BUS 5113 Organizational Theory and Behavior
This submission is a response to the analysis of the Vigilance Project Case study which involves two separate teams in the US and France respectively. It hopes to answer accurately all the 8 questions which have arisen while trying to meet a project deadline involving the implementation of a new event database to be used by all employees of Pharm Med around the world. It is a big project.
1. Why is this case about Team conflict?
This case is about team conflict because we see a clear case of two teams divided along country lines (US and France) and also divided across company lines (The acquired Swiss company with high volume US operations, Val Med and the acquiring French owned Pharm Med) It is clear that there is no synergy the Yankees feel they are not being carried along, they do not really understand what is going on while the French are acting like everything is normal.
Another problem is communication because it seems the Yankees are used to a certain type of communication while the French are also used to a different type of communication. There is also an issue of culture shock I think not only in the sense of two different countries but also in the sense of two different companies. This is not strange because every company has its culture which we may sometimes refer to as its values.
2. How is distance affecting team dynamics and performance?
One of the easiest ways to communicate and one which is arguably the best is in-person communication.
In this because they are located 4,760 miles apart they are communicated virtually. These are people who until this merger belonged to two different companies in two different countries. They met only once in person in a painfully formal gathering and after this meeting there was no informal retreat-like meet where they could have one on one in-depth discussions one on one and get to understand each other a bit more. It was weekly teleconferencing right after that most of which were cancelled by the Project Manager Didier Amrani without recourse to any of the team members. Didier seemed to lack accountability as I did not see in the text any instance where he was called to order.
3. What do you think about the decision to appoint sub-team sponsors? What problem can it solve? Which problems might it not solve?
Hibbert & Hibbert (2007, p.5) recommend appointing a mediator as one of the solutions when trying to resolve conflict across multicultural teams. If they can be viewed as mediators, then the decision to appoint sub-team sponsors drawn from the management is commendable but not entirely the solution. This is because it should have been done from the onset to keep the Project lead in check maybe or should have been done after the management had looked into the causes of the conflict within the team sorted out the issues of communication and called the erring parties to order in the most effective way possible to foster team spirit and synergy. In any case, I think that it would make the team leads sit up and awake to the requirements of accountability. Although control is important, trust also matters when working on a team and this is lacking between the Yankees and their French counterparts. Since there are already negative perceptions in the team and the feeling of distrust and suspicion, especially as some persons already feel like they have been undermined and treated without regard; I do not see this problem going away without direct intervention anytime soon.
4. In addition to technical skills, what does this case say about the kinds of skills that must be considered when staffing important projects?
Most of the time when projects are to be put together I notice that consideration is given to the end users of the asset being developed with emphasis placed on those persons with technical or analytical skills. Those with people skills are usually left out and this has played out in this case too. A team from the Human Resources department trained in mediation and conflict resolution should be involved as well.
5. What conflict negotiation skills are most appropriate for this case?
According to Cornett (2018) the top 5 Negotiation skills for conflict resolution are:
a. Communication: Communication is a problem in this project team. This would help if people are encouraged to ask questions and express their concerns and if everyone practices active listening. The channels of communication need to be opened up to be direct so that even non-verbal cues can be read. No communicating through heads. At least for now.
b. Teamwork: From what I can see, Didier would need to provide strong leadership. Keeping the success of the project in mind, he would need to consider the input of all team members and not the core team alone. If they could do this on their own the Yankees would not have been involved in the first place.
c. Problem solving: The American team after identifying the source of the problem could not handle it on their own because of the issues of communication, therefore, they were right to escalate to Lance but it would have been appropriate for the problem to be tackled within the team first.
d. Stress Management: In this case, I do not think the task itself creates stress but rather the conflict has created a stressful situation for the employees. From the narrative, it seems the key people involved in the project like Frank, Carol and Mike shared their discontent often but half the problem would have been solved if they could discuss with their French counterparts. Communication issues again.
e. Emotional Agility: It helps a lot to improve relationships when we can try to see where others are coming from. It is very helpful when we can actually empathize with others. To be objective I do not believe after reading this material that Didier and his French counterparts are empathizing with their colleagues in the US and this has made the conflict worsen to the present situation where it is now.
Human behaviors can be fraught with complexities but I think it is important to manage relationships properly and treat people well. This statement can be applied to not only external customers but to internal customers as well. So as the golden rule of customer service says treat people the way you want to be treated (Knapp, 2012).
Cornett, I., (May 16th, 2018) Top 5 Skills Needed to Successfully Resolve Conflict in the Workplace. Eaglesflight.com. Retrieved from
Hibbert, R., & Hibbert, E. (2017). Managing Conflict in a Multicultural Team. Evangelical Missions Quarterly. 53. 18-23. Resarchgate.net. Retrieved from
Knapp, A., (2012) The Golden Rule of Customer Service. Forbes.com. Retrieved from