the boundary model

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Application: Mini-Case: The Job Hire

Understanding a model for conflict resolution on a theoretical level is much different than actually addressing the issues of a real conflict, which are fraught with strong emotions and opinions. In this Application, you will have the opportunity to look at the issue from different perspectives as you consider a real-world situation.

Assume that your friend David, a line manager who currently has a job opening within his group, approaches you with the following problem. He would like to hire a good friend of his, Heather, whom he feels is extremely qualified for the job. David said that he needs this position filled immediately or he will incur a serious work bottleneck. In addition, Heather has recently been laid off from her job, and David wants to hire her before someone else makes her an offer.

David’s boss gave initial approval for the hiring to occur, but also requested that David use the hiring process outlined by his company’s human resources recruiting department. When David presented the issue to the recruiting manager he did not anticipate any problems. After all, he knows the job that has to be done and believes that Heather is exceptionally qualified. However, the recruiting manager told David that before any decision can be made the following steps would need to be taken:

  • A compensation analyst will need to perform a formal review of this job position. Currently David’s company is going through a cost-reduction process. As part of that, all open positions are subject to review to ensure that they are at the appropriate job grade and salary.
  • Once the review is completed, the job opening will have to be posted internally to give other employees the opportunity to apply.
  • In addition, even if no current employees apply for the position, David would still be required to go through the time-consuming process of posting the job on a few external job boards and interviewing a variety of candidates.
  • Meanwhile, Heather will have to fill out an online application, submit a resume to HR, and complete a preliminary screening interview by HR before David will even be allowed to interview her.
  • The entire process could easily take two months. Heather has said that, as much as she would like the opportunity to report to David, she cannot afford to reject another reasonable offer that might arise during that time period.
  • At this point, David is rather upset. After all, the position is within his domain and area of expertise. He has argued that while the HR department can make him go through the process of posting and interviewing, he will still select his friend as the best candidate. Given these factors, he wonders why HR feels empowered to dictate how he performs his job.
  • David is fully prepared to escalate the issue up his chain of command and force a face-off between his VP and the VP of HR.
  • Before he pursues that option, he wants your advice on how he should proceed.

Your Tasks: Perform an analysis of this situation using the Boundary Model of Conflict. In doing so determine:

  • What boundary issues are at stake between David and HR?
  • How would you explain to David the role that these boundary issues might be playing in this conflict?
  • Suggest a strategic intervention and describe how it would be used to reestablish all four elements of the boundary.

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