Date of Award

1-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership

Department

Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

James Coben

Abstract

It is essential to identify and examine the issues and underlying interests fueling disputes when pursuing a deeper understanding of conflict in the field of American Sign Language/English interpreting. This study analyzed grievances filed against interpreters within the RID Ethical Practices System to discover and understand more clearly the issues and interests igniting and escalating conflicts to the level of formal complaint. The conceptual context outlined decision-making models currently used in interpreter education and research, based in theories of conflict and dispute resolution, including a diagnostic tool and framework for identifying types of conflict and underlying interests. Document analysis of 49 mediated agreements and grievances was conducted to systematically explore the conflicts presented in formal complaints filed by Deaf and non-deaf consumers, and interpreters against their colleagues. Additionally, the responses to interview questions posed to five mediators from the RID mediation system were analyzed to uncover both issues and interests within the conflicts as well as strategies for effective conflict resolution. Many themes emerged from the document analysis and interviews. What stands out are the five major categories of conflict that surfaced: Confidentiality, Attitude and Respect, Impartiality and Boundaries, Professional Behavior, and Technical Interpreting Skills. Relationship conflicts, embedded in poor communication and miscommunications, were prevalent throughout the complaints, fueled primarily by process and substantive interests. Process interests specifically related to how an interpreted assignment was managed and by whom; substantive interests primarily revolved around the handling of confidential information. Insights gleaned from dispute resolution practices within the mediation system included the power of relationship-building through active listening, empathy building, and a spirit of collaboration. These analyses provide a basis for recommendations regarding topics for educating students of interpreting, working interpreters and consumers of interpreting services on how to understand, address and resolve conflicts that will naturally occur within the context of their interactions.

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