Conflict Management Organizational Behavior But we cannot avoid conflict, conflict with society, other individuals and with oneself. Conflicts may be sources of defeat, lost life and a limitation of our potentiality, but they may also lead to a greater depth of living and the birth of more far-reaching unites, which flourish in the tensions that engender them. -Karl Jaspers The amount of entropy in corporate America has increased substantially because of two basic reasons. The first involves the immigration of a large and continuous population of ethnic, migrant workers from different corners of the world. These knowledge workers are products of varying, and at times diametrically opposing environments that in turn, affect their perceptions and subsequently the formulation of their opinions and beliefs. This may be illustrated in a comparison between two coworkers; a wealthy Swede and a lower-middle class Pakistani (first world and LDC comparison) working on the same project simultaneously.
Their perspectives on several issues will vary, as their upbringing is mirror opposite. The second reason may be attributed to the era of globalization, which has created a favorable environment for mergers and acquisitions. The acquisition of smaller companies by a large firm creates large amounts of conflict within the organization, as the acquired company becomes a mere sub culture within the larger firm. A collection of these sub cultures causes cross-cultural conflicts between employees as each employee has their own fixed mindset.
However, they now have to adopt a new set of (conflicting) goals, work in a different environment under a separate management team.The resultant conflict is harmful to the existing organizational environment, and unless rectified, produces a self-destruct climate that does not support the long-term goals of the corporation. As corporate America enters the next millennium, it is faced with the increasingly difficult task of integrating these varying opinions, climates and management styles to produce an environment that supports the companys long terms goals. This process of integration is better understood by studying the science of conflict management. A Conflict is a process that encompasses all kinds of antagonistic interactions (passive resistance to overt aggression) among people, designed to inhibit the attainment of goals of another party that has dissimilar and incompatible objectives.
Conflict management involves resolving these negative processes through communication and compromise. It is the art of persuading two antagonistic parties to come to a workable solution on a debatable subject to attain a common goal.This paper performs an acute dissection of organizational conflict. It emphasizes that a certain amount of conflict is necessary for corporations to constantly innovate and survive in a turbulent environment. Particular attention is devoted to organizational metamorphoses in mergers and in trade negotiations between the U.
S and Pacific-rim countries, as they both present cases of differing organizational cultures and ideologies. PERSPECTIVES IN CONFLICT ANALYSIS Conflicts can be analyzed from five different perspectives, beginning from the individual level, up to the organizational level. It starts at the individual level (Intra-indvidual conflicts) where individuals are confronted with moral dilemmas or deadly quarrels .The next level involves conflicts between individuals (Inter-individual conflicts) that occur because of communication gaps and differences in opinion. Individual-group conflicts are ones where individuals find themselves sparring with groups. This may occur when an individual breaks a norm.
They usually occur with newer employees who are not familiar with the norms of the organization. A rung above this level of conflict involves conflict between groups, which include conflicts between all aggregations of people, regardless of size.It encompasses conflicts across departments of a firm as well as conflicts between different firms. Inter group conflicts are most commonly found in acquired companies where cultural differences exist between old and new employees. The best way to resolve these conflicts involves setting up work teams within the troubled zones, whereby grievances are openly aired and defensive routines (not discussing the undiscussability of the undiscussable) are avoided.
While studying an acquisition between Compaq and Tandem computers, I proposed that the establishment of work groups across all levels of the organizations consisting of Compaq and Tandem employees would be the most effective way of diffusing tension and subsequently reducing conflict between employees. Communication in small groups enable peers to interact with each other, increasing their understanding of each other which in turn increases interpersonal coordination. SOURCES OF CONFLICT Conflicts usually spring from the following sources within an organization. 1.
Limited Resources: Basic economics state that all resources are finite, and this promotes conflict among individuals and groups.2. Interdependent Work activities- Differences in opinion regarding the usage of these scarce resources result in conflict as people have differences in perspective. 3. Communication problems- inadequate channels of communication between opposing parties result in the escalation of conflict.
4. Environment of the organization- this is applicable to the creation of an organizational climate in a corporation that has recently acquired other firms.Cultural differences coupled with poor communication between managers create conflict between all employees. Frequent changes in a firms environment, or the amount of turbulence in the environment often promotes conflict among members. An example is the change in importance from hardware to software in the computer industry, and the subsequent actions IBM had to take in the early 1980s. CONFLICT MANAGEMENT Conflict is good! Stimulating conflict can provide several benefits to the organization.
They provide the organization a means to introduce radical change. Management can drastically change the existing power structure and attitudes.While it is argued that conflict increases hostility between group members, external pressures and threats tend to make the unit more close knit. Intergroup conflicts raise the extent to which members identify with their own group and increase feelings of solidarity, while, at the same time, internal differences and irritations dissolve. Additionally, Conflicts improve group and organizational effectiveness by encouraging innovation through diversity of opinion and through the creation of a more constructive level of tension .
Low-tension levels signify insufficient motivation within the group. The introduction of a conflict activates peoples gray matter and this is beneficial for the organization. Recent studies show that the right amount of conflict maximizes organizational performance (See Appendix A). Although conflict does not facilitate efficiency in decision making, it prevents groupthink.Differences in opinion prevent wayward decision making as they provide a natural system of checks and balances for the group. Americas intervention in the Vietnam War is the perfect illustration of the negative effects that the lack of conflict has on the eventual decision.
Recorded below are transcripts of four successive American presidents regarding the importance of Americas intervention into the Vietnam War. EISENHOWER, August 4, 1953: ..So when the United States votes $400 million to help that war, we’re not voting for a giveaway program. We’re voting for the cheapest way that we can prevent the occurrence of something that would be of the most terrible significance to the United States of America, our security! KENNEDY, September 2, 1963: ..
If we withdrew from Vietnam, the Communists would control Vietnam. Pretty soon Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaya would go. JOHNSON, August 2, 1965: ..If this little nation goes down the drain and can’t maintain her independence, ask yourself, what’s going to happen to all the other little nations? NIXON, March 22, 1971: .
.If the United States now were to throw in the towel and come home and the Communists took over South Vietnam, then all over Southeast Asia, all over the Pacific, in the Mideast, in Europe, in the world, the United States would suffer a blow.And peace — because we are the great peacekeeping nation in the world today, because of our power — would suffer a blow from which it might not recover. Their unanimous agreement over the importance of Americas participation in the war was not questioned at any cost. That negligence on Americas part would create a domino effect …