Problem ¬solving

Assignment Requirements

Coursework 2: Problem­solving Task 

This task focuses on managing conflict and effective negotiation. It should be undertaken from 
a Project Director’s (or a Senior Project Manager’s) perspective. It is inspired by the 
assumption that ability to handle conflict competently complements other effective leadership 
traits such as the ability to motivate people, emotional intelligence, and being visionary. 

Table of contents 
1 What is the task? 
2 Background 
3 What do I need to do in Part A? 4 What do I need to do in Part B? 
5 What are the assessment criteria? 
6 How do I start? 
7 The Nature of the Expected Relationship between a Project Manager and a Project Sponsor 
8 References 

1 What is the task? 
This task focuses on managing conflict and effective negotiation. It should be undertaken from 
a Project Director’s (or a Senior Project Manager’s) perspective. It is inspired by the 
assumption that ability to handle conflict competently complements other effective leadership 
traits such as the ability to motivate people, emotional intelligence, and being visionary. 

2 Background 
You need to imagine that you are Paul Curran who was involved in the Scottish Parliament 
Project as a Project Manager between 17 January 1999 and January 2002, as a Senior Project 
Manager between January 2002 and June 2004; and finally as a Project Director from 21 June 2004 until the completion of the project. It is Spring 1999 now and the architects have just submitted incomplete Stage 3 designs with no cost information. Even the brief has not 
been revised! 
You have been talking to your client (Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body­ SPCB) about 
the need to be firmer with the EMBT[1] & RMJM[2] team to deal with the rift between them. 
This rift has been causing severe delays in the delivery of the design information. Although 
your client agreed with your points regarding the need to make sure that the PM function is not 
by­passed and decisions are not made between the client and the architect; and to technically 
scrutinize the designs, they have continued to make decisions directly with Enric Miralles. This 
puts you in a position where you have responsibility but limited power to manage the design 
process! 
th 
Max 1,500 word case analysis and 

[1] The firm of Spanish Architects who designed the building. At the time, EMBT was 
lead by the late Enric Miralles. http://www.mirallestagliabue.com/ 
[2] An international firm of architects based in Edinburgh. Involved in the project to locally 
oversee the design issues, alongside EMBT. http://www.rmjm.com/ 

3 What do I need to do in Part A? 
You need to: 
1. analyse the strained relationship between the Project Sponsor (Mrs Doig) and the former 
project manager (Mr Armstrong), who preceded you and who was responsible for the 
delivery of the new Scottish Parliament Building; 
2. by using literature on the emergence of conflict, its stages, different types of conflict, 
provide a brief background to this conflict; 
3. prepare for a negotiation between yourself (remember you are pretending to be Paul 
Curran) and the Project Sponsor so that the problems she had with Mr Armstrong are not 
repeated; 
4. in preparation for this negotiation: 
•identify your issues and their true priorities, i.e. irreconcilable, neutral, negotiable; and 
•assume your client’s issues and their true priorities; 
5. explain how you identified these issues and justify your decisions; 

6. communicate 1­5 in a case analysis of 1,500 words (maxt. including the Background) 

6 How do I start? 
The Project History area on the Scottish Parliament web­site is a good first port of call to start 
familiarising yourself with the project and its key stages. Holyrood Enquiry web­site provides some insiders information on its management. Chapter 8 is a good place to start. 
The following case study provides a good overview of the project, although its focus is 
communication rather than conflict management. 
Dainty, A., Moore, D. and Murray, M. (2006) “Case Study: the importance of effective 
communication: the design and construction of the new Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh 
1997­2004″, in Dainty, A., Moore, D. and Murray, M. (2006) Communication in Construction, Abingdon: Taylor & Francis. The document can be downloaded here. 
You also need to review the literature on conflict and conflict management in developing your 
strategy. 

7 The Nature of the Expected Relationship between a Project 
Manager and a Project Sponsor 
The following quote illustrates the nature of the expected relationship between a Project 
Manager and a Project Sponsor: 
“The project sponsor and project manager should form an effective partnership with the 
project manager orchestrating all players involved in delivering the project ,whilst the 
project sponsor coordinates all departments of the client organization and associated 
stakeholders so as to integrate the delivered project into the client organization and take full benefits from it such that the business case is fulfilled” (ProjectManager.com,2013) 
This relationship is further explored in the following MSc thesis. You may want to use it as a 
reference. You are NOT expected to read it from cover to cover. 
Makins, J. (2011). Evaluate the impact of the relationship between project manager and project 
sponsor on project performance with emphasis on the final project result and the end effect, unpublished MSc Thesis, University of Technology, Sydney. Available at: http://www.diva­ 
portal.org/smash/get/diva2:507715/FULLTEXT01.pdf 

8 References 
Here are some references to get your reading started: 
1. Al­Tabtabai, H.M. and Thomas, P. V. (2004) “Negotiation and resolution of conflict 
using AHP: an application to project management”, Engineering, Construction and 
Architectural Management, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 90 ­ 100. Read only if you have time. 
2. Chen, M. and Chang, Y. (2005) “The Dynamics of Conflict and Creativity during a 
project’s life cycle: a comparative study between service­driven and technology­driven teams in Taiwan”, International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 127 ­ 150. Read up to the Method section at the very least. 
3. Porter, B.W. and Lilly, S. (1996) “The effects of conflict, trust and task commitment on 
project team performance”, International Journal of Conflict Management, vol. 7, no.4, pp. 361­376. Read up to the Method section at the very least. 
4. Cohn, D. (2005), ‘Appallingly expensive and years late, yet bursting with dreamlike 
bravura, the Scottish Parliament many ultimately be EMBT and RMJM’s bittersweet 
masterpiece’, Architectural Record, 193 (2), pp.98­111 
If you would like to read further on the relationship between effective leadership and handling 
conflict, the following references could be good starting points: 
1. Hede, A. (2007) “The shadow group: Towards an explanation of interpersonal conflict in 
work groups”, Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 22, no.1, pp. 25­39. 
2. Runde, C. E. and Flanagan, T.A. (2013) Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader: How 
You and Your Organization Can Manage Conflict Effectively. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Jossey­Bass. 
Singleton, R., Toombs, L. A., Taneja, S., Larkin, C., Golden Pryor, M. (2011), ‘Workplace 
conflict: A strategic leadership imperative’, International Journal of Business and Public 
Administration, 8 (1), pp. 149­163

 

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