Subordinate Views in Supervisory Conflict Situations: Peering into the Subcultural Chasm

Bruce Fortado
  • Human Relations, November 1992, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/001872679204501102

What is it about?

Some anthropologists have previously illustrated group differences using cultural dimensions that reflect central underlying assumptions. This article uses six cultural dimensions to contrast four different ways of thinking about superior-subordinate conflict situations. The well known legalistic, problem-solving and power oriented models are contrasted to a subordinate subculture model. The subordinate subculture model was inductively derived via a two stage content analysis of 100 cases from the United States. The six cultural dimensions utilized are the nature of relationships, truth/reality, analytic determinations, evidence, time and the consequences of grieving.

Why is it important?

Subordinates are found to have norms that are more expansive than most managers normally recognize. The employees generally did not operate as isolated individuals. Instead, they were members of groups, which built joint meanings via story telling and nicknaming. Case examples are used to ground the analysis and graphically illustrate the dimensions of the subordinate subculture model.

The following have contributed to this page: Professor Fortado Bruce