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a way to document the students' cheating on the mid-term and final exams and
decided to fail them. She reported their cheating to the Dean of the College but,
instead of supporting her, he wanted her to give the students a “D” for the semester.
Other students in her class were indignant because they had worked very hard for
their grades. She told the Dean that she would not change the grade. The Dean
then confided in her that the father of one of the students was currently serving on
the state Supreme Court and was a major donor to her university. The message was
clear: change the grade or the father would stop contributing to the college.
She told the senior author, “I was changed by the experience. I saw myself as
a person of integrity and honor. As a result of the conflict I experienced between
my standards and the standards of administration I was denied tenure and never
again found a position in an American university. I underwent years of therapy
for depression. Several marriages failed. I learned that my experiences were far
from unique, which led to much greater understanding of power politics at all levels
of society. I have not given up my ideals, but I am now more cautious and strategic
in my thinking. I am no longer naı¨ve but the experience has made me feel more
empathy for the ethical conflicts I see other people increasingly experiencing in our
In their review of the literature on crisis and unethical behavior,
Christensen and Kohls (2003) found that organizational crises limit cogni-
tive abilities, reduce consultation with others in a good position to give
advice, and limit sources of information because of time constraints. All
of this, the researchers found, increases levels of stress and the potential
for unethical decision-making which may have very negative future con-
sequences for everyone involved in the decision.
Bodtker, Jameson, and Katz (2001) argue that managers often demon-
strate limited ability to handle the type of conflict in the workplace that
often leads to more serious problems including ethical issues. Rather than
using it to create new ways of providing services and developing practice
theory, managers tend to stifle conflict or use short-term remedies to
keep emerging conflict from developing. The authors write (p. 259):
We contend [there is] a western bias that views emotions as counterproductive
and a normative belief that conflict is dysfunctional. While academic research
has debunked this myth by demonstrating the utility of conflict for achieving pro-
ductive outcomes such as more vigilant problem solving, the fact remains that
many people prefer to avoid or hide conflict. In this paper we offer the argument
that to be in conflict is to be emotionally charged. This is especially true in the
workplace, where organizational norms explicitly or implicitly tell us what we are
supposed to feel (and the emotional expression that is appropriate). To manage
conflict more effectively, managers must attend to the role of emotions in conflict
and conflict management. By doing so, opportunities for using generative conflict
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