Intractable Conflict, Adaptable Teams
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CitationParrott-Sheffer, Adam. 2020. Intractable Conflict, Adaptable Teams. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractFor more than ten years, officials from the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) remained locked in a stalemate over what services were required for students with disabilities preparing for the high school equivalency exam through the NYCDOE Pathways to Graduation program. Finally, in 2020, the two agencies partnered together to reach an amicable agreement within a matter of months. In this paper, I analyze the sea change by which two bureaucracies progressed from conflict to resolved partnership.
Drawing from knowledge in the fields of peace studies, mediation, behavioral science, and organizational decision making, this paper both assesses the conditions under which cross-functional teams can drive systemic change and asserts the important roles of executive leadership, mid-level managers, and local actors in driving such change. It also surfaces and analyzes tensions between positional and relational influence and transparency and vulnerability. Additionally, I explain a practice I call “designing from the margins”-meaning developing policy based upon the needs of individuals not typically considered by policymakers. Focusing on learners in the margins, like the students with disabilities in the Pathways to Graduation Program, creates the environment in which more effective policies can be implemented for all students. Throughout this capstone, I argue that both hope and conflict- though they are seemingly divergent qualities- are necessary in efforts to improve organizations and to best utilize cross-functional teams.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364861