Case 11.1: Conflict at Walt Disney Company: A Distant Memory?
1. Michael Eisner, former CEO strained several important relationships to the Walt Disney Company because of his abrasive style and tendency toward micromanagement. During his 22-year tenure at Walt Disney, ex-CEO Eisner fought with the Miramax founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein over financial details relating to the purchase of Miramax. Eisner also bumped heads with Steve Jobs, ex-CEO of animated film producer Pixar and Apple Computer, over comments that Eisner made while testifying about movie piracy in front of Congress. The conflict between the CEOs of these organizations is considered a dysfunctional conflict. According to Ivancevich, Konospaske and Matteson, dysfunctional conflict is a confrontation or interaction between groups that harms the organization or hinders the achievement of organizational goals. 2. The conflict between Michael Eisner and Steve Jobs seems to have been caused by Jobs’ personal perception of Eisner’s comments while testifying in the piracy case. Ivancevich, Konopaske and Matteson explain that the final stage of the conflict process is manifest. The authors explain that at the manifest conflict stage, the conflicting parties are actively engaging in conflict behavior. Manifest conflict is usually very apparent to noninvolved parties as was the case between Eisner and Jobs. 3. This case portraits Eisner as having a dominating approach to conflict resolution. Ivancevich, Konopaske and Matteson describe that dominating tends to be a power-oriented approach. Iger’s approach to conflict seems to be more of a compromising approach. The case describes how soon after Iger took over as CEO at Disney, he reached out and reconciled relationships with the Weinstein brothers by making a settlement payment. Iger also reconciled relationships with Steve Jobs and Pixar by adding Jobs to the Disney Board of Directors. The authors explain that the use of the...
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