Case Study


Identify one of the conflict-handling styles used in this scenario. How did you determine that?

Conflicts emerge as a result of the interaction between different individual communication styles. Dealing with conflicts give rise to 5 negotiation styles: avoiding, accommodating, collaborating, competing and compromising. Avoiding refers to one party withdrawing its stance from the situation, resulting in a “Lose-Lose” outcome. Accommodating refers to one party yielding to the demands of another party, resulting in a “Lose-Win” outcome. Collaborating refers to both parties coming up with a satisfactory solution, resulting in a “Win-Win” outcome. Competing refers to one party gaining advantage at the expense of another party, resulting in a “Win-Lose” outcome. Compromising refers to meeting the demands of one or both parties at a cost, resulting in a “Win some & Lose some-Win some & Lose some” outcome.

From the given scenario, Robert adopts a competing conflict-handling style. Robert requests an 8 percent raise for his work unit, because his department contributed to a 15 percent profit increase for the organisation. In response to Robert’s demand, Kay proposes an overseas postings and potential promotions to leadership positions within a new project. As the organisation plans to invest majority of the profit gains into the new project, it could be financially difficult to meet Robert’s demand. However, Robert is adamant that his team needs to be compensated with a monetary increase, and he threatens to get the union involved if his request is unsuccessful. Robert is only concerned about getting his demand met, even if it means jeopardising the organisation’s plan to expand and diversify. Robert’s attitude is very aggressive and assertive, he priorities his demand over relationship with the organisation. This could result in a “Robert win – Organisation lose” outcome.

Choose one of the characters and determine which bargaining approach is used. How did you determine that?

From the given scenario, Kay adopts an integrative bargaining approach. When Robert requests an 8 percent raise for his work unit, his objective is to get a monetary increase. As a finance manager, Kay’s objective is to ensure the organisation’s plans meet the long-term financial goals. If Kay gives in to Robert’s request, Robert will be able to receive monetary increase at the expense of the organisation’s long-term financial goals. Therefore, Kay proposes an overseas postings and potential promotions to leadership positions within a new project. Should Robert accept the proposal, he and his team will be able to receive monetary increase through job promotions. At the same time, the organisation will proceed with the expansion plan, without the need to incur additional financial spending. Kay’s proposal aims to mutually benefit Robert and the organisation, achieving a “Win-Win” outcome.

What aspect of interpersonal communication is contributing to the poor working environment? How is this demonstrated in the case?

Interpersonal communication is the process of exchange of information, ideas and feelings between two or more people through verbal or non-verbal methods. It often includes face-to-face exchange of information, in a form of voice, facial expressions, body language and gestures (Martic, 2020). Effective interpersonal communication is achieved when the original message is transferred without being distorted. Conflict between Robert and Kay arise due to their inability to fully understand each other’s message. This is due to a lack of active listening displayed by both parties; active listening is the ability to understand and process what is being discussed. Emotional intelligence such as social awareness contributed to poor active listening. Social awareness refers to the ability to empathize with others and understand their perspective.

Robert’s team have worked hard over the years to make contributions to the organisation, Robert wants the organisation to recognize their efforts through an 8 percent raise. Lack of empathy leads to Kay proposing monetary increase through promotion in the future, while monetary increase is fulfilled, Kay fails to address Robert’s desire for immediate recognition. Robert do not feel that the organisation values and appreciates his team, he is upset and threatens to involve the union. Lack of empathy leads to Robert ignoring the organisation’s difficult financial situation, Robert fails to understand Kay’s genuine intention to compensate his team. Should Kay and Robert practice active listening, Robert would understand that Kay wants to compensate his team but is limited by resources. And Kay would understand that Robert wants immediate recognition, the focus is not purely on 8 percent raise. An ideal scenario would be for Kay to propose an immediate increase of 3 percent for Robert’s work unit. Therefore, poor practice of active listening and lack of social awareness contribute to poor working environment.

Using Hall’s context model, describe one of the characters’ behaviour. How did you determine that?

From the given scenario, Robert displays a low-context culture behaviour. Robert requested an 8 percent raise for his work unit, his message is overt and explicit. In response to Kay’s proposal, Robert threaten to get the union involved if his request is unsuccessful, his expression to the proposal is outward and visible. Robert made the request as a member of the organisation, but when the request is not met, he switches his position to a member of the union. This shows that Robert switches his position as member of different groups when needed, resulting in fragile bond between people with little sense of loyalty. Robert displays low commitment to long-term relationships by prioritising his demands over the organisation’s limitations. While Robert could get monetary increase through job promotions in the future, he rejected the proposal. This shows that Robert’s sense of time is focused on the present and is not very flexible.


Conflicts are inevitable and it is crucial to understand the root cause of conflict. Good understanding requires effective interpersonal communication between parties involved. People should have empathy and practice active listening to understand others’ perspective. It is important not to be narrow-minded and selfish, we should be considerate while trying to achieve our own objectives. Desirable outcome should hopefully be a “Win-Win” situation where both parties benefit.


Martic, K., 2020. Interpersonal Communication: Definition, Importance and Must-Have Skills. [Online]
Available at:,expressions%2C%20body%20language%20and%20gestures.
[Accessed 31 07 2020].

Published by RQ

Pursuing Bachelor of Business Information Systems in SIM. Currently a year 2 student.

3 thoughts on “Case Study

  1. Hi Ren Qing,

    I agree with you that Kay uses, integrative bargaining approach and if Robert agrees his team would have gotten the monetary increase through the job promotion. From Kay’s suggestion, it meets the interest of both the company and Robert’s group. I also go along with your idea that Robert displays a low-context culture behaviour. Aside from that, I have realised that you have placed images and gifs for each section. It makes the blog livelier and less wordy. It is a considerable mention that you have included the scenario of the conflict and highlighted it for us the main points. Overall, your blog post is clear and neat to read.

    Your friendly classmate,
    Ling Yan Ying (Tracy)


  2. Hello Ren Qing, a very informative blog post about the case study. I like how you structure your content to make it easier for the readers. Furthermore, pictures and gifs that you included enhanced the overall design of your blog. You claimed that Robert is in the low-context culture and I agreed with you. However, some might argue due to his participation with his team, thus he knows that his team sacrifices a lot to achieve results. With this point, he also falls under the high-context zone. There’s no right or wrong to deduce their personality but because we’re provided with limited information. To further improve your blog as is already close to perfect, perhaps you could add-in more pictures to support your perspective of the characters. I enjoyed reading your blog and thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. Hope to see you around in school 😊


  3. Hi Renqing,

    To begin with, it’s nice that you have explained all the different negotiation styles before jumping into the case study. The image displaying the fight between Captain America and Iron Man also adds a humorous element to your blog.

    I agree with your stance that Robert adopts a competing conflict-handling style and is only concerned about getting his demands met, even if it means jeopardising the organization’s plan to expand and diversify. Moreover, I agree that Kay’s also adopts the integrative bargaining approach as she wishes to consider both parties interests and aims to acheive a ‘win-win’ outcome.

    You have managed to end the blog post well by saying both parites benefit the most if a ‘win-win’ outcome is achieved. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post and wish you well for your exams!



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