Competitive and cooperative conflict communication climates the influence of ombuds processes on trust and commitment to the organization

Tyler R. Harrison, Marya L. Doerfel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose - This paper seeks to explore the role of ombuds processes on commitment and trust to the organization. Design/methodology/approach - This research is framed by and builds on theories about cooperation-competition, procedural justice, and third party intervention (ombudsman processes) in managing organizational relationships. Data for this study come from semi-structured longitudinal interviews with 45 participants (138 interviews total) during active pursuit of a grievance through the ombuds process. Findings - Organizational commitment and trust are fluid processes created through symbolic interaction with organizational actors. Interaction with these actors, over time, influences commitment to the organization. Research limitations/implications - This study reports on the perspective of the person pursuing the grievance through one ombuds office. Future research should explore perspectives of both parties and in different organizational contexts. Practical implications - The use of ombuds processes to manage conflicts may restore trust and commitment in the organization. Key to this is the use of processes that demonstrate fair procedures and effective communication by high status organizations actors. Originality/value - This paper provides new insight into the effects of conflict and conflict management in organizations and is of value to organizational leaders, managers, ombudspersons, and other conflict management specialists. " Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-153
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Conflict Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Conflict
  • Ombudsman
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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