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This review of Friedrich Glasl's book "Konfliktmanagement. Reproduced with permission from the Center for Advanced Studies in Management. Glasl, F. Did you ever wonder what approaches to conflict management have been developed outside the English-speaking world? American practitioners and scholars have been very active in developing methods for improving negotiations and for resolving disputes out of court.
The American ADR approaches usually focus on low-cost mediation and arbitration methods, which assume that there is a well-defined dispute that could either be resolved through litigation or by an ADR approach. Europe is, for various reasons, far behind the USA in the development of alternatives to going to court. This "backwardness" fortunately does not apply to all parts of the conflict management field.
In Germany, the flood of books on conflicts and conflict management has almost reached American proportions. However, very few books deal with issue-oriented mediation in the usual American sense Besemer, , is an exception. Most are based on some kind of system perspective, i. German scholars have made some seminal contributions in the field of family conflicts, e. The largest number of contributions, however, has been made in the field of conflicts in organizations, were the authors usually focus on on-site interventions.
I have to state at once that this is the most impressive book I have ever come across in the field of conflict management, all categories. Glasl is an Austrian conflict facilitator with a solid experience from many years as an organizational consultant and trainer of facilitators in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and other countries.
He holds a doctorate in political science Wien, and is an Anthroposopher. It is divided into three parts. Part I ch. In chapters Glasl reviews several definitions of "social conflict," and discusses in general terms how the perception, interpretations, emotions and intentionality of the conflict parties are influenced by the conflict process.
Chapter 3 offers a review of conflict typologies in the conflict theory literature. As a complement to the established typologies, Glasl introduces the concepts of "hot" and "cold" conflicts.
This distinction has a considerable value when the facilitator is about to choose an intervention approach. He observes that the conflict facilitators he has been training often have well developed analytical faculties, but have neglected to develop their perceptual skills. In later chapters Glasl suggests a large number of diagnostical methods making use of intuitive and creative techniques, drawing on his background as an Anthroposopher. In chapter 5 Glasl identifies and elaborates upon five important aspects of conflict diagnosis: 1.
For each of these aspects a number of diagnostic questions are formulated and discussed, whereby Glasl draws on a considerable number of conflict resolution scholars. In the section on conflict issues, Glasl describes a number of techniques for mapping and rating the conflict issues from the point of view of the different parties. The section on conflict history is short, since the whole of Part II is devoted to the escalation process.
The section on the parties focuses on the informal relationships within the parties in intergroup conflicts , such as the identification of key participants and the position of leaders and representatives.
In the section on interrelationships, Glasl takes a close look at the conflict potential of organizations. Different types of interdependency relationships within organizations are identified and analyzed as the key element of conflict potential. In Chapter 6, Glasl discusses what he calls "conflict constellations" in organizations.
Different types of leaders and leader-follower relationships are discussed, and Glasl points out some important consequences for intervention strategies. He also presents four models of group dynamics, i. Part II is devoted to a thorough analysis of conflict escalation processes. In chapter 7 earlier models of conflict escalation Pondy, Wright, Kahn are reviewed and criticized. In chapter Glasl describes five basic mechanisms that play a key role over the entire spectrum of conflict escalation.
He also points out the importance of identifying critical tresholds in the conflict history. In chapter 10 Glasl makes a very detailed analysis of the conflict escalation process. With painstaking detail, Glasl shows how the parties in the course of conflict escalation increasingly loses conscious control over the situation, and how their behaviour comes to be determined by a destructive situational logic.
The escalation stages are defined by the implicit behavioural norms regulating the interactions between the parties. Each stage is accompanied by characteristic patterns of ingroup and outgroup images, motives, moods and forms of interaction. Glasl points out that there is a threshold at each stage, critical actions which escalates the conflict a further step. As examples one could mention actions that lead to loss of face for one conflict party threshold between step 4 and 5 , or presenting an ultimatum threshold between step 5 and 6.
The crossing of a threshold means that new weapons are allowed, and entails a transformation in how the parties perceive each other and the situation. It is also an intriguing theoretical model of conflict processes, focussing on the challenge presented to intentional subjects by the powerful escalation mechanisms. Thus it is neither deterministic, nor excessively psychologizing. Part III deals with conflict intervention methods and strategies.
The intervention methods are discussed in a contingency framework, where the form of intervention has to be adapted to: 1. Chapters 11 and 12 present a large number of intervention methods, organized according to a useful typology.
Chapter 11 deals with five subjective factors: cognition; feelings; intentions; behaviour; and consequences of the conflict.
Each of these factors can be the target of interventions, depending on how the facilitator diagnoses the conflict. Glasl systematically details how each of these factors is influenced by conflict escalation, what objectives interventions might have, and describes a number of techniques for attaining these objectives. The contributions of other scholars and practitioners are reviewed, but Glasl also contributes some imaginative methods designed by himself. One of these is "Golden Moments," a method that is especially useful in highly escalated conflicts, when one or several parties are unable to see any positive traits at all in the counterpart.
In chapter 12 the five diagnostic dimensions see above are used as starting-points for discussing intervention methods. Various techniques used to identify, fraction, flexibilize, and transpose conflict issues are presented. Interventions targeting the conflict history past, present or future are also reviewed. The sections on interventions targeting parties, relationships and basic attitudes mainly systematize a range of methods developed by other practitioners.
However, in every case, Glasl comments on indications and counterindications in relation to his own diagnostic scheme.
A particularly interesting topic is how disillusioned persons in a "cold" conflict can be empowered to take more responsibility by mobilizing their sense of "Holy Wrath.
Chapter 13 is short, but provides a valuable discussion of how the facilitator can loosen up rigid positions using a rhythmic oscillation between interventions along three polarities: generalization vs.
Chapters are devoted to a detailed examination and comparison of different conflict management strategies: meeting facilitation, process facilitation, socio-therapeutic process facilitation, mediation, arbitration, power-based interventions, and conciliation. The appropriateness of these strategies is discussed according to a contingency model based on the nine-stage escalation model.
Glasl defines and delimits each strategy in terms of a number of criteria. Chapter 16 discusses the phases of the different conflict management strategies. The systematical approach, the thoroughness, and the solid grounding in four decades of conflict management literature makes the book ideal both as a textbook in conflict resolution courses at the university level, and as a reference handbook for professional conflict facilitators. I can only hope that a translation into English will soon be available.
Anything else would be a sore loss for the great part of the conflict faciliation community that never learned enough German to read the original version. Besemer, C. Brommer, U. Crisand, E. Eine Handlungsanleitung mit Fallbeispielen, Heidelberg: Sauer. Fengler, J. Gerth, A. Peschanel, F. Schulz von Thun, F. Schwarz, G. Thomann, C. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuchverlag. Willi, J.
This review of Friedrich Glasl's book "Konfliktmanagement. Reproduced with permission from the Center for Advanced Studies in Management. Glasl, F. Did you ever wonder what approaches to conflict management have been developed outside the English-speaking world?
Friedrich Glasl's model of conflict escalation assists in the analysis of conflicts. Appropriate reactions can be derived from this analysis. The model has nine stages — in contrast to the earlier model of Kurt R. Spillmann,  which describes five distinct stages of escalation. These stages are grouped into three levels, which each contain three stages.
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This conflict escalation model is presented in Friedrich Glasl's book Konfliktmanagement. See also the endnotes. Glasl's original analysis of the stages comprises over 70 pages, and my summary does not in any way make full justice to his model. However, this summary has been scrutinized and approved of with some corrections by Friedrich Glasl. Glasl's escalation model is a very useful diagnostic tool for the conflict facilitator, but also valuable as a means for sensitizing people to the mechanisms of conflict escalation. Such sensitizing may lead to a greater awareness of the steps one should take care to avoid if one wants to prevent a conflict from escalating out of control.
Friedrich Glasl's model of conflict escalation