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Gibson Pens Book on Conflict Management

Dr. Gibson with his new book
Dr. James Gibson holds a copy of his new book, which became available for sale this month.

When faced with conflict, most people choose to avoid it. They often overlook the positive opportunities that become available when conflict presents itself.

Or so says James Gibson.

There is a way to make the most out of conflict. In a new book, Capitalizing on Conflict, James Gibson and Kirk Blackard show how "dealing with counterproductive conflict in an organized, holistic, and systematic manner can lead to stronger and more resilient organizations."

Gibson is the Sam Houston State University students' legal adviser and director of mediation services. Blackard is a Houston-based consultant and conflict resolution practitioner.

The "manager's handbook" of sorts sheds a new light on conflict. The preface to the book begins with a synopsis of the recent Enron collapse, the biggest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. Viewing the collapse as a failure by management to effectively handle conflict served as an important perspective for the book.

In one sense, the book is designed to help others avoid their own version of the Enron collapse.

"Managing conflict is an ongoing process," said Gibson. "While efforts must be tailored to the specifics of an organization and staff, there are proven strategies and practical tools that individuals can use to resolve conflict." The book focuses on many of these techniques.

Capitalizing on Conflict is divided into three parts. Part one provides an overview of conflict. Part two presents ideas for managing an organization to minimize its overall conflict level. Part three presents the phases of the conflict management cycle and presents ideas for effectively dealing with conflict.

Each chapter is an attempt to show readers how to "capitalize on the synergistic aspects of conflict."

Gibson himself is a longtime mediation consultant and an expert on criminal mediation. He actively mediates high-profile disputes and has trained more than 750 mediators. Blackard spent 30 years at Shell Oil company where he was instrumental in developing its internal conflict management system.

"The synergy of our experiences has allowed us to develop and present ideas that will help managers and supervisors in all types of organizations manage workplace conflict in ways that optimize organizational performance," said Gibson and Blackard.

The book contends that conflict is neither good nor bad.

"Behavior resulting from it may be either positive or negative," continues Gibson. "The book aims to provide managers with a basic understanding of the negative side of conflict and how they can manage their organization to create an environment that allows the positive aspects of conflict to flourish."

A cloth-cover edition of Capitalizing on Conflict is available from Davies-Black Publishing by calling 1-800-624-1765. Each copy sells for $36.95.
Dr. Gibson's new book

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SHSU Media Contact: Audrey Wick
April 12, 2002
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