Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science


faculty, Interpersonal skills, nursing, nursing school


The purpose of this study was to identify a substantive theory to explain and predict interpersonal conflict as it is experienced by nursing faculty. Gaining an understanding of this process may assist faculty and administrators of nursing education programs in dealing with interpersonal conflict in more constructive and helpful ways. It may also provide the basis for further development of formal theory and the potential for theory testing. The grounded theory method described by Glaser and Strauss (1967) and Glaser (1978) guided data collection and analysis. The sample was comprised of 18 full-time nursing faculty members from the field site and five other schools of nursing. Data were collected over the course of an academic semester using methods common to field research. The constant comparative method to data analysis was used. As the process evolved it was taken back to informants for further verification and validation of its accuracy. Nursing faculty respond to conflict using four response patterns that are selected based on a careful risk/benefit analysis of the interpersonal dynamics of the situation. The four-stage process of experiencing, making sense, responding, and working through conflict was carried out within the context of the basic social process, self-preserving. Surviving conflict over the long term is viewed as a growth process that includes the learning of behaviors that are self-preserving. The implications of this study are that it provides a basis for further theory development related to how people experience interpersonal conflict. It describes the process used by nursing faculty when interpersonal conflict occurs and identifies interpersonal conflict as a stressful component of the work environment for faculty. Further, it identifies low self-esteem as a possible factor in the development of conflict and in the way it is worked through.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons