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Chapter 11 Conflict in Organizations. Learning Goals. Define conflict and conflict behavior in organizations Distinguish between functional and dysfunctional conflict Understand different levels and types of conflict in organizations Analyze conflict episodes and the linkages among them.

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learning goals
Learning Goals
  • Define conflict and conflict behavior in organizations
  • Distinguish between functional and dysfunctional conflict
  • Understand different levels and types of conflict in organizations
  • Analyze conflict episodes and the linkages among them
learning goals cont
Learning Goals (Cont.)
  • Understand the role of latent conflict in an episode and its sources in an organization
  • Describe a conflict management model
  • Use various techniques to reduce and increase conflict
  • Appreciate some international and ethical issues in conflict management
chapter overview
Chapter Overview
  • Introduction
  • Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict
  • Levels and Types of Conflict in Organizations
  • Conflict Episodes
  • Conflict Frames and Orientations
  • Latent Conflict: The Sources of Conflict in Organizations
chapter overview cont
Chapter Overview (Cont.)
  • Conflict Management
  • Reducing Conflict
  • Increasing Conflict
  • International Aspects of Conflict in Organizations
  • Ethical Issues in Conflict in Organizations
introduction
Introduction

Conflict: What does the word mean to you?

Conflict

Conflicto

Conflito

Conflit

introduction cont
Introduction (Cont.)
  • Definition
    • Opposition
    • Incompatible behavior
    • Antagonistic interaction
    • Block another party from reaching her or his goals

Range of conflict behavior

Doubt or questioning Annihilation of opponent

introduction cont8
Introduction (Cont.)
  • Key elements
    • Interdependence with another party
    • Perception of incompatible goals
  • Conflict events
    • Disagreements
    • Debates
    • Disputes
    • Preventing someone from reaching valued goals
introduction cont9
Introduction (Cont.)
  • Conflict is not always bad for an organization
  • Do not need to reduce all conflict
  • Conflict episodes: ebb and flow of conflict
  • An inevitable part of organization life
  • Needed for growth and survival
  • Conflict management includes increasing and decreasing conflict
  • Major management responsibility
introduction cont10
Introduction (Cont.)

Brazilian Saying(Ditado popular, Portuguese)

Toda unanimidade é burra.

(“It’s dumb if we all agree.”)

Special thanks to Gustavo Sette Rabello,

Graduate Student, The Robert O. Anderson Graduate School of Management, 1996

functional and dysfunctional conflict
Functional andDysfunctional Conflict
  • Functional conflict: works toward the goals of an organization or group
  • Dysfunctional conflict: blocks an organi-zation or group from reaching its goals
    • Dysfunctionally high conflict: what you typically think about conflict
    • Dysfunctionally low conflict: an atypical view
    • Levels vary among groups
functional and dysfunctional conflict cont
Functional andDysfunctional Conflict (Cont.)
  • Functional conflict
    • “Constructive Conflict”--Mary Parker Follett (1925)
    • Increases information and ideas
    • Encourages innovative thinking
    • Unshackles different points of view
    • Reduces stagnation
functional and dysfunctional conflict cont13
Functional andDysfunctional Conflict (Cont.)
  • Dysfunctionally high conflict
    • Tension, anxiety, stress
    • Drives out low conflict tolerant people
    • Reduced trust
    • Poor decisions because of withheld or distorted information
    • Excessive management focus on the conflict
functional and dysfunctional conflict cont14
Functional andDysfunctional Conflict (Cont.)
  • Dysfunctionally low conflict
    • Few new ideas
    • Poor decisions from lack of innovation and information
    • Stagnation
    • Business as usual
levels and types of conflict
Levels and Typesof Conflict

Type of conflict

Level of conflict

Organization

Within and between organizations

Group

Within and between groups

Individual

Within and between individuals

levels and types of conflict cont
Levels and Typesof Conflict (Cont.)
  • Intraorganization conflict
    • Conflict that occurs within an organization
    • At interfaces of organization functions
    • Can occur along the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the organization
      • Vertical conflict: between managers and subordinates
      • Horizontal conflict: between departments and work groups
levels and types of conflict cont17
Levels and Typesof Conflict (Cont.)
  • Intragroup conflict
    • Conflict among members of a group
    • Early stages of group development
    • Ways of doing tasks or reaching group's goals
  • Intergroup conflict: between two or more groups
levels and types of conflict cont18
Levels and Typesof Conflict (Cont.)
  • Interpersonal conflict
    • Between two or more people
    • Differences in views about what should be done
    • Efforts to get more resources
    • Differences in orientation to work and time in different parts of an organization
levels and types of conflict cont19
Levels and Typesof Conflict (Cont.)
  • Intrapersonal conflict
    • Occurs within an individual
      • Threat to a person’s values
      • Feeling of unfair treatment
      • Multiple and contradictory sources of socialization
      • Related to the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Chapter 5) and negative inequity (Chapter 8)
levels and types of conflict cont20
Levels and Typesof Conflict (Cont.)
  • Interorganization conflict
    • Between two or more organizations
    • Not competition
    • Examples: suppliers and distributors, especially with the close links now possible
conflict episodes
Conflict Episodes

Simple conflict episode

Latent conflict

Manifest conflict

Conflict aftermath

conflict episodes cont
Conflict Episodes (Cont.)
  • Latent conflict: antecedents of conflict behavior that can start conflict episode
  • Manifest conflict: observable conflict behavior
  • Conflict aftermath
    • End of a conflict episode
    • Often the starting point of a related episode
    • Becomes the latent conflict for another episode
  • Conflict reduction: lower the conflict level
conflict episodes23
Conflict Episodes

Latent conflict

Manifest conflict

Conflict reduction

Conflict aftermath

conflict episodes cont24
Conflict Episodes (Cont.)

The antecedents of conflict

Example: scarce resources

Latent conflict

Manifest conflict

Conflict aftermath

conflict episodes cont25
Conflict Episodes (Cont.)
  • Some latent conflict in the lives of college students
    • Parking spaces
    • Library copying machines
    • Computer laboratory
    • Books in the bookstore
    • School and other parts of your life
    • University policies
conflict episodes cont26
Observable conflict behavior

Example: disagreement, discussion

Conflict Episodes (Cont.)

Latent conflict

Manifest conflict

Conflict aftermath

conflict episodes cont27
Manifest conflictConflict Episodes (Cont.)

Latent conflict

Residue of a

conflict episode

Example:

compromise in

allocating scarce

resources leaves both

parties with less than

they wanted

Conflict aftermath

conflict episodes28
Conflict Episodes

Latent conflict

Perceived conflict

Felt conflict

Manifest conflict

Conflict reduction

Text book Figure 11.1

Conflict aftermath

conflict episodes cont29
Conflict Episodes (Cont.)
  • Perceived conflict
    • Become aware that one is in conflict with another party
    • Can block out some conflict
    • Can perceive conflict when no latent conditions exist
    • Example: misunderstanding another person’s position on an issue
conflict episodes cont30
Conflict Episodes (Cont.)
  • Felt conflict
    • Emotional part of conflict
    • Personalizing the conflict
    • Oral and physical hostility
    • Hard to manage episodes with high felt conflict
    • What people likely recall about conflict
relationships among conflict episodes
Relationships AmongConflict Episodes
  • Episodes link through the connection of conflict aftermath to latent conflict
  • Effective conflict management: break the connection
  • Discover the latent conflicts and remove them
relationships among conflict episodes cont
Relationships AmongConflict Episodes (Cont.)

Conflict reduction

Latent conflict

Manifest conflict

Conflict aftermath

Latent conflict

Manifest conflict

Conflict aftermath

Latent conflict

Manifest conflict

Conflict aftermath

conflict frames and orientations
Conflict Framesand Orientations
  • Conflict frames
    • Perceptual sets that people bring to conflict episodes
    • Perceptual filters
      • Remove some information from an episode
      • Emphasize other information in an episode
conflict frames and orientations cont
Conflict Framesand Orientations (Cont.)

Conflict

frame

Relationship-Task

Cooperate-Win

Emotional-Intellectual

conflict frames and orientations cont35
Conflict Framesand Orientations (Cont.)
  • Conflict frame dimensions
    • Relationship-Task
      • Relationship: focuses on interpersonal relationships
      • Task: focuses on material aspects of an episode
    • Emotional-Intellectual
      • Emotional: focuses on feelings in the conflict episode (felt conflict)
      • Intellectual: focuses on observed behavior (manifest conflict)
conflict frames and orientations cont36
Conflict Framesand Orientations (Cont.)
  • Conflict frame dimensions (cont.)
    • Cooperate-Win
      • Cooperate: emphasizes the role of all parties to the conflict
      • Win: wants to maximize personal gain
conflict frames and orientations cont37
Conflict Framesand Orientations (Cont.)
  • Conflict frames
    • Limited research results
      • End an episode with a relationship or intellectual frame: feel good about relationship with other party
      • Cooperation-focused people end with more positive results than those focused on winning
conflict frames and orientations cont38
Conflict Framesand Orientations (Cont.)
  • Conflict orientations
    • Dominance: wants to win; conflict is a battle
    • Collaborative: wants to find a solution that satisfies everyone
    • Compromise: splits the differences
    • Avoidance: backs away
    • Accommodative: focuses on desires of other party
conflict frames and orientations cont39
Conflict Framesand Orientations (Cont.)
  • Can change during conflict episode
    • How firmly the person holds orientation
    • Importance of the issues to the person
    • Perception of opponent's power
  • Collaborative orientation: more positive long-term benefits than the others
conflict frames and orientations cont40
Conflict Framesand Orientations (Cont.)

Conflict orientation and the conflict aftermath

Avoidance

Accommodative

Dominance

Compromise

Collaborative

No residue

High residue

Conflict aftermath

conflict frames and orientations cont41
Conflict Framesand Orientations (Cont.)
  • Combinations of conflict orientations in a group
    • Dominance, avoidance
    • Dominance, dominance
    • Avoidance, avoidance
    • Dominance, collaborative, compromise
    • Collaborative, compromise, avoidance
    • Collaborative, compromise, avoidance, dominance, accommodative
latent conflict the sources of conflict in organizations
Latent Conflict: The Sources of Conflict in Organizations
  • Antecedents to conflict episodes
  • Many natural conditions of organizations act as latent conflicts
  • Lurk in the background; trigger conflict when right conditions occur
  • Does not always lead to manifest conflict
  • Give us clues about how to reduce dysfunctionally high conflict
latent conflict the sources of conflict in organizations cont
Latent Conflict: The Sources of Conflict in Organizations (Cont.)
  • Some representative latent conflict
    • Scarce resources: money, equipment, facilities
    • Organizational differentiation: different orientations in different parts of organization
    • Rules, procedures, policies: behavioral guides that can cause clashes
    • Cohesive groups: value and orientation differences among groups
latent conflict the sources of conflict in organizations cont44
Latent Conflict: The Sources of Conflict in Organizations (Cont.)
  • Some representative latent conflict (cont.)
    • Interdependence: forces interaction
    • Communication barriers: shift work and jargon
    • Ambiguous jurisdictions: areas of authority not clearly defined
    • Reward systems: reward different behavior in different parts of the organization

Sales on commission; manufacturing rewardedfor meeting schedules. Communication differences.

conflict management model
Conflict Management Model
  • Maintain conflict at functional levels
    • Not complete elimination
    • Reducing to functional levels
    • Increasing dysfunctionally low conflict
    • Choose desired level of conflict based on perceived conflict requirements
    • Varies in different parts of an organization
    • Manager’s tolerance for conflict plays a role
conflict management model cont
Conflict Management Model (Cont.)

Organizational

culture

Product or

service

Fast-changing

environment

Perceived conflict requirements

Desired conflict level

conflict management model cont47
Conflict Management Model (Cont.)

Dysfunctionally

low conflict

Dysfunctionally

high conflict

Normal

Increase

conflict

Decrease

conflict

Text book Figure 11.2

conflict management model cont48
Conflict Management Model (Cont.)
  • Symptoms of dysfunctionally high conflict
    • Low trust
    • Information distortion
    • Tension/antagonism
    • Stress
    • Sabotage of organization’s product or service
conflict management model cont49
Conflict Management Model (Cont.)
  • Symptoms of dysfunctionally low conflict
    • Deny differences
    • Repress controversial information
    • Prohibit disagreements
    • Avoid interactions
    • Walk away from conflict episode
reducing conflict
Reducing Conflict
  • Overview
    • Lose-lose methods: parties to the conflict episode do not get what they want
    • Win-lose methods: one party a clear winner; other party a clear loser
    • Win-win methods: each party to the conflict episode gets what he or she wants
reducing conflict cont
Reducing Conflict (cont.)
  • Lose-lose methods
    • Avoidance
      • Withdraw, stay away
      • Does not permanently reduce conflict
    • Compromise
      • Bargain, negotiate
      • Each loses something valued
    • Smoothing: find similarities
reducing conflict cont52
Reducing Conflict (Cont.)
  • Win-lose methods
    • Dominance
      • Overwhelm other party
      • Overwhelms an avoidance orientation
    • Authoritative command: decision by person in authority
    • Majority rule: voting
reducing conflict cont53
Reducing Conflict (Cont.)
  • Win-win methods
    • Problem solving: find root causes
    • Integration: meet interests and desires of all parties
    • Superordinate goal: desired by all but not reachable alone
reducing conflict cont54
Reducing Conflict (Cont.)
  • Summary
    • Lose-lose methods: compromise
    • Win-lose methods: dominance
    • Win-win methods: problem solving
increasing conflict
Increasing Conflict
  • Increase conflict when it is dysfunctionally low
    • Heterogeneous groups: members have different backgrounds
    • Devil’s advocate: offers alternative views
    • Organizational culture: values and norms that embrace conflict and debate
conflict insights
Conflict Insights
  • Possible positive effects of conflict
  • Latent conflict
  • Conflict aftermath
  • Conflict episodes
  • Links between episodes
  • Latent conflict and methods of reduction
international aspects of conflict in organizations
International Aspects ofConflict in Organizations
  • Cultures that emphasize individualism and competition
    • Positively value conflict
    • English-speaking countries, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium
  • Cultures that emphasize collaboration, cooperation, conformity
    • Negatively value conflict
    • Many Asian and Latin American countries; Portugal, Greece, Turkey
international aspects of conflict in organizations cont
International Aspects ofConflict in Organizations (Cont.)
  • No direct research evidence
  • Cultural differences imply different functional conflict levels
international aspects of conflict in organizations cont59
International Aspects ofConflict in Organizations (Cont.)
  • Cross-cultural research has dealt with intergroup processes
  • Collaborative and cooperative cultures expect little conflict during intergroup interactions
  • Favor suppression of conflict with little discussion about people's feelings
  • Felt conflict likely part of some conflict episodes but hidden from public view
international aspects of conflict in organizations cont60
International Aspects ofConflict in Organizations (Cont.)
  • Managers from an individualistic country operating in a less individualistic country
    • Acceptable to express feelings during a conflict episode
    • Suppression of feelings could baffle them
    • Increasing conflict can confuse local people
    • Almost immediate dysfunctional results
ethical issues in conflict in organizations
Ethical Issues inConflict in Organizations
  • Tolerance for conflict
    • Manager with a high tolerance for conflict; keeps conflict levels too high for subordinates
    • Should such managers reveal their intentions about desired conflict levels?
    • Full disclosure: subordinates could leave the group if conflict levels became dysfunctionally stressful
    • Ethical question applies equally to newly hired employees
ethical issues in conflict in organizations cont
Ethical Issues inConflict in Organizations (Cont.)
  • Deliberately increasing conflict is an effort to guide behavior in a desired direction
    • Subtle methods of increasing conflict (forming heterogeneous groups) connote manipulation
    • Full disclosure: manager states his intention to use conflict to generate ideas and innovation
    • If people are free to join a group or not, the ethical issue likely subsides
ethical issues in conflict in organizations cont63
Ethical Issues inConflict in Organizations (Cont.)
  • Experiencing intrapersonal conflict
    • Requests to act against one's moral values
    • Observing behavior that one considers unethical
  • Reduce intrapersonal conflict
    • Report unethical acts
    • Transfer to another part of the organization
    • Quit
ethical issues in conflict in organizations cont64
Ethical Issues inConflict in Organizations (Cont.)
  • Different cultures place different values on conflict
    • Optimal conflict levels vary among countries
    • Lower levels conflict in collectivistic countries than individualistic countries

Should managers honor such values even if their homecountry values support higher levels of conflict?