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Managing Conflict in Organizations

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Lena B

on 3 April 2014

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Transcript of Managing Conflict in Organizations

Lena, Mark & Deqa
Managing Conflict In Organizations
Defining Conflict
Conflict: Process that occurs when individuals, small groups, or organizations perceive or experience frustration in attaining goals and addressing concerns.
Conflict Context
Conflict context: Any organizational setting in which there are two or more competing responses to a single event or circumstance.
Conflict Episodes
Conflict episodes: Description of the complex interactions of both individual and group perceptions, emotions, behaviours, and outcomes during conflict.
Conflict Causes
1.Scarce resources

2.New sophisticated technologies


4.Difficult people





9.Emotional Labour

The Individual in Organizational Conflict
Diverse individuals in the workplace approach conflicts differently. This can be based upon their predispositions, skills and abilities in their workplace, which influence how conflicts occur in the workplace.

Our own sensitivity we have can also influence our development of sensitivity to differences among people. The best way to understand our sensitivity is by examining our own preferences in conflicts that we find important.

The self-report questionnaire is designed to increase your awareness of your individual preferences and predispositions for conflict.
Conflict styles are described as five basic orientations that are based upon the balance between satisfying individual needs and goals and satisfying the needs and goals of others in the conflict.
Conflict with Customers and Vendors
Most organizations have specific training for working with customers.

Frequently customer interactions proceed as anticipated however most employees have experienced times when customers become difficult as a result of personality, communication style, differing expectations or organization-generated problems.
Conflicts researchers such as Leonard Berkowitz, Robert Blake, Jane Mouton, Jay Hall and Kenneth Thomas support the idea that individuals have behavioral orientations/predispositions or styles for handling conflicts.

They also conclude that people have an order of preference on styles that can influence their communication choice.
Group Conflict Management Processes

-Broad conflict management process involving discussions between and among individuals who are interdependent and need to come together for a decision or course of action. The negotiation process is frequently associated with the need to compromise effectively.

-A more structured form of negotiations usually involving the presentation of fairly specific proposals for the purpose of achieving a working agreement on particular issues.
-Use of a designated individual for guiding the negotiations or bargaining efforts of groups in conflict.
Third Party Arbitration
-Conflict management process involving an outside negotiator who resolves differences based on formally established procedures.
Emotion during Conflict
Emotions can often be overlooked when looking at styles, strategic objectives and tactics for conflict, but it is important to understand within conflict situations. Tricia Jones describes emotions having three components, cognitive, physiological and behavioral.
Cognition component of emotions, wants appraisal of situations and this in turn creates an emotional response.
Physiological component involves experiences in life that show outwardly, through lived experiences.

Behavioral component involves what we do, it is the expression of both cognition, and physiological experience.

Conflict is emotionally defined (Jones).
Power and Organizational Conflict
-Often individuals and groups with excellent ideas submit to the ideas of more powerful organization members and groups.
-This “raising the white flag “ affects decision making and also structures future relationships.
-Power plays in all types of organizational situations.
-Can be described as tactics that make explicit how power should be viewed in particular circumstances in order to preserve the position of the persons making the “play.”
-Technical and communicative expertise become sources of power as well as resources within the control individuals.
-Information is an important resource and resides with individuals throughout the organization contributing to the dynamic and shifting nature of power.
-Our perceptions of our own power and the power of others will influence the approaches we choose during conflict.
-Both the wise uses and the abuse of power influence how conflicts occur and what happens during conflict.
-Although power use can be productive, power is often associated with behaviours that marginalize others and attempt to maintain the status and position of the person or persons exercising power.
Communication Tactics in Conflict
Conflict tactics are described as communication behaviors that attempt to move the conflict toward escalation, reduction, maintenance at the present level, or avoidance. These tactics are influenced by individual conflict preferences and strategies and by the organizations values about how conflict is suppose to work.
Special Types of Organizational Conflict: Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, Ethical Abuses
Sexual Harassment
-Situation in which one person persists in behaving in a way that offends the sexual morals of another or creates employment conditions based on sexual relationships.
-Exclusion of individuals or groups based on personal characteristics not associated with competence or performance.
Ethical Abuses
-Incorporates issues of sexual harassment and discrimination along with numerous other abuses in day to day organizational life.
-Dalmar Fisher identifies six major areas in which ethical abuses can occur as organizations relate to their external environments: products, advertising, finance and accounting, pricing, international operations, and ecology.
-He goes on to identify working conditions, due process and fair treatment of employees, personnel policies and procedures, design of work, and free speech as issues with potential for ethical abuse with organizations.
-Reporting unethical behaviours to those who can do something about them.
Group Members in Conflict
Procedural conflict
-Conflict over procedures or ways of doing things.
Interpersonal Issues
-Conflict emerges when all members do not fairly or equally perform their responsibilities or make contributions to the group.
Substantive Issues
-The very reason for forming groups in organizations can contribute to group conflict.
-Counterproductive conflict.
-The tendency of groups to suspend critical thinking and to quickly adopt proposed solutions.
Conflict Context occurs in 5 contexts:



3.Small Group

4.Organization World-Wide

5.Conflict with environment
Level 1: Latent Conflict

Level 2: Perceived Conflict

Level 3: Felt Conflict

Level 4: Manifest Conflict

Level 5: Conflict Aftermath
Productively Engaging in Conflict
Supportive Climates, Ethical Behaviours, Principled Negotiation, Co-Construction
Supportive Climate
Organizational environments in which individuals feel secure and encouraged to seek good solutions; characterized by problem description, problem orientation, spontaneity, empathy, equality, and provisionalism.

-Evaluation vs. Problem Description
-Control vs. Problem orientation
-Strategy vs. Spontaneity
-Neutrality vs. Equality
-Superiority vs. Equality
-Certainty vs. Provisionalism

Ethical Conflict Behaviour
-Exhibited when the individual stays with the issue at hand without hidden agendas.
Productively Engaging in Conflict
Supportive Climates, Ethical Behaviours, Principled Negotiation, Co-Construction Cont.
Principled Negotiation
-It is a strategy for groups of individuals in conflict to express their needs and search for alternatives that meet diverse needs.
-Supports ethical behaviour by separating people from the problem and focusing on interests not positions
-Group members are asked to develop options for mutual gain based on mutual interests.
A Feminist Alternative: Co-Construction
-Linda Putnam and Deborah Kolb claim that much of negotiation and bargaining represents gendered activity because “the qualities of effective bargainers (eg. Individuality, independence, competition, objectivity, analytic rationality, reasoning from universal principles, strategic thinking) are linked to masculinity.
The attributes typically labeled as feminine (eg. Community, subjectivity, intuition, emotionality, reasoning from particulars, and ad hoc thinking) are less valued .
-Putnam and Kolb provide what they describe as an alternative model to exchange: co-construction.
-Co-construction is based on all parties engaging in mutual inquiry about problems and issues. Individuals and groups blend proposals or solutions as opposed to offering different positions and then giving concessions in order to reach a solution.
Monitor your personal behaviour and the behaviour of others for signs of destructive conflict.

Identify common goals and interests between people or in groups.

Develop norms to work on problems.

Focus on mutual gain.
Process for Productive Conflict
Self-analysis of the issues

Setting a meeting to work on the problem

Defining the problem

Developing Solutions

Narrowing the Choices for Action

Committing to Solutions

Monitoring the process
Video Clip
Guidelines for Productive Conflict
There are five different conflict styles:

1. Avoidance

2. Competition

3. Compromise

4. Accommodation

5. Collaboration
Thomas Kilmann Model
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