Culture and conflict are inextricably linked, which means that in a conflict there will be different interests and interpretations. This is because, rather than a pure legal or economic concern being at the heart of the debate, there are intrinsic concerns that are less apt to be dealt with rationally (Clark, 2002). If the cultural interests of different stakeholders were tackled “head on” and creatively there may be a solution created; albeit it is clear from that mediation is necessary to find the creative solution (Arai, 2008). Arai (2008) identifies that:
Conflict remains intact as long as parties with different aspirations are unable to interrupt their confrontational patterns of interaction, breaking patterns, which come to form what the parties may consider a conventional reality, invites resistance inevitably (p. 3).
This need for both cognitive and emotive resources illustrates that the rationality alone is not enough to quell a culturally based conflict where the interests of the stakeholders are fundamentally different (i.e. their needs are different (Maslow, 1943)). This will be of especial problem if the internal and external stakeholders have traditionally been in conflict within the traditional social structure (Stephens, 2007).
Thus, new approaches to conflict resolution are necessary. As Arai (2008) goes on to argue:
Taking unconventional action for conflict resolution requires mobilizing the cognitive and emotive resources of the parties and other attentive stakeholders, in such a way as to break the conventional patterns that have sustained their conflict” (p. 3).
The collision of different cultures and beliefs is one of the most difficult areas to ensure that there is a consideration of needs and interests, in order to come to a creative solution. Through the creative solution a transformative for all of the parties can be achieved, which means there is an effective solution changes the communication between internal and external stakeholders, instead of “masking” the internal cultural conflict (Diamond, 1996).
There needs to be mobilization of desire and need at the internal level, in order to engage all of the stakeholders when there is a dispute or planned action (Diamond, 1996). It only takes a few internal stakeholders that are willing to put forward a new hierarchy of needs, in order to develop transforming change to conflict resolution with external stakeholders (Mitchell, 2006). These individuals are identified as heroic transformers (Clark, 2002). Their role is to change the norms of the culture, which means that there has to be a move away from the traditional needs, because there will be reinforcement of beliefs that act as a barrier to a mediated solution between internal and external stakeholders (Clark, 2002). The concept of the heroic transformer will be especially important in security concerns and criminal justice where there is ingrained distrust between the parties (Swanstrom, & Bjornehed, 2004).
The approach to ensure that there is a framework where all stakeholders in the dispute are substantively and equally is important to ensure that there is effective conflict management (Arai, 2008). Through engagement, understanding traditional needs and trying to reframe them through mediation and negotiation can create a solution. However, it is necessary to directly and fairly tackle tensions that are deeply-rooted in the historical and cultural relations between the stakeholders (Davidheiser, 2008). This means that there has to be a changed in the goal posts, which reconfigures what the parties may deem as a win-win situation (Rackham & Carlisle, 1978(a); 1978 (b)). Thus, the language remains a belief that there is win-win, but the transformer is in reality reconfiguring the relationship to prevent traditional tensions from erupting. The question is how one gets to this ideal situation?
The answer can be found in the in four principle of effective mediation identified by Fisher et al (1991). The principles are: 1) to separate the individual stakeholder groups from the problem; 2) to identify the interests and not the positions of the stakeholder groups; 3) to develop options for mutual gain for the stakeholder groups; and 4) in the negotiation ascertain objective criteria for each of the stakeholder groups in order to ascertain their wants, needs, values and negating points (Fisher et al, 1991). The implication is that there is an achievable goal, in which the negotiator can pinpoint the different options to illustrate the best compromise (David, 2006). Thus, the motivations have to be changed between internal and external stakeholders to ensure that there is better compatibility.
Reframing content and need can redirect a conflict, because there is a subtle change within the categories of Maslow’s needs. Maslow (1943) developed a means to identify individual development and motivation, which can be applied to determine stakeholder interests. There are five levels in Maslow’s hierarchy, which are: (1) physiological needs, and in particular the efforts of the automatic function, i.e., hunger, thirst and the need for oxygen as deep sensory pleasures. (2) Security, safety and comfort, freedom from pain or physical attack. (3) Social needs, a sense of belonging, friendship and social activities, i.e. the image of community and familiarity in diversity. It is here that the binding culture of stakeholder groups can start to be reframed. (4) Prestige, i.e. respect, confidence and strength; and (5) self-realization. The heroic transformer will also affect change at the top two echelons, in order to ensure that there is effective conflict management between both internal and external stakeholders (i.e. to ensure that there is transforming change). Thus, there needs to be a new approach to traditional internal/external conflict to ensure there is a solution, which looks past a win-win situation for all parties.