TC’s Peter Coleman Wins 2016 Outstanding Book Award | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC’s Peter Coleman Wins 2016 Outstanding Book Award from International Association of Conflict Management


TC’s Peter Coleman, Professor of Psychology and Education and Director of the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR), has received the 2016 Outstanding Book Award from the International Association of Conflict Management (IACM) for Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). Co-authored with psychologist and executive coach Robert Ferguson, the book was cited as an outstanding contribution to the field of negotiation and conflict management. The award was presented at the annual meeting of IACM, held at Columbia University on June 26-29, 2016.

Making Conflict Work is a manual for resolving workplace conflicts. While many organizations have adopted flat management structures, they have not eliminated the power differences that can precipitate and complicate conflicts between bosses and those they supervise.

And yet, “Talking about power differences openly is almost completely absent from discussions of conflicts in the workplace,” the authors write. More specifically, research suggests “the lack of detailed attention to emotions and relationships is the biggest gap in our understanding conflict today.”


Ultimately, the book argues, bosses and subordinates need “conflict intelligence” that equips them with a variety of strategies for understanding their relative positions of power and managing differences of opinion. Like the late Nelson Mandala – “convener and boxer, nonviolent activist and violent militant, empowered prisoner and embattled president” – they need to be able to choose correctly and employ seemingly contradictory competencies and strategies.

The book urges readers to “Know when you need to move from more cooperative and conciliatory strategies into more competitive or contentious ones. Know when to respond to conflict in a manner that fits the situation, but also know when not to. Know what it looks like when the other disputants cross lines you refuse to cross. Know when it is time to rebel or revolt.”

A letter of nomination for the book praised it for being “solidly grounded in the psychological research on interpersonal conflict and conflict management processes” and “eminently readable and practical in its advice.” It does not rely “on the typical analytical tools of mediation or negotiation, but on a broader set of conversational tools and tactics that a party in a dispute could pick up, read, and implement to handle the conflict more effectively.”

The letter continues:  “Remarkably, given all of the research on conflict management, negotiation and mediation over the past 40 years, there are only one or two books I could pull off my shelf that even begin to effectively meet these three criteria. The field now (finally!) has that book in Making Conflict Work!”

The IACM encourages scholars to develop and disseminate theory, research and experience geared toward understanding and improving conflict management in family, organizational, societal, and international settings. The IACM’s Outstanding Book Award recognizes an outstanding published book, with the perspective gained two years following their publication. The book award is given every two years. 

Coleman is director of the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, founded at Teachers College in 1986 under the direction of Professor Emeritus Morton Deutsch, Ph.D., one of the world’s most respected scholars of conflict resolution, to develop knowledge and practice to promote constructive conflict resolution, effective cooperation, and social justice. Coleman is also the author of The Five Percent:  Finding Solutions to Seemingly Impossible Conflicts (Perseus Books, 2011).

Published Friday, Jul 8, 2016

Peter Coleman
Peter Coleman, Professor of Psychology and Education
Peter Coleman and Poonam Arora, Gabriel Hauge Assistant Professor of Management at Manhattan College, a member of the IACM leadership team.