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A Gender-Based Analysis of Conflict Management Styles for Construction Management Students

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 3

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Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Jennifer Serne Central Washington University

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Professor Serne is an Assistant Professor of Safety Health Management at Central Washington University, where she teaches classes covering Hazardous Materials Management, Fire Safety, Incident Investigation, Emergency Response, Construction and Manufacturing Safety, Safety Analysis Systems, and Ergonomics and Human Factors. Previously, she worked for 20 years in the safety industry supporting research safety at an R1 university at the assistant director level, pharmaceutical safety at a world class research facility in Seattle, and specialized in radiation safety, and emergency response as the lead inspector of medical and research facilities using radioactive materials in Washington State and the Public Information Officer at the state EOC during radiological emergencies. She has also worked as an independent fatality investigator, serving various clients in 36 states and 6 countries. She has a Masters in Safety Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Human Factors.

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David Wesley Martin Central Washington University

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Dr. David W. Martin is a Certified Professional Constructor with over 12 years industry experience in construction engineering and management encompassing over $400,000,000 worth of vertical and horizontal construction. He also has over 15 years of academic experience in college level construction management education. During his time in academia, he has coached or assisted over 20 ASC student competition teams, taught 10 different courses, earned two departmental awards in teaching and scholarship. He is passionate about preparing construction management students for the industry with a particular focus on cultivating the necessary leadership skills for Integrated Project Delivery.

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The increased use of collaborative project delivery systems requires more cooperation and shared management of the construction process to achieve project success. With this increase in collaborative systems also comes an increased need for project representatives to manage conflict. Project failures utilizing collaborative methods are frequently attributed to an inability or unwillingness of project representatives to successfully resolve conflict collaboratively. Research suggests that women are more likely to use a collaborative conflict management style than men as well as the inclusion of women in CM roles aids project efficiency and reduces negative conflict. Determining whether female CM students are better suited for collaborative project delivery systems helps to gain a better understanding of the benefits of recruiting women to work in construction management. Researchers at XXX’s Construction Management (CM) program employed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Instrument (TKI) to compare the differences in conflict management styles between male and female CM students. A series of independent samples t-tests determined which conflict management styles differed between the male and female students. Two conflict management styles showed statistically significant differences including Competing (t[69] = 1.981, p < 0.05) and Accommodating (t[69] = -2.551, p < 0.01). However, no statistically significant difference was indicated for the Collaborating, Avoiding, and Accommodating conflict management styles. Another set of independent samples t-tests were utilized to determine if differences existed between male and female CM students along the two axes of the TKI graph. It was shown that statistically significant differences do exist regarding Cooperativeness (t[69] = -2.329, p < 0.05) however, there was no statistically significant difference regarding Assertiveness. Results show that female CM students are not necessarily more collaborative than their male counterparts. However, both groups possess attributes of collaboration that the other lacks. Harnessing and pooling these differences has the potential to benefit the construction industry.

Serne, J., & Martin, D. W. (2020, June), A Gender-Based Analysis of Conflict Management Styles for Construction Management Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34005

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