters most to members of an organization is that surface
symbolic forms match reality, that is, satisfied, effective employees understand the
values held in the organizational deep structure and are able to translate those values
into meaningful surface symbolic forms for use in carrying out everyday
organizational life (Mumby, 1988).
This research intends to investigate the relationship between deep structure,
organizational surface symbolic forms (specifically metaphors) and organizational
conflict. An understanding of the metaphorical views organizational members hold
toward organizational conflict will lead to an understanding of their approach to
1


conflict in everyday organizational life.
Organizational symbolism makes up and perpetuates organizational power.
Power and culture are product and process of organizational activity. In an
organization, when resources are used to support the interest of one group over
another, power has been exercised. Symbols are used to express the underlying
character, ideology or value systems of an organization. Symbols function to
describe (provide information), to control energy (increase or decrease tension) and
to maintain the system to justify certain actions (mergers). Examples of the types of
surface symbols include: verbal forms (a) myths, (b) stories, (c) slogans, (d) jokes; or
actions (a) rituals, (b) parties, (c) meals; or material (a) status symbols, (b) awards,
(c) pins (Mumby, 1988).
Mumby (1988) proposes that decision making constitutes an organizational
symbolic form. Conflict management also represents a symbolic form of
organizational life that verbally, ritualistically and materially links deep structure
with patterns of everyday organizational life. The basis for this argument is that
conflict is "an expressed (action centered) struggle between at least two
interdependent parties (members or departments of the organization) who perceive
incompatible goals, scarce resources (materials, power), and interference from the
2


other party in achieving their goals" (Hocker & Wilmot, 1991, p. 12). As a surface
symbolic form, the metaphors used to describe interdepartmental conflict can be
studied in the organization as an indication of deep structure.
Literature Review
Organizational culture is subjective in nature and can be examined from two
perspectives (Sypher, Applegate & Sypher, 1985). The functionalist perspective
holds that culture is something an organization has. The organization has a passive
view of the individual and culture is controlled by controlling communication. The
management creates meaning for the employees through story telling as an implicit
means of communication. Heroes are created and values are sustained in stories that
describe organizational performance. Deep structure is "protected" in this
perspective as a result of the controlling of information by those in power. "From this
view the symbolic world (surface symbolic forms) is considered another source of
influences on organizational behavior." (Sypher et al., 1985, p. 15).
The interpretive perspective holds that culture is something an organization is.
Culture is in part, a behavioral phenomenon that shapes reality by social action and
interaction. Communication and culture are seen as "vehicles through which reality
3


is constituted in organized contexts." (Sypher et al., 1985, p. 17). Interpretation and
description are more important than function and causality in this view. The purpose
of stories' context and meaning is to construct a sense of order in organizational life.
This is a symbolic process that employs complex metaphors to create symbols. The
content and meaning of surface symbolic forms are used to help members to
"construct a sense of order in their organizational lives." (Sypher et al., 1985, p. 17).
The employees form their own idea of culture rather than being told as in the
functionalist perspective. Deep structure evolves from the employees' collective
interpretation of what the culture "is" as determined by the meaning they assign to
corporate communication.
According to Carbaugh (1985), culture is made up of spoken, shared
symbolic codes. These codes reveal a "sense of work life" just as stories do in the
interpretive perspective described by Sypher et al.(1985). Carbaugh warns that
spoken codes must be considered situationally, physically and contextually. This
consideration is further evidence that his views on organizational culture are more
closely associated with the interpretive perspective. Organizational culture attempts
to create a common ground for the employees, it is something they can fall back on
when communicating, creating and reflecting on life in the organization.
4


Stella Ting-Toomey (1985) posits that conflict and culture are functionally
interdependent in that, conflict is an adaptational communication process. She states
that conflict is based on the incompatible goals, needs, desires, values, beliefs and/or
attitudes of two or more interdependent parties. According to Ting-Toomey, conflict
arises when parties from different cultures have different ways of expressing and
interpreting the same symbolic action, the action is rule governed. Symbols are
representational images such as signs, words and non-verbals. Culture provides the
context for conflict. "Culture, the conceptual paradigm in which all behaviors
originate, dictates how conflict can be managed, interpreted and understood"
(Ting-Toomey, 1985, p. 83). The corporate cultural context is in part defined by the
nature of the corporate narrative as a form of organizational communication.
Robert Heath (1994) advances enactment theory to explain the processes
involved in organizational communication. His views incorporate power, symbolism
and action into a contemporary model of organizational life. Enactment theory treats
(organizational) life as an undirected play, a theater of sorts where employees are the
actors. Organizations are made up of people in relationships and enactment theory
enables people to predict and coordinate their activities. The roles and rules are
expressed by the organization's members in the forms of narrative and metaphor
5


(symbolic forms or acts). When the actions of organizational members are important,
the culture is described as having an interpretive perspective. The ideas of enactment
theory parallel those of the interpretive cultural perspective.
Communication takes place when interactions result in words and actions that
are meaningful to those involved. Shared meanings guide judgment and behaviors.
Heath refers to "zones of meaning", which are comprised of shared information and
interpretations resulting from experience (similar), jargon and training/education.
Shared meaning results in coordinated effort and collective results according to
Heath.
As meanings relate to conflict Heath (1994) states, "shared meaning allows
organization members to engage in routine coordinated activities and gives them
focal points of handling turbulence" (p. 117). Words serve to define, express
attitudes and prescribe action according to Heath. Conflict management can be
justified by enactment theory because it is action centered.
As meanings relate to the organization, organizational stories can be used by
members in order to expand the number of relationships they have with other
members, and to share idioms or terminology among members. Heath (1994), notes
that as long as the "old" stories are being told in the organization, the organizational
6


culture will be unable to change despite a change in the cast of players, (p. 89).
Heath cites four authors (Smirchich & Morgan,1982;Weick & Browning, 1986),
when he says that culture is a result of meaning captured and repeated (with a
summative effect) in stories. According to Heath, stories contain information and
premises that members use to coordinate their activities.
Organizational narratives or stories may incorporate metaphorical language to
tell the story. Metaphors compare two concepts, for example when an employee
states, "this shop is a circus" he/she is using a metaphor that implies lots of unfocused
activity. Heath (1994), refers to Morgan (1986) when he describes the way
metaphors can be used. Diagnostic metaphors emerge from employee conversations,
analytic metaphors are interpretive constructs providing a framework for action.
Both diagnostic and analytical metaphors are used to manage and design
organizations by suggesting which acts are appropriate or not.
As an act, creative conflict management employs metaphors. According to
Wheeler (1987), creative conflict management assumes there are multiple truths and
realities, not just one way to handle conflict. The multiple realities perspective posits
that a metaphor interacts with behavior and people to produce reality, therefore,
different metaphors contribute to different realities. The metaphor used by an
7


organizational member to describe organizational conflict influences the "reality" of
the conflict in the member's mind.
Metaphoric subcultures emerge within an organization among groups or
departments that use the same metaphor in the same way (Heath, 1994). This
represents a shared view of reality. There are two levels of sharing. Agreement
occurs when the same metaphor is used for the same object or activity.
Understanding occurs when the meaning of the metaphor is shared by individuals at
different levels of the organization. Organizational meaning is embedded in
metaphor.
Different metaphoric subcultures exist in an organization when the groups or
departments have different perceptions of the organizational world. This may lead to
different enactments because people enact the view they hold (Heath, 1994). A study
of the metaphors used by organizational members will promote an understanding of
the deep structure of the organization and will provide insight into organizational
conflict.
8


Purpose and Rationale
The purpose of this research is to determine the organizational members'
perspective on organizational culture, place the member in a cultural perspective
group, and examine how the perspective relates to the metaphorical view of
interdepartmental conflict in the organization.
This study answers four research questions. Do organizational members as a
group, hold a functional or interpretive perspective on their organizational culture?
The research categorized the individual members based on their survey responses.
Do different metaphoric subcultures exist in the organization? Based on cultural
perspective, the researcher determined whether or not subcultures exist by examining
the organizational culture groups' interpretation of the same metaphor. What are
some of the recurring metaphors that constitute the basic patterns of conflict in
organizational culture? Respondents were asked to narrate a conflict and describe the
conflict metaphorically. Does the perspective on culture impact the choice of
metaphor used to describe conflict, thereby impacting the approach to the conflict?
This question begins to address the realities of the conflict and leads to further
research in metaphorical conflict management.
9


The independent variable is organizational members' perspective on
organizational culture; functional, interpretive or a combination. The dependent
variable is made up of the constructs of metaphor and departmental conflict.
The constitutive definition of organizational culture (deep structure) is the
intangible yet observable organizational value system that makes up the spiritual and
material economy of the organization. The functional perspective is described as
culture defined by organizational members in power. The interpretive perspective is
described as culture as defined by all the organizational members. The constitutive
definition of surface symbolic forms (metaphor) is that which is descriptive of,
controls energy, and maintains the organization through connotative meaning. The
constitutive definition of conflict is, an expressed struggle, occurring between
interdependent parties due to the perception of incompatible goals, scarce resources
or blockage of goal attainment (Hocker & Wilmot, 1991).
The rationale for this approach was based on the concept that the everyday
activities of an organization are illustrated in part by the stories (metaphors) told and
rituals (conflict) practiced within the organization. By asking the organizational
members to tell a story about interdepartmental conflict and describing it
metaphorically, the research will examine the extent to which a surface symbolic
10


form (metaphor) represents reality.
11


CHAPTER 2
METHODS
Participants
The participants are employees of a 120 bed for-profit hospital in the Denver
metropolitan area. The hospital is owned and managed by a large international
hospital corporation undergoing a rapid growth and consolidation period in January
1996. The set of all employees (666) is comprised of the following elements or
categories: registered nurses (255), management (25), medical staff (23), support staff
with high school diplomas (151), and professionals with 2-4 year degrees (212). The
surveys, introduction letter and consent forms (see Appendixes A, B and C) were
distributed with the paychecks to each department manager on January 26,1996.
Each manager distributed the surveys to the employees in his/her department.
The respondents were given ten days to complete the survey for this single
stage sampling design. The respondents were asked to deposit the completed survey
and consent forms in separate collection boxes in the cafeteria. The demographic
data requested from each participant included: age, sex, department, level of
12


education, employee categorical membership, race and number of years of
employment in the organization. The definitions of key constructs were provided on
the survey in order to standardize the variables for the respondents.
Response Rate
The expected response rate was 100 usable surveys representing 20% of all
employees. A total of 34 surveys were collected, 32 of which were complete and
were used for analysis. The mean age of the respondents was 43 years old, the mean
number of months employed in the organization was 89, the mean number of years of
education was 16. Twenty five females and 8 males participated. The actual
response rate was 5% of the total population sampled.
Nine departments were represented in this study. The survey sample is made
up of registered nurses (13%), support staff (13%), professional staff (56%),
management (16%), and medical staff (3%). As compared to the total number
(population) of employees in each category, nurses and support staff are
underrepresented, professionals and management are overrepresented and the
medical staffs representation in the sample percentage is the same as their
representation of the total population. The staff that responded to the survey
13


consisted of 2% of the population of registered nurses, 3% of support staff, 8% of
professional staff, 20% of management and 4% of medical staff.
The low response rate was attributed to three factors. The hospital had
administered an employee satisfaction survey two weeks prior to the administration
of this survey and fatigued employees were not enthusiastic about participating in
another survey. Four employees told the investigator they felt the outcome of surveys
might be used against them by management, despite the fact that anonymity was
assured. The survey administered for this research was time consuming and
challenged the employees to think critically, this effected the response rate.
The response validity of the groups is at stake in this research due to the lack
of correlation between the percentage of actual respondents and the percentage of
potential respondents in the population. This survey sample is biased because all
categories are not represented adequately and the sample was not randomly drawn.
Procedures
Permission to conduct this research was granted by the Human Research
Committee of the University of Colorado at Denver. A pretest was conducted prior
to the administration of the survey. Two participants were chosen, one at the
14


management level, the other the professional level. These two individuals were
chosen in order to check the understanding of instructions, definitions, and survey
questions by different employee types. The feedback obtained from the pretest
prompted a few changes in the survey.
The metaphor definition was modified to include an example of an
organizational metaphor (see Appendix A). The additional example enabled the
respondents to tie all the variables together and reduce ambiguity. The other
modification involved the physical layout of the survey instrument, such as, allowing
more space for responding to the open-ended questions.
The instructions were clear to the pretest participants, they stated that the
survey was easiest if they took it for "face value" that is, immediately recording their
initial response. This statement established the face validity of the study. The
consistency of their responses was evidence for face validity and added to the
reliability of the study. Both participants were able to describe a conflict as defined,
thereby supporting the accuracy of the definition of conflict (see Appendix A). One
participant provided a gaming metaphor of conflict. She stated the conflict had a
"domino effect" among the departments. The other pretest respondent used a cliche'
in place of a metaphor when she stated that conflicts occur in her department because
15


the staff was "spread too thin". The definition of metaphor given on the survey (see
Appendix A) may not have been accurate enough to allow the respondents to
distinguish between a cliche' and a metaphor. Both respondents were able to describe
their perspectives on organizational culture using combinations of the choices given
on survey question 1 and the Likert scaled survey questions 8,9,11 and 12 (see
Appendix A).
After the pretest was administered, data was collected by means of a 17 item,
cross-sectional, self-designed survey containing open and close-ended questions.
The survey was designed to answer four research questions and the data were
statistically analyzed. The open-ended questions in this survey were designed to
check the "fit" between the ideal and reality and serve as methods of discovery and
interpretation as well as a tool for action. Researcher induced bias is reduced by
asking open-ended questions (Smith, 1988). The 7 point Likert scaled close-ended
questions are designed to measure key constructs and to provide interval level data
for statistical analysis. A copy of the letter of introduction, the consent form and the
survey are located in the Appendixes A, B and C.
16


Variable Definitions
The variables to analyze in this study included perspective on organizational
culture, surface symbolic forms (metaphor), and conflict. The independent variable
is the perspective on organizational culture; functional, interpretive or a combination.
A functional perspective on culture holds that the organization has a passive view of
its members and that culture is controlled by controlling communication.
Information is controlled by those in power in the functional perspective. The
interpretive perspective on culture contends that the organizational members shape
organizational reality through their actions and interactions. The employees form
their own idea of culture in the interpretive perspective.
The dependent variable is the metaphor used to describe interdepartmental
conflict. Conflict as a ritual is thought to be symbolically represented by metaphors.
For example, describing conflict as a game indicates the individual's orientation
toward the conflict. A war metaphor would indicate a different orientation.
A variable's operational definition specifies the operations a researcher goes
through to measure his/her key constructs (Watt & VanDenBerg, 1995). A construct
becomes a variable when it is measurable. For this study, the construct cultural
17


perspective (functional, interpretive or combination) was measured by the generation
of nominal level data. Respondents were asked to check cultural characteristics from
a list provided on the survey. Each respondent was placed in 1 of 3 groups (a)
functional, (b) interpretive, or (c) combination. The placement was based on the
characteristics he/she chose to describe the organizational culture.
The constructs conflict (blockage of goal attainment) and metaphor (speaking
of one thing as if it were another) were measured by the use of a 7 point Likert Scale
and content analysis of answers to open-ended questions. Interval level data was
generated for these variables. A response of "strongly agree" is scored a 7 and
"strongly disagree" is a 1 on the Likert scale. A response of 4 is "unsure".
Data Analysis
Research Question 1
Do organizational members as a group, hold a functional or interpretive
perspective on their organizational culture? Survey questions 1, 8,9,11, and 12 (see
Appendix A) address research question 1.
Perspective on organizational culture was operationalized by asking the
respondents to check as many or as few of the characteristics of the culture of the
18


hospital as they wish. Eight characteristics were listed, four were characteristics of
interpretive perspectives and four were functional characteristics.
Table 2.1 lists the characteristics for survey question 1.
Table 2.1
Characteristics of Functional (T"> and Interpretive fit Cultural Perspectives
defined by those in power
F information is circulated by those in power
carried out by those in power
defined by those in power, carried out by all employees of the hospital
defined by all of its employees
all employees have a voice in the organization
I information is circulated by all employees
carried out in the actions of all the employees
Using the SPSSx program, a formula for computing group membership was
devised and computed for the individual respondents. A" yes" response indicated by
a check mark on the survey was scored 1, while the absence of a mark was
considered a" no" and scored 2. The sum of the interpretive characteristics
indicated by an individual was divided by the sum of the individual's functional
characteristic choices, generating a number that determined the individual's group
membership. A range of values was determined for each group. Respondents scoring
between 0.5 and 0.9 were members of the interpretive group. A calculated value of 1,
19


that is, equal numbers of interpretive and functional characteristics checked, placed
the individual in the combination group. A respondent with a score of 1.1 up to and
including 2 was placed in the functional group.
The functional perspective on culture was operationalized on survey questions
8 and 11 (see Appendix A). Each question is followed by a 7 point agreement scale,
the respondents were asked to indicate the extent of their agreement with statements
regarding organizational culture. The statements were: (a)Values, defined by those in
power, guide the actions of the hospital employees and (b) Information regarding the
activities of the hospital as it relates to my department is regulated by those in power.
Survey questions 9 and 12 describe an interpretive perspective on culture.
Measured on the 7 point Likert scale, the statements are: (a) Values, defined by all
hospital employees, guide the actions of the employees and (b) Information
regarding the activities of the hospital as it relates to my department is
regulated by the departmental members.
The set of Likert questions were designed to assess the consistency of
the respondents' perspective on culture, thereby increasing the reliability and the
validity of the study by investigating the same variable in a number of ways. The
responses from the cultural characteristics list were used to separate the respondents
into functional, interpretive or combination groups. Once the groups were
20


established, all analyses were done on the group level rather than the individual
because the research questions are group oriented. To complete the answer to
research question 1, the percentage of respondents in agreement, in disagreement or
unsure on the Likert scaled questions regarding cultural perspective were compared.
Research Question 2
Do different metaphoric subcultures (formed when groups use the same
metaphor in different ways) exist in the hospital? The construct metaphor was
operationalized on the survey in the form of open-ended questions. Survey question
13 has 2 parts: In his December 1995 newsletter, Richard Scott (president and CEO
of the corporation) speaks of employees who "go the extra mile" for patients, (a)
What does this metaphor mean? (b) What everyday event(s) at this hospital, if any,
are represented by this metaphor?
Content analysis as a method was performed on responses to open-ended
questions in order to generate categories for statistical analysis on SPSSx. Content
analysis is defined as "any technique for making inferences by objectively and
systematically identifying specified characteristics of messages" (Holsti, 1969, p. 14).
In content analysis, a wide variety of items are reduced to a limited set of attributes
(or categories) composing a variable.
21


Content analysis of responses to survey question 13 consisted of a
metaphorical analysis to determine the presence or absence of agreement of meaning
among cultural perspective groups. The coding unit for question 13 was words or
phrases used to describe metaphoric meaning and manifestation (events). The coder
read each respondent's answers to the open-ended questions determining commonly
used words or phrases. The percentage of respondents in each group (functional,
interpretive, combination) using the same word or phrase was determined and
compared. Intercoder reliability would be high (if two coders were used) for this
content analysis because it consists of simple word counts, that is, every time a word
appears it is counted.
Research Question 3
What are some of the recurring metaphors that constitute the basic patterns of
conflict in organizational culture? Open-ended questions and Likert items were used
to operationalize the constructs of metaphor and conflict.
The open-ended question 14 (see Appendix A) regarding conflict asks the
respondents to describe a conflict, that is, a blockage of goals between their
department and another department. This question tests the respondents' ability to
22


describe a conflict as defined and to allow the content analyst to look for unsolicited
diagnostic metaphors, that is, those emerging from employee conversations. In order
to accomplish this, the content analyst looked for phrases that met the criteria for
being a metaphor, speaking of one thing as if it were another.
In order to determine if the respondent was able to describe a conflict, the
content analyst compared the respondents' description of conflict at the departmental
level to the definition of conflict (blockage of goals). If a respondent accurately
described a conflict, he/she scored 1, if not, he/she scored 2. The nominal level data
was generated and compared across the cultural perspective groups.
Question 15, "what metaphor, if any, comes to mind when you describe the
conflict in question 14?" overtly solicits a metaphor from the respondent in order to
to measure the respondents' ability to apply analytic metaphors, that is, those that are
a framework for action. The coding unit for survey question 15 was metaphoric
themes that describe conflict. If a metaphor was used to describe the conflict in
survey question 14, the metaphor was recorded then placed into an established
thematic category. The thematic categories were established by the coder after
coding the metaphors. Only those phrases meeting the criteria for the definition of
metaphor were placed in a thematic category. Once the responses were coded, the
23


percentage of respondents in each group (functional, interpretive and combination)
were compared across thematic categories.
In order for the researcher to have a better understanding of the respondents'
attitudes toward conflict, 4 close-ended questions were presented on the survey.
These questions were asked in order to evaluate the potential for and the utility of
conflict in the organization to help understand the patterns of conflict in the
organization and how conflict relates to metaphor..
Survey questions 2,3,4, and 5 (see Appendix A) operationalize conflict by
measuring the respondents' level of agreement (Likert scale) with statements
regarding conflict between departments.
The perceived blockage of goals (conflict potential) and level of
interdependence is assessed by asking the respondent to indicate his/her level of
agreement to the following statements:(a) There are some departments in the hospital
that could prevent my department from functioning properly, (b) My department
could prevent another department from functioning properly.
Survey questions 3 and 4 look at the participants' overall view on the utility of
conflict in the organization. These Likert scaled statements read:(a) Conflict in the
form of one department's blockage of another department's goals is helpful to the
24


organization, (b) Conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another
department's goals is harmful to the organization. The respondents were asked to
indicate their level of agreement to each of these statements 2, 3,4, and 5 and the
mean responses to each statement were compared across cultural perspective groups.
Research Question 4
Does the perspective on culture impact the choice of metaphor used to
describe conflict, thereby impacting the approach to the conflict? This question leads
the study into the next logical step by asking what factors influence the approach to
the conflict. A Likert scaled statement coupled with the results of survey question 15
(as previously described) were used to examine this relationship. The Likert scaled
statement is, the values of the organizational culture influence the department's
approach to conflict. The respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which
he/she agreed with this statement.
25


CHAPTER 3
RESULTS
Research Question 1
Do organizational members as a group, hold a functional or interpretive
perspective on their organizational culture? Each of the 32 respondents were placed
into a group based on his/her response to survey question 1. Survey question 1 asked
the respondents to check as many or as few of the characteristics befitting their
organizational culture. SPSSx computed an actual range of 0.71 to 1.60 for the
respondents. Respondents in the 0.71 to 0.86 range became the interpretive group,
those scoring 1.00 became the combination group and the 1.14 to 1.60 range was
labeled the functional group.
The survey results have shown that 18 of the respondents hold a functional
perspective. An interpretive perspective on organizational culture is held by 6 of the
respondents. The remaining 8 respondents hold a cultural perspective, that is, a
combination of functional and interpretive. Table 3.1 displays the results of the
computations and the group demographics.
26


Table 3.1
Demographics of the Cultural Perspective Groups
Interpretive Functional Combination Total
# of respondents 6 18 8 32
male 1 4 3 8
female 5 14 5 24
mean # months worked 36 95 110
Likert Responses to Cultural Perspective Survey Questions
Figures 3.1 3.4 illustrate the participants' level of agreement to the Likert
questions designed to validate the results of group membership established in survey
question 1. Figures 3.1 and 3.3 represent level of agreement to statements based on
the functional perspective, while figures 3.2 and 3.4 are based on levels of agreement
to interpretive statements. There were no missing cases in this descriptive analysis.
27


Figure 3.1
%
o
f
r
e
s
P
o
n
d
e
n
t
s
Values, defined by those in power, guide the actions of the hospital employees
10a
combo interpretive functional
H agree
I unsure
disagree
Level of agreement to this functional perspective statement
Figure 3.2
%
o
f
r
e
s
P
0
n
d
e
n
t
s
Values, defined by all hospital employees, guide the actions of the employees
combo interpretive functional
agree
unsure
disagree
level of agreement to this interpretive perspective statement
28


Figure 3.3
Hosptial information relating to my dept is regulated by those in power
%
o
f
r
e
s
P
o
n
d
e
n
t
s
10a
combo interpretive functional
level of agreement to this functional perspective statement
H agree
B unsure
disagree
Figure 3.4
%
o
f
r
e
s
P
o
n
d
e
n
t
s
Hospital information as it relates to my dept is regulated by dept members
IT

0 o- o- JM
combo interpretive functional
B agree
B unsure
disagree
Level of agreement to this interpretive perspective statement
29


All three perspectives agree that organizational values that guide employee
actions are defined by those in power. The interpretive and combo groups agree that
values are defined by all employees. The functional group disagreed that values are
defined by all hospital employees.
Regarding dissemination of information regarding hospital activities as it
relates to their department, all groups concur that information is regulated by those in
power. The interpretive group wants to believe that information is also regulated by
department members (there is a 50/50 split between those in the interpretive group
between the disagrees and the unsure/agrees).
Research Question 2
Do different metaphoric subcultures exist in the hospital? Metaphoric
subculture membership can be based on being a member of a group or a department.
For purposes of this study, the groups generated by research question 1, interpretive,
functional and combination were used for the determination of the existence of
metaphoric subcultures. Content analysis on the responses to open-ended questions
was performed to produce data for statistical analysis. The open-ended questions are:
"In his December 1995 newsletter, Richard Scott (president and CEO of the
30


corporation) speaks of employees who "go the extra mile" for patients. What does
this metaphor mean? What everyday events at this hospital, if any, are represented by
this metaphor?"
The coding unit for analysis on metaphoric meaning were words or phrases.
Each survey response to question 13 was read carefully and words or phrases defining
metaphoric meaning were recorded. There was 1 missing case in the functional
group for metaphoric meaning. Content analysis produced 4 categories of meaning
of the metaphor "go the extra mile". The categories include:(a) personal touch, (b) go
out of the way for patient, (c) concern for patient welfare, and (d) beyond job
description. The results are presented in Table 3.2.
Table 3.2
Results of Content Analysis for meaning of metaphor "go the extra mile"
Interpretive Functional Combination
personal touch 0 0 1(12.5%)
go out of way for patient 1(16.7%) 4(22%) 2(25%)
concern patient welfare 1(16.7%) 4(22%) 2(25%)
beyond job description 4(66.6%) 9(50%) 3(37.5%)
missing case 0 1(6%) 0
total 6(100%) 18(100%) 8(100%)
31


In order to reduce the number of categories to analyze, the meaning of the
metaphor "go the extra mile" was recoded into 2 groups. One group labeled patient
based meaning included the categories personal touch, go out of way for patient and
concern for patient welfare. The second group labeled employee based meaning
consisted of the category beyond job description. Table 3.3 illustrates the recoded
results including corrections for missing cases.
Table 3.3
Recoded Results of meaning of metaphor "go the extra mile"

Interpretive Functional Combination
patient based meaning 2(33.4%) employee based meaning 4(66.6%) missing case 0 8(44%) 9(50%) 1(6%) 5(62.5%) 3(37.5%) 0
total 6(100%) 18(100%) 8(100%)
corrected for missing cases
patient based meaning employee based meaning 8(48%) 9(52%)
total 17(100%)
Content analysis produced 7 categories describing everyday events that
represent the metaphor. The categories are:(a)care, (b) comfort, (c) meet patient
needs, (d) spend time, (e) be helpful, (f) take pride, and (g) listen. There were 4
32


missing cases in the functional group, 1 missing case in the interpretive group, and 2
missing cases in the combination group. Table 3.4 displays the results.
Table 3.4
Results of Content Analysis for events representing "go the extra mile"
Interpretive Functional Combination
care 0 1(5.6%) 1(12.5%)
comfort 1(16.7%) 2(11.1%) 2(25.0%)
meet patient needs 2(33.3%) 1(5.6%) 0
time 2(33.3%) 5(27.8%) 1(12.5%)
help 0 4(22.2%) 0
pride 0 1(5.6%) 0
listen 0 0 2(25.0%)
missing case 1(16.7%) 4(22.2%) 2(25.0%)
total 6(100%) 18(100%) 8(100%)
These categories were recoded into groups according to whether the event
was patient based or employee based. The patient based group included care,
comfort, meet patient needs, and help. The employee based group included time
spent, pride, and listen. Table 3.5 illustrates the results of the recoded groups and
includes corrections for missing data.
33


Table 3.5
Recoded Results for events representing the metaphor "go the extra mile

Interpretive Functional Combination
patient based event 3(50%) 8(44.5%) 3(37.5%)
employee based event 2(33.3%) 6(33.3%) 3(37.5%)
missing case 1(16.7%) 4(22.2%) 2(25%)
total 6(100%) 18(100%) 8(100%)
corrected for missing cases
patient based event 3(60%) 8(57%) 3(50%)
employee based event 2(40%) 6(43%) 3(50%)
total 5(100%) 14(100%) 6(100%)
Two different metaphoric subcultures, that is, groups that use the same
metaphor in different ways, emerged in this research. The majority of the interpretive
and functional respondents interpreted the metaphor "go the extra mile" in the same
way. This subculture (I-F) attributes an employee based meaning to the metaphor yet
felt the metaphor was represented by patient based events. The other subculture is
made up of the respondents belonging to the group holding a combination perspective
on organizational culture. The subculture (C) attributes a patient based meaning to
34


the "go the extra mile" metaphor while indicating the events representing the
metaphor are both patient and employee based.
Research Question 3
What are some of the recurring metaphors that constitute the basic patterns of
conflict in organizational culture? The survey sample size (n=32) was too small to
perform a T test on the data, therefore descriptive statistics were used for analysis.
Table 3.6 illustrates the mean responses and standard deviations for the Likert scaled
survey questions addressing conflict potential. There were no missing cases.
All the respondents agree that the potential for conflict exists in the organization, the
survey results indicate that the departments of the organization in this study are
interdependent.
35


Table 3.6
Mean responses to Likert scaled statements regarding conflict potential
There are some departments in the hospital that could prevent my department
from functioning properly.
Interpretive Functional Combination
M/SD 5.33/1.51 5.94/1.35 5.75/1.83
My department could prevent another department from functioning properly.
Interpretive Functional Combination
M/SD 5.17/1.94 5.72/2.05 6.75/0.46
Note. A response of 7=strongly agree, 4=unsure, l=strongly disagree
The organizational utility of conflict was measured on the same Likert
agreement scale and the survey results indicate that all groups feel that conflict in the
form of one department's blockage of another department's goals is harmful to the
organization. Mean responses and the corresponding standard deviation statistics for
conflict utility are cited in Table 3.7.
36


Table 3.7
Mean responses to Likert scaled statements regarding conflict utility
Conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another department's
goals in helpful/harmful to the organization.
Interpretive Functional Combination
helpful 2.33/1.51 1.50/0.99 2.00/1.85
harmful 5.83/1.17 6.06/1.26 5.87/1.81
Note. A response of 7=strongly agree, 4=unsure, 1= strongly disagree
Twenty four out of 32 respondents were able to describe a conflict (blockage
of goals) between their department and another department. The content analysis
category used for this determination was "one departments blockage of another
department's goals". This result validates the respondents understanding of the
operational definition of conflict and is consistent with the results shown in Table
3.6. One unsolicited diagnostic metaphor ("them against us") was noted in the
process of performing content analysis on the responses to question 14. The same
respondent described the conflict as a "battleground" when asked to describe it
metaphorically in survey question 15.
Content analysis of the answers given to survey question 15, "What metaphor,
if any, comes to mind when you describe the conflict in question 14?" produced 8
37


metaphoric themes. The themes include:(a) machine, (b) medical, (c) animal, (d)
service, (e) game/race, (f) sensory, (g) war, and (h) police. The results are presented
in Table 3.8.
Machine metaphors describe conflict as an object that has moving parts, the
parts however are not working efficiently or counter productively and conflict occurs.
A department that "spins its wheels" is being described by the machine metaphor.
Some medical metaphors emerged in the hospital setting, relating conflict to
procedures performed by medical professionals. Trying to get one department to
cooperate with another is like "pulling teeth" according to one respondent. Animals
were used to illustrate conflict, one respondent compared conflict to the tale of the
tortoise and the hare, where departments use different methods to achieve an end,
conflict can occur due to different senses of urgency among the departments to
achieve the end. Service metaphors are used when an employee feels like he/she has
to "take a number" in order to get their job done. In the hospital, many practitioners
are called upon to treat the patient. Often employees from different departments
arrive at the patient's bedside at the same time, this forces them to "take a number"
and wait their turn, like waiting for service at the delicatessen. Game metaphors
apply rules, strategies and guidelines for winning to the conflict paradigm. Sensory
38


metaphors compare conflict to one of the human senses, an example is portraying the
conflicting parties as having "tunnel vision", these parties see limited options to
conflict management. The war metaphor describes conflict as a "battleground",
events are explosive and one party conquers the other. Finally, the police metaphor
was offered by one respondent who described conflict as an episode of the "Keystone
Kops", intimating that confusion between departments leads to a blockage of goals.
Of the 32 respondents, 8 reported that no metaphor came to mind when
he/she described the conflict. The most common metaphor used by the interpretive
group had a sensory theme, and the respondents in the combination group used a
game/race metaphor. The most common response to this survey question by the
functional group was that no metaphor came to mind when describing the conflict.
39


Table 3.8
Metaphoric themes describing conflict for Interpretive. Functional and
Combination Cultural Perspectives
Interpretive Functional Combination
machine 0 2(11.1%) 2(25%)
medical 0 1(5.6%) 0
animal 1(16.7%) 3(16.7%) 0
service 1(16.7%) 2(11.1%) 1(12.5%
game/race 1(16.7%) 2(11.1%) 3(37.5%)
sensory 2(33.3%) 1(5.6%) 0
war 0 0 1(12.5%)
police 0 1(5.6%) 0
no metaphor 1(16.7%) 6(33.3%) 1(12.5%)
total 6(100%) 18(100%) 8(100%)
Research Question 4
Does the perspective on culture impact the choice of metaphor used to
describe conflict, thereby impacting the approach to the conflict? The mean
responses and standard deviations on the Likert 7 point agreement scale are presented
in Table 3.9. There was one missing case in the interpretive group for the question
on metaphors influence on the approach. Table 3.8 is also used to answer this
research question.
40


Table 3.9
Mean responses to a Likert scaled statement regarding conflict approach
The values of organizational culture influence the department's approach to
conflict Interpretive Functional Combination
M/SD 5.50/1.05 5.83/1.25 6.00/1.20
Note. A response of 7=strongly agree, 4=unsure, l=strongly disagree
All cultural perspective groups agree that the values of the organizational
culture influence the department's approach to conflict.
The results presented in Table 3.8 indicate the interpretive and combination
cultural perspective groups chose conflict metaphors that fall into different thematic
categories, indicating a difference in approach. The table also shows the functional
group feels that metaphors are not used to describe conflict, indicating that metaphors
do not have an impact oh conflict approach.
41


CHAPTER 4
DISCUSSION
Cultural Perspectives and Metaphors
The results of this exploratory study support Mumby's (1988) idea that
organizational conflict can be analyzed in terms of the relationship between deep
structure and surface symbolic forms. In this study, deep structure is represented by
the organizational members' perspective on organizational culture and surface
symbolic forms are represented by the members' metaphorical view on conflict
between departments in an organization. The differences in the organizational
members' perspective on organizational culture were mirrored by differences in the
members' metaphorical view on conflict.
The functional perspective is held by the majority of the respondents. The
members of this group believe that organizational values are determined and
information is controlled in their organization by those in power. The organizational
culture is protected by the controlling of information by those in power. The mean
number of months worked in the organization for those in the functionalist
42


perspective group was 95. After almost 8 years of employment the employees feel
powerless and unheard in their organization.
The functional group recognizes the potential for conflict in the organization
and believes that conflict between departments is harmful to the organization.
However, most of the members of this group were unable to use a metaphor to
describe conflict between departments. If metaphors are a framework for action
(Heath, 1994), then the members of the functionalist perspective group must feel
powerless to manage conflict, that is, take action.
The members of the interpretive group have been employed in the
organization for an average of 3 years. This is a relatively short time as compared
with the other two groups According to the theory postulated by Sypher et al. (1985),
the members of this group believe that they form their own idea of culture rather than
being told. This idea is substantiated in this study by the fact that over 60% of the
members of the interpretive group believe that values are defined by all the hospital
employees, including those in power. Despite the fact they hold an interpretive
perspective on organizational culture, members of this group feel that information is
regulated by those in power.
The most common metaphor used by the interpretive group is the sensory
43


metaphor. When describing an interdepartmental conflict as space constraints, an
interpretive group member stated those in conflict were in a world of their own or
had "tunnel vision". The tunnel metaphor suggests the conflict was far from being
managed and that options were limited, it is abstract and subjective.
The most salient characteristic of the combination cultural perspective group
is that the average number of months worked is 110. This data implies that
organizational members go through a metamorphosis of sorts in regards to their views
on cultural perspective. Starting out as optimists with an interpretive perspective,
along the way complacency sets in and the members take on a functional perspective.
Perhaps time brings autonomy and more personal power to the individuals in the
organization explaining why many of the "old timers" hold a perspective on
organizational culture that is a combination of the functional and interpretive
perspectives.
The members of the combination group most often use the game/race
metaphoric theme to describe organizational conflict. One respondent describes the
conflict as a "rat race". This conflict occurs when eveiyone is running around in
circles trying to make up for time lost due to non communication of scheduled
patients' arrival time.
44


The male/female split in perspective is striking. Half of the male respondents
possess a functional perspective while the other half are either interpretive or hold a
combination perspective. Greater than half of the women are functional with a
smaller percentage (than men) making the leap to a combination perspective.
Perhaps women in this organization have a more difficult time asserting their power
and gaining autonomy than their male counterparts. According to Johnson (1976),
women remain in subordinate roles in the organization because they chose to exercise
indirect power. Informal peacemaking techniques employing personal rather than
public power are used by women. Since conflict is not overt for women, metaphors
are not needed as a framework for action, that is, conflict management.
As a cultural code, the metaphor used by each each group reflects the group
members' views on interdepartmental conflict. Differences in metaphoric language
indicate differences in perspective on organizational culture, that is "reality".
Carbaugh (1985) contended that organizational culture attempts to create a common
ground for employees and yet three perspectives emerge from life in the same
organization. The "sense of work life" is different for the members of different
perspective groups.
The functional group lacks a cultural code in the form of metaphor for
45


description of conflict in organizational life. Their "sense of work life" is that they
expect their actions and behavior to be directed by those in power. According to
Wheeler (1987), the metaphor used by an organizational member to describe
organizational conflict influences the "reality" of the conflict in the member's mind.
Despite the fact that most members of this group failed to describe conflict
metaphorically, as a group they recognize the potential for conflict exists, and most
can accurately describe a conflict in narrative form. Therefore, conflict for this group
is not unrealistic as Wheeler would suggest.
The interpretive group using sensory images like vision, internalize
organizational life, they see themselves as part of the organization and vice versa.
The construction of a sense of order in organizational life described by Sypher et al.
(1985) is undertaken by the interpretive group. These authors first introduced the
concept of symbolic processes employing metaphor to define organizational life
when describing characteristics of the interpretive perspective on culture. This study
supports their notion that metaphors can be used to describe organizational life.
The game/race metaphor used by the combination group to describe conflict
indicates these organizational members envision conflict as a rule governed action.
The members of the combination group understand that parties in conflict have roles
46


to play and these roles are rule governed. Games and races have beginnings and
ends, conflict is something to be finished. When resolving or managing conflict, the
members of the combination group know how to use their personal power in
conjunction with resources available through those in power. Robert Heath's (1994),
enactment theory postulates that organizational members are able to predict and
coordinate their activities. Conflict as a game/race is enacted by certain sets of
moves, strategies and postures exhibited by the parties in conflict. Anticipation of the
opponent's next move constitutes prediction of activity. Coordination of activity is
enacted at the end of the game/race when the conflict is resolved or managed. Rules
and roles according to Heath are expressed in metaphor, the combination group
recognizes the importance of rules by describing conflict as a game/race.
Symbolic actions in organizations are rule governed (Ting-Toomey, 1985).
Organizational culture provides the context for conflict which can arise when
interdependent parties from different cultures express and interpret the same
symbolic action differently according to Ting-Toomey. The groups in this study
recognize the departments of the hospital are interdependent, agreeing that their
department could prevent another from functioning properly and vice versa.
47


Metaphoric Subcultures
Different metaphoric subcultures emerged among the groups. Based on
interpretation of meaning and manifestation of a chosen metaphor, "go the extra
mile", the interpretive and functional group members make up one subculture (I-F)
and the combination group members make up the other subculture.
Heath (1994) states that a shared view of reality emerges in an organization
when groups use the same metaphor in the same way. The two levels of sharing are
agreement and understanding. As defined by Heath, agreement occurs when the
same metaphor is used for the same object or activity. By investigating the events
(activities) in everyday organizational life symbolized by the metaphor "go the extra
mile", this study determined the interpretive and functional groups (I-F) are a
metaphoric subculture and the combination group (C) is another.
The I-F subculture envisions the events as being patient based, that is,
providing care, comfort, meeting patient needs and providing help to the patient. The
other subculture, the combination perspective group (C), feels the events are both
patient and employee based. Employee based events include time spent (patient
contact and non-patient contact scenarios), pride and listening. The combination
48


group is expressing its autonomy once again, feeling that "going the extra mile" is
they can do on their own, they do not necessarily need patient contact to "go the extra
mile" for the patient, it can be done subtly. The combination group expresses their
sense of empowerment when describing events symbolized by the metaphor.
Understanding occurs when the meaning of the metaphor is shared by
individuals at different levels of the organization. Upon examination of the meaning
of the metaphor "go the extra mile" the same two subcultures emerged, I-F and C,
based on understanding.
The I-F group assigns employee based meaning to the metaphor. The
employee based meaning is defined as going beyond the job description to "go the
extra mile". The members of this subculture adapt a concrete job description (usually
established by management) in order to "go the extra mile". Examples of going
beyond the job description would be calling results to the doctor, attending
workshops to improve skills and volunteering on hospital committees. The employee
as well as the patient benefits from meanings that are employee based.
The C subculture uses a personal touch, goes out of their way for the patient
and shows concern for patient welfare when describing the meaning of the metaphor
"go the extra mile". The patient is the focus for this subculture.
49


Heath (1994) holds that different metaphoric subcultures exist in
organizations when groups have different perceptions of the organizational world
leading to different enactments based on the view they hold. In this study, different'
perceptions (cultural perspectives) combined to form metaphoric subcultures with
different ideas about what the metaphor means and how it is enacted. All the
meanings and enactments offered by the respondents in this study are very positive
and supportive of the patient and themselves. Ting-Toomey (1985) states that
conflict arises when parties from different cultures have different ways of expressing
and interpreting the same symbolic action. All the respondents agree the potential for
conflict exists in their organization, this is supported by the fact that different
metaphoric subcultures exist. However, conflicts are unlikely to arise over
differences in the interpretation of "go the extra mile" because fundamentally the
interpretive, functional and combination groups enact and define the metaphor in
very similar ways.
Perspective. Metaphor and Conflict Approach
All the respondents (no matter what their view on cultural perspective)
agree the values of organizational culture influence a department's approach to
50


conflict. Differences in approach among the perspective groups emerge based on the
metaphorical view of conflict and differences in values.
Many of the members of the functional perspective group are unable to
metaphorically describe interdepartmental conflict. This indicates that the members
really "buy in" to their belief that organizational values are determined by those in
power. The group "buys in" to this belief to the extent that they are unable to
envision conflict in other terms, therefore the group may not attempt to approach
conflict unless guided by those in power. The members of the functional group
offering metaphors use machine, service and game/race metaphors. These metaphors
imply structure and rules are used in conflict approach.
The sensory metaphors used by the interpretive group suggest that interpretive
group members are intuitive in their conflict approach and would be likely to use
creative, subjective techniques for conflict approach. Brainstorming and round table
sessions could be used, these techniques take time, yet would satisfy an
organizational group that likes to be "heard".
The combination perspective group uses game/race, machine and war
metaphors to describe conflict. The approach used by this group would be guided by
rules, structure, and time constraints. Expediency and efficiency would be important,
51


therefore, group consensus might not be reached before an approach is made. The
conflict might be approached by the leader of the group after group consultation.
Limitations
The survey instrument was designed to be valid and reliable. Validity is the
extent to which an instrument is measuring what it intends to measure (Smith, 1988).
In order to make valid inferences the constructs must be accurately operationally
defined, therefore the operational definitions were included on the survey. The
pretest was used as an initial assessment of validity. Most of the respondents were
able to describe a conflict as defined on the survey (see Appendix A), several
respondents offered a cliche' in place of a metaphor indicating inaccuracy in the
definition of metaphor given on the survey (see Appendix A). The changes made to
the definition of metaphor as a result of the pretest were not adequate to preclude this
validity problem.
Reliability assures objectivity and means that repeated measures with the
same instrument given to the same individuals should yield similar results (Smith,
1988). Participant fatigue may have effected the reliability of the study. Fatigue was
caused by the fact that the employees had recently been asked to fill out another
52


hospital survey and the fact that this survey was not easy to complete, some
respondents thought it was "hard".
Generalizability refers to the ability to "generalize" the research findings to
the population as a whole (Babbie, 1990). The generalizability of this study could
have been improved by stratifying the sample into homogeneous subsets.
Stratification would enhance the representativeness of the sample population as
compared to the parent population. Actively pursing the participation of the desired
respondents (rather than handing out the surveys to the department managers for
distribution with the paychecks) and administration of the survey to a select group of
participants under a controlled environment (for example, department meeting)
would help to improve the response rate, validity and generalizabilty of the study.
Random sampling error can be reduced by increasing the size of the sample.
The parent population for this study was a large (666 employees), yet sampling error
was introduced because of the low response rate (5%). A representative sample is
one that reflects well the characteristics of its parent population. A response rate of
5% is not enough to generalize back to the parent population. The convenience
sampling method employed in this study generates data unique to the sample, with
limited generalizability. Consequently, the findings of this study are considered
53


exploratory in nature, indicating that different cultural perspectives exist in an
organization and these perspectives influence the organizational members' on
organizational conflict. An understanding of the members' metaphorical view of
conflict is important to the selection of conflict management techniques. More
research is needed to understand which techniques are effective for a given metaphor.
This particular study takes place at a very unique time in the organization's
history, a time of acquisition and consolidation of many hospitals around the city.
The cultural transitions taking place at the time the survey was conducted reduced the
generalizability of the study, the results can be applied only to organizations
undergoing acquisition and consolidation.
Conclusions
The perspective on organizational culture held by a member of an
organization influences the member's metaphorical view of organizational conflict.
Metaphors are used symbolically in organizational communication to represent a
concept in terms of another. Describing organizational life as a "well oiled machine"
invokes a metaphor to imply that members or departments work well together to
produce a product. Interdepartmental conflict occurs when one department blocks
54


the goals of another.
Eighteen of 32 participants hold a functional perspective, that is, culture is
defined and regulated by those in power. The functional group was unable to
metaphorically describe conflict, this reflects their feeling of powerlessness and
uncertainty as to conflict approach.
Six participants, hold an interpretive perspective, that is, culture is defined
and regulated by all organizational members. The members use sensory metaphors
like "tunnel vision" to describe conflict indicating an abstract, subjective approach.
Eight participants, describe the cultural perspective as a combination of the
two perspectives. A game/race metaphor is used to describe conflict implies conflict
moves are rule governed and there will be a "winner". Differences in cultural
perspectives are reflected in differences in choices of metaphors used to describe
organizational conflict. The differences are most closely associated with differences
in levels of empowerment or autonomy among the cultural perspective groups. The
more autonomy a member feels die more likely he/she is to use an abstract, subjective
approach. The less autonomy a member feels, the less likely he/she is to
metaphorically describe conflict and use the metaphor as a framework for action, that
is, conflict management.
55


When given a metaphor to interpret, two different metaphoric subcultures
emerged among the groups. These subcultures assigned different meanings to the
same metaphor. The assignment of different meanings to the same metaphor is a
precursor to conflict in the organization and strengthens the argument that conflict
exists in the organization because it is symbolized differently by the members of
different cultural perspective groups.
In this organization and others like it, the perspective on organizational
culture is dynamic. The results of this study indicate that organizational members go
through a "metamorphosis" in regards to their perspective on organizational culture.
The newly hired employees are an idealistic group, believing they have a "say" in the
definition of organizational culture. With time, the group allows complacency to set
in and they feel powerless. After 10 years of employment, employees gain a sense of
autonomy and indicate an increased level of empowerment. The challenge for the
organization is to understand the perspective of its members and to use appropriate
conflict metaphors. Appropriate metaphor usage will provide a framework for
organizational conflict management.
56


APPENDIX A
SURVEY INSTRUMENT
Part L Please provide the following information about yourself; this information is
used for classification purposes only.
your age:_____ male or female:________________ level of education:____________
department of hospital:________________ # of years worked in dept.
you are a member of: administration_______ race: African Am.___
(check more than one management________ Asian_______
if applicable) staff ___________ Caucasian_____________________________
hospital based physician______ Hispanic________
other ___________ Native American
Other_______
Part H. Commonly used terms in the survey and their definitions.
Organizational culture-most organizations have a culture. Culture is a value
system shared by most of its members. That system directs the actions or behaviors
of the organizational members. The organization is the hospital.
Conflict-a struggle between parties that occurs when there is the perception of
blockage of goal attainment. For this survey, the parties are departments.
Metaphor-a way of comparing one thing to another by speaking of it as if it
were the other, for example, calling the world a stage. Organizational and personal
relationships can be described with metaphors. An example would be describing
family life as a "three ring circus" implying the members are busy and going in many
directions at once; or describing an organization as a "well-oiled machine" with parts
(departments) working together to produce a product.
57


Partin. Survey Questions
1. Check as many or as few of the following characteristics that most
accurately describe the CULTURE of this hospital.
______defined by of all its employees.
______defined by those in power
______all employees have a voice in the organization
______defined by those in power, carried out by all employees of the hospital
______information is circulated by those in power
______information is circulated by all employees
______carried out in the actions of all the employees
______carried out by those in power
For questions 2-12 and 16-17, please check the single response option
following each statement that most closely reflects your opinion. For questions
13-15, please write your answers in the space provided.
2. There are some departments in the hospital that could prevent my
department from functioning properly.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
3. Conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another department's
goals is helpful to the organization.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
4. Conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another department's
goals is harmful to the organization.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
5. My department could prevent another department from functioning
properly.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
58


6. The values of the organizational culture influence the department's approach to
conflict.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
7. The actions of those in power guide the actions of all the hospital
employees.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
8. Values, defined by those in power, guide the actions of the hospital's
employees.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
9. Values, defined by all hospital employees, guide the actions of the
employees.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
10. Employees of this hospital play an active role in defining the culture of the
hospital.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
11. Information regarding the activities of the hospital as it relates to my
department is regulated by those in power.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
12. Information regarding the activities of the hospital as it relates to my
department is regulated by the departmental members.
strongly agree unsure strongly disagree
13. In his December 1995 newsletter, Richard Scott (president and CEO of
Columbia/HCA) speaks of employees who "go the extra mile" for patients. What
does this metaphor mean?
59


What everyday event(s) at this hospital, if any, are represented by this
metaphor?
14. Describe a conflict (blockage of goals) between your department and
another department.
15. What metaphor, if any, comes to mind when you describe the conflict in
#14? Fill in the blank.
This conflict is (like)_____________________________.
Why did you chose this metaphor?
16. The metaphor used by members of a department to describe the conflict
influences the department's approach to the conflict.
17. How frequently do you hear organizational members using metaphors to
describe conflict between departments?
If no metaphor comes to mind, please check here.
strongly agree
unsure
strongly disagree
very frequently
unsure
very infrequently
60


APPENDIX B
INTRODUCTION LETTER
January 26,1996
Dear fellow employees,
I am a graduate student at the University of Colorado gathering data for
research on the subject of organizational communication. I'd like your ideas regarding
conflict in the workplace. This project is being conducted for the university, not for
the hospital. All responses are confidential (will not be given to administration) and
will be compiled into a thesis. The written survey will take a few minutes to
complete.
Please sign and date the consent form on the other side of this letter and
separate the consent from the survey. Then fill out the survey and place both the
survey and the consent form in the collection boxes located in the cafeteria, look for
the balloon!! Please turn in the forms by February 5,1996.
You are chosen to participate because you have first hand knowledge of how
the hospital "operates". I Thank-YOU for your time and opinions.
Sincerely,
Laurie P. Heath
61


APPENDIX C
CONSENT FORM
Thank-you for participating in this survey. Federal and University
requirements regarding research require your consent before participating. Please
sign and date this form in the space provided below, however, your name will not be
attached to the survey results. I (the investigator) will not know who completed
which survey. You are free to withdraw from this study at any time without penalty.
If you have any questions, my phone number is 695-2615. If you have questions
regarding your rights as a participant, please contact the Office of Sponsored
Programs, CU-Denver, Campus Box 123, PO Box 173364, Denver, CO. 80217-3364,
telephone 556-2770. The data gathered by this survey will be kept confidential.
Thanks again,
Laurie P. Heath
your signature
date
62


WORKS CITED
Babbie, Earl. (1990). Survey Research Methods (2nd ed.). Belmont,
CA:WadsworthPublishing Company.
Budd, Richard W., Robert K. Thorp & Lewis Donohew. (1967). Content
Analysis of Communications. New York: The Macmillan Company.
Carbaugh, Donal. (1985). Cultural communication and organizing. In Wm.
Gudykunst, Lea Stewart & Stella Ting-Toomey (Eds.), Communication, culture and
organizational processes (pp. 30-47) Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Creswell, John W. (1994). Research design: qualitative and quantitative
approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Heath, Robert. (1994). Management of corporate communication. Hillsdale,
NJ.Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hocker, Joyce & William Wilmot. (1991). Interpersonal conflict (3rd.
ed.).Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown Publishers.
Holsti, Ole. (1969). Content analysis for the social sciences and humanities.
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Johnson, P. (1976). Women and power: Toward a theory of effectiveness.
Journal of Social Issues 32:99-109.
Jones, Michael Owen. (1988). In search of meaning, using qualitative
methods in research and application. In M.O. Jones, M.D. Moore & R.C. Snyder
(Eds.), Inside organizations (pp. 31-471. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Mumby, Dennis K. (1988). Communication and power in organizations:
discourse, ideology and domination. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.
Smith, Mary John. (1988). Contemporary communication research methods
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
63


Stewart, Lea. (1985). Subjective culture and organizational decision-making.
In Wm. Gudykunst, Lea Stewart & Stella Ting-Toomey (Eds.), Communication,
culture and organizational processes, (pp.212-230) Beverly Hills, CA: Sage
Publications.
Sypher, Beverly Davenport, James Applegate & Howard Sypher. (1985).
Culture and communication in organizational contexts. In Wm. Gudykunst, Lea
Stewart & Stella Ting-Toomey (Eds.), Communication, culture and organizational
processes, (pp. 13-29) Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Ting-Toomey, Stella. (1985). Toward a theory of conflict and culture. In
Wm. Gudykunst, Lea Stewart & Stella Ting-Toomey (Eds.), Communication, culture
and organizational processes, (pp.71-86) Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Tucker, Raymond K., Richard L. Weaver II & Cynthia Berryman-Fink.
(1981). Research in Speech Communication. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,
Inc.
Watt, James H. & Sjef A. VanDenBerg. (1995). Research Methods for
Communication Science. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Wheeler, C.J. (1987). The magic of metaphor: A perspective on reality
construction. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity. 2. 223-238.
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Full Text

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A METAPHORICAL ANALYSIS OF ORGANIZATIONAL CONFLICT by Laurie Page Heath B.A., University of Colorado, 1991 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Communication and Theatre 1996

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This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Laurie Page Heath has been approved by I Benita J. Dilley ,/ Barbara Holmes Date

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Heath, Laurie Page (M.A., Communication and Theatre) A Metaphorical Analysis of Organizational Conflict Thesis directed by Associate Professor Michael Monsour ABSTRACT The perspective on organizational culture held by a member of an organization influences the member's metaphorical view of organizational conflict. Metaphors are used symbolically in organizational communication to represent a concept in terms of another. Describing organizational life as a "well oiled machine" invokes a metaphor to imply that members or departments work well together to produce a product. Interdepartmental conflict occurs when one department blocks the goals of another. A written survey containing open and closed ended questions was admiriistered to employees of an organization. Thirty two surveys were used for analysis, representing 9 departments. Each respondent was placed in a cultural perspective group. Eighteen participants hold a functional perspective, that is, culture is defmed and regulated by those in power. They have been employed in the organization for an average of95 months. The functional group was unable to metaphorically describe conflict, this reflects their feeling of powerlessness and uncertainty as to conflict approach. Six participants, employed an average of 36 months, hold an interpretive perspective, that is, culture is defined and regulated by all organizational members. The members use sensory metaphors like "tunnel vision" to describe conflict indicating an abstract, subjective approach. 111

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Eight participants, employed an average of 110 months, describe the cultural perspective as a combination of the two perspectives. A game/race metaphor is used to describe conflict implies conflict moves are rule governed and there will be a "winner". Differences in choices of metaphors are most closely associated with differences in levels of empowerment among the cultural perspective groups. The more empowerment a member feels the more likely he/she is to use an abstract, subjective approach; less empowerment decreases the ability to metaphorically describe conflict and use the metaphor as a framework for approach. Two different metaphoric subcultures emerged, assigning different meanings to the same metaphor. The assignment of different meanings is a precursor to conflict and strengthens the argument that conflict exists in the organization because it is symbolized differently by the members of different cultural perspective groups. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. IV

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I am very grateful for the support, encouragement and advice of Mike Monsour. I extend many thanks to Mike for the innumerable hours he spent advising me on this project. I would also like to acknowledge Dallas Jensen of the Computing, Information and Network Services department for his help with SPSSx. Thank-you to Benita Dilley for introducing me to the "magic" of metaphors in her rhetorical theory seminar and for taking an active role in my oral examinations. Barbara Holmes was instrumental in seeing that I completed this project by agreeing to participate in my oral examination, sincere thanks are offered to Barbara.

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CONTENTS CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION ............................................................ 1 Literature Review ........................................................... 3 Purpose and Rationale .................................................... 9 2. METHODS ....................................................................... 12 Part1c1pants ..................................................................... 12 Response Rate ........................................................... 13 Procedures ...................................................................... 14 Variable Defmitions ....................................................... 17 Data Analysis ................................................................. 18 Research Question 1.. .............................................. 18 Research Question 2 ....... : ....................................... 21 Research Question 3 ................................................ 22 Research Question 4 ................................................ 25 3. RESULTS ........................................................................ 26 Research Question 1 ...................................................... 26 Likert Responses to Culture Perspective Survey Questions ................................... 27 Research Question 2 ...................................................... 30 Research Question 3 ...................................................... 35 Research Question 4 ...................................................... 40 4. DISCUSSION .................................................................. 42 Cultural Perspectives and Metaphors ...................................................................... 42 Metaphoric Subcultures ................................................ .48 Perspective, Metaphor and Conflict Approach ................................................... 50 Limitations ..................................................................... 52 Conclusions .................................................................... 54 Vl

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APPENDIX A. SURVEY IN"STRUMENT .................................................... 57 B. IN"TRODUCTION LETTER. ................................................ 61 C. CONSENT FORM ................................................................ 62 WORKS CITED ..................................................................................... 63 Vll

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Organizational conflict can be analyzed in terms of the relationship between deep structure and surface symbolic forms (Mumby, 1988). The everyday activities of an organization are illustrated in part by the stories told, memos sent and rituals practiced within the organization. The way conflict is managed in an organization is in itself a surface symbolic form, sending messages as to the power structure of the organization. What matters most to members of an organization is that surface symbolic forms match reality, that is, satisfied, effective employees understand the values held in the organizational deep structure and are able to translate those values into meaningful surface symbolic forms for use in carrying out everyday organizational life (Mumby, 1988). This research intends to investigate the relationship between deep structure, organizational surface symbolic forms (specifically metaphors) and organizational conflict. An understanding of the metaphorical views organizational members hold toward organizational conflict will lead to an understanding of their approach to 1

PAGE 9

conflict in everyday organizational life. Organizational symbolism makes up and perpetuates organizational power. Power and culture are product and process of organizational activity. In an organization, when resources are used to support the interest of one group over another, power has been exercised. Symbols are used to express the underlying character, ideology or value systems of an organization. Symbols function to describe (provide information), to control energy (increase or decrease tension) and to maintain the system to justify certain actions (mergers). Examples of the types of surface symbols include: verbal forms (a) myths, (b) stories, (c) slogans, (d) or actions (a) rituals, (b) parties, (c) meals; or material (a) status symbols, (b) awards, (c) pins (Mumby, 1988). Mumby (1988) proposes that decision making constitutes an organizational symbolic form. Conflict management also represents a symbolic form of organizational life that verbally, ritualistically and materially links deep structure with patterns of everyday organizational life. The basis for this argument is that conflict is "an expressed (action centered) struggle between at least two interdependent parties (members or departments of the organization) who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources (materials, power), and interference from the 2

PAGE 10

other party in achieving their goals" (Hocker & Wilmot, 1991, p. 12). As a surface symbolic form, the metaphors used to describe interdepartmental conflict can be studied in the organization as an indication of deep structure. Literature Review Organizational culture is subjective in nature.and can be examined from two perspectives (Sypher, Applegate & Sypher, 1985). The functionalist perspective holds that culture is something an organization has. The organization has a passive view of the individual and culture is controlled by controlling communication. The management creates meaning for the employees through story telling as an implicit means of communication. Heroes are created and values are sustained in stories that describe organizational performance. Deep structure is "protected" in this perspective as a result of the controlling of information by those in power. "From this view the symbolic world (surface symbolic forms) is considered another source of influences on organizational behavior." (Sypher et al., 1985, p. 15). The interpretive perspective holds that culture is something an organization is. Culture is in part, a behavioral phenomenon that shapes reality by social action and interaction. Communication and culture are seen as "vehicles through which reality 3

PAGE 11

is constituted in organized contexts." (Sypher et al., 1985, p. 17). Interpretation and description are more important than function and causality in this view. The purpose of stories' context and meaning is to construct a sense of order in organizational life. This is a symbolic process that employs complex metaphors to create symbols. The content and meaning of surface symbolic forms are used to help members to "construct a sense of order in their organizational lives." (Sypher et al., 1985, p. 17). The employees form their own idea of culture rather than being told as in the functionalist perspective. Deep structure evolves from the employees' collective interpretation of what the culture "is" as determined by the meaning they assign to corporate communication. According to Carbaugh ( 1985), culture is made up of spoken, shared symbolic codes. These codes reveal a "sense of work life" just as stories do in the interpretive perspective described by Sypher et al.(1985). Carbaugh warns that spoken codes must be considered situationally, physically and contextually. This consideration is further evidence that his views on organizational culture are more closely associated with the interpretive perspective. Organizational culture attempts to create a common ground for the employees, it is something they can fall back on when communicating, creating and reflecting on life in the organization. 4

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Stella Ting-Toomey (1985) posits that conflict and culture are functionally interdependent in that, conflict is an adaptational communication process. She states that conflict is based on the incompatible goals, needs, desires, values, beliefs and/or attitudes of two or more interdependent parties. According toTing-Toomey, conflict arises when parties :from different cultures have different ways of expressing and interpreting the same symbolic action, the action is rule governed. Symbols are representational images such as signs, words and non-verbals. Culture provides the context for conflict. "Culture, the conceptual paradigm in which all behaviors originate, dictates how conflict can be managed, interpreted and understood" (TingToomey, 1985, p. 83). The corporate cultural context is in part defined by the nature of the corporate narrative as a form of organizational communication. Robert Heath ( 1994) advances enactment theory to explain the processes involved in organizational communication. His views incorporate power, symbolism and action into a contemporary model of organizational life. Enactment theory treats (organizational) life as an undirected play, a theater of sorts where employees are the actors. Organizations are made up of people in relationships and enactment theory enables people to predict and coordinate their activities. The roles and rules are expressed by the organization's members in the forms of narrative and metaphor 5

PAGE 13

(symbolic forms or acts). When the actions of organizational members are important, the culture is described as having an interpretive perspective. The ideas of enactment theory parallel those of the interpretive cultural perspective. Communication takes place when interactions result in words and actions that are meaningful to those involved. Shared meanings guide judgment and behaviors. Heath refers to "zones of meaning", which are comprised of shared information and interpretations resulting from experience (similar), jargon and training/education. Shared meaning results in coordinated effort and collective results according to Heath. As meanings relate to conflict Heath (1994) states, "shared meaning allows organization members to engage in routine coordinated activities and gives them focal points of handling turbulence" (p. 117). Words serve to define, express attitudes and prescribe action according to Heath. Conflict management can be justified by enactment theory because it is action centered. As meanings relate to the organization, organizational stories can be used by members in order to expand the number of relationships they have with other members, and to share idioms or terminology among members. Heath (1994), notes that as long as the "old" stories are being told in the organization, the organizational 6

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culture will be unable to change despite a change in the cast of players. (p. 89). Heath cites four authors (Smirchich & Morgan,1982;Weick & Browning, 1986), when he says that culture is a result of meaning captured and repeated (with a summative effect) in stories. According to Heath, stories contain information and premises that members use to coordinate their activities. Organizational narratives or stories may incorporate metaphorical language to tell the story. Metaphors compare two concepts, for example when an employee states, "this shop is a circus" he/she is using a metaphor that implies lots of unfocused activity. Heath (1994), refers to Morgan (1986) when he describes the way metaphors can be used. Diagnostic metaphors emerge from employee conversations, analytic metaphors are interpretive constructs providing a framework for action. Both diagnostic and analytical metaphors are used to manage and design organizations by suggesting which acts are appropriate or not. As an act, creative conflict management employs metaphors. According to Wheeler ( 1987), creative conflict management assumes there are multiple truths and realities, not just one way to handle conflict. The multiple realities perspective posits that a metaphor interacts with behavior and people to produce reality, therefore, different metaphors contribute to different realities. The metaphor used by an 7

PAGE 15

organizational member to describe organizational conflict influences the "reality" of the conflict in the member's mind. Metaphoric subcultures emerge within an organization among groups or departments that use the same metaphor in the same way (Heath, 1994 ). This represents a shared view of reality. There are two levels of sharing. Agreement occurs when the same metaphor is used for the same object or activity. Understanding occurs when the meaning of the metaphor is shared by individuals at different levels of the organization. Organizational meaning is embedded in metaphor. Different metaphoric subcultures exist in an organization when the groups or departments have different perceptions of the organizational world. This may lead to different enactments because people enact the view they hold (Heath, 1994 ). A study of the metaphors used by organizational members will promote an understanding of the deep structure of the organization and will provide insight into organizational conflict. 8

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Purpose and Rationale The purpose of this research is to determine the organizational members' perspective on organizational culture, place the member in a cultural perspective group, and examine how the perspective relates to the metaphorical view of interdepartmental conflict in the organization. This study answers four research questions. Do organizational members as a group, hold a functional or interpretive perspective on their organizational culture? The research categorized the individual members based on their survey responses. Do different metaphoric subcultures exist in the organization? Based on cultural perspective, the researcher determined whether or not subcultures exist by examining the organizational culture groups' interpretation of the same metaphor. What are some of the recurring metaphors that constitute the basic patterns of conflict in organizational culture? Respondents were asked to narrate a conflict and describe the conflict metaphorically. Does the perspective on culture impact the choice of metaphor used to describe conflict, thereby impacting the approach to the conflict? This question begins to address the realities of the conflict and leads to further research in metaphorical conflict management. 9

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The independent variable is organizational members' perspective on organizational culture; functional, interpretive or a combination. The dependent variable is made up of the constructs of metaphor and departmental conflict. The constitutive definition of organizational culture (deep structure) is the intangible yet observable organizational value system that makes up the spiritual and material economy of the organization. The functional perspective is described as culture defined by organizational members in power. The interpretive perspective is described as culture as defined by all the organizational members. The constitutive definition of surface symbolic forms (metaphor) is that which is descriptive of, controls energy, and maintains the organization through connotative meaning. The constitutive definition of conflict is, an expressed struggle, occurring between interdependent parties due to the perception of incompatible goals, scarce resources or blockage of goal attainment (Hocker & Wilmot, 1991 ). The rationale for this approach was based on the concept that the everyday activities of an organization are illustrated in part by the stories (metaphors) told and rituals (conflict) practiced within the organization. By asking the organizational members to tell a story about interdepartmental conflict and describing it metaphorically, the research will examine the extent to which a surface symbolic 10

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form (metaphor) represents reality. 11

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CHAPTER2 METHODS Participants The participants are employees of a 120 bed for-profit hospital in the Denver metropolitan area. The hospital is owned and managed by a large international hospital corporation undergoing a rapid growth and consolidation period in January 1996. The set of all employees ( 666) is comprised of the following elements or categories: registered nurses (255), management (25), medical staff (23), support staff with high school diplomas (151), and professionals with 2-4 year degrees (212). The surveys, introduction letter and consent forms (see Appendixes A, B and C) were distributed with the paychecks to each department manager on January 26, 1996. Each manager distributed the surveys to the employees in his/her department. The respondents were given ten days to complete the survey for this single stage sampling design. The respondents were asked to deposit the completed survey and consent forms in separate collection boxes in the cafeteria. The demographic data requested from each participant included: age, sex, department, level of 12

PAGE 20

education, employee categorical membership, race and number of years of employment in the organization. The definitions of key constructs were provided on the survey in order to standardize the variables for the respondents. Response Rate The expected response rate was 100 usable surveys representing 20% of all employees. A total of34 surveys were collected, 32 ofwhich were complete and were used for analysis. The mean age of the respondents was 43 years old, the mean number of months employed in the organization was 89, the mean number of years of education was 16. Twenty five females and 8 males participated. The actual response rate was 5% of the total population sampled. Nine departments were represented in this study. The survey sample is made up of registered nurses (13%), support staf'(13%), professional staff(56%), management (16%), and medical staff(3%). As compared to the total number (population) of employees in each category, nurses and support staff are underrepresented, professionals and management are overrepresented and the medical staffs representation in the sample percentage is the same as their representation of the total population. The staff that responded to the survey 13

PAGE 21

consisted of2% of the population of registered nurses, 3% of support staff, 8% of professional staff, 20% of management and 4% of medical staff. The low response rate was attributed to three factors. The hospital had administered an employee satisfaction survey two weeks prior to the administration of this survey and fatigued employees were not enthusiastic about participating in another survey. Four employees told the investigator they felt the outcome of surveys might be used against them by management, despite the fact that anonymity was assured. The survey administered for this research was time consuming and challenged the employees to think critically, this effected the response rate. The response validity of the groups is at stake in this research due to the lack of correlation between the percentage of actual respondents and the percentage of potential respondents in the population. This survey sample is biased because all categories are not represented adequately and the sample was not randomly drawn. Procedures Permission to conduct this research was granted by the Human Research Committee of the University of Colorado at Denver. A pretest was conducted prior to the administration of the survey. Two participants were chosen, one at the 14

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management level, the other the professional level. These two individuals were chosen in order to check the understanding 'of instructions, definitions, and survey questions by different employee types. The feedback obtained from the pretest prompted a few changes in the survey. The metaphor definition was modified to include an example of an organizational metaphor (see Appendix A). The additional example enabled the respondents to tie all the variables together and reduce ambiguity. The other modification involved the physical layout of the survey instrument, such as, allowing more space for responding to the open-ended questions. The instructions were clear to the pretest participants, they stated that the survey was easiest if they took it for "face value" that is, immediately recording their initial response. This statement established the face validity of the study. The consistency of their responses was evidence for face validity and added to the reliability of the study. Both participants were able to describe a conflict as defined, thereby supporting the accuracy of the definition of conflict (see Appendix A). One participant provided a gaming metaphor of conflict. She stated the conflict had a "domino effect" among the departments. The other pretest respondent used a cliche' in place of a metaphor when she stated that conflicts occur in her department because 15

PAGE 23

the staff was "spread too thin". The definition of metaphor given on the survey (see Appendix A) may not have been accurate enough to allow the respondents to distinguish between a cliche' and a metaphor. Both respondents were able to describe their perspectives on organizational culture using combinations of the choices given on survey question 1 and the Likert scaled survey questions 8, 9, 11 and 12 (see Appendix A). After the pretest was administered, data was collected by means of a 17 item, cross-sectional, self-designed survey containing open and close-ended questions. The survey was designed to answer four research questions and the data were statistically analyzed. The open-ended questions in this survey were designed to check the "fit" between the ideal and reality and serve as methods of discovery and interpretation as well as a tool for action. Researcher induced bias is reduced by asking open-ended questions (Smith, 1988). The 7 point Likert scaled close-ended questions are designed to measure key constructs and to provide interval level data for statistical analysis. A copy of the letter of introduction, the consent form and the survey are located in the Appendixes A, B and C. 16

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Variable Definitions The variables to analyze in this study included perspective on organizational culture, surface symbolic fonns (metaphor), and conflict. The independent variable is the perspective on organizational functional, interpretive or a combination. A functional perspective on culture holds that the organization has a passive view of its members and that culture is controlled by controlling communication. Infonnation is controlled by those in power in the functional perspective. The interpretive perspective on culture contends that the organizational members shape organizational reality through their actions and interactions. The employees fonn their own idea of culture in the interpretive perspective. The dependent variable is the metaphor used to describe interdepartmental conflict. Conflict as a ritual is thought to be symbolically represented by metaphors. For example, describing conflict as a game indicates the individual's orientation toward the conflict.. A war metaphor would indicate a different orientation. A variable's operational definition specifies the operations a researcher goes through to measure his/her key constructs (Watt & VanDenBerg, 1995). A construct becomes a variable when it is measurable. For this sttidy, the construct cultural 17

PAGE 25

perspective (functional, interpretive or combination) was measured by the generation of nominal level data. Respondents were asked to check cultural characteristics from a list provided on the survey. Each respondent was placed in 1 of3 groups (a) functional, (b) interpretive, or (c) combination. The placement was based on the characteristics he/she chose to describe the organizational culture. The constructs conflict (blockage of goal attainment) and metaphor (speaking of one thing as if it were another) were measured by the use of a 7 point Likert Scale and content analysis of answers to open-ended questions. Interval level data was generated for these variables. A response of "strongly agree" is scored a 7 and "strongly disagree" is a 1 on the Likert scale. A response of 4 is "unsure". Data Analysis Research Question 1 Do organizational members as a group, hold a functional or interpretive perspective on their organizational culture? Survey questions 1, 8, 9, 11, and 12 (see Appendix A) address research question 1. Perspective on organizational culture was operationalized by asking the respondents to check as many or as few of the characteristics of the culture of the 18

PAGE 26

hospital as they wish. Eight characteristics were listed, four were characteristics of interpretive perspectives and four were functional characteristics. Table 2.1 lists the characteristics for survey question 1. Table 2.I Characteristics of Functional (F) and Interpretive (I) Cultural Perspectives defined by those in F information is circulated by those in power carried out by those in power defined by those in power, carried out by all employees ofthe hospital defmed by all of its employees all employees have a voice in the organization I information is circulated by all employees carried out in the actions of all the employees Using the SPSSx program, a formula for computing group membership was devised and computed for the individual respondents. A" yes" response indicated by a check mark on the survey was scored I, while the absence of a mark was considered a no" and scored 2. The sum of the interpretive characteristics indicated by an individual was divided by the sum of the individual's functional characteristic choices, generating a number that determined the individual's group membership. A range of values was determined for each group. Respondents scoring between 0.5 and 0.9 were members of the interpretive group. A calculated value of I, 19

PAGE 27

that is, equal numbers of interpretive and functional characteristics checked, placed the individual in the combination group. A respondent with a score of I.I up to and including 2 was placed in the functional group. The functional perspective on culture was operationalized on survey questions 8 and II (see Appendix A). Each question is followed by a 7 point agreement scale, the respondents were asked to indicate the extent of their agreement with statements regarding organizational culture. The statements were: (a)Values, defined by those in power, guide the actions of the hospital employees and (b) Information regarding the activities of the hospital as it relates to my department is regulated by those in power. Survey questions 9 and I2 describe an interpretive perspective on culture. Measured on the 7 point Likert scale, the statements are: (a) Values, defined by all hospital employees, guide the actions of the employees and (b) Information regarding the activities of the hospital as it relates to my department is regulated by the departmental members. The set of Likert questions were designed to assess the consistency of the respondents' perspective on culture, thereby increasing the reliability and the validity of the study by investigating the same variable in a number of ways. The responses from the cultural characteristics list were used to separate the respondents into functional, interpretive or combination groups. Once the groups were 20

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established, all analyses were done on the group level rather than the individual because the research questions are group oriented. To complete the answer to research question 1, the percentage of respondents in agreement, in disagreement or unsure on the Likert scaled questions regarding cultural perspective were compared. Research Question 2 Do different metaphoric subcultures (formed when groups use the same metaphor in different ways) exist in the hospital? The construct metaphor was operationalized on the survey in the form of open-ended questions. Survey question 13 has 2 parts: In his December 1995 newsletter, Richard Scott (president and CEO of the corporation) speaks of employees who "go the extra mile" for patients. (a) What does this metaphor mean? (b) What everyday event(s) at this hospital, if any, are represented by this metaphor? Content analysis as a method was performed on responses to open-ended questions in order to generate categories for statistical analysis on SPSSx. Content analysis is defined as "any technique for making inferences by objectively and systematically identifying specified characteristics of messages" (Holsti, 1969, p. 14). In content analysis, a wide variety of items are reduced to a limited set of attributes (or categories) composing a variable. 21

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Content analysis of responses to survey question 13 consisted of a metaphorical analysis to determine the presence or absence of agreement of meaning among cultural perspective groups. The coding unit for question 13 was words or phrases used to describe metaphoric meaning and manifestation (events). The coder read each respondent's answers to the open-ended questions determining commonly used words or phrases. The percentage of respondents in each group (functional, interpretive, combination) using the same word or phrase was determined and compared. Intercoder reliability would be high (if two coders were used) for this content analysis because it consists of simple word counts, that is, every time a word appears it is counted. Research Question 3 What are some of the recurring metaphors that constitute the basic patterns of conflict in organizational culture? Open-ended questions and Likert items were used to operationalize the constructs of metaphor and conflict. The open-ended question 14 (see Appendix A) regarding conflict asks the respondents to describe a conflict, that is, a blockage of goals between their department and another department. This question tests the respondents' ability to 22

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describe a conflict as defined and to allow the content analyst to look for unsolicited diagnostic metaphors, that is, those emerging from employee conversations. In order to accomplish this, the content analyst looked for phrases that met the criteria for being a metaphor, speaking of one thing as if it were another. In order to determine if the respondent was able to describe a conflict, the content analyst compared the respondents' description of conflict at the departmental level to the definition of conflict (blockage of goals). If a respondent accurately described a conflict, he/she scored 1, if not, he/she scored 2. The nominal level data was generated and compared across the cultural perspective groups. Question 15, "what metaphor, if any, comes to mind when you describe the conflict in question 14 ?" overtly solicits a metaphor from the respondent in order to to measure the respondents' ability to apply analytic metaphors, that is, those that are a framework for action. The coding unit for survey question 15 was metaphoric themes that describe conflict. If a metaphor was used to describe the conflict in survey question 14, the metaphor was recorded then placed into an established thematic category. The thematic categories were established by the coder after coding the metaphors. Only those phrases meeting the criteria for the definition of metaphor were placed in a thematic category. Once the responses were coded, the 23

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percentage of respondents in each group (functional, interpretive and combination) were compared across thematic categories. In order for the researcher to have a better understanding of the respondents' attitudes toward conflict, 4 close-ended questions were presented on the survey. These questions were asked in order to evaluate the potential for and the utility of conflict in the organization to help understand the patterns of conflict in the organization and how conflict relates to metaphor .. Survey questions 2, 3, 4, and 5 (see Appendix A) operationalize conflict by measuring the respondents' level of agreement (Likert scale) with statements regarding conflict between departments. The perceived blockage of goals (conflict potential) and level of interdependence is assessed by asking the respondent to indicate his/her level of agreement to the following statements:( a) There are some departments in the hospital that could prevent my department from functioning properly, (b) My department could prevent another department from functioning properly. Survey questions 3 and 4 look at the participants' overall view on the utility of conflict in the organization. These Likert scaled statements read:( a) Conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another department's goals is helpful to the 24

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organization, (b) Conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another department's goals is harmful to the organization. The respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement to each of these statements 2, 3, 4, and 5 and the mean responses to each statement were compared across cultural perspective groups. Research Question 4 Does the perspective on culture impact the choice of metaphor used to describe conflict, thereby impacting the approach to the conflict? This question leads the study into the next logical step by asking what factors influence the approach to the conflict. A Likert scaled statement coupled with the results of survey question 15 (as previously described) were used to examine this relationship. The Likert scaled statement is, the values of the organizational culture influence the department's approach to conflict. The respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which he/she agreed with this statement. 25

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CHAPTER3 RESULTS Research Question 1 Do organizational members as a group, hold a functional or interpretive perspective on their organizational culture? Each of the 32 respondents were placed into a group based on his/her response to survey question 1. Survey question l asked the respondents to check as many or as few of the characteristics befitting their organizational culture. SPSSx computed an actual range of0.71 to 1.60 for the respondents. Respondents in the 0.71 to 0.86 range became the interpretive group, those scoring 1.00 became the combination group and the 1.14 to 1.60 range was labeled the functional group. The survey results have shown that 18 of the respondents hold a functional perspective. An interpretive perspective on organizational culture is held by 6 of the respondents. The remaining 8 respondents hold a cultural perspective, that is, a combination of functional and interpretive. Table 3.1 displays the results of the computations and the group demographics. 26

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Table 3.1 Demographics of the Cultural Perspective Groups Interpretive Functional # of respondents 6 male 1 female 5 mean# months worked 36 18 4 14 95 Likert Responses to Cultural Perspective Survey Combination Total 8 3 5 110 32 8 24 Figures 3.1 3.4 illustrate the participants' level of agreement to the Likert questions designed to validate the results of group membership established in survey question 1. Figures 3.1 and 3.3 represent level of agreement to statements based on the functional perspective, while figures 3.2 and 3.4 are based on levels of agreement to interpretive statements. There were no missing cases in this descriptive analysis. 27

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Figure 3.1 % 0 f e s p 0 n d e n t s Figure 3.2 % 0 f e s p 0 n d e n t s Values, defined by those in power, guide the actions of the hospital employees combo interpretive functional Level of agreement to this functional perspective statement agree unsure D Values, defined by all hospital employees, guide the actions of the employees combo interpretive functional level of agreement to this interpretive perspective statement 28 agree unsure D disagree

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Figure 3.3 % 0 f e s p 0 n d e n t s Figure 3.4 % 0 f r e s p 0 n d e n t s Hosptial infonnation relating to my dept. is regulated by those in power combo interpretive functional level of agreement to this functional perspective statement agree unsure D disagree Hospital information as it relates to my dept. is regulated by dept. members combo interpretive functional Level of agreement to this interpretive perspective statement 29 agree unsure D disagree

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All three perspectives agree that organizational values that guide employee actions are defined by those in power. The interpretive and combo groups agree that values are defined by all employees. The functional group disagreed that values are defined by all hospital employees. Regarding dissemination of information regarding hospital activities as it relates to their department, all groups concur that information is regulated by those in power. The interpretive group wants to believe that information is also regulated by department members (there is a 50/50 split between those in the interpretive group between the disagrees and the unsure/agrees). Research Question 2 Do different metaphoric subcultures exist in the hospital? Metaphoric subculture membership can be based on being a member of a group or a department. For purposes of this study, the groups generated by research question 1, interpretive, functional and combination were used for the determination of the existence of metaphoric subcultures. Content analysis on the responses to open-ended questions was performed to produce data for statistical analysis. The open-ended questions are: "In his December 1995 newsletter, Richard Scott (president and CEO of the 30

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corporation) speaks of employees who "go the extra mile" for patients. What does this metaphor mean? What everyday events at this hospital, if any, are represented by this metaphor?" The coding unit for analysis on metaphoric meaning were words or phrases. Each survey response to question 13 was read carefully and words or phrases defining metaphoric meaning were recorded. There was I missing case in the functional group for metaphoric meaning. Content analysis produced 4 categories of meaning of the metaphor "go the extra mile". The categories include:( a) personal touch, (b) go out of the way for patient, (c) concern for patient welfare, and (d) beyond job description. The results are presented in Table 3.2. Table 3.2 Results of Content Analysis for meaning of metaphor "go the extra mile" Interpretive Functional Combination personal touch 0 0 1(12.5%) go out of way for patient 1(16.7%) 4(22%) 2(25%) concern patient welfare 1(16.7%) 4(22%) 2(25%) beyond job description 4(66.6%) 9(50%) 3(37.5%) m1ssmg case 0 1(6%) 0 total 6(100%) 18(100%) 8(100%) 31

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In order to reduce the number of categories to analyze, the meaning of the metaphor "go the extra mile" was recoded into 2 groups. One group labeled patient based meaning included the categories personal touch, go out of way for patient and concern for patient welfare. The second group labeled employee based meaning consisted ofthe category beyond job description. Table 3.3 illustrates the recoded results including corrections for missing cases. Table 3.3 Recoded Results of meaning of metaphor "go the extra mile" Interpretive Functional patient based meaning 2(33.4%) 8(44%) employee based meaning 4(66.6%) 9(50%) mtssmg case 0 1(6%) total 6(100%) 18(100%) corrected for missing cases patient based meaning employee based meaning total 8(48%) 9(52%) 17(100%) Combination 5(62.5%) 3(37.5%) 0 8(100%) Content analysis produced 7 categories describing everyday events that represent the metaphor. The categories are:(a)care, (b) comfort, (c) meet patient needs, (d) spend time, (e) be helpful, (t) take pride, and (g) listen. There were 4 32

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missing cases in the functional group, 1 missing case in the interpretive group, and 2 missing cases in the combination group. Table 3.4 displays the results. Table 3.4 Results of Content Analysis for events representing "go the extra mile" Interpretive Functional Combination care 0 1(5.6%) 1(12.5%) comfort 1(16.7%) 2(11.1%) 2(25.0%) meet patient needs 2(33.3%) 1(5.6%) 0 time 2(33.3%) 5(27.8%) 1(12.5%) help 0 4(22.2%) 0 pride 0 1(5.6%) 0 listen 0 0 2(25.0%) m1ssmg case 1(16.7%) 4(22.2%) 2(25.0%) total 6(100%) 18(100%) 8(100%) These categories were recoded into groups according to whether the event was patient based or employee based. The patient based group included care, comfort, meet patient needs, and help. The employee based group included time spent, pride, and listen. Table 3.5 illustrates the results of the recoded groups and includes corrections for missing data. 33

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Table 3.5 Recoded Results for events representing the metaphor "go the extra mile" patient based event employee based event mtssmgcase total Interpretive 3(50%) 2(33.3%) 1(16.7%) 6(100%) Functional 8(44.5%) 6(33.3%) 4(22.2%) 18(100%) corrected for missing cases patient based event 3( 60%) employee based event 2( 40%) total 5(100%) 8(57%) 6(43%) 14(100%) Combination 3(37.5%) 3(37.5%) 2(25%) 8(100%) 3(50%) 3(50%) 6(100%) Two different metaphoric subcultures, that is, groups that use the same metaphor in different ways, emerged in this research. The majority of the interpretive and functional respondents interpreted the metaphor "go the extra mile" in the same way. This subculture (I-F) attributes an employee based meaning to the metaphor yet felt the metaphor was represented by patient based events. The other subculture is made up of the respondents belonging to the group holding a combination perspective on organizational culture. The subculture (C) attributes a patient based meaning to 34

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the "go the extra mile" metaphor while indicating the events representing the metaphor are both patient and employee based. Research Question 3 What are some of the recurring metaphors that constitute the basic patterns of conflict in organizational culture? The survey sample size (n=32) was too small to perform a T test on the data, therefore descriptive statistics were used for analysis. Table 3.6 illustrates the mean responses and standard deviations for the Likert scaled survey questions addressing conflict potential. There were no missing cases. All the respondents agree that the potential for conflict exists in the organization, the survey results indicate that the departments of the organization in this study are interdependent. 35

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Table 3.6 Mean responses to Likert scaled statements regarding conflict potential There are some departments in the hospital that could prevent my department from functioning properly. Interpretive 5.33/1.51 Functional 5.94/1.35 Combination 5.75/1.83 My department could prevent another department from functioning properly. Interpretive 5.17/1.94 Functional 5.72/2.05 Combination 6.75/0.46 Note. A response of7=strongly agree, 4=unsure, !=strongly disagree The organizational utility of conflict was measured on the same Likert agreement scale and the survey results indicate that all groups feel that conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another department's goals is harmful to the organization. Mean resP<>nses and the corresponding standard deviation statistics for conflict utility are cited in Table 3.7. 36

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Table 3.7 Mean responses to Likert scaled statements regarding conflict utility Conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another department's goals in helpful/harmful to the organization. helpful harmful Interpretive 2.33/1.51 5.83/1.17 Functional 1.50/0.99 6.06/1.26 Combination 2.00/1.85 5.87/1.81 Note. A response of ?=strongly agree, 4=unsure, 1 = strongly disagree Twenty four out of 32 respondents were able to describe a conflict (blockage of goals) between their department and another department. The content analysis category used for this determination was "one departments blockage of another department's goals". This result validates the respondents understanding of the operational definition of conflict and is consistent with the results shown in Table 3.6. One unsolicited diagnostic metaphor ("them against us") was noted in the process of performing content analysis on the responses to question 14. The same respondent described the conflict as a "battleground" when asked to describe it metaphorically in survey question 15. Content analysis of the answers given to survey question 15, "What metaphor, if any, comes to mind when you describe the conflict in question 14?" produced 8 37

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metaphoric themes. The themes include:( a) machine, (b) medical, (c) animal, (d) service, (e) game/race, (f) sensory, (g) war, and (h) police. The results are presented in Table 3.8. Machine metaphors describe conflict as an object that has moving parts, the parts however are not working efficiently or counter productively and conflict occurs. A department that "spins its wheels" is being described by the machine metaphor. Some medical metaphors emerged in the hospital setting, relating conflict to procedures perfonned by medical professionals. Trying to get one department to cooperate with another is like "pulling teeth" according to one respondent. Animals were used to illustrate conflict, one respondent compared conflict to the tale of the tortoise and the hare, where departments use different methods to achieve an end, conflict can occur due to different senses of urgency among the departments to achieve the end. Service metaphors are used when an employee feels like he/she has to "take a number" in order to get their job done. In the hospital many practitioners are called upon to treat the patient. Often employees from different departments arrive at the patient's bedside at the same time, this forces them to "take a number" and wait their turn, like waiting for service at the delicatessen. Game metaphors apply rules, strategies and guidelines for winning to the conflict paradigm. Sensory 38

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metaphors compare conflict to one of the human senses, an example is portraying the conflicting parties as having "tunnel vision", these parties see limited options to conflict management. The war metaphor describes conflict as a "battleground", events are explosive and one party conquers the other. Finally, the police metaphor was offered by one respondent who described conflict as an episode of the "Keystone Kops", intimating that confusion between departments leads to a blockage of goals. Of the 32 respondents, 8 reported that no metaphor came to mind when he/she described the conflict. The most common metaphor used by the interpretive group had a sensory theme, and the respondents in the combination group used a game/race metaphor. The most common response to this survey question by the functional group was that no metaphor came to mind when describing the conflict. 39

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Table 3.8 Metaphoric themes describing conflict for Interpretive. Functional and Combination Cultural Perspectives Interpretive Functional Combination machine 0 2(11.1%) 2(25%) medical 0 1(5.6%) 0 animal 1(16.7%) 3(16.7%) 0 service 1(16.7%) 2(11.1%) 1(12.5% game/race 1(16.7%) 2(11.1%) 3(37.5%) sensory 2(33.3%) 1(5.6%) 0 war 0 0 1(12.5%) police 0 1(5.6%) 0 no metaphor 1(16.7%) 6(33.3%) 1(12.5%) total 6(100%) 18(100%) 8(100%) Research Question 4 Does the perspective on culture impact the choice of metaphor used to describe conflict, thereby impacting the approach to the conflict? The mean responses and standard deviations on the Likert 7 point agreement scale are presented in Table 3.9. There was one missing case in the interpretive group for the question on metaphors influence on the approach. Table 3.8 is also used to answer this research question. 40

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Table 3.9 Mean responses to a Likert scaled statement regarding conflict approach The values of organizational culture influence the department's approach to conflict Interpretive 5.50/1.05 Functional 5.83/1.25 Combination 6.00/1.20 Note. A response of ?=strongly agree, 4=unsure, I =strongly disagree All cultural perspective groups agree that the values ofthe organizational culture influence the department's approach to conflict. The res1,1lts presented in Table 3.8 indicate the interpretive and combination cultural perspective groups chose conflict metaphors that fall into different thematic categories, indicating a difference in approach. The table also shows the functional group feels that metaphors are not used to describe conflict, indicating that metaphors do not have an impact on conflict approach. 41

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CHAPTER4 DISCUSSION Cultural Perspectives and Metaphors The results of this study support Mumby's (1988) idea that organizational conflict can be analyzed in terms of the relationship between deep structure and surface symbolic forms. In this study, deep structure is represented by the organizational members' perspective on organizational culture and surface symbolic forms are represented by the members' metaphorical view on conflict between departments in an organization. The differences in the organizational members' perspective on organizational culture were mirrored by differences in the members' metaphorical view on conflict. The functional perspective is held by the majority of the respondents. The members of this group believe that organizational values are determined and information is controlled in their organization by those in power. The organizational culture is protected by the controlling of information by those in power. The mean number of months worked in the organization for those in the functionalist 42

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perspective group was 95. After almost 8 years of employment the employees feel powerless and unheard in their organization. The functional group recognizes the potential for conflict in the organization and believes that conflict between departments is harmful to the organization. However, most ofthe members of this group were unable to use a metaphor to describe conflict between departments. If metaphors are a framework for action (Heath, 1994 ), then the members of the functionalist perspective group must feel powerless to manage conflict, that is, take action. The members of the interpretive group have been employed in the organization for an average of 3 years. This is a relatively short time as compared with the other two groups According to the theory postulated by Sypher et al. (1985), the members of this group believe that they form their own idea of culture rather than being told. This idea is substantiated in this study by the fact that over 60% of the members of the interpretive group believe that values are defined by all the hospital employees, including those in power. Despite the fact they hold an interpretive perspective on organizational culture, members of this group feel that information is regulated by those in power. The most common metaphor used by the interpretive group is the sensory 43

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metaphor. When describing an interdepartmental conflict as space constraints, an interpretive group member stated those in conflict were in a world of their own or had "tunnel vision". The tunnel metaphor suggests the conflict was far from being managed and that options were limited, it is abstract and subjective. The most salient characteristic of the combination cultural perspective group is that the average number of months worked is 110. This implies that organizational members go through a metamorphosis of sorts in regards to their views on cultural perspective. Starting out as optimists with an interpretive perspective, along the way complacency sets in and the members take on a functional perspective. Perhaps time brings autonomy and more personal power to the individuals in the organization explaining why many of the "old timers" hold a perspective on organizational culture that is a combination of the functional and interpretive perspectives. The members of the combination group most often use the game/race metaphoric theme to describe organizational conflict. One respondent describes the conflict as a "rat race". This conflict occurs when evecyone is running around in circles trying to make up for time lost due to non communication of scheduled patients' arrival time. 44

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The male/female split in perspective is striking. Half of the male respondents possess a functional perspective while the other half are either interpretive or hold a combination perspective. Greater than half of the women are functional with a smaller percentage (than men) making the leap to a combination perspective. Perhaps women in this organization have a more difficult time asserting their power and gaining autonomy than their male counterparts. According to Johnson (1976), women remain in subordinate roles in the organization because they chose to exercise indirect power. Informal peacemaking techniques employing personal rather than public power are used by women. Since conflict is not overt for women, metaphors are not needed as a framework for action, that is, conflict management. As a cultural code, the metaphor used by each each group reflects the group members' views on interdepartmental conflict. Differences in metaphoric language indicate differences in perspective on organizational culture, that is "reality". Carbaugh (1985) contended that organizational culture attempts to create a common ground for employees and yet three perspectives emerge from life in the same organization. The "sense of work life" is different for the members of different perspective groups. The functional group lacks a cultural code in the form of metaphor for 45

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description of conflict in organizational life. Their "sense of work life" is that they expect their actions and behavior to be directed by those in power. According to Wheeler (1987), the metaphor used by an organizational member to describe organizational conflict influences the "reality" of the conflict in the member's mind. Despite the fact that most members of this group failed to describe conflict metaphorically, as a group they recognize the potential for conflict exists, and most can accurately describe a conflict in narrative form. Therefore, conflict for this group is not unrealistic as Wheeler would suggest. The interpretive group using sensory images like vision, internalize organizational life, they see themselves as part of the organization and vice versa. The construction of a sense of order in organizational life described by Sypher et al. (1985) is undertaken by the interpretive group. These authors first introduced the concept of symbolic processes employing metaphor to defme organizational life when describing characteristics of the interpretive perspective on culture. 1bis study supports their notion that metaphors can be used to describe organizational life. The game/race metaphor used by the combination group to describe conflict indicates these organizational members envision conflict as a rule governed action. The members of the combination group understand that parties in conflict have roles 46

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to play and these roles are rule governed. Games and races have beginnings and ends, conflict is something to be finished. When resolving or managing conflict, the members of the combination group know how to use their personal power in conjunction with resources available through those in power. Robert Heath's (1994), enactment theory postulates that organizational members are able to predict and coordinate their activities. Conflict as a game/race is enacted by certain sets of moves, strategies and postures exhibited by the parties in conflict. Anticipation of the opponent's next move constitutes prediction of activity. Coordination of activity is enacted at the end of the game/race when the conflict is resolved or managed. Rules and roles according to Heath are expressed in metaphor, the combination group recognizes the importance of rules by describing conflict as a game/race. Symbolic actions in organizations are rule governed (Ting-Toomey, 1985). Organizational culture provides the context for conflict which can arise when interdependent parties from different cultures express and interpret the same symbolic action differently according toTing-Toomey. The groups in this study recognize the departments of the hospital are interdependent, agreeing that their department could prevent another from functioning properly and vice versa. 47

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Metaphoric Subcultures Different metaphoric subcultures emerged among the groups. Based on interpretation of meaning and manifestation of a chosen metaphor, "go the extra mile", the interpretive and functional group members make up one subculture (1-F) and the combination group members make up the other subculture. Heath (1994) states that a shared view of reality emerges in an organization when groups use the same metaphor in the same way. The two levels of sharing are agreement and understanding. As defined by Heath, agreement occurs when the same metaphor is used for the same object or activity. By investigating the events (activities) in everyday organizational life symbolized by the metaphor "go the extra mile", this study determined the interpretive and functional groups (1-F) are a metaphoric subcUlture and the combination group (C) is another. The 1-F subculture envisions the events as being patient based, that is, providing care, comfort, meeting patient needs and providing help to the patient. The other subculture, the combination perspective group (C), feels the events are both patient and employee based. Employee based events include time spent (patient contact and non-patient contact scenarios), pride and listening. The combination 48

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group is expressing its autonomy once again, feeling that "going the extra mile" is they can do on their own, they do not necessarily need patient contact to "go the extra mile" for the patient, it can be done subtly. The combination group expresses their sense of empowerment when describing events symbolized by the metaphor. Understanding occurs when the meaning of the metaphor is shared by individuals at different levels of the organization. Upon examination of the meaning of the metaphor "go the extra mile" the same two subcultures emerged, 1-F andC, based on understanding. The 1-F group assigns employee based meaning to the metaphor. The employee based meaning is defined as going beyond the job description to "go the extra mile". The members of this subculture adapt a concrete job description (usually established by management) in order to "go the extra mile". Examples of going beyond the job description would be calling results to the doctor, attending workshops to improve skills and volunteering on hospital committees. The employee as well as the patient benefits from meanings that are employee based. The C subculture uses a personal touch, goes out of their way for the patient and shows concern for patient welfare when describing the meaning of the metaphor "go the extra mile". The patient is the focus for this subculture. 49

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Heath ( 1994) holds that different metaphoric subcultures exist in organizations when groups have different perceptions of the organizational world leading to different enactments based on the view they hold. In this study, differen( perceptions (cultural perspectives) combined to form metaphoric subcultures with different ideas about what the metaphor means and how it is enacted. All the meanings and enactments offered by the respondents in this study are very positive and supportive of the patient and themselves. Ting-Toomey (1985) states that conflict arises when parties from different cultures have different ways of expressing and interpreting the same symbolic action. All the respondents agree the potential for conflict exists in their organization, this is supported by the fact that different metaphoric subcultures exist. However, conflicts are unlikely to arise over differences in the interpretation of"go the extra mile" because fundamentally the interpretive, functional and combination groups enact and define the metaphor in very similar ways. Perspective. Metaphor and Conflict Ap_proach All the respondents (no matter what their view on cultural perspective) agree the values of organizational culture influence a department's approach to 50

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conflict. Differences in approach among the perspective groups emerge based on the metaphorical view of conflict and differences in values. Many of the members of the functional perspective group are unable to metaphorically describe interdepartmental conflict. This indicates that the members really "buy in" to their belief that organizational values are determined by those in power. The group ''buys in" to this belief to the extent that they are unable to envision conflict in other terms, therefore the group may not attempt to approach conflict unless guided by those in power. The members of the functional group offering metaphors use machine, service and game/race metaphors. These metaphors imply structure and rules are used in conflict approach. The sensory metaphors used by the interpretive group suggest that interpretive group members are intuitive in their conflict approach and would be likely to use creative, subjective techniques for conflict approach. Brainstorming and round table sessions could be used, these techniques take time, yet would satisfy an organizational group that likes to be "heard". The combination perspective group uses game/race, machine and war metaphors to describe conflict. The approach used by this group would be guided by rules, structure, and time constraints. Expediency and efficiency would be important, 51

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therefore, group consensus might not be reached before an approach is made. The conflict might be approached by the leader of the group after group consultation. Limitations The survey instrument was designed to be valid and reliable. Validity is the extent to which an instrument is measuring what it intends to measure (Smith, 1988). In order to make valid inferences the constructs must be accurately operationally defined, therefore the operational definitions were included on the survey. The pretest was used as an initial assessment of validity. Most of the respondents were able to describe a conflict as defined on the survey (see Appendix A), several respondents offered a cliche' in place of a metaphor indicating inaccuracy in the definition of metaphor given on the survey (see Appendix A). The changes made to the definition of metaphor as a result of the pretest were not adequate to preclude this validity problem. Reliability assures objectivity and means that repeated measures with the same instrument given to the same individuals should yield similar results (Smith, 1988). Participant fatigue may have effected the reliability of the study. Fatigue was caused by the fact that the employees had recently been asked to fill out another 52

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hospital survey and the fact that this survey was not easy to complete, some respondents thought it was "hard". Generalizability refers to the ability to "generalize" the research findings to the population as a whole (Babbie, 1990). The generalizability of this study could have been improved by stratifying the sample into homogeneous subsets. Stratification would enhance the representativeness of the sample population as compared to. the parent population. Actively pursing the participation of the desired respondents (rather than handing out the surveys to the department managers for distribution with the paychecks) and administration of the survey to a select group of participants under a controlled environment (for example, department meeting) would help to improve the response rate, validity and generalizabilty of the study. Random sampling error can be reduced by increasing the size of the sample. The parent population for this study was a large ( 666 employees), yet sampling error was introduced because of the low response rate ( 5% ). A representative sample is one that reflects well the characteristics of its parent population. A response rate of 5% is not enough to generalize back to the parent population. The convenience sampling method employed in this study generates data unique to the sample, with limited generalizability. Consequently, the findings of this study are considered 53

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exploratory in nature, indicating that different cultural perspectives exist in an organization and these perspectives influence the organizational members' on organizational conflict. An understanding of the members' metaphorical view of conflict is important to the selection of conflict management techniques. More research is needed to understand which techniques are effective for a given metaphor. This particular study takes place at a very unique time in the organization's history, a time of acquisition and consolidation of many hospitals around the city. The cultural transitions taking place at the time the survey was conducted reduced the generalizability ofthe study, the results can be applied only to organizations undergoing acquisition and consolidation. Conclusions The perspective on organizational culture held by a member of an organization influences the member's metaphorical view of conflict. Metaphors are used symbolically in organizational communication to represent a concept in terms of another. Describing organizational life as a "well oiled machine" invokes a metaphor to imply that members or departments work well together to produce a product. Interdepartmental conflict occurs when one department blocks 54

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the goals of another. Eighteen of 32 participants hold a functional perspective, that is, culture is defined and regulated by those in power. The functional group was unable to metaphorically describe conflict, this reflects their feeling of powerlessness and uncertainty as to conflict approach. Six participants, hold an interpretive perspective, that is, culture is defined and regulated by all organizational members. The members use sensory metaphors like "tunnel vision" to describe conflict indicating an abstract, subjective approach. Eight participants, describe the cultural perspective as a combination of the two perspectives. A game/race metaphor is used to describe conflict implies conflict moves are rule governed and there will be a "winner". Differences in cultural perspectives are reflected in differences in choices of metaphors used to describe organizational conflict. The differences are most closely associated with differences in levels of empowerment or autonomy among the cultural perspective groups. The more autonomy a member feels the more likely he/she is to use an abstract, subjective approach. The less autonomy a member feels, the less likely he/she is to metaphorically describe conflict and use the metaphor as a framework for action, that is, conflict management. 55

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When given a metaphor to interpret, two different metaphoric subcultures emerged among the groups; These subcultures assigned different meanings to the same metaphor. The assignment of different meanings to the same metaphor is a precursor to conflict in the organization and strengthens the argument that conflict exists in the organization because it is symbolized differently by the members of different cultural perspective groups. In this organization and others like it, the perspective on organizational culture is dynamic. The results of this study indicate that organizational members go tprough a "metamorphosis" in regards to their perspective on organizational culture. The newly hired employees are an idealistic group, believing they have a "say" in the of organizational culture. With time, the group allows complacency to set in and they feel powerless. After 10 years of employment, employees gain a sense of autonomy and indicate an increased level of empowerment. The challenge for the organization is to understand the perspective of its members and to use appropriate conflict metaphors. Appropriate metaphor usage will provide a framework for organizational conflict management. 56

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APPENDIX A SURVEY INSTRUMENT Part L Please provide the following information about yourself; this information is used for classification purposes only. your age:__ male or female: __ level of education: department of hospital: # of years worked in dept. you are a member of: administration'---( check more than one management __ race: African Am. if applicable) staff __ hospital based physician ___ other Part ll. Commonly used terms in the survey and their definitions. Asian Caucasian --Hispanic __ Native American Other Organizational culture-most organizations have a culture. Culture is a value system shared by most of its members. That system directs the actions or behaviors of the organizational members. The organization is the hospital. Conflict-a struggle between parties that occurs when there is the perception of blockage of goal attainment. For this survey, the parties are departments. Metaphor":'a way of comparing one thing to another by speaking of it as if it were the other, for example, calling the world a stage. Organizational and personal relationships can be described with metaphors. An example would be describing family life as a "three ring circus" implying the members are busy and going in many directions at once; or describing an organization as a "well-oiled machine" with parts (departments) working together to produce a product. 57

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Part m. Survey Questions 1. Check as many or as few of the following characteristics that most accurately describe the CULTURE of this hospital. __ defined by of all its employees. __ defined by those in power __ all employees have a voice in the organization __ defined by those in power, carried out by all employees of the hospital __ information is circulated by those in power __ information is circulated by all employees __ carried out in the actions of all the employees __ carried out by those in power For questions 2-12 and 16-17, please check the single response option following each statement that most closely reflects your opinion. For questions 13-15, please write your answers in the space provided. 2. There are some departments in the hospital that could prevent my department from functioning properly. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 3. Conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another department's goals is helpful to the organization. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 4. Conflict in the form of one department's blockage of another department's goals is harmful to the organization. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 5. My department could prevent another department from functioning properly. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 58

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6. The values of the organizational culture influence the department's approach to conflict. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 7. The actions of those in power guide the actions of all the hospital employees. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 8. Values, defmed by those in power, guide the actions of the hospital's employees. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 9. Values, defined by all hospital employees, guide the actions of the employees. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 10. Employees of this hospital play an active role in defming the culture of the hospital. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 11. Information regarding the activities of the hospital as it relates to my department is regulated by those in power. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 12. Information regarding the activities of the hospital as it relates to my department is regulated by the departmental members. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 13. In his December 1995 newsletter, Richard Scott (president and CEO of Columbia!HCA) speaks of employees who "go the extra mile" for patients. What does this metaphor mean? 59

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What everyday event( s) at this hospital, if any, are represented by this metaphor? 14. Describe a conflict (blockage of goals) between your department and another department. 15. What metaphor, if any, comes to mind when you describe the conflict in # 14? Fill in the blank. This conflict is (like) __________ Why did you chose this metaphor? If no metaphor comes to mind, please check here. __ 16. The metaphor used by members of a department to describe the conflict influences the department's approach to the conflict. strongly agree unsure strongly disagree 17. How frequently do you hear organizational members using metaphors to describe conflict between departments? very frequently unsure very infrequently 60

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APPENDIXB INTRODUCTION LET1ER January 26, 1996 Dear fellow employees, I am a graduate student at the University of Colorado gathering data for research on the subject of organizational communication. I'd like your ideas regarding conflict in the workplace. This project is being conducted for the university, not for the hospital All responses are confidential (will not be given to administration) and will be compiled into a thesis. The written survey will take a few minutes to complete. Please sign and date the consent form on the other side of this letter and separate the consent from the survey. Then fill out the survey and place both the survey and the consent form in the collection boxes located in the cafeteria, look for the balloon!! Please turn in the forms by February 5, 1996. You are chosen to participate because you have first hand knowledge ofhow the hospital "operates". I ThankYOU for your time and opinions. Sincerely, Laurie P. Heath 61

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APPENDIXC CONSENT FORM Thank-you for participating in this survey. Federal and University requirements regarding research require your consent before participating. Please sign and date this form in the space provided below, however, your name will not be attached to the survey results. I (the investigatQr) will not know who completed which survey. You are free to withdraw from this study at any time without penalty. If you have any questions, my phone number is 695-2615. If you have questions regarding your rights as a participant, please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs, CU-Denver, Campus Box 123, PO Box 173364, Denver, CO. 80217-3364, telephone 556-2770. The data gathered by this survey will be kept confidential. Thanks again, Laurie P. Heath your signature date 62

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Stewart, Lea. (1985). Subjective culture and organizational decision-making. In Wm. Gudykunst, Lea Stewart & Stella Ting-Toomey (Eds.), Communication. culture and organizational processes. (pp.212-230) Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Sypher, Beverly Davenport, James Applegate & Howard Sypher. (1985). Culture and communication in organizational contexts. In Wm. Gudykunst, Lea Stewart & Stella Ting-Toomey (Eds.), Communication. culture and organizational processes. (pp. 13-29) Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Ting-Toomey, Stella. (1985). Toward a theory of conflict and culture. In Wm. Gudykunst, Lea Stewart & Stella Ting-Toomey (Eds.), Communication. culture and organizational processes. (pp.71-86) Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Tucker, Raymond K., Richard L. Weaver IT & Cynthia BerrymanFink. (1981). Research in Speech Communication. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc. Watt, James H. & Sjef A VanDenBerg. (1995). Research Methods for Communication Science. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Wheeler, C.J. (1987). The magic of metaphor: A perspective on reality construction. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity. 2. 223-238. 64