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Conflict Resolution Institute

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Faculty Spotlight

Cynthia Fukami

Cynthia Fukami, Professor, Department of Management, Daniels College of Business and a member of CRI's faculty.

Daniels College of Business Professor of Management Cynthia Fukami started working in conflict resolution primarily in the field of labor relations, having earned her M.A. degree in organizational behavior from the University of Illinois Institute of Labor & Industrial Relations. Her Ph.D. is also in organizational behavior though her work focused more on employee relations. She is a Fellow of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and was a Carnegie Scholar for Th e Carnegie Teaching Academy.

Prof. Fukami became one of the first members of the Conflict Resolution Institute core faculty, which started forming in 1998. Director Prof. Karen Feste invited her to join due to her expertise in conflict in organizational dynamics -- a course required for all conflict resolution students, as well as her expertise in negotiation and labor relations, areas which hold the interest of many CRI students. 

Conflict resolution skills are further developed Prof. Fukami's courses on Negotiation and Strategic Human Resources, her Executive MBA course on Power and Influence and a course on Leadership, Teams and Values which involves sailing the British Virgin Islands while living in very close quarters. Before they depart, she advises students to say what is bugging them early and often to avoid the build-up of resentment which typically results in a more explosive conflict later.

As a Carnegie Scholar for The Carnegie Teaching Academy, Prof. Fukami worked on projects that explored better ways to use teams in classrooms, and she stresses the importance of early team building to create an environment of openness and supportiveness so issues can be addressed productively. Unfortunately, not everyone is responsive to this approach. She is occasionally sent students from other classes who were involved in conflicts that had already escalated beyond any hope in creating such an environment due to their reluctance to discuss things early and often. Prof. Fukami's current research is in scholarship for teaching and learning. 

This fall, Fukami will be on sabbatical to study scholarship for teaching in learning in Asia. As Editor for The SAGE Handbook of Management Learning, Education and Development (2009), she noticed there were no authors from this important region. Some of the questions her research will address include: Do universities in Asia devote resources to teaching and learning? Why or why not? And if so, why the disconnect with the work being performed and published in the West?

During her sabbatical, Fukami will be visiting a Center for Teaching and Learning in Taiwan and explore the topic further in Hong Kong, Toyko, Kyoto and Taipei.

Typically scholarship in teaching and learning in the West requires a very collaborative methodology between students and professors, but in many Asian cultures, there is a much greater power distance between students and professors, so how would such methodologies be different? One element that exists across all cultures is that in business, everyone negotiates every day, even though what and how negotiations take place can differ widely. But Prof. Fukami finds beauty in conflict resolution as it is a skill that can continually be improved. 

She recommends every student read William Ury's Getting to Yes because she sees how easy it is to find collaborative solutions if the right attitudes and approaches are there. Success in business in the future will require a more collaborative/less competitive approach. For non-business students or those who do not see the value in such skills professional, she says this book at the very least will help future parents negotiate with their children.

Professor Cynthia Fukami can be reached at

-- Autumn Gorman