Course Overview

Negotiation and conflict management are common occurrences in workplaces and our personal lives because people see things from different perspectives and do not always agree with one another.  Conflict, contrary to general belief, need not be dysfunctional. Where properly managed, conflicts can lead to positive outcomes, such as improved understanding, better alternatives and increased satisfaction. In this elective, we will introduce and examine the various conflict management and negotiation strategies and techniques. Participants will be introduced to how the application of creative thinking to conflict situations can help generate collaborative (win-win) solutions.  Formal dispute resolution mechanisms including mediation and arbitration will also be covered.

Course Objectives

The course is intended to help students accomplish the following learning objectives:

  • to understand the nature of conflict and that conflict can serve a functional purpose
  • to learn the various strategies and techniques to manage conflicts
  • to be able to apply the most appropriate conflict resolution method to the situation
  • to gain practical experience on negotiations and other dispute resolution mechanisms

Course Outline

The week will be spent in a combination of activities, probably including short lectures, negotiation simulation, group exercises, video and guest presentations. (Although the course concepts are generally applicable across a variety of settings, the focus of most activities will be on workplace conflicts, involving, for example, labour/employee relations.) Prior to the course, participants will be expected to do some preparatory work, such as reading the textbook and supplementary materials.  During the residential week, participants should be prepared for intensive work that may extend into the evenings.  (A tentative program outline will be distributed shortly before the program starts.)  Participants will be required to submit a formal written assignment, due four weeks after the residential week, utilizing concepts, approaches and guidelines learned, as well as insights and experience obtained, during the course.

The textbook for this elective is:  ‘Think Before You Speak: A Complete Guide to Strategic Negotiation’  (1996)  Roy J. Lewicki, Alexander Hiam, and Karen Wise Olander.  New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

During the residential elective week, students can expect to work all day and some evenings on coursework and team projects. Each student is expected to contribute equally to their team’s workload and to class discussions.  It is compulsory that students be available to their team and be present for all meals and activities outlined on the program agenda and/or course outline.