Case Study

Case Study

The morning project team meeting promised to be

an interesting one. Tensions between the representative

from marketing, Susan Scott, and finance, Neil

Schein, have been building for several weeks now—in

fact, since the project team was formed. As the project

manager, you have been aware that Susan and Neil do

not see eye to eye, but you figured that over time they

would begin to appreciate each other’s perspective

and start cooperating. So far, unfortunately, that has

not happened. In fact, it seems that hardly a day goes

by when you do not receive a complaint from one or

the other regarding the other team member’s behavior,

lack of commitment or cooperation, or general shoddy


As the team gathers for the regular project status

meeting, you start with an update on the project tasks,

any problems the team members are having, and their

assessment of the project’s performance to date. Before

you get too far into the meeting, Susan interrupts,saying, “John, I’m going to be out of town for the next

10 days visiting clients, so I can’t make the status meetings

either of the next two Fridays.”

“That figures,” Neil mutters loud enough for all

to hear.

Susan whirls around. “I have another job around

here, you know, and it involves selling. It may be convenient

for you to drop everything and come to these

meetings, but some of us have other responsibilities.”

Neil shoots back, “That’s been your excuse for

missing half of the meetings so far. Just out of curiosity,”

he continues sarcastically, “how many more do

you figure on blowing off while hanging out poolside

on your little out-of-towners?”

Susan turns bright red. “I don’t need to put up

with that from you. You bean counters have no clue

how this business works or who delivers value. You’re

so busy analyzing every penny that you have permanent


“Maybe I could pay attention if I didn’t have to

constantly stay on the backs of you cowboys in sales,”

counters Neil. “I swear you would give our products

away if it would let you make your quarterly numbers,

even if it does drive us into the ground!”

You sit back, amazed, as the argument between

Neil and Susan flares into full-scale hostility and

threatens to spin out of control. The other team members

are looking at you for your response. George, from

engineering, has a funny expression on his face, as if to

say, “Okay, you got us to this point. Now what are you

going to do about it?”

“People,” you rap on the table, “that’s enough.

We are done for today. I want to meet with Susan and

Neil in my office in a half hour.”

As everyone files out, you lean back in your seat

and consider how you are going to handle this problem.


1. Was the argument today between Neil and Susan

the true conflict or a symptom? What evidence do

you have to suggest it is merely a symptom of a

larger problem?

2. Explain how differentiation plays a large role in

the problems that exist between Susan and Neil.

3. Develop a conflict management procedure for

your meeting in 30 minutes. Create a simple

script to help you anticipate the comments you

are likely to hear from both parties.

4. Which conflict resolution style is warranted in

this case? Why? How might some of the other

resolution approaches be inadequate in this



It involves that the student read the case study and answer all questions at the end of the case study in a 4-5 page paper.It must include substantial support from at least two (2) scholarly journal articles on project management.

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