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The Executive Way

Conflict Management in Corporations

What causes conflict among high-level American corporate executives? How do executives manage their conflicts? Based on candid interviews with over two hundred executives and their support personnel, Calvin Morrill provides an intimate portrait of these men and women as they cope with problems usually hidden from those outside their exclusive ranks.

Personal and corporate scandals, compensation battles, budget worries, interdepartmental rivalries, personal enmities, and general rancor are among everyday challenges faced by executives. Morrill shows what most influences the way managers handle routine conflicts are the cultures created by their company’s organizational structure: whether there is a strong hierarchy, a weak hierarchy, or an absence of any strong central authority. The issues most likely to cause conflict within corporations Morrill identifies as managerial style, competition between departments, and performance evaluations, promotions, and compensation.

Among the people whose day-to-day lives we get to know are Jacobs, a divisional executive whose intuitive understanding of the corporate hierarchy enables him to topple his incompetent superior without direct confrontation; Fuller, who through a mix of brains, guile, and connections rises from staff executive secretary to corporate vice president in a large bank; Green, an old-fashioned accounting partner in a firm being taken over by management consultants; and the "Princess of Power," "Iron Man," and the "Terminator"—executives fighting their way to the top of a successful entertainment company.

Unprecedented in its direct access to top managers, this portrayal of daily life and conflict management among corporate elites will be of interest to professionals, scholars, and practitioners in organizational culture and behavior, managerial decision making, dispute, social control, law and society, and organizational ethnography.

350 pages | 32 halftones, 3 figures | 6 x 9 | © 1995

Sociology: Formal and Complex Organizations, Occupations, Professions, Work

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
List of Cases
Preface and Acknowledgments
1: Introduction
2: Setting the Scene
3: Patterns of Conflict Management in Thirteen Executive Contexts
4: Modern Times: Authoritative Conflict Management in a Mechanistic Bureaucracy
5: Silent Hives: Minimalistic Conflict Management in an Atomistic Organization
6: Brave New World: Reciprocal Conflict Management in a Matrix System
7: Conclusion: Orthodoxy, Change, and Identity
Appendix A: Anatomy of an Ethnography of Business Elites
Appendix B: Aggregate Comparative Data
Appendix C: Glossary of Native Terms at Playco


Society for the Study of Social Problems: C. Wright Mills Award

Chicago Tribune: Chicago Tribune - Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year List

Pacific Sociological Association: Distinguished Scholarship Award

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