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A Case Study of Conflict in an Educational Workplace: Managing Personal and Cultural Differences


by Michael John Torpey — 2006

This article is about conflict in an educational workplace setting. It reports on a case study investigating the emergence, development, and management of conflict among diverse native English speakers working as language instructors within a Japanese university. The example of conflict presented, which deals with divergent assumptions about the nature and management of collaborative research projects, illustrates how communication is inextricably tied to culture, out of whose interplay conflict may arise. This example also highlights one of the most important challenges facing educators the world over: how to encourage people to cooperatively address and manage conflicts. This challenge requires us as educators, in both our individual and institutional capacities, to become more conversant with practices in the field of conflict resolution and management. Such familiarity is a prerequisite to us becoming exemplary models of its practices for our students, our colleagues, our organizations, and our society.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 12, 2006, p. 2523-2549
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12852, Date Accessed: 10/21/2017 9:04:13 PM

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About the Author
  • Michael Torpey
    Kanda University of International Studies, Japan
    E-mail Author
    MICHAEL TORPEY has lived and worked in Australia, Germany, Papua New Guinea, and Japan. He is currently an associate professor at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan, where he is the assistant director of the English Language Institute. He received his doctorate in education (specializing in conflict resolution) from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 2003. His interests range from social organizational psychology to language education. Recent works include “English Language Teachers Abroad: The Relationship Between Culture and Conflict —A Social Constructionist Perspective” (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2003) and “From the Classroom to the Self-Access Centre: A Chronicle of Learner-Centered Curriculum Development” (The Language Teacher, 2004).
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