Organisational Conflict and Its Management

Organisational Conflict and Its Management

Saleem Gul (Institute of Management Sciences, Pakistan) and Michael Klausner (University of Pittsburgh – Bradford, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0245-6.ch003
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This chapter concerns itself with defining conflict and discusses the value it provides to organizations engaging in conflicts. The chapter is structured so that first we will provide a brief on the need to study conflict and negotiations in organizations. Then the discussion will move to the different drivers of organizational conflicts and will conclude with a typology of the different conflicts that exist within organizations. The third section will focus on the models (life-cycles) of conflicts that are available in conflict literature. The final section will focus on the different conflict handling techniques that are available. This section will include a discussion on the different conflict handling styles and negotiation tactics, and a brief on the process of alternate dispute resolution in conflict management.
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Conflicts are common to all types of organizations because we perceive or value things differently. The concept of a conflict denotes some type of disagreement, incompatibility or opposition among groups (Perrow, 1986). Conflicts may arise from disagreements and oppositions in cognitions, emotions, behaviors, and goals and the means to achieve them (Klausner & Groves, 1994). A collection of key definitions of conflict and their underlying theme is provided in table 1.

Table 1.
Conflict definitions
DefinitionSourceUnderlying ThemePerceives Conflict
An antagonistic struggle(Coser, 1956)HostilityNegatively
A breakdown in standard mechanisms of decision-making(March & Simon, 1958)Lack of consensusNegatively
A struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power, and resources(Boulding, 1962)ScarcityNegatively
A struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure, or eliminate the rivals(Coser, 1967)Scarcity/hostilityNegatively
A breach in normally expected behavior(Beals & Siegel, 1966)Poor BehaviorNegatively
A threat to cooperation(Marek, 1966)Lack of cooperationNegatively
Opposing processes in any of several forms – competition, status, rivalry, bargaining, sabotage, verbal abuse, etc.(Walton, 1966)Opposition (may not be hostile)Negatively
Any social situation or process in which two or more social entities are linked by at least one form of antagonistic interaction(Fink, 1968)HostilityNegatively
As existing whenever incompatible activities occur in an action which prevents, obstructs, interferes with, injures, or in some way makes it less likely or less effective(Deutsch, 1973)InterferenceNegatively
Arising when a difference between two (or more) people necessitates change in at least one person in order for their engagement to continue and develop – the differences cannot coexist without some adjustment(Jordan, 1990)DifferenceNegatively
A situation in which interdependent people express (manifest or latent) differences in satisfying their individual needs and interests, and they experience interference from each other in accomplishing these goals(Donohue & Colt, 1992)InterferenceNegatively
As a process that begins when one party or individual perceives that one or more others have frustrated or are about to frustrate a major concern of theirs(Thomas, 1992)HindranceNegatively
An expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals(Hocker & Wilmot, 1995)StruggleNegatively
A way of confronting reality and creating new solutions(Socklingam & Doswell, 1999)SolutionPositively
The perceived incompatibility between values/goals(Deutsch & Coleman, 2000; Reichers, 1986)ClashNegatively

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