Beyond the basics of conflict management and negotiation lie areas of greater complexity. One such area is the realm of culture. Though culture includes etiquette and behavior, at a deeper level it is about deeply ingrained attitudes and assumptions. Culture impacts how people regard and approach situations – it affects what someone considers to be “conflict” and how it should be handled, and if affects how people think about and engage in negotiation. And, of great importance to people contemplating a career in multi-cultural organizations, it affects how people relate to organizational superiors and subordinates and how they behave in teams. This course will explore these differences and consider the various models scholars have been developing to help us cope with cultural challenges. Indeed, these models suggest ways to transform cultural barriers into bridges.
The course will take up the following themes:
· The challenges of doing cultural analysis;
· Understanding one’s own cultural biases;
· Basic differences in how various cultures deal with individuals’ “core concerns”;
· Ways in which cultural variables affect how people negotiate and otherwise deal with conflict;
· Best practices for becoming an effective inter-cultural negotiator;
· The challenges of working on multicultural teams and some guidelines for working through the challenges;
· The interplay of culture and today’s media and technologies;
· Culture and mediation.
The course will utilize two major simulations – one about inter-cultural human resource management and the other about working on multi-cultural teams. Two other exercises will have the students think through how to deal with challenging inter-cultural situations, and a third activity will involve working in small groups to grapple with the intellectually challenging problem of comparing and synthesizing two models for understanding the relationship between culture and negotiation.
In addition to several assignments to write short memos about specific questions during the course, the final paper assignment will ask students to apply the lessons of the course and some assignment-specific literature to propose a strategy for holding community reconciliation workshops in a disputed area on the border between Sudan and South Sudan – a very real and current problem.