Forever After: Conflict Management at an Online Wedding Marketplace

Forever After: Conflict Management at an Online Wedding Marketplace

  • Case
  • Teaching Notes
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Abstract

Sephon is the rock star of sales at Forever After, an online marketplace for the wedding industry. She also seems to be getting a reputation for being a bit too much of a diva, as those who work with her often feel they get “run over” by her hard charging approach. Newly appointed VP of HR, Chris has taken it upon himself to fix this problem. Chris thinks that Sephon’s attitude is destroying the culture that Forever After is trying to create. Unfortunately, the interactions between Sephon and Chris have escalated rather than resolved the problem, to the point that the head of Executive Personnel Development, Kara, has been called in to try to resolve the problem. This case presents a situation of managerial conflict resolution that illustrates the challenge of balancing interests across the parties and among the constituencies within the organization, and importance of not getting stuck in the easy but suboptimal trap of adjudicating right and wrong (in the moral sense). It means that students must not fall into the trap of taking sides or trying to “win” using power-based strategies (e.g., making coalitions or using formal authority). At the same time, they must avoid superficial solutions that superficially ameliorate but do not fix the root cause of the conflict (e.g., “everyone play nice”). When the interests of all parties are legitimized, it becomes possible to craft resolutions that help the parties and the organization develop productively. The context is managerial conflict resolution in an organization. But ultimately, this is a case about the importance and difficulty of shifting from defending one’s position to interest-based negotiation when people feel they have been wronged.

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