From international wars to organizational mishaps; conflict is a broad theme that touches on much of the research done by Faculty researchers.

Gaming is a cause for aggression

According to Prof. dr. Elly Konijn, violent games make young people aggressive. She researches the effects of violent computer games for the research programme “Communication Choices, Content and Consequences: new media, new methods”. In an article for the Journal of Adolescence of February 2012 she and two colleagues write that poorly educated boys are more attracted to violent computer games and also judge them to be more realistic than highly educated boys. In an interview in Ad Valvas she stressed that the more real a game appears to us the more chance there is that the aggression from the game is transported to real life situations.

Fraud and corruption in The Netherlands

Fraud is also present in a highly developed country like The Netherlands. Researchers of the Governance Studies department investigate the integrity of the Dutch public administrations. The emeritus professor Prof. dr. Hans van den Heuvel and his colleague Prof. dr. Leo Huberts study the occurrences of fraud in the Province of Noord-Holland and frequently comment in the media on publicly announced cases of corruption, conflict of interest and breaches of integrity. Dr. Gjalt de Graaf examines cases of conflicting values within the public administration. Transparency, integrity, honesty, efficiency and effectiveness are highly valued within the public administration but they can also lead to dilemmas in day to day practice. The research is part of the research program of Governance Studies: New Public Governance.

Citizens in wartime situations

Prof. dr. Marlies Glasius has been appointed as endowed professor “Citizens Involvement in War Zones and Post-Conflict Zones” since the first of January 2012. She follows in the footsteps of prof. dr. Mient-Jan Faber who held this position since April 2004. The Endowed chair is a cooperation of VU University and the Interkerkelijk Vredesberaad (IKV). Marlies Glasius examines the activities of citizens in wartime situations, with special attention for occurrences of civil defense when the state and international organizations fail. “Citizens will always do everything to protect themselves in wartime and make their living conditions as optimal as possible”, she says. “Their efforts vary from keeping water supply and electricity going, procuring food supplies and communicating with the outside world to actively taking up arms to defend themselves or fleeing the area.” Marlies will studies humanitarian interventions and the effects and effectiveness of international criminal tribunals. She furthermore researches what Dutch citizen activist movements mean by ‘civilian security’ and if that relates to, or differs from, the conception of the term in conflict areas.  The Endowed chair is part of the research programme of Political Science:  Multi-layered governance in Europe and beyond.

Conflicts and mistakes in Organizations

Conflict can also be studied in the context of organizations. Members of the research programme "Organizations and Processes of Organizing in Society" of the Department of Organizational Sciences do just that. Dr. Maria Dijkstra for instance examines conflict management in organizations. Conflict at work is both undesirable and inevitable. Maria’s research focus therefore is the relation between  conflict management at work and the consequences for the (wellbeing of) employees and the organization. Dr. Kees Boersma investigates the collaboration and problems that occur between police, fire and ambulance services. Prof. dr. Alfons van Marrewijk and Dr. Sierk Ybema focus on cross-cultural cooperation within and between organizations. Dr. Cathy van Dyck examines mistakes made in organizations. Do the employees admit to making mistakes or do they hide them? Do people take responsibility for their mistakes or do they shift the blame to someone else? Is the organizational focus on repairing and learning from mistakes  or does the organization neglect this stage and why? Learning from mistakes is also a research theme for Dr. Dick de Gilder. Hospitals have the social responsibility and pressure to function almost flawlessly but are also committed to letting employees report mistakes they've made. In an interview he states: "It's of the utmost importance for organizations to unearth mistakes because it would otherwise be impossible to learn anything from them."

Citizenship in Latin America

Dr. Ton Salman’s research of the experiences and practice of citizenship in Latin America touches upon the  power imbalance that prevails in the continent. There’s conflict about who has (access to) power, about how citizenship is defined and shaped, the principle that everybody should be equal and about which strategies people use to survive in a world of exclusionism. Ethnic differences add an extra dimension to the conflicts because they sharpen notions of civility and collective versus individual rights. Ton’s studies are part of the research programme of Social and Cultural Anthropology: Constructing human security in a globalizing world.