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NATURE OF CONFLICT Syed ZulkifalMS (HR)- Bradford University –UKVisiting FacultyIMSciences
What is Conflict? • Narrow concept: March and Simon (1958, p. 112) consider conflict as a breakdown in the standard mechanisms of decision making, so that an individual or group experiences difficulty in selecting an alternative. • Broad Concept: Pondy (1967) has argued that organizational conflict can best be understood as a dynamic process underlying organizational behaviour. • Tedeschi et al. (1973) take a middle position, defining conflict as “an interactive state in which the behaviours or goals of one actor are to some degree incompatible with the behaviours or goals of some other actor or actors” (p. 232).
Cont. • Definitions overlap with respect to the following elements: 1. Conflict includes opposing interests between individuals or groups in a zero-sum situation; 2. Such opposed interests must be recognized for conflict to exist; 3. Conflict involves beliefs, by each side, that the other will thwart (or has already thwarted) its interests; 4. Conflict is a process; it develops out of existing relationships between individuals or groups and reflects their past interactions and the contexts in which these took place; and 5. Actions by one or both sides do, in fact, produce thwarting of others’ goals .
Contd. • Conflict is defined as an interactive process manifested in incompatibility, disagreement, or dissonance within or between social entities (i.e., individual, group, organization, etc.). • Conflict occurs when one or (two) social entity/ies: 1. Is required to engage in an activity that is incongruent with his or her needs or interests; 2. Holds behavioural preferences, the satisfaction of which is incompatible with another person’s implementation of his or her preferences;
Contd. 3. Wants some mutually desirable resource that is in short supply, such that the wants of everyone may not be satisfied fully; 4. Possesses attitudes, values, skills, and goals that are salient in directing one’s behaviour but that are perceived to be exclusive of the attitudes, values, skills, and goals held by the other(s); 5. Has partially exclusive behavioural preferences regarding joint actions; and 6. Is interdependent in the performance of functions or activities.
CONFLICT AND COMPETITION • Conflict is considered as a situation of competition in which the parties are aware of the incompatibility of potential future positions and in which the party wishes to occupy a position that is incompatible with the wishes of the other, • conflict occurs when the parties become aware of the incompatibility and wish to interfere with the attainment of each other’s goal attainments. • Conflicts may be placed along a continuum of cooperative to competitive, • three ideal points along this cooperative–competitive continuum to facilitate the categorization of conflicts:
Contd. • Purely cooperative conflicts (technically, “positive-sum games” or “conflicts of coordination”), • Purely competitive conflicts are technically termed “zero-sum games” or “negative-sum games”, • most conflicts are characterized by both cooperative and competitive aspects (i.e., they are “nonzero-sum games” or “mixed-motive” conflicts).
CLASSIFICATION OF CONFLICT • Conflict may be classified on the basis of its sources. • It may also be classified on the basis of organizational levels (individual, group, etc.), Sources of Conflict • Conflict may originate from a number of sources, such as tasks, values, goals, and so on, 1. Affective/Psychological /Relationship/Emotional • when two interacting social entities, become aware that their feelings and emotions regarding some or all the issues are incompatible, • “a condition in which group members have interpersonal clashes characterized by anger, frustration, and other negative feelings”
Contd. 2. Substantive/Task/Cognitive/Issue Conflict • when two or more organizational members disagree on their task or content issues • “disagreements among group members’ ideas and opinions about the task being performed, such as • disagreement regarding an organization’s current strategic position or determining the correct data to include in a report” 3. Conflict of Interest • “an inconsistency between two parties in their preferences for the allocation of a scarce resource.” • The contention of managers A and B for the same vice president’s job exemplifies a conflict of interest.
Contd. 4. Conflict of Values/Ideological Conflict • when two social entities differ in their values or ideologies on certain issues, • For example ideological disagreement of supervisors A and B on the question of “compensatory hiring”. 5. Goal Conflict • when a preferred outcome or an end-state of two social entities is inconsistent. • For example the understanding of managers A and B that only one of their preferred job design programs can be implemented for their division.
Contd. 6. Realistic versus Non-realistic Conflict • Realistic Conflict refers to incompatibilities that have rational content (i.e., tasks, goals, values, and means and ends). • Realistic conflict is associated with “mostly rational or goal-oriented” disagreement, • Non-realistic conflict occurs as a result of a party’s need for releasing tension and expressing hostility, ignorance, or error. 7. Institutionalized versus Non-institutionalized Conflict • Institutionalized conflict is characterized by situations in which actors follow: • explicit rules, • display predictable behaviour, and • their relationship has continuity, • For example line–staff conflict or labour–management negotiations.
Contd. • Most racial conflict is non-institutionalized where these three conditions are nonexistent. 8. Retributive Conflict • This conflict is characterized by a situation where the conflicting entities feel the need for a drawn-out conflict to punish the opponent, • Each party determines its gains, in part, by incurring costs to the other party. 9. Misattributed Conflict • This relates to the incorrect assignment of causes (behaviours, parties, or issues) to conflict, • For example, an employee may wrongly attribute to his or her supervisor a cut in the employee’s department budget, which may have been done by higher-level managers over the protest of the supervisor. 10. Displaced Conflict • This type of conflict occurs when the conflicting parties either direct their frustrations or hostilities to social entities who are not involved in conflict or argue over secondary, not major, .issues
Levels of Analysis • Organizational conflict may be classified as intra-organizational or inter-organizational, • Intra-organizational conflict may be classified as • intrapersonal, • interpersonal, • intra-group, and • Inter-group.
Contd. 1. Intrapersonal Conflict • Also known as intra-individual or intra-psychic conflict. • This type of conflict when an organizational member is required to perform certain tasks and roles that do not match his or her expertise, interests, goals, and values. 2. Interpersonal Conflict • Also known as dyadic conflict. • It refers to conflict between two or more organizational members of the same or different hierarchical levels or units. • superior–subordinate conflict relate to this type of conflict.
Cont. 3. Intra-group/intra-departmental Conflict • refers to conflict among members of a group or between two or more subgroups within a group in connection with its goals, tasks, procedures, etc. 4. Intergroup/interdepartmental Conflict • It refers to conflict between two or more units or groups within an organization. • Conflicts between line and staff, • production and marketing, and • headquarters and field staffs
STYLES OF HANDLING INTERPERSONAL CONFLICT Model of Two Styles • Deutsch (1949) first suggested the simple cooperative–competitive model, • Knudson, Sommers, and Golding (1980), suggested engagement – avoidance model, Model of Three Styles • Putnam and Wilson (1982) suggested that there are three styles of handling interpersonal conflict: • non-confrontation (obliging), • solution-orientation (integrating), and • control (dominating). • Billingham and Sack (1987) (reasoning, verbal aggression, and violence) and • Rands, Levinger, and Mellinger (1981) (attack, avoid, and compromise).
Contd. Model of Four Styles • based on the two dimensional model that consists of • concern for self (high or low) and • concern for others (high or low). • Pruitt (1983) suggested that there are four styles of handling conflict: • yielding, • problem solving, • inaction, and • contending. • According to Pruitt (1983) and Pruitt and Carnevale (1993) problem-solving style is the best for managing conflict effectively.
Contd. Model of Five Styles • First conceptualized in 1926 by Mary P. Follett (1940), • She conceptualized three primary ways of handling organizational conflict— • domination, • compromise, and • integration • secondary ways of handling conflict, such as • avoidance and • suppression.
A Two-Dimensional Model of the Styles of Handling Interpersonal Conflict.
Contd. • Integrating Style/problem solving • Obliging Style/accommodating • Dominating Style/competing • Avoiding Style/suppression • Compromising Style