Disputes, disagreements, and discord are all part of the human experience, and they’re often accompanied by animosity, ill will, antagonism, and even outright hostility. Conflict has many faces, but learning to effectively manage and resolve conflict can reveal hidden benefits and positive outcomes.
Positive effects from conflict may seem counterintuitive, but studies have shown that conflict can actually prevent social systems from becoming rigid and inflexible, thereby opening opportunities to manage conflict for innovation and creativity.
In the 1950s, conflict management experts Carey Young and Cornelius and Geraldine Mack pointed out that conflict affects the social system in 12 fundamental ways — among them are the defining of social issues and the development and spread of culture.,
“[Conflict] may lead to the working out of nonviolent techniques for resolving crises. The end result of conflict is that the issues are resolved at least for a time.”
The term “positive conflict” is used to describe such outcomes. However, “positive” doesn’t mean that conflict is good, per se. Instead, it means that the conflict led to something beneficial.
As such, positive conflict:
- Is creative and constructive
- Can lead to innovative ideas and solutions
- Gives the parties new perspectives and breakthroughs.
Want to learn more about the field of conflict management and resolution — Including what it is, who should study it, and potential career opportunities? Download our guide to get these questions (and more) answered: How Peace and Conflict Studies Make You a Top-Tier Job Candidate.
What Is Conflict Management and Resolution?
Conflict management and resolution are best understood as a set of skills that can be learned, and they are like two sides of a coin.
Conflict management refers to an overall process or methodology that increases the positive aspects of conflict while limiting the negative. An effective conflict management process also defines various approaches, which may be formal or informal, to resolve differences so that two or more parties can find a peaceful solution to their dispute.
Conflict management and resolution professionals develop the insights and tools that help encourage groups, societies, and entire cultures to move beyond the potentially destructive and violent aspects of conflict in order to maximize and embrace its positive, creative potential.
What Is Effective Conflict Management?
As a conflict resolver, your role is to maximize the constructive potential of conflict while minimizing the potential for violence and destruction. Here are some examples of effective conflict management in action:
- Successfully analyzing and intervening in destructive conflict, helping parties involved create mutually acceptable paths toward resolution
- Communicating as mediators and facilitators, formulating thought-provoking questions as well as identifying and addressing root causes of frustration or concern
- Establishing policies and procedures within organizations that value the input of each employee or team member, helping them achieve self-actualization and uplifting the organization
- Negotiating unhealthy power dynamics and structures to strengthen the culture of collaboration
Shaping institutions that are more effective and that thrive on creativity and flexibility
Why Study or Specialize in Conflict Management and Resolution?
Though careers in conflict management have grown in popularity, there’s still plenty of room for many more professionals to take up the cause. Perhaps that’s why the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates “above average” job growth in the field.
Students who complete a degree in conflict management and resolution enjoy several benefits that most other degrees cannot offer.
- Conflict management and resolution studies deliver the knowledge needed to become successful in a wide array of jobs and career paths.
- Such students enjoy more job mobility than many other degrees offer, which means they can explore new fields and change career paths if desired.
- Internships give students practical experience in conflict resolution by working with real conflict situations.
- A conflict resolution degree can enhance one’s interpersonal communication skills.
- The program teaches how to approach and understand widely different perspectives that are often found at the root of conflict.
- Students become adept at reading conflict situations, resolving and transforming conflicts, and adapting to conflict situations appropriately.
What Benefits Will Students Receive if They Study This Discipline Specifically at a Peace School?
Conflict management and peace science go hand in hand, and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at San Diego University is a leading center — currently ranked third in the nation — for those pursuing a degree in conflict management and resolution.
The Kroc School offers competitive scholarships to qualified Master's degree applicants with more than 80 percent of admitted students receiving scholarships and awards based on merit.
At the Kroc School, we customize our teaching to the students with whom we work. Small cohorts of only 15-20 students allow us to engage with each person individually and build upon their specific passions and motivations for joining the program. Inspired by ongoing conversations with students and colleagues in and out of the classroom, we adjust what and how we teach to effectively develop the student’s skills and knowledge.
We are also committed to providing flexible schedules to accommodate our scholars. Students have the choice of completing a 15-month full-time program, 9-month accelerated program, or part-time options.
Attending the Kroc School will provide you with the skills, knowledge, and experience to become an adaptive, highly-skilled professional in any setting where conflict is possible.
The Master’s Level Program
The Master of Science in Conflict Management and Resolution (MS-CMR) is a multidisciplinary program designed for working professionals in any field seeking the opportunity to cultivate new skills and to effectively manage and resolve conflict to create positive change. It is one of the best peace and conflict studies programs in the U.S. Whether you are a professional looking to master critical competency for your workplace or looking to advance as a conflict management or resolution professional, this degree can propel you forward in your career.
Transform Conflict Into Positive Change
Rated one of the nation's best programs for training new leaders in negotiation, mediation, facilitation, and dialogue, the MS-CMR degree will give you the practical skills, expertise, and experience to learn how to effectively manage and resolve conflicts. Through experimentation, simulation, and practice, inside and outside the classroom, you will understand and address individual, organizational, and system-level conflict in a variety of cultural contexts.
Do you have questions? Connect with our team — we’re happy to help.