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Level of Conflict Knowledge- The Hamburger Dilemma

Level of Conflict Knowledge- The Hamburger Dilemma

The dilemma as described undergoes a series of events that are summarized into a triangle. The triangle/triad below was created by Prof. Johan Galtung. It represents the attitudes/assumptions, behaviors, and context. The behaviors are visible, while context and attitudes or assumptions are invisible. The attitudes refer to the parties’ conflicting beliefs, perceptions, prejudices, and feelings. Behaviors refer to the statements, actions, insults, and attacks that may occur in the event of a conflict. The context refers to the situation in which the conflict occurs. It may be economical, political, cultural, or historical (Drago, 2015). These contexts affect the parties’ response to the conflict significantly.

Source: (Drago, 2015)

In the Hamburger dilemma, the attitudes that are encountered are related to religion. Bob and Diane have different religious backgrounds, which inform their choices about lifestyle and diet. Bob is a vegetarian for religious reasons, which Diane does not share or agree with (Drago, 2015). The difference in attitudes and perceptions regarding the meal in question is the conflict’s root. While other factors such as work deadlines, squeezed office spaces, and a problematic history affect the entire situation through exacerbation of the conflict, the contentious meal brings about most of the issues in the situation.

The behaviors of both opponents are influenced by their beliefs and perceptions about each other (Drago, 2015). To begin with, Bob and Diane lacked an amicable relationship. This means that they had other underlying issues that caused them to dislike each other. Secondly, Bob believes that Diane is disrespectful when she fails to honor his request. Therefore, the decision to leave the office was motivated by the knowledge that Diane would not leave the office. Diane, on the other hand, finds Bob’s request to be strange because she has a deadline to meet. Therefore, expecting her to take her lunch outside due to religious beliefs was ridiculous.

The conflict’s hallmark is observed when Bob trips over Diane’s meal accidentally. Diane interprets this as intentional and malicious because she was not present to witness it. This escalates the previous subliminal conflicts that the two had before into significant disagreements. In this case, Bob’s explanation of the accident would have little significance to Diane because she is convinced that Bob spilled her lunch intentionally.

The conflict becomes significantly detrimental to the two parties when Bob spills Diane’s meal accidentally. The lack of eyewitnesses to explain the situation on his behalf or support his story leaves him between a hard place and a rock. On one end, Bob’s accident projects him as a bad person. On the other end, he tripped while excusing Diane, who could not honor his request to eat lunch elsewhere. Given the current situation, Diane cannot be convinced that the latter is true. She believes that Bob is a bad person who will go to the extent of spilling others’ lunch because they do not agree with his religious beliefs lifestyle and habits.

The dilemma confirms two aspects of conflict in the workplace. First, it is impossible to completely avoid conflict among employees. As revealed in the case, both parties already had past conflicts, which were minor. Secondly, conflict can have both positive and negative effects. The effects depend on conflict management. If well resolved, conflict can lead to positive changes such as improved communication, regular feedback, collective decision-making, among others. However, these effects are not observed in this case yet because the management element is not highlighted. There could be negative effects, which deficient performance, low morale, diminished productivity, bad decisions, voluntary turnover, time wastage, job dissatisfaction, and dysfunctional communication (Parashar & Sharma, 2020).

If the conflict remains unresolved, it is likely to result in undesirable psychological responses. These include a lack of interest in work, causing one of the parties to reassign, work anxiety, which may affect productivity and concentration negatively, frustration, and job dissatisfaction. Both Bob and Diane may experience these effects. However, Bob, who is already depicted as a bad person through the accident, may alienate himself from others due to judgment. The behavioral responses that may arise from the conflict include diminished communication between the two, poor teamwork effort, aggression towards each other, intentional sabotage, and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. In the worst-case scenario, both parties may fall ill due to the conflict (Omisore & Abiodun, 2014).

These effects do not only affect the individuals but also the entire organization and other colleagues. It will be difficult to get both Bob and Diane on the same team or achieve the desired goals from them. Their low output affects the company’s productivity. This could manifest as missed deadlines, lateness, absenteeism, absent-mindedness, and inferior performance (Parashar & Sharma, 2020). In addition, the organization could lose exceptionally talented individuals, which eats into their financial resources through the recruitment of new members (Awan & Saeed, 2015). The low morale and dissatisfaction of both members could sabotage the other colleagues’ efforts.

Based on the dilemma, it is easy to identify that the organization may have lacked policies that would have been beneficial in managing or preventing conflict. For instance, policies about taking meals in the office area should have clearly stated that it is unacceptable. In this case, Bob would not have requested Diane to leave the office for lunch for religious reasons. Secondly, the organization failed to spell out issues related to respect for other religious beliefs or their absence thereof. In the situation, Diane may have been wrong to ignore Bob’s request because he explained that it was religious. Suppose Bob spilled the meal intentionally, he would also be wrong for failing to respect the difference between his personal beliefs and Diane’s. However, that may not have been the case because Bob had an accident. These elements highlight the questions regarding steps that organizations take to proactively manage conflict in the workplace. This initiative-taking approach is important in eliminating the consequences of unresolved conflict on the organization and the involved parties as well.

Conflict resolution is critical for consistent success in an organization (University of California, 2021). Since conflict occurs between human beings, it is important to ensure that the positive effects that are associated with it are maximized. This result requires conscious and initiative-taking management of conflict before and when it occurs conflict resolution can be achieved using values, that promote harmony in the workplace. Respect is a critical value that should be highly advocated for in the workplace. It means that employees should not dismiss others because of differences upon conflict occurrence, the needs of all parties must be addressed efficiently (Omisore & Abiodun, 2014). Thus, the perspectives and views of others must be held in high regard even when they do not belong to the majority.

Conflict resolution and management are challenging because it involve the emotions of employees, beliefs, and cultures. Thus, it is easy to aggravate a conflict into a battle during resolution. I intend to master the techniques that managers and supervisors use to resolve conflicts that involve people’s emotions, and personal beliefs without further annoyance. The ability to do so will be important in avoiding escalation of conflict and the negative aspects that arise from such situations. Ensuring justice when conflicting parties are emotionally charged without being partisan is critical in the resolution and management processes.


Awan, A. G., & Saeed, S. (2015). Conflict Management and Organizational Performance: A Case. Research Journal of Finance and Accounting, 6(11), 88-102.

Drago, A. (2015). Improving Galtung’s A-b-c to A scientific theory of All kinds of conflicts. ARS Brevis.

Omisore, B. O., & Abiodun, A. R. (2014). Organizational Conflicts: Causes, Effects and Remedies. International Journal of Academic Research in Economics and Management Sciences, 3(6), 118-137. doi:10.6007/IJAREMS/v3-i6/1351

Parashar, B., & Sharma, R. (2020). Impact of Conflicts on Productivity at Workplace. ICRMAT, 24, 143-146. doi:10.15439/2020KM11

University of California. (2021). Resolving Conflict Situations. Retrieved from


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This week, you have the task of analyzing the conflict case below titled, The Case of the Hamburger Dilemma. In your evaluation, avoid summarizing the case. Instead, analyze the case critically and assess how it pertains to this week’s readings. Refer to the Guide to a Successful Case Study Analysis for additional guidance. Remember, excellent analyses are a combination of critical and analytical thoughts connected to greater themes presented in the readings – and this is not an easy task.

Level of Conflict Knowledge- The Hamburger Dilemma

Level of Conflict Knowledge- The Hamburger Dilemma

Be sure to include the following required elements in your assignment:

Briefly describe what you consider two or three major issues contained in the case.
Explain how these points or issues integrate with the material covered this week and explain their relevance to the case.
Identify the implications for the parties involved in the case.
Provide a brief description of the questions/challenges you have regarding the readings and explain why they are important.
Answer the following questions based on your confidence level surrounding conflict at this point in the course:
What are some things you already know about conflict and conflict resolution?
What do you need from this course? (For example: What do you expect to be able to do at the end of this course that you can’t do now?)
Do not include the following in your analysis:

A summary of the readings
A detailed description of the case
Any editorials
The Hamburger Dilemma:

Due to budgetary cuts, Bob and Diane are relocated from their individual offices and forced to share a single office space. One day Diane brings a hamburger for lunch and heats it in the office microwave. When she gets back to her desk, Bob reminds Diane he is a vegetarian for religious reasons and asks her to leave the office to eat her lunch. Diane and Bob have a problematic history, and she is on a deadline for their boss, so she declines Bob’s request. Instead, she leaves her plate on the desk while she runs out to fill her water bottle. Since Diane won’t leave, Bob decides he’s going to leave the office for a while. As he gets up to go, he trips over the cord to Diane’s lamp and falls into her lunch plate, knocking it to the floor. Diane isn’t there to see it was truly an accident and walks in just as Bob is picking her plate up off the floor.

As you are preparing your response, think about the following questions:

What were the roots of the conflict? (Remember the triangle)
How do the parties to the conflict view the behavior of their ‘opponents’ and pursue their own interests in the conflict situation?
At what point did the conflict become detrimental to the parties involved?
How might this conflict extend to the larger workplace if not resolved?
This exercise is less about “getting it right” and more about identifying your own capacity to recognize antecedents, reflect on the way you currently manage conflict, and self-identify ways in which you can improve your ability to recognize, diagnose, and resolve conflict in the future.

Length: 3-5 pages, not including title or reference pages

References: Include a minimum of 5 scholarly resources.

Your assignment should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course by providing new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

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