Conflict Management in International Cooperation Project Teams: Perspective of a Project Manager in Colombia

Conflict Management in International Cooperation Project Teams: Perspective of a Project Manager in Colombia

Hugo Fernando Castro Silva, Gonzalo Andres Rodríguez Cañas, Maricela I. Montes-Guerra
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1934-9.ch015
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The complexity of projects of international cooperation (IC) and especially the characteristics which are similar to those of social, international projects in the public sector, and the amount and diversity of the interested parts, makes it necessary to implement strategies when handling conflicts in order to maintain the project according to the established plan and get benefits based on its objectives. This empirical cross-cutting research has as main objective to identify the conflict management process in project teams of international cooperation in Colombia and determine the great influence observed in the style of handling the conflict on the performance of the project. The results showed that the cooperative and collaborative styles are significantly and positively related to the project performance whereas competitive and evasive styles affect significantly and negatively the performance of the project of international cooperation in Colombia.
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The international aid can come from initiatives that offer immediate help to population affected by natural disasters or situations of social or political instability, the projects of International Cooperation the (IC) generally try to give sustainable and long term solution to social problems such as lack of education or need to cover health services in developing countries, all this with the aim of improving the quality levels of life in a part of its inhabitants (Golini & Landoni, 2014).

The international cooperation projects are the most useful tools by governments to help countries with different needs, especially in the human development area. The donor countries, have different ways to finance and cooperate with the International Cooperation projects, for example, by means of bilateral agreements with the governments of the beneficiary cuountries or with an an intermediary, which could be a Non Governmental Organization (ONG) (Golini, Kalchschmidt, & Landoni, 2015). For Colombia, this financing way is the most frequent.

Due to specific characteristics, the International Cooperation projects are more complex compared to the ones of other sectors like construction or the one of Information Technologies (IT), turning this kind of management into a great challenge for the professionals and organizations which are in charge of its formulation and implementation (Khang and Moe, 2008; PM4NGOs, 2012; Youker, 2003). The complexity of the International Cooperation projects, means for the project director, among other important aspects, to implement methodologies to handle the conflict no matter its length, and those methodologies can help control the way these interventions can be done.

In spite of the praiseworthy social and environmental objectives that communities in condition of vulnerability can present, and how complex and dynamic to move important amounts of economic resources these communities could be, this kind of help is known for its poor results, in fact, it is said that its failure has become the rule and not the exception ((Ika, 2012; Hermano, López-Paredes, & Martín-Cruz, 2013). However, the study of this poor performance has focused in the effectiveness of the aid and not in the practices of management of these projects (Easterly, 2010). This study focuses on exploring the methodologies of conflict management implemented by directors of International Cooperation projects by analyzing its influence in the performance of it.

The conflict management in the theory of Project Management is not a new concept, for example, (Kwak & Anbari, 2009), identify it in the knowledge area of the management of human resources arguing that it is framed in aspects related to the organizational structure and the organizational dynamics of the project that deal with the abilities of the director of the project like leadership and the ability to motivate his/her team. Also, other authors such as (Díez-Silva, Pérez-Ezcurdia, Gimena Ramos, & Montes Guerra, 2011; Fortune, White, Jugdev, & Walker, 2011) justify the deep study of conflict management in project teams like a factor that can influence the success of the projects.

In spite of the coherence of the study of conflict management with the present and future perspective of Project Management and the need to consider the research of the high rate of failure in the performance of International Cooperation projects, all the scientific literature related to the conflict management in this complex topic is not enough. That is why this study tries to contribute to fill in this gap. The objectives of this research are oriented to identify the process of handling conflicts in International Cooperation project teams in Colombia and to determine the existence of significant influences among these characteristics and the performance of the project. The results of this research are important for international aid financial organizations that want to help in the conflict, for ONGs that intervene in the CI, for project directors, and researchers of project management.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Project Management: This chapter takes the definition of the Project Management Institute , which is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities.

External Performance of the Project: It refers to the indexes of compliance with the external factors of the project such as the satisfaction of the project stakeholders.

Internal Performance of the Project: It refers to the indexes of compliance with the internal success factors of the project, such as delivery of products according to the timetable, the budget and the quality of what is delivered in the project; as well as the compliance of requirements.

Conflict Management: Mechanisms and strategies implemented by the project manager in order to deal with disputes or controversies that have arisen at any stage of the project's life cycle, either in the project team or with a member of the stakeholders.

Project: In this chapter the project definition is the same as the one proposed by the Project Management Institute, and it is described as a temporary effort for the generation of a good, a service or a unique result.

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