Managing Power and Conflict in Family Business Topic of Seminar at Colorado State May 4

To address the issue of conflict management within the complex dynamics of a family business, the Center for Entrepreneurial and Family Enterprises in the College of Business at Colorado State University has designed a series of workshops.

The first workshop, "Power and Conflict Management in the Family Business," will run 1-5 p.m. May 4 in Room 119 Rockwell Hall on campus.

Family businesses produce about half the Gross Domestic Product in the United States. Colorado’s economy is also strongly impacted by the success of family companies. A mitigating factor between the failure and success of a business is conflict between partners who also happen to be family members.

"Managing differences in perceptions is important for family business partners when dealing with conflict," said Michael Gross, assistant professor of management, who will be leading the workshop. Gross, an expert in conflict resolution and workplace aggression will target conflict orientation and styles, power currencies, and goals.

Learning to manage conflict has helped many successful family businesses in Colorado. Odell Brewing Company is a prosperous family-run business started in 1989 by Doug Odell, his wife Wynne and sister Corkie. "We’ve had conflict issues in the past. In the beginning we would just have meltdowns, made worse by the fact that it was with a family member," said Wynne Odell, who encourages conflict management training. "We learned to deal with the conflict head on by concretely dividing responsibilities, which allowed us to pinpoint the problem without making it personal."

The workshop provides a forum for families to discuss current issues or problems within their businesses and how they can be solved. "Having more than one family member from the business participate in the workshop really creates a rewarding and productive experience," said Anne McCarthy, director of CEFE.

Workshop sponsors include Everitt Companies, Family Business Consultants and Bank One.

For more information or to register for the workshop, contact Courtney Harms at (970) 491-6876, send e-mail to or visit the Web at