INTERGROUP CONFLICT: AN ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT APPROACH
ROTH, THEODORE MARTIN
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The purpose of this study was to reduce dysfunctional levels of intergroup conflict that existed between members of an instructional and clinical staff at a suburban, special education school. This conflict significantly interfered with the smooth and effective delivery of group therapeutic services to the students.;In order to reduce intergroup conflict, an organization development (OD) program was designed which incorporated aspects of survey feedback, group development, and intergroup development. The program made use of conflict resolution techniques including mutual problem-solving, establishing superordinate goals, and confrontation. These techniques were employed primarily within a small group framework during the course of two intergroup workshops and a series of intergroup planning committee meetings.;A multiple measurement approach was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the OD program. Pre-post intervention measures of attitudes and needs of individuals and groups and of the structural and organizational components of the group therapy program were administered.;Significant posttest gains were found for virtually all measures. Intergroup attitudinal change and changes in needs regarding the group therapy program were in evidence. The therapists remained relatively constant in their positive regard for the instructional staff. The instructional staff, however, changed its attitude dramatically as it moved from a negative to a positive attitude. In terms of needs regarding the group therapy program, a strong movement in the direction of intergroup agreement was identified. Moreover, structional and/or organizational modifications were proposed for the group therapy program which were more in keeping with the spirit of intergroup cooperation. These observed outcomes were all indicative of reduced levels of intergroup conflict.;While evidence of change was impressive, it must be viewed with reservation given the methodological weaknesses of this study. These weaknesses included lack of control groups, inability to isolate specific effects of specific interventions, use of inadequately pre-tested measuring instruments of undetermined reliability and validity, and lack of long term follow-up procedures.