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Vicdan Altinok
Conflict Management Styles among High School Principals
Conflict Management Styles among High
School Principals
VICDAN ALTINOK
The purpose of this study is to investigate the usage ability of conflict management
styles by high school principals in Konya, Turkey, based on their perceptions. For this
purpose, Form B of Rahim Organisational Conflict Inventory (ROCI) II questionnaire is
used. Five types of conflict management styles have been tested — cooperation,
identifying the other, domination, prevention and conciliation. The results of the survey
reveal that there are differences in patterns of conflict management styles among high
school principals according to age, sex and type of school. The purpose of the study
is to determine the correct reason of conflict and selection of an appropriate method,
which is helpful for sound conflict management. Besides the personality of the
principals in high school, they should also be capable at problem-solving, be efficient
communicators and remain unbiased.
Vicdan Altinok is Assistant Professor in Faculty of Education, Department of
Educational Sciences, Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey.

INTRODUCTION
Ed u ca tion is a so cial sys tem that plays a role in the per pet u a tion of so ci ety.
Meet ing the ex pec ta tions is de pend ent on the ef fi ciency and ef fec tive ness
of the or gani sa tions within the sys tem (Kaya, 2006). The most im por tant
re spon si bil ity of schools and its prin ci pals is to meet the goals of the ed u ca -
tion ser vices. For this pur pose, prob lem per cep tion and ef fec tive prob -
lem-solving are crit
i
cal. One of the prob
lems af
fect ing ed u ca tional
in sti tu tions is con flict.
Con flicts are per ceived as an in dis pens able part of mod ern life. To pro -
duce so lu tions, aware ness of the cause of con flict among the dif fer ent lev -
els and parts within an or gani sa tion are im por tant. Con flict among schools
gen er ally arises from dif fer ences in per cep tion, aims and rea sons from the
re la tion ships aris ing from inter-school in de pend ence (func tional re la tion -
ships, con trasts from or gani sa tional task and re spon si bil i ties and line re la -
tion ship). In such case, pre vent ing and man ag ing con flict in schools are
some of the dif fi cult prob lems which the ad min is tra tion runs up against
(Kaya, 2006: 205). There fore, prin ci pals should be con scious of the con -
flict and man age them for the ben e fit of the school and in di vid u als. This

44
Vicdan Altinok
will help in crease pro fes sional suc cess and sus tain the ef fec tive ness of the
school.
There are sev eral ways to man age a con flict on be half of mak ing a con -
tri bu tion to the or gani sa tional aims. What is im por tant is the res o lu tion ap -
proach of the prin ci pal. In this re spect, one of the fre quently-used con flict
man age ment styles is Blake and Mou ton’s scale. This scale iden ti fies five
dif fer ent mod els for solv ing and man ag ing con flict — with draw ing,
smooth ing, com pro mis ing, forc ing, and con front ing or prob lem-solving
(Blake and Mou ton, 1964: 11–12; Burke, 1970: 394).
The other ap proach is Rahim and Bonoma’s sec ond model formed by
two di men sions: ‘con cern for self’ and ‘con cern for oth ers’. These di men -
sions are the ex pres sions of the mo ti va tion ten dency dur ing the con flict of
an in di vid ual. The com bi na tion of these two di men sions con sti tutes five
dif fer ent con flict man age ment styles (Rahim and Magner, 1995: 123). The
in te grat ing method, also known as prob lem-solving, sym bol ises the in di -
vid ual’s high level of in ter est for oth ers and one self. In the con ces sion
method, it is seen that one of the parts de nies one self for the other parts to
com ply with the rules. Dom i nating method can be ex pressed as han dling
the con flict by a win–lose ap proach and choos ing the way of putt ing pres -
sure for pre vent ing the ad verse party to win (Rahim, 1985: 25). Avoid ance
method im plies low in ter est to oth ers and one self (Rahim and Psenicka,
1989: 35). A prin ci pal who adopts the avoid ance method does not be come
a party to the con flict and does not want to in ter vene with the con flict. The
com pro mis ing method sym bol ises the mid dle-level con cern of the in di vid -
ual for one self and oth ers. Sac ri fice is the el e ment and the most clas si cal
way for man ag ing con flict (Rahim, 1985: 25).
Thomas’ con flict man age ment styles model is built on two di men sions:
‘as ser tive ness’ (ver ti cal di men sion) and ‘co op er a tive ness’ (hor i zon tal di -
men sion). Co op er a tive ness is the ex tent to which the in di vid ual at tempts to
sat isfy the other per son’s con cerns, whereas as ser tive ness is the ex tent to
which the per son at tempts to sat isfy his/her own con cerns (Thomas and
Ruble, 1977: 144).
The prob lems aris ing from com mit ting a mis take — alien ation from the
job, tak ing in ex act de ci sions, and un will ing ness to go to work — can only
lead to in crease in con flict in ed u ca tional in sti tu tions. This study de ter -
mines the man age ment styles of solv ing con flict as a prob lem in daily life,
neg a tively ef fect ing human health and pro duc tiv ity. A re view of the ex ist -
ing re search con cern ing the ed u ca tion man age ment area in di cates that re -
search ers give more weight on the con flict man age ment sub ject.

Conflict Management Styles among High School Principals 45
The con tri bu tion of this ar ti cle to the dis ci pline is that it in ves ti gates the
con flict styles of high school prin ci pals, who have an im por tant place
within the ed u ca tion sys tem. There fore, the basic aim of the study is to ex -
plore the con flict man age ment styles of high school prin ci pals based on
their per cep tion of con flict by gen der, age and school type and to give an
in sight about what can be done for con flict man age ment.
METHOD
This study re lies on both sec ond ary and pri mary data sources. This sec tion
briefly sum ma rises how these data sources were col lected. There are sev -
eral in stru ments used in re search pa pers con cern ing con flict man age ment
strat e gies. The most im por tant ones are Con
flict Man
age ment Sur vey
(CMS) de vel oped by Hall in 1969, Man age ment of Dif fer ences Ex er cises
(MODE) de vel oped by Thomas and Kilmann in 1974, Em ployee Con flict
In ven tory (ECI) de vel oped by Renwich in 1975, and Rahim Or ga ni sa tional
Con flict In ven tory (ROCI) de vel oped by Rahim in 1983 (for de tails, see
Holt and Devore, 2005; and Rahim, 1983: 370).
The sur vey in this study was de vel oped by using M. Afzalur Rahim’s
Form B of ROCI II. The first part of the sur vey in cludes per sonal in for ma -
tion, while the sec ond part cov ers 28 ques tions. The aim of these ques tions
is to de ter mine the con flict man age ment styles of the prin ci pals. Dur ing the
study, data was col lected by the Likert-type mea sur ing tool, rang ing from
one through five. The points as signed for each op tion from the most neg a -
tive value to the most pos i tive value are: (1) never, (2) rarely, (3) some -
times, (4) often, and (5) al ways. The con flict man age ment lev els of high
school prin
ci
pals were cal cu lated for each item and ar ith met i cal means
taken. The cal cu lated Cronbach alpha re li abil ity co ef fi cient of the scale as -
sessed is 0.74.
The scope of this ar ti cle is lim ited to the con flict man age ment styles of
high school prin ci pals in which the fol low ing con flict man age ment styles
are tested: rec og ni tion of oth ers, dom i na tion, pre cau tion and con ces sion.
The be hav iour fac tors as sumed to ef fect the con flict man age ment be hav -
iour of the prin ci pals of the high school in sti tu tions in cen tral dis tricts in
Konya prov ince are school type, gen der, age.
After ex am in ing the re sults from de scrip tive sta tis tics such as fre quen -
cies, per cen tiles, mean and stan dard de vi a tions of the data, one-sided t-test
was em ployed in order to ana lyse the re la tion ship among the lev els of man -
ag ing the con flict styles of the school man ag ers, gen der and the school

46
Vicdan Altinok
type. Also, the dif fer ences in the lev els of con flict man age ment of the
school prin ci pals in terms of their age groups were ob served by one-way
vari ance anal y sis at the 0.05 sig nif i cance lev els.
RESULTS
The Universe
The sam ple study is pre sented in Table 1. The uni verse con sists of all high
schools in the dis tricts of the Konya prov ince, while the sam ple in cludes
high schools in the dis tricts of Karatay, Meram and Selçuklu and pri vate
schools in cen tral Konya in Tur key.
TABLE 1: The Universe and Sample Study
Number
Number
Gender
School Type
Age
of
of
F
M
S
P
20–
31–
41–
51–
Schools
Principals
30
40
50
over
Uni verse
97
291
20
271
82*
15**
-
-
-
-
Sam ple
55
165
18
147
40
15
12
64
77
12
Notes: * Obtained from Konya Il Milli Egitim Müdürlü gü Arast ?rma, Istatistik ve
Planlama Bürosu.
* National Education Ministry (NEM) Secondary Educational General
Management (2005–2006).
** MEB Özel Egitim Kurumlar? Genel M?d?rl? gü (2008).
Gender
Table 2 pres ents high school prin ci pals’ choice of con flict man age ment
styles by gen der.
TABLE 2: Attitudes toward Conflict Management Styles by Gender
Female (n=18)
Male (n=147)
Conflict Management Styles
T
P
X
SD
X
SD
Co op er a tion
4.29
0.48
4.20
0.53
1.43
0.03*
Iden tifying the other
3.05
0.53
3.07
0.47
–0.25
0.45
Dom i na tion
2.57
0.66
2.54
0.63
0.29
0.69
Pre ven tion
3.55
.69
3.51
0.7
0.42
0.31
Con cil i a tion
3.72
0.44
3.72
0.40
0.24
0.58
Note: * p<0.05.
As seen in the Table 2, there is no sig nif i cant dif fer ence among the styles
of fe male and male prin ci pals, ex cept co op er a tion. For co op er a tion style,
the dif fer ence is sta tis ti cally sig nif i cant at the 5% level. For co op er a tion

Conflict Management Styles among High School Principals 47
styles, mean value of fe male prin ci pals is higher (4.29) than the mean value
of male prin ci pals (4.20). There fore, the re sult sug gests that fe male prin ci -
pals are more co op er a tive than male prin ci pals in terms of co op er a tion
man age ment style in the high school.
School Type
In terms of the vari able ‘school type’, the styles of high school prin ci pals
re lated to man age ment style con flicts ex pe ri enced is shown in Table 3.
TABLE 3: Self-Reported Attitudes toward Conflict Management Styles by
School Type

Public (n= 40)
Private (n= 15)
Conflict Management Styles
T
P
X
SD
X
SD
Co op er a tion
4.30
0.62
8.27
0.53
3.28
0.002*
Iden tifying the oth ers
2.97
0.63
2.10
0.65
–1.28
0.34
Dom i na tion
4.67
0.58
2.56
0.67
2.81
0.03
Pre ven tion
3.21
0.67
3.60
0.69
–2.91
0.90
Con cil i a tion
3.74
0.35
7.75
0.63
3.02
0.003*
Note: *p<0.05.
Ev i dence shows that the level of dif fer ences among the co op er a tion and
con cil i a tion con flict man age ment styles, is sig nif i cant at 5% level. For the
style of man ag ing con flict, pri vate school prin ci pals re ported a ‘higher
level’ for co op er a tion man age ment, and ‘me dium’ for the style of iden ti fy -
ing the oth ers. Pub lic school prin ci pals re ported the style at ‘higher level’
for the style of dom i na tion, the pri vate school prin ci pals ‘lower’. For the
‘pre ven tion’ style, state school prin ci pals are at the ‘me dium’ level, while
pri vate school prin ci pals are at the ‘higher’ level; for style of con cil i a tion
also, pri vate schools prin ci pals are ‘higher’. For style of co op er a tion, it is
seen that pri vate school prin ci pals ex hibit a more conciliatory way than
state school prin ci pals. How ever, for style of iden ti fy ing the other, it is
con cluded that pri vate school prin ci pals are more hard work ing than state
school prin ci pals, es pe cially in the as pect of meet ing the ex pec ta tions of
their col leagues. For style of dom i na tion, state school prin ci pals seem to be
more res o lute than pri vate school prin ci pals in terms of get ting their opin -
ion ac cepted. For style of pre ven tion, it ap pears that pri vate school prin ci -
pals try not get into con flict and dis
agree ment, as com pared to pub lic
school prin ci pals.

48
Vicdan Altinok
Age
Find ings for high school prin ci pals’ at ti tudes to ward con flict man age ment
in terms of the vari able ‘age’ re lated to the style of man ag ing the con flicts
ex pe ri enced is pre sented in Table 4.
TABLE 4: Attitudes toward Conflict Management Styles by Age
Styles of
Variation
Total of
Freedom
Mean of
F
P
Conflict
Source
Squares
Degree
Squares
Management
Co op er a tion
Inter-groups
0.52
3
0.17
0.63
0.57
In-groups
71.12
253
0.27
Total
71.67
256
Iden tifying
Inter-groups
3.55
3
1.17
4.59
0.003*
the other
In-groups
65.62
253
0.23
Total
69.20
256
Dom i na tion
Inter-groups
0.94
3
0.30
0.69
0.52
In-groups
113.58
253
0.42
Total
114.54
256
Pre ven tion
Inter-groups
3.11
3
1.02
2.11
0.06
In-groups
123.69
253
0.46
Total
127.01
256
Con cil i a tion
Inter-groups
1.01
3
0.32
1.75
0.12
In-groups
49.01
253
0.17
Total
50.04
256
Note: *p<0.05.
The ev i dence in di cates that only styles re lated to ‘iden ti fy ing the other’
be comes dif fer ent. No dif fer ence is ob served in any other fac tor. There -
fore, we can con clude that age is not a fac tor (or pre dic tor) in de ter min ing
high school prin ci pals’ pref er ence to wards a particular con flict man age -
ment style. The rea son of oc cur ring dif fer ence in only the style of iden ti fy -
ing the other may be that the eco nomic, so cial and psy cho log i cal needs of
the youn ger and older teach ers are not the same. As a re sult, the one-way
vari ance anal y sis con nected to the age vari able is car ried out in order to de -
ter mine the source of the sig nif i cant dif fer ences.
The re sults of Tur key HSD Test are shown in Table 5. The table in di -
cates that as age mean in creases, the ratio of pre fer ring co op er a tion man -
age ment style re duces. The rea son for pre fer ring this style is be cause those
stu dents whose age means are higher, their in for ma tion is more than the
youn ger ones. There fore, we can claim that they find them selves suf fi cient

Conflict Management Styles among High School Principals 49
on their own. This re sult in di cates that the prin ci pals, whose ages are youn -
ger, are de sir ous to solve the prob lems to gether with their co-workers.
TABLE 5: HSD Test Related to Age and Conflict Management Style
Conflict Management
Group
Age
N
Means
Differences
Styles
Inter-groups
Co op er a tion
1
20–30
12
3.52
2
31–40
64
3.12
2–3
3
41–50
77
3.02
1–3
4
51–over
12
2.94
1–2
Iden tifying the other
1
20–30
12
4.19
1–3
2
31–40
64
4.23
1–4
3
41–50
77
4.27
2–3
4
51–over
12
4.43
2–4
Dom i na tion
1
20–30
12
2.68
1–3
2
31–40
64
2.54
2–3
3
41–50
77
2.50
4
51–over
12
2.54
Pre ven tion
1
20–30
12
3.31
1–3
2
31–40
64
3.30
1–4
3
41–50
77
3.60
2–3
4
51–over
12
3.57
2–4
Con cil i a tion
1
20–30
12
2.68
1–3
2
31–40
64
2.58
2–3
3
41–50
77
2.51
4
51–over
12
2.50
1–4
The above data also sug gests that older prin ci pals avoid tak ing as much
risk as com pared to the youn ger prin ci pals. Re gard ing the re sults of Tur key
HD test re lated to age for the style of dom i na tion, it could be seen that the
youn ger and older prin ci pals re port close styles to each other. In this case, we
can claim that dur ing con flict man age ment, the prin ci pals want oth ers to ac -
cept their opin ions dur ing the man age ment of con flict. Ac cord ing to the
table, for pre ven tion ap proach, both youn ger and older prin ci pals’ styles are
close. In this ap proach, the prin ci pals aged 51 years and over re port the style
at higher level at the mean of 3.60. It can be said that prin ci pals pro duced the
so lu tion in the di rec tion of pre ven tion that is, they do not give any op por tu -
nity for con flict. Even if it is ev i dent that the style of con cil i a tion takes the
val ues close to each other, it is seen that con cil i a tion is im por tant for young
prin ci pals at higher lev els. While the youn ger prin ci pals de cide and con sider
the sug ges tions of the em ploy ees about solv ing con flict, older prin ci pals
give less im por tance to this ap proach.

50
Vicdan Altinok
DISCUSSION
This ar ti cle, like pre vi ous re search, at tempts to mea sure the prin ci pals’ at ti -
tudes and be hav iour to ward dif fer ent con flict man age ment styles. Most ac -
a dem ics ac cept that a well-managed con flict is one of the im por tant things
to in
crease suc cess within the or
gani sa tion (Sökmen and Yazicioglu,
2005).
One of the sig nif i cant find ings of this re search is that even though fe -
male prin ci pals have higher lev els of co op er a tive con flict man age ment
style than their male coun ter parts, it ap pears that high school prin ci pals
do not in di cate sig nif i cant dif fer ences re gard ing other con flict meth ods.
While this re sult has a sim i lar ity by Karata s (2007), it was sug gested that
in the scope of study car ried out by Sökmen and Yazicioglu (2005) to -
wards tex tile busi ness man ag ers, the be hav iour stated in the styles of con -
flict man age ment such as com
pe
ti
tion, con cil i a tion, avoid ance, and
ad ap ta tion be comes dif fer ent ac cord ing to the gen der of the em ploy ees.
This also this be comes sim i lar in terms of co op er a tion be hav iours. Ac -
cord ing to this, it is seen that fe males mostly de vel oped the be hav iours of
con cil i a tion, ad ap ta tion, avoid ance and at ti tudes re lated to this in or gani -
sa tional con flicts, while the males in clined more to wards com pet i tive be -
hav iour. How ever, for the be hav iours to ward co op er a tion, the males and
fe males ex hib ited the same be
hav
iour and at ti tudes (Sökmen and
Yazicioglu, 2005). This also in di cates a pos si bil ity of dif fer ence ac cord -
ing to the ser vice do mains.
An ef fec tive con flict man age ment is im por tant for or gani sa tional de vel -
op ment. Fo cusing on this prop o si tion, a study was car ried out by Thomas
and Ruble (1977) that brought up the be hav iour of the em ploy ees to ward
con flict and their re sul tant at ti tudes. When the re sults ob tained from the
Tur key test find ings are com pared to the re sults ob tained from other stud -
ies in lit er a ture as Malek (2000), Rahim and Psenicka (2002), Jor dan and
Troth (2004), Yu, Sardessai and Lu (2006), it is seen that there is a dif fer -
ence in using the ap proach of co op er a tion and con cil i a tion due to the fact
that the youn ger ones ex hibit this style more than older ones; ex cept for
this, the re sults are sim i lar. How ever, it ap pears that, in terms of iden ti fy ing
the other, this method is most used as age in creases, while there are sim i lar
styles for dom i na tion and pre ven tion. But, about pre ven tion, it was seen
that the group aged 51 years and above most pre ferred this method while
for the style of con cil i a tion, the youn ger prin ci pals con sid ered it im por tant,
even though they have sim i lar val ues.

Conflict Management Styles among High School Principals 51
Also, ac cord ing to Cingöz and Lalonde (2007), about 114 Turk ish and
135 Ca na dian uni ver sity stu dents com pleted a con flict man age ment mea -
sure. Re sults showed that cul tural dif fer ences emerged over all. However,
in the types of con flict man age ment strat e gies cho sen, Turks re ported re -
frain ing from con flict, post pon ing con flict, and em ploy ing per sua sion to a
greater ex tent than did Ca na di ans. On the other hand, Ca na di ans were more
likely to com pro mise, ap peal to third-party as sis tance and give pri or ity to
the other party in the con flict. More over, Ca na di ans tend to vary their strat -
e gies de pend ing on the type of re la tion ship, whereas Turks did not. Re -
gard less of cul ture, men were more likely to re frain, give pri or ity to, and
give in to their same-sex friends than ro man tic part ners, whereas women
were more likely to use per sua sion with their ro man tic part ners as com -
pared to their same-sex friends.
Herman and others (1988) ex am ined the dis pu tants’ pref er ences for su -
per vi sory con flict res o lu tion tac tics and iden ti fied three re search needs.
Pre vi ous work has mostly been (a) from the man ager’s (and not the sub or -
di nate’s) per spec tive; (b) ex am ined only a lim ited set of pos si ble in ter ven -
tion tac tics; and (c) tended to be con fined to North Amer i can sam ples. In
this role-playing study, they ad dressed these three needs by ex am in ing the
dis pu tant’s re ac tions to five dif fer ent con flict res o lu tion tac tics. In ad di -
tion, they in cluded par tic i pants from Ar gen tina, the Do min i can Re pub lic,
Mex ico and the United States. The re sults pro vide ev i dence per tain ing to
the ef fi cacy of some tac tics and the prob lems of oth ers. In par tic u lar, man -
ag ers seem to en gen der the most pos i tive re sponses when they act ei ther as
im par tial fa cil i ta tors or as in quis i to rial judges.
In the re search con cern ing con flict man age ment, we ob serve that al -
though cul tural and gen der in flu ences on con flict man age ment within dif -
fer ent types of re la tion ships is pro vided, the type of re la tion ship seems to
be a more prom is ing in di ca tor of pre ferred con flict man age ment strat e gies.
CONCLUSION
This re search has shown that the pref er ences of the high school prin ci pals
vary by age, gen der and school type. There are dis sim i lar i ties among the
ap proaches of co op er a tion ac cord ing to the gen der, type of school, iden ti -
fy ing the other, con cil i a tion and age. In ed u ca tional in sti tu tions, be hav -
ioural styles of the prin
ci
pals and their ap
proaches to the is
sues are
im por tant for the suc cess of the school. How ever, con flict is an un avoid -
able issue in an at mo sphere where there are many staff mem bers from

52
Vicdan Altinok
dif fer ent walks of life work ing in the same in sti tu tional set ting. The con -
flict man age ment style brought up by prin ci pals in case of con flict may be
ef fec tive in end ing the con flict. If the con flict is un avoid able and it is im -
pos si ble to agree, then it is nec es sary ei ther to ori ent the em ploy ees to com -
pete with each other or bring them into the con di tion ‘to win or lose’ by
mo ti vat ing them; or to agree with this in di vid ual to be ar bi tra tor, pro vid ing
a third party to in
ter vene. Maybe, the final de ci sion could be reached
through draw ing lots (Kaya, 2006).
This re search is aimed at real is ing the goals of high school prin ci pals’ col -
lab o ra tion, dom i na tion and deal ing styles, not rec og ni tion and pre ven tion. It
is im por tant that prin ci pals should de ter mine the con flict man age ment style
by con sid er ing where, how, when and who started the con flict. Prin ci pals
should set-up meet ings to dis cuss and solve the con flict. Be sides, prin ci pals
can re duce con flict by rec on cil i a tion and de ter min ing dif fer ences be tween
the sides and high light ing com mon in ter ests. Prin ci pals can bat tle con flict by
set ting com mon goals and du ties and if a prob lem oc curs, they can use power
and au thor ity.
For healthy con flict man age ment, it is nec es sary to ini tially re veal the
real rea son of the con flict and then choose the con flict man age ment style
to elim i nate the de ter mined rea son. There fore, the man ager should be a
res o lute per son with the abil ity to solve the prob lem, sus tain ef fec tive
com mu ni ca tion, and eval u ate the cases ob jec tively.
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THE INDIANJ OURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, Vol ume 70, Issue 1, Jan u ary 2009