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Tips for Resolving Family Conflicts in Campus Life - Case Study


Case #1: Campus Life Problem: Family Conflicts


Background. John Saunders is the second son in a middle-class family. Growing up in the Midwest, he had always planned on going to “State U,” getting a business degree, and then going out into the business world to make his fortune. His parents have supported him in his endeavors and are currently helping by paying a portion of his tuition.

Tha Goo Chi is an only child. Her parents, who had both come to America as poor Chinese immigrants, have worked hard to make a home in America. Her father is now a prominent doctor and her mother is a professor at the University. Tha has been raised in an environment where one is taught to respect the words of their elders and play a subservient role to them. Her parents have always wanted Tha to have an easier life than they had, and they believe that starts with a good education. They have paid for her education all along and plan on continuing to support her until she gets her doctorate.

After meeting in an Introduction to Management small-group discussion, John and Tha have now been dating seriously for over a year. This is John’s last year before he graduates, and he is now ready to settle down with Tha, a woman with whom he thinks he can be happy. They have talked about marriage, and both have agreed that eventually they would be married, perhaps after Tha gets her degree, which is still two years away.

John has brought up his plans to his parents on several occasions. At first they questioned his judgment. However, after talking over his plans and explaining his feelings, his parents gradually came to accept his situation and wish him the best for the future. Tha’s parents have always been curious about her relationship with John. They think John is a good person, but they want the relationship to remain as just friends.

When John visits Tha, her parents are always cordial. However, they frequently mention their wish for Tha to finish her schooling and then marry a distinguished Asian gentleman. John has never approached Tha’s parents about his future plans with Tha, and wishes that Tha would tell them her intentions. She has attempted to bring up her feelings for John to her parents, but they insist on her marrying an Asian man.

Situation. John stops by Tha’s room after just passing an important test in advanced accounting. He is happy because he is now getting an A in this class, which will virtually guarantee him a job with the company where he is interviewing. Things are moving quickly, important pieces of his future are falling into place, and he wants to make sure his most important “piece” will also be there.


He has been questioning Tha a lot in the past few weeks about what she has told her parents about them. She is getting sick of all this badgering. After all, she says, there is still a lot of time left. John doesn’t understand why she doesn’t resolve the problem like he did with his parents. Tha says he doesn’t understand. John says that if she wouldn’t be so stubborn and follow his example, things would be all right. At this point they get into a fight and John storms out of the room, saying, “Obviously you love your family more than me!”



· What type of conflict is this?

· What barriers exist between the characters that prevent communication?

· If you were Tha’s friend and she asked you for advice on how to resolve this conflict, what advice would you give her?

· This should be one page long.


Case #2: Can’t Believe the Rumours!


Tammy Reinhold didn’t believe the rumors. Now that the rumors were confirmed, she was in denial. “I can’t believe it,” she said. I’ve worked as a greeting card artist here for 17 years. I love what I do. Now they tell me that I’m going to have to do all my work on a computer.” The company’s other two artists, were just as concerned. Each had graduated from art school near the top of their class. They chose the company, which had been around for more than 50 years, because of its reputation as a good place to work.  


Wisconsin Art and Greetings is a small maker of greeting cards and specialty wrapping paper. It has modest resources and modest ambitions. Management has always pursued progress slowly. Maybe that’s why it was so late in introducing computerized technology in its production operations. Cortland Gray, the company’s owner, called Tammy, Mike, and Maggie into his office this morning. He told them about the changes and acknowledged that the three were going to have a lot to learn to be able to do all their work on computers. But he stressed that the changes would dramatically speed up the art-production and result in significant cost savings. He offered to send the three to a one-week course specifically designed to train artists in the new technology. Technology was coming to Wisconsin Art & Greetings and there wasn’t much Tammy could do about it… other than to complain or look for another job!


Imagine that you are Courtland Gray. It is six months earlier, and you have just been to the national Greeting Card Manufacturer’s conference. While you were there, you heard some amazing storiesother companies had reduced their costs by 50% and speeded up their production time by 25% when using the new computerized technology. However, many companies had to downsize to see the savings from using computers. You don’t want to do thisyou believe that you can come up with a new approach, taking advantage of both the talents of your artists and the computerized process to achieve a significant competitive advantage in the industry.


When you get back from the conference, you notice that you have a regularly scheduled meeting with the Wisconsin Art & Greetings artists. Address the class as if you were addressing the artists at that meeting. Your job is to begin the process of establishing a climate of positivity, creating readiness, articulating a vision of abundance, and generating commitment. Ideally, your meeting will prevent Tammy from feeling like she has no choice but to complain or look for another job!



1. What did Courtland Gray do right in this case? What strengths can he build on to help people prepare to implement change?

2. What are Tammy Reinhold’s strengths? How can Courtland Gray utilize those strengths during the transition to a computerized process?

3. How can you improve your ability to create a climate of positivity in your career?





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