The concept of conflict, because of its ubiquity and pervasive nature, has acquired a multitude of meanings and connotations, presenting us with nothing short of semantic jungle. Like other terms, conflict generates considerable ambivalence and leaves many scholars’ and administrators quite uncertain about (1) its meaning and relevance; and (2) how best to cope with it.
Conflict situations are inevitable in one’s personal life, in organizations or even between nations. Conflict is a process in which one party suggests that its interests are being opposed by another party. As a rule, people see only the observable aspect of conflict – angry words, actions of opposition, etc. But this is only a small part of the conflict process (Mashanne and Glinow, 2008). Conflict is an inseparable part of people’s life. It is a perpetual gift of life, although varying views of it may be held. Some may view conflict as a negative situation which must be avoided at any cost.
Others may see it as a phenomenon which necessitates management. Still, others may consider conflict as an exciting opportunity for personal growth and so try to use it to their best advantage. Wherever one may fall on this continuum of view points concerning conflict, seldom would one expect to be in a continual state of conflict as the basis for employment (Nebgen, 1978).
Conflict theory is significant to the role of the administrator, but it emanates primarily from fields such as business, sociology, psychology, etc. According to Coser (1967), conflict is 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. It is also defined from communication perspective as “an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce rewards and interference from other parties in achieving their goals (Hocker and Wilmot, 1985). According to Wikipedia, organizational conflict is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between formal authority and power and those individuals and groups affected.
There are disputes over how revenues should be divided, and how long and hard people should work. There are jurisdictional disagreements among individual departments and between unions and management. There are subtle forms of conflict involving rivalries, jealousies, personality clashes, role-definitions and struggles for power and favour. There is also conflict within individuals – between competing needs and demands – to which individuals respond in different ways. Since conflict is seemingly unavoidable, it is obviously necessary for managers to be able to recognize the source of the conflict, to view it’s constructive as well as destructive potential, to learn how to manage conflict and to implement conflict resolution technique in a practical way (Fleerwood, 1987). However, in the last 25 years, many scholars have changed their views concerning conflict. Conflict is now seen as having the potential for positive growth. Deetz and Stevenson (1986), list three assumptions that indicate that conflict can be positive.
Their belief is that management of conflict serves as a more useful conception of the process of conflict resolution. Their assumptions are as follows: (a) conflict is natural; (b) conflict is good and necessary; and (c) most conflicts are based on real differences. That conflict is good and necessary is suggested because conflict can stimulate innovative thinking when properly managed. Lacking conflicts, thought and action are performed because they are habitual.
Conflicts allow an examination of necessity of these thoughts and actions. The third assumption points out that people are frequently timid in facing the reality that legitimated differences may exist and instead blame conflict on poor or non-existent communication. It may seem easier to live with unresolved misunderstanding than to face the fact that real, fundamental differences do exist and so demand recognition and management (Deetz and Stevenson, 1986). However, conflict in organizations is a daily occurrence because a consensus of opinion concerning rules governing the organization seldom exists among staff and line employees.
Review of literatureDefinition of Conflict Management:Conflict management is the process of the limiting the negative aspects and increasing the positive aspects in organization. It is important that there are people who understand conflicts and know how to resolve them. This is important in today’s market more than ever.Issues of Conflict ManagementCultural And Gender Differences:Cultural differences can influence how people get along in a work environment. Humanitarian crises can affect women, men, girls and boys in radically different ways; changing social and cultural structures, and redefining women’s and men’s statuses – in both positive and negative ways.Personality Clashes:Personality clashes in the workplace are often unavoidable, but when left unchecked they can cause considerable psychological stress and can lead to problems of anxiety and depression for those involved. Such clashes can also lead to the breakdown of working relations within a team or department and can damage the cohesiveness and productivity of an organization as a whole.Sharing Resources:Limited resources can cause conflict in the workplace, especially in small businesses that operate on shoestring budgets.
The organization need some of things to make the variety of product but some resources short then it can make conflict in organization. Poor Communication:Poor communication can result in workplace conflict in small businesses. Employees of small businesses may be expected to perform a variety of tasksMajor Causes of Conflict ManagementLack of Information:Conflict can arise when one party feels it lacks important information, according to the Free Management Library website. When employees are continually experiencing changes that they were not informed about, or if there are decisions being made that the staff feels it should be involved in, this can bring about conflict between employees and managers Lack of ResourcesThe University of Colorado at Boulder points out that a lack of necessary resources can cause conflict among employees, and between employees and management. If employees feel there is a lack of resources needed to do their job, competition will arise among employees for the available resources.
The employees who are unable to obtain what they need to perform their duties will begin to blame management for the lack of necessary resources.Personal RelationshipsA work environment can be a stressful place, and it can be made worse when personal differences begin to develop between employees. Of the major causes of workplace conflict, personal relationships can be particularly counterproductive, because problems may be generated both at home or in the office.
Professional employment mediator website Mediate.com notes that some employees bring stress from their home life to work, and this can cause conflicts among co-workers and managers.Benefits of Handling the issue of Conflict ManagementClear the Air:These types of conflicts can be beneficial to persons and organizations, because the door opens to communication.Presents New Ideas:New ideas often arise from a state of conflict, which can help the organization to promote the company in better list to introduce good quality of product and making the organization in development by presenting the new ideas.Reduced Tension:Conflict can cause tension between employees if they don’t know how to handle the situation.
A disagreement that stays unresolved causes that tension to build and often spreads to other employees who weren’t originally involved. If both parties feel they are right and refuse to listen to one another, they may pit themselves against one another, dragging in other employees to choose sides. Tension due to unresolved conflict lowers morale in the workplace and can stall the work flow.Increased Understanding:Conflict resolution skills allow people to move beyond their own emotions and opinions to make objective decisions. By teaching these skills in the workplace, you encourage a deeper understanding of situations that arise and the other people in the office.Approach to Handle the issue of conflictAccommodating:The accommodating approach emphasizes cooperation instead of assertiveness. A person places his interests last and allows the other party to further her interests.
The accommodating approach often occurs when a party is not significantly invested in securing a victory, because he does not perceive the alternative option as a significant threat.Avoiding:Avoiding conflict involves one of the conflicted parties avoiding communicating about or confronting the problem, hoping it will go away. By not participating in the problem-solving process, she is effectively removing herself from it. When employing this approach, the conflict might go away if the other party doesn’t press for a resolution. The underlying differences between the parties are never resolved.Compromise:Bargaining is the hallmark of the compromise approach to conflict resolution.
The conflicting parties can identify some interests they are willing to compromise on to bring about a resolution. While the emotional level might still be high, the compromise style sometimes results in interim solutions when a full resolution is not immediately possible. Parties might reach a settlement to prevent further escalation of the conflict.References Amason, A.C. (1996), Distinguishing the Effects of Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict on Strategies Decision-making: Resolving a Paradox for Top Management Groups.
Academy of Management Journal, 39, 123-148. Babyegaya, E. (2002).
Educational Planning and Administration. Dar es Salaam: Open University of Tanzania: Pg 220-221. Barki, Hahartwick, J. (2004).
Conceptualizing the Construct of Interpersonal Conflict. International Journal of Conflict Management 15 (3), 216 244. Borisoff, D. & Victor, D.A. (1998). Conflict Management: A Communication Skills Approach.
Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon, A Viacom Company. Pp 78-80. Brett, J.M. (2007). Negotiating globally: How to Negotiate Deals, Resolve Disputes and Make Decisions.
San Francisco: Jossey Bassy.