BUS 272 Organizational Behavior
Chapter 9 Conflict and Negotiation
Conflict and Negotiation
Functional: Productivity INCREASES. Usually cognitive (conflict is aimed at the arguments)
Task-oriented; Results in identifying differences
eg arguing over a goal in a sports game. As long as you focus on what actually happened (he was outside the
line when he hit the ball), and not on the people themselves (he’s such a cheat, he does it on purpose!), it’s
probably functional conflict.
Eg arguing about how to approach a team project, what to do next, how to present it, etc.
Decreases the possibility of groupthink, and makes teams consider other possibilities.
Dysfunctional: Productivity DECLINES. Often affective or emotional; conflict is aimed at the people.
Example: Justice Harry LaForme resigned from the Truth and Reconciliation commission (formed in May).
the panel is "on the verge of paralysis" because his commissioners do not share his vision or accept his
LaForme also accused the commissioners of wanting to make decisions by majority rule even though they
were appointed to simply offer advice and assistance.
"At the heart of it is an incurable problem," LaForme said in his letter to Indian Affairs Minister Chuck
Strahl, which he made public in a press release.
"The two commissioners are unprepared to accept that the structure of the commission requires that the
commission's course is to be charted and its objectives are to be shaped ultimately through the authority
and leadership of its chair."
FIVE WAYS TO RESOLVE CONFLICTS (on page 319)
1) Forcing: Imposing one’s will on the other party. (Effective but short lived)
Use in emergencies only; on important but unpopular issues (eg. new tax), and against people who take
advantage of noncompetitive behavior
You must have a power base that allows you to force.
Eg. Authoritative command (based on legitimate power): Management can use its formal authority to resolve
the conflict and then communicate its desires to the parties involved.
2) Avoiding: Withdrawing from, or suppressing, the conflict.
Use when the issue is trivial or unimportant, and when the potential disruption of conflict outweighs the
benefits of resolution.
Can be helpful to let people cool down and regain perspective; perhaps use this to delay the conflict, or to
avoid it altogether.
Wait for it to go under the rug.
Doesn’t resolve the conflict but sometimes it’s the best way to handle a situation.
3) Yielding: Accepting and incorporating the will of the other party.
Use when you’re in the wrong, or when harmony and stability are especially important.
Also use to show that you’re a reasonable person (you don’t always have to have your own way! Really!),
when the issue is more important to others than to yourself, or to build social credit (you did something for
them, so later they’ll do something for you)
4) Compromising: A situation in which each party to a conflict is willing to give up something. (splitting up the
Use when the goals are important, but not worth a more assertive approach.
Also use when opponents are committed to mutually exclusive goals; to achieve temporary solutions to
complex goals, or to arrive at quick decisions under time pressure.
-Meet me half way.. (Used very often and everyone goes away and feels ok)
Both might not get what they want
1 BUS 272 Organizational Behavior
Chapter 9 Conflict and Negotiation
5) Problem solving: Trying to reach an agreement that satisfies both one’s own and the other party’s aspirations
as much as possible. aka collaborating.
Use when both sets of concerns are too important to be compromised.
Purpose: to gain commitment through consensus, to mend a relationship, or merge different perspectives.
1. Requesting a face-to-face meeting to identify the problem and resolve it through open discussion.
2. Developing superordinate goals: Creating a shared goal that requires both parties to work together, and motivates
them to do so.
3. Expansion of Resources (expanding the pie): The scarcity of a resource--say, money, promotion opportunities, office
space--can create conflict. Expansion of the resource can create a win-win solution.
4. Altering the human variable: Behavioural change techniques such as human relations training can alter attitudes and
behaviours that cause conflict.
5. Altering the structural variables: The formal organization structure and the interaction patterns of conflicting parties
can be changed through job redesign, transfers, creation of coordinating positions, and the like.
Compromising versus Problem Solving
eg some students wanted lined paper, others wanted blank paper to write exam answers.
Compromising - lined paper for half the answers, blank paper for other half.
Problem solving - providing blank paper on exams themselves, AND having lined paper available for those who
FIVE WAYS TO RESOLVE CONFLICTS (pp. 320 – 321)
Cooperativeness - trying to satisfy the other person’s concerns
Assertiveness - trying to satisfy one’s own concerns.
All five are use