Sara Alves da Silva, Patrícia Macedo
School of Technology of Setúbal,Campus do IPS, Setúbal, Portugal
Pedro Antunes
Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisboa, Portugal
Keywords: ADR, Meditation, Collaborative Networks, StoryTelling.
Abstract: Enterprises are nowadays faced with increasing levels of flexibility and customer-orientation. As enterprises
react to this challenge, they intensify their engagement in collaborative networks. Recent studies have
shown that these networks must share goals, have some level of mutual trust, and agree with some practices
and values. Value systems are considered as the ordering and prioritization of the ethical and ideological
values held by collaborative networks. Conciliating different values and priorities may depend on a
mediation process. From an information systems point of view, the mediation process is highly complex
because of the informal and tacit nature of values systems. In this paper we propose using storytelling, an
old technique used to reconstruct past events, to support conflict resolution. The paper presents an analysis
of conflict resolution in collaborative network enterprises supported by the storytelling technique.
The current economic situation is characterized by
the requirement for a flexible and customer oriented
production of goods (Gunasekaran, 2004)
(Wiendalh, 2002). In order to bear those challenges,
many enterprises intensify their engagement in
collaborative network enterprises. Recent studies
have shown that some requirements are necessary to
create such collaborative network enterprises: share
goals between members, have some level of mutual
trust and common infrastructures, and agree totally
or partially with some practices and values
(Camarinha-Matos and H. 2003) (Afsarmanesh,
Social sciences consider Value Systems as the
ordering and prioritization of the ethical and
ideological values held by an individual or society.
Values can be classified as communal or individual.
Communal Value Systems are applied to a
community or society and may be supported by a
legal set of laws and norms.
There are several studies on Value System in
diverse scientific areas, such as Education (Cooley
1977), Organizational Management (Krishnan,
2005) and Information Systems Design
(Shneiderman, 1998). Research in collaborative
network organizations has addressed Value Systems
in diverse ways (Katzy, 1998) (Liu, 2005) (Tan et al.
2004) (M.Jamieson et al. 1986) (Camarinha-Matos
and Abreu 2005) (Afsarmanesh, 2005) (Rezgui et al.
2004). However, none of these studies addressed
Value System analysis in the conflict resolution
Storytelling is a very old technique, possibly
linked to the origins of language, to share values
within communities. Simplicity, flexibility,
informality are characteristics necessary to
encapsulate knowledge, and telling a story is a
natural form to convey it. That is why storytelling in
organizations has been identified as a fundamental
means to share norms and values, among other
things (Lelic, 2001). Stories powerfully convey
norms and values across generations in the
organizations. Such norms and values derive from
the organization’s past but also can shape its future.
Stories highlight future opportunities with important
decision-making information about the past
successes and failures. Organizational members tend
Alves da Silva S., Macedo P. and Antunes P. (2007).
In Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - ISAS, pages 329-333
DOI: 10.5220/0002371503290333
to see stories as a means to understand and commit
to the organizational goals, norms and values
(Brown, 1982). More recently, the storytelling
technique has also been used to reconstructed past
knowledge about important events (Perret et al.
The main goal of this paper is to analyze how
conflict resolution in collaborative network
enterprises may be supported by the storytelling
technique. The next section will introduce the
concept of Value System in the collaborative context
and summarize different contributions from studies
on Values Systems. In the third section, the
mediation/conflict resolution process is explained.
The Storytelling technique is described in section
four. The section five proposes a logical model for
implementing the proposed approach in a network
enterprise. Conclusions and future work are
presented in the last section.
2.1 Overview
In psychology and sociology, values have typically
been conceptualized as shared beliefs about desired
behaviors and end-states (Rokeach, 1973). These
shared beliefs address goal pursuit processes and
outcomes. Merton (1957) advocates that the cultural
objectives of an organizational unit are the “Things
worth striving for” - what has outcome value in the
culture. Value has also been defined as “relative
worth, utility, or importance: degree of excellence.”
(Webster, 1989) This definition highlights the fact
that object’s value depends on the “standard” that is
used in evaluation. Depending on the standard, the
same object may be valuated differently. Inside an
organization, cultural and social values are used as
referential for evaluations. The set of values
accepted by an individual or society define their
value systems.
This concept has been studied and applied by
diverse researchers. The philosopher Robert
Hartman developed Formal Axiology, which is a
branch of Axiology (a general theory about human
values, their origins, interrelationships and
dynamics) attempting to apply mathematical
formalisms to specify values and value systems.
Hartman (1973) defined value in terms of a logic-
based axiom. The axiom is that value can be
objectively determined according to a one-to-one
correspondence between the properties of a given
object and the specifications contained in its
conceptualization. An object has value to the extent
it fulfils its conceptualization (Mefford and Meffortd
1997). Hartman also introduced the concept of
dimension of value and developed the basic axioms
through this concept. He defines three dimensions:
systematic value, extrinsic value and intrinsic value.
Hartman defends that the foundational concepts of
Axiology provide a framework for understanding an
object’s value and its valuations, based on the three
dimensions mentioned above.
Goguen and Linde (1994; 1997; 2004) developed
since 1978 several studies about values and value
systems in organizations. They proposed a method,
using discourse analysis, to elicit the organizations’
value systems from a collection of stories told by the
members of the organization on informal occasions.
The evaluative material collected from these stories
is classified and represented using a formal structure
designated value system tree (Goguen, 1994). A
value system tree serves as a formal summary of the
interpretations made the analysts from the collected
Other contributions to the study of values
systems came from the Distributed Artificial
Intelligence discipline. This discipline has developed
several theories about value systems using agents.
For instance, (Filipe, 2003) proposed an approach
based on organizational agents, where each agent is
responsible for representing its own values and value
system based on preferences with respect to norms.
2.2 Value Systems in the Collaborative
Network Enterprise Context
A collaborative network enterprise is defined as a
temporary alliance of enterprises which come
together, sharing skills, core competencies and
resources in order to better respond to business
opportunities (Camarinha-Matos and H. 2003).
In the network, each organization has its own
organizational culture and beliefs, which are mapped
in its value system.
As mentioned before, values have typically been
conceptualized as shared beliefs about processes and
outcomes. So, the choices and processes in an
organization are directly influenced by its value
system. Working in a collaborative network
environment involves sharing decision-making. As
decision-making depends on the referential used to
evaluate alternative procedures, the decision-making
process is strongly influenced by the value system of
each network member.
The value system and the value system model are
distinct objects. The conceptual model of a value
system is a theoretical construct that represents the
perceived reality, with a set of variables and a set of
logical and quantitative relationships between them.
ICEIS 2007 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
The construction of the value system model for
each organization supports several activities during
the collaborative network enterprise life-cycle, such
as: partner selection, at the creation phase; adoption
of norms, during the configuration phase; conflict
resolution and relationship management, during the
operation phase; and norms adjustment and new
member selection, during the reconfiguration phase.
Conflict is usually defined as the “state of
opposition, disagreement or incompatibility between
two or more people or groups of people”. In a
positive approach, conflicts are regarded a way of
learning and developing social and communication
abilities. This approach is supported by the belief
that different points of view challenge the human
comprehension and perception of new ideas.
Analyzing collaborative network enterprises,
according to the values systems context, conflicts
appear as the clash of different value elements:
objects, activities and choices. The level of conflict
depends on the order and prioritization given by an
organization to those value elements. In (Weber,
1967), the author defends that the value given to an
object, activity and choice depends on the cultural
and socialization aspects of the society. Culture
involves a community of individuals who
collaborate with the purpose to construct a shared
reality of the world around them. This constructed
shared reality is unique to humans. What is special
about cultural values is not their abstract nature,
such as freedom or equality as values, but the fact
that people recognize those values as being shared
with others. In the organizational context, values
support the organizational culture and are the
starting point of a conflict.
As said above, when two distinct organizations
prioritize values in a different way, it is natural that
conflicts occur. Resolving a conflict in a
collaborative network enterprise, requires a conflict
resolution process, which must be carefully chosen
to support and maintain the organizations’
relationship (CCE, 2002). It is very important that
the conflict resolution process satisfies the
organizations’ interests, naturally associated to their
value systems.
Value system conflicts are a specific kind of
conflict that may challenge the organizational
culture, the collaborative network enterprise and the
future relationships within the network. The conflict
resolution process must provide a way of sharing
and understanding the differences, so that the final
result meets both parties’ interests to an acceptable
degree (Goodim, 1999). Mediation is a well known
conflict resolution process in the legal field, used as
an alternative to the traditional litigation process,
and fits the requirements mentioned before
(Advogados, 2004). This process has an informal
nature in which a trained mediator assists the parties
reaching a negotiated resolution. The mediator does
not decide who is right or wrong and has no
authority to impose a settlement. Instead, the
mediator helps the parties jointly exploring and
reconciling their differences (Relvas et al. 2004).
Managing the knowledge about each enterprise
value system and the information flows is the key
for success in this process.
Stories are a universal means of communication,
allowing the representation and organization of
complex knowledge (Laurel, 1993). A human being
uses stories because in a deep mind level s/he knows
that stories are an excellent, fast and simple
mechanism form knowledge dissemination.
Storytelling is a method based on the act of telling a
story (Lelic, 2001), aiming at capturing and
disseminating knowledge.
Figure 1: The StoryTelling Method.
Organizations are nowadays aware of the
importance of organizational knowledge, and realize
that such knowledge is mostly informal and can not
be put into categorical or analytical forms, specialy
when groups of people and cedision-making
processes are involved. In order to solve this
problem, organizations develop multiple
mechanisms for managing tacit and informal
knowledge. Stories provide one possible solution to
this problem (Perret et al. 2004).
In storytelling, a story is assembled by events,
and events are elicited from different people in
Element 1
Element 2
Element 3
Event 1.1
Event 2.1
Event 1.2
Event 3.2
Event 3.1
Event 1.1
Event 2.1
Event 1.2
Event 3.2
Event 3.1
Fase 1
Event 3.1
Event 1.1
Event 1.2
Event 3.2
Event 1.2
Neutra l Element
Final Result
Fase n
StoryTelling session
storytelling sessions. These sessions consist of
communication and argumentation processes, in
which every person contributes, in an informal way,
with his or her own view. A preliminary story may
constructed after capturing all the events and giving
them an order, following the perceived relations
between the available events (phase 1). With the
contribution of a neutral element, events may then
be analyzed in detail and re-arranged, to produce a
more elaborate story, where gaps may have been
removed and the causal relationships are more
thouroughly specified (phase 2). Figure 1 illustrates
the storytelling process conducted by a group of
As the result of several research studies,
storytelling in organizations is considered a mean to
share norms and values, develop trust and
commitment, and share tacit knowledge. To develop
trust and commitment, stories transmit the diversity
of competencies and commitments of oneself and
others. Revealing personal stories may expose one’s
competence and commitment to values, as well as
signal trust and willingness to collaborate.
Relativelly to sharing tacit knowledge, stories are
also an efficient mean to exchange entrenched
knowledge and transform tacit knowledge into
explicit knowledge (Denning, 2002).
Values and norms are defined and maintained as
the result of individual’s commitment to stories, and
thus the organization depends on them to preserve
the values system.
As mentioned in session 2, different values systems
might produce conflicts in the inter-organizational
context. The outcomes of the mediation process
provide the required understanding of the
differences and satisfy the organizational interests in
solving the conflict. And the storytelling technique
may support this mediation process. Storytelling
provides a simple and informal mechanism to
organize and inter-connect the information generated
in a mediation process. During the mediation
process, several arguments are exposed, and these
arguments need clarified and structured. This
process will allow a better comprehension for those
We propose a conflict resolution model, based on
storytelling, structuring the different elements of the
enterprises’ value systems, as shown in figure 2. The
major model components are Values system model
that supplies information about each organization’s
values system and Storytelling component that
captures structures and displays events and their
causal relationships.
Figure 2: Conflict resolution model.
The storytelling component integrates the stories
produced by the organizational elements involved in
the conflict with the information stored in the value
system model component. It is not enough to build a
story based on the arguments produced during the
mediation session. Opposite elements will better
comprehend the other side if the arguments
produced be associated, integrated with the
organizational values.
In the process of capturing events, the
storytelling component in addition stores the
experience of the participants with the conflict
resolution process.
Studies in Social Psychology sustain that values
come from experiences (Higgins, 1996), and these
experiences, as outcomes of the conflict resolution
process, should also be added to the values system
model component. This knowledge may be used to
solve future conflicts, and contributes to the network
ICEIS 2007 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Norms and values are very important assets in
organizations. Collaborative network sustainability
depends on conflict resolution processes and the
means used to achieve it. We present a possible
approach to conflict resolution and network
sustainability based on the values system theory and
the storytelling technique. The proposed solution
utilizes the storytelling technique, to identify and
organize events which, when combined with models
of the different values system of the participants
involved in the process, facilitate conflict resolution.
The implementation of the value system model and
storytelling components is now in progress.
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