Team Conflict Management in Project Management in Colombia

Team Conflict Management in Project Management in Colombia

H. Mauricio Diez-Silva (Universidad EAN, Colombia), Maricela I. Montes-Guerra (Universidad de La Sabana, Colombia) and Hugo Fernando Castro Silva (Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia, Colombia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1934-9.ch003
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This article examines team conflict in project management. A study of the current literature, the focus of the bodies of knowledge and the perspective of managers in Colombia is presented. Information is collected through a questionnaire about the impact of sources, types of conflicts, dispute resolution mechanisms and progress reports on the final performance of projects carried out recently by the interviewees. The importance of conflict resolution has been validated as a success factor in the management and performance of projects. The chapter aims to increase researcher interest in the subject, as well as to encourage the development and implementation of methodological tools, in order to achieve better results in the implementation and success of projects.
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Managing a project is, almost by definition, managing conflicts. (Graham, 2007)

In a project management process, several factors that can influence and determine the level of performance at the end are taken into account. These factors must be managed efficiently for the entire project life cycle in order to increase the chances of meeting the targets. There is extensive research in the area of “Project Management” that analyses success factors when implementing a project (Agarwal and Rathod, 2006, Cooke-Davies, 2002; Hyvari, 2006, Kendra and Taplin, 2004, Pinto 1990, Pinto and Slevin, 1988; Shenhar, Levy and Dvir, 1997; Toor and Ogunlana, 2010). There is a consensus on the priority to control those factors that enable an effective completion, meeting all performance parameters.

Within the success factors of a project, human capital emerges as an inevitable component in the managers´ agenda (Brown, Adams and Amjad, 2007, Cooke-Davies, 2002; Pant and Baroudi, 2008). Along the same line, Alam et al. (2010) have explored the importance of human skills to manage projects, noting that this factor can make a difference in their performance. The relevance of these skills has been widely recognized (Pant and Baroudi, 2008), to the point that they are outlined as a research perspective within the categories of future scientific knowledge of Project Management (Kwak and Anbari, 2009). The management of human capital as a success factor can be divided into a set of sub-factors, which must be monitored in the project life cycle to effectively carry out its management. According to Kwak and Anbari (2009), human resources management is identified as a research trend of project management. Part of this would be the aspects related to organizational structure, organizational dynamics, motivation, leadership and conflict management, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Human capital as a success factor and its sub-factors


Within the mentioned sub-factors, the last issue is often given little importance: “Conflict Management”, but that can mean the difference between success and failure. Human capital is indeed a crucial success factor in project management, and conflict management is an essential aspect within the set of sub-factors shown in Figure 1.

According to Diez-Silva et al (2011), conflicts appear as one of the sub-factor categories to be measured in order to perform monitoring of project management. Likewise, conflicts are evaluation criteria and represent a success factor of the implementation process (Jha and Iyer, 2007; Toor and Ogunlana, 2010). In other studies problem solving or conflict management is one of the measures that determine performance (Cheung, Cheung and Suen, 2004, Fortune et al., 2011th, Yuan et al., 2011). It is considered that the study of conflict management in project teams and its relationship with performance is consistent with the current and future perspective of the project management’s discipline.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mediation: Corresponds to a strategy for solving conflicts, in which an impartial third party intervenes in order to facilitate communication and obtain a result that is accepted by the parties in dispute.

Conflict Management: Form or strategy that is implemented by the project manager or by an interested party of the project in order to solve disputes or confrontations caused within the project team or between this project team and another interested party of the project.

Negotiation: Corresponds to a strategy for the resolution of a conflict in which one seeks to solve the dispute in such a way that a favorable outcome is obtained for each of the parties in conflict.

Source of Conflict: Cause or reason for which a confrontation or dispute is generated during the life cycle of the project. The sources of the conflict can be internal or external. In the first case, it usually corresponds to disputes over the use of resources that are necessary for project activities, and in the second case, they correspond to disputes due to differences in interests between groups of stakeholders.

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