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The evaporating cloud: a tool for resolving workplace conflict

Mahesh Gupta (University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
Lynn Boyd (University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
Frank Kuzmits (University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




This article has two purposes. The first is to synthesize the important current concepts, definitions, and styles of resolving and/or managing workplace conflicts. The second is to introduce a systematic approach to resolving workplace conflicts.


Historical approaches to conflict management are briefly reviewed and Goldratt's evaporating cloud is introduced as a structured approach to achieving win‐win solutions to workplace conflicts. A comprehensive case is used to demonstrate the application of the suggested approach.


Goldratt's evaporating cloud provides a systematic approach to identifying the conflicting needs or interests of the parties to a conflict, and a process for making explicit the assumptions underlying the conflict and challenging their validity, leading to win‐win solutions to workplace conflicts. The evaporating cloud incorporates well‐accepted principles of achieving win‐win solutions and complements existing approaches.

Research limitations/implications

Although there is a growing community of users of the evaporating cloud, it is still a relatively new approach. Although anecdotal examples of applications of the cloud have been published in trade journals, web sites and conference proceedings, additional empirical research should be done to evaluate the usefulness of the cloud in resolving workplace conflicts once a critical mass of users exists.

Practical implications

The evaporating cloud is a practical and intuitive tool that can be used by employees at all levels of an organization to understand and resolve conflicts.


The paper identifies the shortcomings of existing conflict management approaches and shows how the evaporating cloud complements existing approaches. In addition, the applicability of the cloud to a wide range of workplace conflicts, from intra‐personal to inter‐organizational, is demonstrated.



Gupta, M., Boyd, L. and Kuzmits, F. (2011), "The evaporating cloud: a tool for resolving workplace conflict", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 394-412.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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