Date of Award

Fall 9-29-2017

Document Type

Dissertation - University of Massachusetts Global access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Jonathan Greenberg

Second Advisor

Lisbeth Johnson

Third Advisor

Samuel Bresler


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative Delphi research study was to identify and describe the strategies practiced by a panel of human resources (HR) experts to resolve conflict in situations where one party has more power than another.

Methodology: This qualitative Delphi research study identified and described the strategies practiced by a panel of 13 HR experts to resolve conflict in situations where one party had more power than another. The expert panelists were selected using purposive sampling based on pre-defined criteria. Through two rounds of questionnaires and one round of interviews, expert panelists described the strategies they practiced for resolving conflict between parties of unequal power.

Findings: Analysis of the collected data revealed HR experts in this Delphi research study employed several strategies for resolving power-differentiated and potentially litigious conflict situations. The strategies were (a) conducting an investigation, (b) implementing corrective actions, (c) educating and training, (d) setting expectations, and (e) reviewing claim with another professional.

Conclusions: Based on the findings from this Delphi research study and a review of the literature, the researcher concludes: (a) that HR professionals must immediately investigate all claims; (b) HR professionals must have the power to conduct a thorough, unbiased, and objective investigation; (c) organizations should offer all employees, including HR professionals, several options for conflict resolution; (d) HR professionals should be required to complete workplace investigations; and (e) a key skill required of HR professionals who wish to successfully manage power-differentiated conflict is the ability to communicate and collaborate with stakeholders at all levels of the organization.

Recommendations: The researcher offers eight recommendations to researchers who wish to further research in HR management and organizational effectiveness. A few of these recommendations include examining the dynamics of conflict management processes by HR professionals in larger organizations and by specific industries. In addition, future research could explore strategies employed by organizations in employer-friendly states. Another option is to explore the strategies by studying lessons learned, where HR professionals feel they have failed to resolve a conflict.