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Definition - Conflict • "a process which begins when one party perceives that the other is frustrated, or is about to frustrate, some concern of his (or her). Thomas, 1976 in B&H p634
Clients – who is affected? Actors – who are the leading players (individuals, groups and institutions) Transformations (what is the content and process? What is the ground that is being fought over?) World-view – what is the wider perspective Organisation – what are the organisational and coordinative implications Environment – what are the characteristics of the environment in which this is played? What are the conflicts & interests? How are they manifested (feelings & behaviour)? How would the conflicts normally be resolved? How do you think the participants perceive the resolutions in terms of degree of satisfaction ? Exercise Review an apparent source of conflict of interest in your organisation
Organisational policy and practice on conflict management • What would be the content and coverage of an organisational policy on conflict management? • What policy areas? • What norms and expectations in terms of behaviour?
Factors influencing the manner of resolution • Organisational climate & culture • Habituation, custom & practice, status quo • Personal or political interests • Presence or absence of systems, policies & procedures for managing conflict • Individual skill in conflict handling • Willingness to compromise
Attitudes towards conflict • A way of life • War ("…all's fair in love & …..") • Attrition • Coup de grace • Competition ("…we'll see who gets there first") • Avoidance ("…leave well alone") • Accommodation ("…no, after you") • Compromise ("…split the difference") • Collaboration ("…lets work this out together") B&H pp 564-656
Conflict and interpersonal communication • Raw, coercive, physical power • Conflict as a mediated process of social interaction • Individual processes (aggressive and polite communication, conflict handling, competence) • Ways of thinking about it (roles & identities, institutional pressures, cultural and organisational constraints, ethical boundaries) • Interactive processes (formal negotiations, cultural & communication processes in international business, negotiation in crises, office resentments and clashes) Anne Mayden Nicoreta et al 1995
Sources of conflict • Organisational hierarchy • Competition for scarce resources • Self-image & stereotypical views of others • Differing goals & objectives • Failures & resultant blame fixing • Poor coordination of activities
Player attitudes • I win – you lose (aggressive) • I lose – you win (passive) • I lose – you lose (total war) • I win – you win (assertive)
Stoking the fires • Doing things "by the book" • Poor or dysfunctional communication • Picking flights • Sabotage & spoiling tactics • Disregarding alienation & isolation • Public (ritual) humiliation • Highlighting faults & failures of others • Over time è distorted perceptions & raw, exaggerated emotions. Rational action unlikely.
Conflict resolution - definition • "…. A process that has as its objective the ending of conflict between disagreeing parties". B&H pp 653
How can we resolve the damaging effects of: • Avoidance & festering sores • Accommodation & resentment on giving ground • The dilemma of competition – creativity, energy * then losers at the tape • War – attrition, diversion of resources, defend/attack, subjugation to the victor. • Sub-optimisation arising from compromise. • Negotiation & bargaining power, a temporary, expedient deal.
Unitary and pluralistic frames of reference • Unitary • One set of values, beliefs, commitments • Shared understanding & commitment to objectives • One source of leadership • Team members - All pulling in the same direction • Potential for harmony is assumed provided leader communicates well • Disagreements è the result of misunderstanding • Dissidents – the "rabble" hypothesis Alan Fox – Research Paper to the Donovan Commission 1968
Unitary and pluralistic frames of reference • Pluralistic • Multiple values, beliefs, commitments and objectives • Diverse perceptions and understandings • Competing sources of leadership and loyalty • Individuals & members of separate groups • Pulling in different directions – all in same boat but…… • Potential for disagreement + conflict is inherent. • Natural distrust in management authority • Right to challenge decisions and share power • Representative participation > dissidents Beyond Contract (Fox 1974) agreements are "best we can get at the moment".
Conflict management techniques • Conflict resolving techniques • in a unitary framework? • in a pluralistic setting? • Management by confrontation – stimulating conflict • Bargaining • Distributive bargaining • Negotiations. Fixed sum is divided up. Win-lose • Integrative bargaining • Problem-solving negotiation - seek to increase the total cake. Create win-win situation both parties • Intra-organisational Bargaining Robbins 1996 (in B&H p 653)
Formal conflicts • Organisational "machinery" to receive & process disputes • within unitary and pluralistic settings? • Traditionally – represents "owners of capital" & "labour" • Positive and negative role for company and employee? • Pendulum – shifting power (employment law/labour market dynamics).
What machinery? • Procedures for • Negotiation • Individual grievance • Collective disputes • Disciplinary matters • Redundancy • Banging heads together (power intervention) • Problem-solving huddles – mediation • Psychotherapy • Take it to committee • Quality review panels • Third-party intervention & arbitration • Resort to litigation
Employer-Employee Relationships • Move from "traditional industrial relations" towards a new "employee relations" style with new style agreements • Flexibility • Employee involvement • TQM • Team working & empowerment Ed Rose (in Mabey & Salaman pp 266) • From pluralism & distribution with high bargaining leverage • To unitary, integrative bargaining, trust and/or low bargaining power.
Diversity & equality of opportunity Statement on diversity • "….accept that the workforce consists of a diverse population of people. The diversity consists of visible & non-visible differences including gender, ethnicity, disability, work style, personality. It is founded on the premise that harnessing these differences will create a productive environment where talents are being fully utilised & in which organisation goals are met." Binna Kandola & Johanna Fullerton 1994 • Claim rights, liberty and rights to property • Defence of self interest. • Libertarianism and communitarianism.
Why does unfairness flourish? • Equity, fairness, individuals and groups? • Perceived unfairness • Haves & "have-nots". Winners - losers • Structural biases • National & organisational cultures • Choices and habits • Top management commitments (or lack of them) • Teleology and leadership behaviours • Stereotyping "universal attribution of characteristics"