“Don’t confuse conflict with indecision, stress, disagreement, or other common experiences that may cause, or be caused by conflict. ” – Anonymous “The harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph” -Thomas Paine “…the stage when people have got know to each other a bit and norms of conduct have been established and there is agreement of kind about what the purpose of the group is. This stage is marked by conflict and a “struggle for power”…
The stage of conflict is absolutely necessary if the group is to be more than a “joining of forces” or “federation”, and if it is to generate some new quality that wasn’t there before; conflict is necessary to bring out the different conceptions that have hitherto lain dormant…” – Stanford & Roak Table of Contents Introduction3 What Is Conflict? 4 Reasons for Conflict5 Conflict Management6 Conflict and Unit Performance6 Conflict Resolution Techniques7 Conflict Simulation Techniques7 Case Study8 Conflict Style Inventory10 Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument11
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Two-dimensional Model of Conflict-handling Behavior 12 Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory13 Sample Test13 The Universal Approach To Handling Conflict16 The Right Attitude16 The Right Skills17 Basic Steps to Handle Conflict17 Bibliography19 Introduction “A conflict exists when two people wish to carry out acts which are mutually inconsistent. They may both want to do the same thing, such as eat the same apple, or they may want to do different things where the different things are mutually incompatible, such as when they both want to stay together but one wants to go to the cinema and the other to stay at home.
A conflict is resolved when some mutually compatible set of actions is worked out. The definition of conflict can be extended from individuals to groups (such as states or nations), and more than two parties can be involved in the conflict. The principles remain the same. ” (M. Nicholson: Rationality and the Analysis of International Conflict. 1992:11) The analysis, prevention, management, or resolution of conflicts does not aim at the elimination of conflict, and aims even less at the elimination of opposing interests.
Its aim is the search for such forms of conflict behaviour which allow a non-violent handling of interest oppositions in an orderly, pre-arranged process, the course and result of which will be accepted by all parties involved be it out of well-understood, rationally calculated self-interest or out of respect for the “shadow of the future” (i. e. the expectation of a retaliatory action of the other side if one disappoints its expectations). This research paper will answer what conflict is and why it occurs and will highlight the right ‘approaches to handling conflict’ and use it as a positive influence.
What Is Conflict? conflict ???n. 1. a. state of opposition. B. fight, struggle. 2. (often foll. by of) clashing of opposed interests etc. ???v. clash; be incompatible. “The interaction and clash of actions, goals, and desires” 1con???flict -1 a: competitive or opposing action of incompatibles : antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons) b: mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands 3: the opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction
A process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about. Feelings involved in conflict: Negative Feelings Before or During ConflictPositive Feelings After Proper Handling of Conflict HurtCared for ScaredConfident FrightenedRelieved IgnoredListened to ConfusedClear with things IsolatedMore intimate with others ChallengedChallenged to grow ThreatenedOpen to truth UnwantedAccepted by others DislikedRespected Put downSupported ControlledUnderstood
JudgmentalAccepting of differences There are 4 major elements that that define a conflict situation. These are: 1. Dependency 2. Blame 3. Anger 4. Performance In order to identify if these elements exist in a situation, the following four questions should be answered: 1. Do the participants need something from each other? 2. Do the participants blame or find fault with each other? 3. Do the participants seem upset or get emotional? 4. Does the participants’ performance or productivity suffer? There are two ways of viewing conflict : 1. Functional Conflict
Conflict that supports the goals of the group and improves its performance. 2. Dysfunctional Conflict Conflict that hinders group performance. Reasons for Conflict In order to identify the cause ask the following questions: ???How did the conflict begin? ???How did it escalate? ???What were you thinking and feeling? Is the answer any of the below? 1. I felt threatened 2. I had to “win at all costs” 3. There was a power struggle 4. I suppressed my emotions 5. Our needs were incompatible 6. I was unwilling to consider a different opinion or idea 7. I didn’t feel valued
The primary causes of most conflicts are: ???Differences ???Needs ???Perceptions ???Power ???Values These ingredients are not negative items. Instead, they become the causes of conflict when they are not understood and accepted. Conflict Management The use of resolution and stimulation techniques to achieve the desired level of conflict. Conflict and Unit Performance Conflict Resolution Techniques 1. Problem solving 2. Super ordinate goals 3. Expansion of resources 4. Avoidance 5. Smoothing 6. Compromise 7. Authoritative command 8. Altering the human variable 9.
Altering the structural variables Conflict Simulation Techniques 1. Communication 2. Bringing in outsiders 3. Restructuring the organization 4. Appointing a devil’s advocate Case Study Vivian and you work at the same advertising agency and share an office and a budget. The current project the two of you are working on involves producing a magazine ad for a client Vivian attracted to your firm. Vivian feels that she should be in charge of the project in that she recruited the client. She envisions an elaborate ad, complete with expensive artwork and many colors.
You think a simple ad is better to the product being advertised (a line of diapers), but your main concern is the cost. You don’t want to blow your entire quarterly budget on just one overdone ad. As your conflict with Vivian drags on, the boss becomes more and more agitated over the slow progress of the work and the bickering between the two of you. At the end of an especially tiring day, the boss marches into your office and forcefully orders the ad finished by tomorrow night. After the boss leaves, Vivian turns to you and says, “See what you’ve done? I’m getting blamed for your stubbornness.
I got the client, so I’ll decide the ad! Stop fighting me on this! ” How would you respond? 1. You counter, “I’m not going to give in on this, and that’s final! There’s no way I’m going to let you win on this thing! My ideas on the ad are better, and I think the boss will agree. ” 2. You respond, “Well, if you’re going to get so uptight about this, go ahead and do it your way. ” 3. You say nothing, and wish Vivian a good evening and go home. 4. You retort, “Look, Vivian, I’ve been working here longer than you have and I know what’s best for this company.
When you’ve been here a few more years maybe you’ll be able to see things more clearly. ” 5. You offer, “Well, if you’ll cut out four of the ten colors I’ll go along with your idea of having tennis shoes on the baby while he’s getting changed. ” The option a person chooses to handle such a situation depicts his/her conflict handling style/approach. Option 1 – The Conquest Approach Solving a conflict using the conquest approach is more about winning the conflict rather than resolving it. People using this approach believe that they are right and the person they defeat is wrong.
In reality though, conflicts are not to be won or lost, they are to be only resolved. Some problems with this approach are: ???Power is used destructively ???The dominant person has an unfair advantage ???The “loser” may seek revenge ???It fosters competition instead of cooperation Option 2 – The Band-Aid Approach The band-aid approach is a “quick fix” to a conflict situation. It provides the illusion that the conflict has been settled, but it doesn’t address the issue that caused the conflict. Some of the problems with this approach are: While the illusion of resolution is created, underlying issues are not addressed ???The solution is temporary Option 3 – The Avoidance Approach People who practice the avoidance approach spend a lot of time avoiding conflict in the hopes that it will disappear. Such people may be proponents of the “time heals all wounds” philosophy. Even if they acknowledge that a conflict exists, they may try to divert conversation around it by focusing on peripheral issues. Some of the problems with this approach are: ???Postponement of a conflict may worsen it ???Frustrations increase Misperceptions aren’t clarified and resolved ???Your opportunities for personal growth decrease Option 4 – The Role Player Approach A person who responds to conflict using a role player approach is trying to limit or control the situation by only addressing specific needs of the people involved as they pertain to the role they are playing instead of addressing the needs of the whole person. Some of the problems with this approach are: ???An adversarial relationship is created ???Conflict resolution options are decreased Option 5 – The Bargaining Approach
Bargaining is often a game to the person employing this approach and rarely do any of the conflict participants have their needs met. While this idea of compromise is alluring, the end result can be something that neither party finds acceptable. Some of the problems with this approach are that it: ???Focuses on the demands of the people involved instead of on their needs and values ???Dictates that a worth be assigned to feelings and emotions ???Instigates a coercive power play to see who can get the most and give up the least ???Causes spin-off conflicts in new areas as individuals try to gain an advantage
Conflict Style Inventory A conflict style inventory is a written tool for gaining insight into how people respond to conflict. Typically, a user answers a set of questions about their responses to conflict and is scored accordingly. Most people develop a patterned response to conflict based on their life history and history with others. This response may fit some situations well, but may be ineffective or destructive in other circumstances. The goal is to increase people’s awareness of their own patterns and bring more options and flexibility within reach.
Conflict resolution teachers and trainers, mediators, organizational consultants, and human resource managers use conflict style inventories in their work to help people reflect on and improve their responses to conflict. Awareness of styles helps people recognize that they have choices in how to respond to conflict. Since each style has a preferred way of interacting with others in conflict, style awareness also can greatly assist people in meeting the needs of those they live and work with. The most widely used conflict style inventories are based on the Mouton Blake Axis which posits five styles of conflict response.
These include the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, a standard since the 1960s, and the Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory, a more recent publication that is culturally sensitive. Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode instrument uses the Mouton and Blake axes. This instrument is designed to measure a person’s behavior in conflict situations. An individual’s behavior can be described along two basic dimensions: (1) assertiveness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy his own concerns, and (2) cooperativeness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy the other person’s concerns.
These two basic dimensions of behavior define five different modes for responding to conflict situations: 1. Competing is assertive and uncooperative — an individual pursues his own concerns at the other person’s expense. This is a power-oriented mode in which you use whatever power seems appropriate to win your own position — your ability to argue, your rank, or economic sanctions. Competing means “standing up for your rights,” defending a position which you believe is correct, or simply trying to win. 2. Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative — the complete opposite of competing.
When accommodating, the individual neglects his own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person; there is an element of self-sacrifice in this mode. Accommodating might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, obeying another person’s order when you would prefer not to, or yielding to another’s point of view. 3. Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative — the person neither pursues his own concerns nor those of the other individual. Thus he does not deal with the conflict. Avoiding might take the form of diplomatically idestepping an issue, postponing an issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation. 4. Collaborating is both assertive and cooperative — the complete opposite of avoiding. Collaborating involves an attempt to work with others to find some solution that fully satisfies their concerns. It means digging into an issue to pinpoint the underlying needs and wants of the two individuals. Collaborating between two persons might take the form of exploring a disagreement to learn from each other’s insights or trying to find a creative solution to an interpersonal problem. . Compromising is moderate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. The objective is to find some expedient, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties. It falls intermediate between competing and accommodating. Compromising gives up more than competing but less than accommodating. Likewise, it addresses an issue more directly than avoiding, but does not explore it in as much depth as collaborating. In some situations, compromising might mean splitting the difference between the two positions, exchanging concessions, or seeking a quick middle-ground solution.
Two-dimensional Model of Conflict-handling Behavior Each of us is capable of using all five conflict-handling modes. None of us can be characterized as having a single style of dealing with conflict. But certain people use some modes better than others and, therefore, tend to rely on those modes more heavily than others — whether because of temperament or practice. Your conflict behavior in the workplace is therefore a result of both your personal predispositions and the requirements of the situation in which you find yourself. The Conflict Mode Instrument is designed to measure this mix of conflict-handling modes.
Strengths The TKI is quick to administer and interpret. It takes about 15 minutes to answer the questions, and an hour or so for interpretation by a trainer. There are some interpretation materials helping users identify appropriate use of the styles and to help them become more comfortable with styles they are less familiar with. The TKI is widely known and is available in English, French, and Spanish versions. Weaknesses The TKI is a forced choice questionnaire, which some users find frustrating. It assumes that all users have similar cultural background.
Some trainers report frustration among users from minority backgrounds or in use outside the United States. Its interpretation materials are not extensive. Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory The Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory (KCSI) is a conflict style inventory developed by Ronald S. Kraybill in the 1980s. Like the widely-used Thomas Kilmann Inventory (TKI), it is built around the Mouton-Blake grid and identifies five styles of responding to conflict, calling them Directing, Harmonizing, Avoiding, Cooperating, and Compromising. An unusual feature is that its Expanded Version is culturally sensitive.
Users are instructed to identify whether they are from an individualistic (eg: white, Anglo North American) or collectivistic (eg: black, Hispanic, indigenous) culture, and are given differing instructions accordingly. Strengths: Quick to administer and interpret. Questions are multiple choice which some users prefer. Its cultural sensitivity is a plus in some settings. Interpretation pages include tips for maximizing effectiveness of each style and two pages of questions for group discussion. Similarities to the widely-known Thomas Kilmann give the KCSI a familiar feel for some trainers. The supporting website offers a free trainer’s guide.
Weaknesses: The KCSI is a relative newcomer in its full-fledged form, and is less widely known than the TKI. It has yet to undergo standardization which would make it more useful for certain research purposes. Sample Test Instructions: Consider your response in situations where your wishes differ from those of another person. Note that statements A-J deal with your initial response to disagreement; statements K-T deal with your response after the disagreement has gotten stronger. If you find it easier, you may choose one particular conflict setting and use it as background for all the questions.
Circle one number on the line below each statement. When I first discover that differences exist… A … I make sure that all views are out in the open and treated with equal consideration, even if there seems to be substantial disagreement. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic B … I devote more attention to making sure others understand the logic and benefits of my position than I do to pleasing them. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic C … I make my needs known, but I tone them down a bit and look for solutions somewhere in the middle.
Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic D … I pull back from discussion for a time to avoid tension. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic E … I devote more attention to feelings of others than to my personal goals. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic F … I make sure my agenda doesn’t get in the way of our relationship. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic G … I actively explain my ideas and just as actively take steps to understand others. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6
Very characteristic H … I am more concerned with goals I believe to be important than with how others feel about things. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic I … I decide the differences aren’t worth worrying about. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic J … I give up some points in exchange for others. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic If differences persist and feelings escalate… K … I enter more actively into discussion and hold out for ways to meet the needs of others as well as my own.
Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic L … I put forth greater effort to make sure that the truth as I see it is recognized and less on pleasing others. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic M … I try to be reasonable by not asking for my full preferences, but I make sure I get some of what I want. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic N … I don’t push for things to be done my way, and I pull back somewhat from the demands of others. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6
Very characteristic O … I set aside my own preferences and become more concerned with keeping the relationship comfortable. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic P … I interact less with others and look for ways to find a safe distance. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic Q … I do what needs to be done and hope we can mend feelings later. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic R … I do what is necessary to smooth the other’s feelings. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6
Very characteristic S … I pay close attention to the desires of others but remain firm that they need to pay equal attention to my desires. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic T … I press for moderation and compromise so we can make a decision and move on with things. Not at all characteristic 1 2 3 4 5 6 Very characteristic Style Inventory Tally Sheet When you are finished taking the inventory, write the number you circled for each situation beside the corresponding letter on the tally sheet below.
Add each of the 10 columns of the tally chart, writing the total of each in the empty box just below the double line. A __ G __ K __ S __ B __ H __ L __ Q __ C __ J __ M __ T __ D __ I __ N __ P __ E __ F __ O __ R __ CalmStormCalmStormCalmStormCalmStormCalmStorm CollaboratingForcingCompromisingAvoidingAccommodating Now list your scores and the style names in order from highest score to lowest in both the calm and storm columns below. Calm Response when issues/conflicts first arise. Score Style Storm Response after the issues/conflicts have been unresolved and have grown in intensity.
Score Style ________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________ ________ ______________________________ Interpreting the Scores This exercise gives you two sets of scores for each of the five approaches to conflict. Calm scores apply to your response when disagreement first arises.
Storm scores apply to your responses if things are not easily resolved and emotions get stronger. The higher your score in a given style, the more likely you are to use this style in responding to conflict. The highest score in each of the columns indicates a “preferred” or primary style. If two or more styles have the same score they are equally “preferred. ” The second highest score indicates one’s “backup” style if the number is relatively close to the highest score. A fairly even score across all of the styles indicates a “flat profile. ” Persons with a flat profile tend to be able to choose easily among the various responses to conflict.
The Universal Approach To Handling Conflict The Right Attitude Conflict is a natural part of any team or relationship. It can be healthy or unhealthy for the relationship, depending on how it is handled. When conflict is handled constructively, it promotes growth and problem solving. Thus, the first step is to develop the right attitude. 1. Use “I” statements. Let the other party know how you feel when the conflict is occurring. Let the other person know how you react to the conflict. Let the other person know which of your rights you feel is being ignored in the conflict. 2. Be assertive, not aggressive.
Speak about your feelings and your reactions. Keep the statements focused on how you are behaving, thinking, and feeling rather than on how the other is acting. 3. Speak calmly, coolly and rationally. In this way you will be listened to, and you will be able to maintain better control of yourself. Otherwise the other person may be put in a defensive attitude. 4. Avoid blaming. This will keep the communication flow going. It encourages understanding and empathy for each other’s feelings. It recognizes that for a conflict to exist there must be at least two parties who are adversely affected by the conflict. 5. Create an atmosphere of healing.
In an attempt to heal the wounds resulting from a conflict, all parties involved must feel that they are being listened to and understood; that their rights are being respected. They must feel the desire to work things out and a commitment to the process of working out the problems. They must feel wanted and cared for by the parties involved. 6. Forgive and forget. Forgiveness is a form of healing. You have a chance for personal growth by forgiving others for their part in the hurt and pain you suffered. Once you have “resolved'” a conflict and felt like you were listened to, cared for, and understood, then “let go” of the conflict.
Put it behind you. Forget it. Don’t bring it up in the future as if it had not been resolved. If you write down the resolution of the conflict, you will have written proof that it is over and is to be forgotten. 7. Be honest. In resolving a conflict it is imperative that you be honest with yourself and others about your feelings, and reactions to the conflict and to the resolutions. If you are feeling in a way you think you must, or in a way the others wants you to, then you are not “being yourself” and the resolution of the conflict is a false one. The conflict is sure to recur. 8. Focus on feelings rather than on content.
Effective listening and responding are key elements in the productive resolution of conflict. Listen for the feelings and emotions of the other and reflect them with empathy and understanding. This creates an atmosphere of being cared for and listened to. It reduces defensiveness. It focuses on the process involved rather than on the issues, and it brings the parties to a clearer recognition of their individuality and humanity. To focus on feelings clarify the issues, eliminating extraneous items. 9. Respect for yourself and for others. You will gain more in resolving a conflict by showing respect, than by showing disrespect, e. g. being vindictive, taking revenge, threatening, yelling, accusing, belittling, ostracizing, ignoring. Maintaining a respectful atmosphere is essential in resolving conflict. 10. Willingness to apologize or admit a mistake. It is necessary to admit to one’s mistake and to apologize for one’s behavior before a stalemate in conflict resolution can be overcome. It takes courage, character, and fortitude to admit an error: a lack of judgment; an uncalled for action; disrespectful behavior; or a lack of caring, concern, or understanding. Stronger relationships can result when such willingness is exhibited. 11. Willingness to compromise.
If you cling to your position as the only one to be considered, you are closing out the other person(s). To succeed in resolving conflict, all parties must feel like they have gained in the resolution. Only through compromise can each be a winner in conflict resolution. Without compromise, you have either given in and lost, or have gotten your own way with the other party having lost. Ideally, all parties should feel that they have won. The Right Skills The skills you need to manage conflict involve both conscious and unconscious communication. These include: 1. Verbal: Words 2. Vocal: Tone, volume, pauses 3.
Non-verbal: Visual, Body Language (Source: Provant Management) Basic Steps to Handle Conflict Step 1: Monitor the Climate and Recognise Conflict Monitoring the climate at work gives you an early warning system, which makes it far easier to deal with conflict swiftly and efficiently before it gets out of hand. This does not mean constantly being on your guard; it simply means being prepared and keeping your eyes open. To handle conflict you have to spot it. Remember it can be overt–from an obvious or identifiable cause, clearly visible and defined, or covert–from a less obvious cause, hidden and with a potentially unrelated root cause.
Step 2: Research the Situation Answer the following questions in detail: a. What is the content (or issues) involved in the conflict? b. For whom is this a conflict? c. When does the conflict manifest itself? For how long? d. Under what circumstances is this a conflict? e. What are the hidden issues in this conflict? f. Why is this a conflict? g. What is the worst possible consequence if this conflict: (1) never addressed? (2) addressed and not resolved? (3) addressed and I give in? (4) addressed and the other gives in? (5) addressed and we both win? h. What are my feelings when facing this conflict? i.
How does this conflict fit into my belief system about myself? j. What does this conflict say about the personality of the people involved? k. What is the conflict, really? Key Element: Empathise Step 3: Plan the approach Begin to problem solve in your mind. Write out alternative resolutions to the conflict. Narrow down the alternatives until you come to the top priority resolution in your mind. Answer te following questions to prioritize the resolutions: a. Respects the rights of all parties b. Will ultimately have all parties feeling like winners c. Will allow a healing process to begin, with no one being blamed d.
Provides for finality of the conflict with no recurrence e. Will result in better understanding by all parties with all feelings being respected Step 4: Handle the issue Once you have completed Steps 2 and 3 on your own, you are ready to speak directly with those with who you are in conflict. Ask the person(s) to consider the script (i. e. , written document) concerning the conflict. Go over all points on the conflict (Steps 1 and 2), possible resolutions to the conflict, and analyze how the top priority resolutions are beneficial to all parties involved (Step 3).
Ask the party/parties if they have done a similar exercise in conflict management on their own; if not, would they like time to try Steps 1 through 3? Step 6: Brain-storming Possible Resolutions All parties closely examine the top resolutions and the options based on the questions in Step 3. Spend time discussing them, then use a joint problem solving Step 7: Implementation Plan Once a jointly owned conflict resolution is decided upon, the parties set an implementation time and an evaluation procedure to determine if the resolution is successful in averting similar conflict(s).
They commit to implement the resolution and set a specific date to meet and review the resolution. Step 8: Corrective Action If, during the subsequent meeting, it is determined that the conflict has gone unresolved, alter the resolution accordingly, continuing to consider all feelings. If an impasse is reached, return to Step 1 and begin again. Occasionally help of an objective outsider might be necessary. Bibliography www. kilmann. com www. RiverhouseEpress. com Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in The Managerial Grid (Houston: Gulf Publishing, 1964, 1994). Conflict Style Inventory Provant Management ttp://scythe. uits. indiana. edu/~r547dex4/shipley/HTML/Skills/skillsbody2. html M. Nicholson: Rationality and the Analysis of International Conflict. 1992:11 Oxford Dictionary Merriam-Webster Dictionary Stephen P. Robbins “Organizational Behaviour” Adapted from “Conflict and Conflict Management” by Kenneth Thomas in The Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, edited by Marvin Dunnette (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1976). This version was published by Mennonite Conciliation Service in its “Mediation and Facilitation Training Manual”, 4th ed. , 2000 (Akron, PA: MCS), p. 64-66 www. wikipedia. com