Working with the Enemy: When Members of a Staff Were Once on Opposite Sides of a War, what Tools can the Manager Employ to Diminish Animosity and Create an Effective Work Environment?


In an atmosphere of shifting demographics the United States is facing many changes. These changes are reflected in the make-up of office personnel and are gradually creating a new set of issues for managers to deal with. Immigrants from war-torn countries are increasingly found in the American workforce and now the likelihood that members of a staff may have at one time been on opposite sides of a war is a real consideration. In this paper I explore the implications of a situation which finds ex-enemies working in the same office.

X International school in Washington DC was the site of my investigation. I employed three basic methods of research: qualitative interviews, document review and participant observation. The interviews were completed by manager-level staff members. The managers were asked to comment about their first-hand experience dealing with former enemies in an office. The main question posed in this paper was: When members of a staff were once on opposite sides of a war, what tools can the manager employ to diminish animosity and create an effective work environment?”

The goal of this paper is to highlight behaviors that a manager of ex-enemies may encounter and then offer a tool box of strategies that were successfully employed at X International. At this time relatively little information can be found on this specific topic. Hopefully these tools will offer some assistance and will be expanded upon as research on this particular area of diversity and conflict transformation continues.


Human Resources Management | International and Intercultural Communication

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