Managing Neutrality and Impartiality in Workplace Conflict Resolution: The Dilemma of the HR Manager

Van Gramberg, Bernadine and Teicher, Julian (2005) Managing Neutrality and Impartiality in Workplace Conflict Resolution: The Dilemma of the HR Manager. Working Paper. Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.


The interaction between conflict management and ethics in organisations occurs in a web of power relations, organisational structures and the often conflicting objectives of organisational competitiveness and workplace justice. Human resource management (HRM) policies and practices have been pivotal in managing this interface. Key to the role of the HR manager is the management of conflict and delivery of justice in workplace decision making. We argue that ethical decision making to resolve conflict is challenged by the inherent nature of HRM. First, we note that in an environment driven by the need for efficiency, the HR manager is expected to perform a range of roles, particularly that of 'strategic partner' which can be at odds with its 'employee champion' role. Second, as someone who represents the firm, the HR manager cannot be considered a neutral mediator of conflicts between other workplace members. These tensions in the HR manager's role raise ethical questions that arise in the course of negotiation and dispute resolution. We commence with a discussion of workplace justice and the concepts of neutrality and impartiality. We argue while pursuing neutrality might have a shorter term goal of supporting managerial or organisational objectives, longer term goals, particularly those which enhance workplace justice, are likely to be afforded through the exercise of impartiality informed by an ethical code.

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Item type Monograph (Working Paper)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Management and Information Systems
Keywords conflict management; ethics; workplace justice; managing neutrality; impartiality; workplace conflict resolution: HR manager
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