A useful guide to developing capabilities for dealing with many sorts of conflict. Good reading for human resource managers.

MAKING CONFLICT WORK

HARNESSING THE POWER OF DISAGREEMENT

A practical guide intended to aid in the alleviation of everyday workplace conflicts.

Coleman (Director/Columbia Univ. Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution; The Five Percent: Finding Solutions to Seemingly Impossible Conflicts, 2011, etc.) and executive coach Ferguson base their discussion of conflict on research studies of power relations and how these are shaped not just by specific issues, but also by personalities. “Conflict is not an inherently bad thing,” they write. “It is a natural, fundamental, and pervasive part of life.” They draw primarily from more than 15 years of research work in the lab at Columbia, research that has been tested around the world in workplace studies, international conflict resolution and international trade negotiations. The authors aim to enable those in conflict to contribute productively to solutions by making “conflict work for you, not against you.” The authors developed a spectrum of mindsets that they associate with certain uses of power. While the authors define the extremes as dominance at one end and what they call “strategic appeasement” at the other (they offer “Zen Master” NBA basketball coach Phil Jackson as an example), they stress constructive solutions. For each of their different power levels, Coleman and Ferguson provide a series of tactical approaches drawn from conflict case studies in which they have been involved. They provide self- and organizational-assessment questionnaires for each, along with the reasons for using the proposed method and mistakes to avoid. They argue that even though “talking about power differences openly is still taboo in most places in society,” their strategic approach can improve productivity by tackling conflict at any level. The authors also discuss the history of the field of conflict management.

A useful guide to developing capabilities for dealing with many sorts of conflict. Good reading for human resource managers.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-14839-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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