• A process that begins when one party perceives that
another party has negatively affected, or is about to
negatively affect, something that the first party cares
– That point in an ongoing activity when an interaction
“crosses over” to become an interparty conflict
• Encompasses a wide range of conflicts that people
experience in organizations
– Incompatibility of goals
– Differences over interpretations of facts
– Disagreements based on behavioral expectations
Forms of Conflict
• Conflict that supports the
goals of the group and
improves its performance
• Conflict that hinders
Types of Conflict
◦ Conflicts over content and goals of the work
◦ Low-to-moderate levels of this type are
◦ Conflict based on interpersonal relationships
◦ Almost always DYSFUNCTIONAL
◦ Conflict over how work gets done
◦ Low levels of this type are FUNCTIONAL
Stage I: Potential Opposition or Incompatibility
◦ Semantic difficulties, misunderstandings, over communication
◦ Size of the group
◦ Degree of specialization in tasks assigned to group members
◦ Jurisdictional clarity/ambiguity
◦ Member/goal incompatibility
◦ Leadership styles (close or participative)
◦ Reward systems (win-lose)
◦ Dependence/interdependence of groups
◦ Differing individual value systems
◦ Personality types
Stage II: Cognition and Personalization
• Important stage for two reasons:
1. Conflict is defined
• Perceived Conflict
– Awareness by one or more parties of the existence of conditions
that create opportunities for conflict to arise
2. Emotions are expressed that have a strong impact on
the eventual outcome
• Felt Conflict
– Emotional involvement in a conflict creating anxiety, tenseness,
frustration, or hostility
Stage III: Intentions
– Decisions to act in a given way
– Note: behavior does not always accurately reflect intent
• Dimensions of conflict-handling intentions:
• Attempting to satisfy
the other party’s
• Attempting to satisfy
one’s own concerns
Stage IV: Behavior
• Conflict Management
– The use of resolution and stimulation techniques
to achieve the desired level of conflict
• Conflict-Intensity Continuum
Conflict Resolution Techniques
– Problem solving
– Superordinate goals
– Expansion of resources
– Authoritative command
– Altering the human
– Altering the structural
– Bringing in outsiders
– Restructuring the
– Appointing a devil’s
Stage V: Outcomes
– Increased group performance
– Improved quality of decisions
– Stimulation of creativity and
– Encouragement of interest
– Provision of a medium for
– Creation of an environment
for self-evaluation and
– Development of discontent
– Reduced group effectiveness
– Retarded communication
– Reduced group cohesiveness
– Infighting among group
members overcomes group
• Negotiation (Bargaining)
– A process in which two or more parties exchange
goods or services and attempt to agree on the
exchange rate for them
• Two General Approaches:
– Distributive Bargaining
• Negotiation that seeks to divide up a fixed amount of
resources; a win-lose situation
– Integrative Bargaining
• Negotiation that seeks one or more settlements that can
create a win-win solution
Distributive versus Integrative
Bargaining Characteristic Distributive
Goal Get all the pie you can Expand the pie
Motivation Win-Lose Win-Win
Focus Positions Interests
Information Sharing Low High
Duration of Relationships Short-Term Long-Term
E X H I B I T 14-5
Notas del editor
Conflict primarily deals with perception. If nobody thinks there is conflict, then no conflict exists. Conflict can be experienced in an organization through many different avenues. It can be that the goals of the individuals are incompatible or there is a difference in opinion over the interpretation of facts. Many conflicts also arise through disagreements about how people should behave.
The interactionist view of conflict does recognize that even though functional conflict can support the group goals and improve their performance there is also dysfunctional conflict that hinders group performance. This type of conflict should be avoided, controlled, or minimized as much as possible.
There are many types of interactionist conflict including task, relationship, and process. Task conflict arises when there is conflict over the content and/or goals of the work. If this type of conflict exists at low to moderate levels, then this is a functional conflict that can help individuals seek clarification or new ideas on how to accomplish their goals.
Relationship conflict is based on problems between individuals and is almost always dysfunctional.
Process conflict occurs when there is disagreement on how the work gets done. Low levels of process conflict represent functional conflict.
The conflict process is outlined above. In the following slides we will look at each step individually.
Stage one of the conflict process is potential opposition or incompatibility. In this stage there are three main conditions that can cause conflict to arise. They are communication, structure, and personal variables. Communication may cause conflict when words mean different things to different people and misunderstandings result. Communication can be functional to a point, but when too much communication is given, it can cause frustrations and sometimes there are barriers in place to effectively hear what is being communicated.
Structure can cause conflict when people are confused about their roles or the amount of authority they have. If goals are not well-defined or different for different group members, that can cause conflicts. Also leadership styles may cause conflict if it is not a style group members respond well to. Reward systems and dependency issues may also be sources of conflict.
Personal variables will cause conflicts when there are different value systems represented and personality types are at odds.
These factors can bring about conflict and set the stage for conflict to occur. Stage two then talks about what comes next.
Stage two looks at the recognition or cognition of the conflict and the personalization or the emotional part of the conflict. As stated earlier, in order for conflict to be present, there must be an awareness of its existence, defined as perceived conflict. Once people are aware of the conflict, emotions are expressed that can impact the outcome of the conflict – this is defined as felt conflict. Emotions can include anxiety, tension, frustration, or hostility.
Stage three starts to look at the intentions of the individuals involved. These intentions include the determination to act in a certain way, but it is important to realize behavior does not always accurately reflect intention. Sometimes people act out of emotion and not rational thinking.
There are competing dimensions of conflict-handling intentions. One can be motivated by cooperativeness or attempting to satisfy the other party’s concerns or assertiveness, attempting to satisfy one’s own concerns. As the exhibit in this slide shows, there are also variations of those two competing claims.
Stage four moves us beyond intentions to the chosen behavior in the conflict. Conflict management is using behavior such as resolution and stimulation techniques to manage how much conflict is present. The conflict-intensity continuum in this slide shows the escalation of conflict from zero conflict to annihilatory conflict.
There are a number of techniques available to help work through conflict. Some ideas include problem solving, increasing communication, and restructuring the organization. Each technique chosen needs to reflect the situation and the people involved in order to be an effective conflict resolution technique.
Stage five looks at the outcomes of conflict resolution. Functional outcomes include increasing group performance, encouraging interest and curiosity, and creating an environment for self-evaluation and change. Dysfunctional outcomes include discontent workers, reduced group cohesiveness, and infighting. In order to create functional conflict, it is important to reward dissent and punish conflict avoiders.
Having a good understanding of conflict and conflict resolution, it is now important to look at negotiation. Negotiation or bargaining is the process where the people involved work on creating a deal that is mutually beneficial. There are two main approaches – distributive and integrative. Distributive bargaining seeks to divide up a fixed amount of resources and often creates a win/lose situation. Integrative bargaining seeks one or more settlements that can create a win-win situation for all parties involved.
The chart on this slide compares the two different bargaining approaches in regards to different criteria.