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From Contention to Collaboration: Creating Cultural Change in a Polarized Organization

R Freedman International Journal of Coaching in Organizations 2011

When two or more groups that must work together perceive one another as having agendas opposed to their own cares and priorities, an environment composed of distrust, contention, and polarization is created. Changing the quality and dynamics of such a relationship requires building new skills, constructing venues for problem solving, and allowing for a different understanding of one another. This article describes a hybrid process of learning, coaching, and facilitation designed to transform a highly contentious relationship between an airline’s union leadership and its operational management into a collaborative productive partnership. The author describes the primary focus areas, or stages, used to develop the group’s awareness and practices, as well as the mood shifts and events that occurred throughout process implementation.

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