In this two part post I look at a paper published earlier this year which looks at how to deal with conflict in organisations.
Be impressively well-informed
Get your FREE organizational and people development research briefings, infographics, video research briefings, a free copy of The Oxford Review and more...
In almost all organizations there will be a level of natural and inherent conflict. Conflict is a natural part of human existence.
People have different perspectives and different ideas and sometimes those ideas and perspectives change or create conflict. At some level, particularly in creative environments the tension provided by conflict is a good thing as it provides the spark for the creativity. However, conflicts can get out of hand if those on the different sides of the conflict become entrenched in their views and treat the conflict as a problem, rather than the basis for creativity. This then can impact on the organization as a whole. A happy organization is a productive one, and so the opposite is also largely true – the unhappy organization can be and often is unproductive and things like staff turnover increases, which in turn increases cost.
A paper just published in International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management looked at the case of a bank and found that ‘conflict management protocols’ can help to prevent conflict becoming problematic.
The authors identified three situations where conflict is most likely to arise:
- Change. This is unsettling to all involved in the process and can cause ructions in an organization.
- Conflicting goals and objectives with different values and priorities
- Limited resources. Where bodies within the organization are competing for the same resources this can lead to problems arising.
The authors also identified five types of conflict within an institution:
- Structural conflict or conflict arising out of the need to manage the interdependence and flow of work between different organizational sub-units.
- Role conflict, which is conflict arising from sets of behaviours prescribed by the organization or the culture and the behaviours needed to actually get the job done
- Resources conflict, resulting from competition for limited resources.
- Communicational conflict, where misunderstandings arise between parties
- Personal conflict, meaning interpersonal conflict which arises from things like conflicting personalities or conflicts in values or beliefs.
Certain types of conflict are productive, for example challenging poor behaviour or each other’s ideas for example can help to prevent failure. Additionally conflict within a buzzing organization full of creativity where people disagree over how to achieve similar aims helps keep people sharp.
However when conflict starts to cause turbulence and negative behaviours like avoidance or aggression for example, then the conflict needs managing.
Conflict management means implementing strategies to limit the negative aspects of conflict and to increase the positive aspects of conflict.
The next post looks at what this study says about resolving conflict in organisations and how to develop great conflict management protocols that work.
Be impressively well informed
Get the very latest research intelligence briefings, video research briefings, infographics and more sent direct to you as they are published
Be the most impressively well-informed and up-to-date person around...