The Executive Way: Conflict Management in Corporations

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, 1996 - Business & Economics - 350 pages
What causes conflict among high-level American corporate executives? How do executives manage their conflicts? Based on candid interviews with over two hundred executives and their support personnel, Calvin Morrill provides an intimate portrait of these men and women as they cope with problems usually hidden from those outside their exclusive ranks.

Personal and corporate scandals, compensation battles, budget worries, interdepartmental rivalries, personal enmities, and general rancor are among everyday challenges faced by executives. Morrill shows what most influences the way managers handle routine conflicts are the cultures created by their company's organizational structure: whether there is a strong hierarchy, a weak hierarchy, or an absence of any strong central authority. The issues most likely to cause conflict within corporations Morrill identifies as managerial style, competition between departments, and performance evaluations, promotions, and compensation.

Among the people whose day-to-day lives we get to know are Jacobs, a divisional executive whose intuitive understanding of the corporate hierarchy enables him to topple his incompetent superior without direct confrontation; Fuller, who through a mix of brains, guile, and connections rises from staff executive secretary to corporate vice president in a large bank; Green, an old-fashioned accounting partner in a firm being taken over by management consultants; and the "Princess of Power," "Iron Man," and the "Terminator"—executives fighting their way to the top of a successful entertainment company.

Unprecedented in its direct access to top managers, this portrayal of daily life and conflict management among corporate elites will be of interest to professionals, scholars, and practitioners in organizational culture and behavior, managerial decision making, dispute, social control, law and society, and organizational ethnography.
 

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Contents

ONE Introduction
1
1 Hanging the Pig Out to Dry
2
TVO Setting the Scene
28
THREE Patterns of Conflict Management in Thirteen
68
Authoritative Conflict
92
1 Rileys Case
107
5 The Setup
113
10 Infinite Hold
119
1 Depreciation Hell
159
7 The Boastful Partner
166
8 The Partner Replacement
167
Reciprocal Conflict
177
1 The Gifted Vice Presidents
199
Orthodoxy Change and Identity
217
APPENDIX A Anatomy of an Ethnography of Business Elites
229
APPENDIX B Aggregate Comparative Data
257

14 The Hip Shooters
127
Minimalistic Conflict Management
141
Glossary of Native Terms at Playco
263
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Calvin Morrill is the Stefan A. Riesenfeld Professor of Law, professor of sociology, and associate dean for jurisprudence and social policy in the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

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