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Chapter 11

BUS 272 Chapter 11: Ch11 Conflict and Negotiation in the Workplace

Business Administration
Course Code
BUS 272
Sam Thiara

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Chapter 11 Conflict and Negotiation in the Workplace
LO1- The meaning and Consequences of Conflict
Conflict is a process in which one party perceives that its interests are being opposed or
negatively affected by another party. It may occur when one party obstructs another’s goals in
some way, or just from one party’s perception that the other party is going to do so. Conflict is
ultimately based on perceptions; it exists whenever one party believe that another might
obstruct its efforts, whether or not the other party actually intends to do so.
Is Conflict Good Or Bad?
Negative Consequences
Positive Consequences
Consuming otherwise productive
Undermine job performance
Conflict is often stressful, which
consumes personal energy and
distracts employees from their work
Conflict discourages people engaged
in the dispute from sharing resources
and coordinating with each other.
Reduce job satisfaction, resulting in
higher turnover and lower customer
Fuels Organizational politics
Decision making suffers since people
are less motivated to communicate
valuable information
Weakens team cohesion
Organizations are most effective
when employees experience some
level of conflict
Energizes Better decision making
- Tests logic of arguments
- Questions assumptions
Moderate levels of conflict prevent
an organization from becoming
nonresponsive to its external
Conflict occurs when team members
have a dispute or competition with
external sources. This form of conflict
represents an external challenges
and potentially increase team
Benefits of Conflict
1. Energizes people to debate issues and evaluate alternatives more thoroughly
2. Moderate levels of conflict prevent an organization from becoming nonresponsive to its
external environment
3. Team members have a dispute or competition with external sources
LO2 The Emerging View: Task and Relationship Conflict
There are 2 types of conflict with opposing consequences: task conflict and relationship conflict
Task conflict (constructive conflict): occurs when people focus their discussion around the issue
while showing respect for people with other points of view.
This type of conflict debates the merits and limitation of different positions so ideas and
recommendations can be clarified, redesigned, and tested for logical soundness. By keeping the

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debate focused on the issue, participants calmly re-examine their assumptions and beliefs
without having hostile emotions triggered by their drive to defend their self-concept.
Subset of task conflict: process conflict entails disagreement about how tasks should be
performed and who should perform the various roles and duties.
Task conflicts tend to produce beneficial outcomes particularly better decision making.
Relationship conflict: it focuses on interpersonal differences between or among the adversaries.
The parties refer to “personality clashes” and other interpersonal incompatibilities. It involves
one party questioning or critiquing personal characteristics of the other person.
This attempts to undermine another person’s competence and threaten self-esteem and oppose
self-enhancement and self -verification processes. Consequently, they usually trigger defence
mechanisms and a competitive orientation between the parties. It also reduces mutual trust
because it emphasizes interpersonal differences that shred identification with the other person.
Relationship conflict escalates more easily than task conflict.
Separating Task from Relationship Conflict:
Advice: encourage task conflict and minimize relationship conflict.
Challenge: separating two types of conflict isn’t easy. People experience some degree of
relationship conflict whenever people are engaged in constructive debate.
Three factors or conditions and their concomitant strategies potentially minimize the level of
relationship conflict that occurs during task conflict episodes:
Emotional intelligence and emotional stability.
Employees with higher emotional intelligence and stability are better able to regulate their
emotions during debate, which reduces the risk of escalating perceptions of interpersonal
hostility. They are also more likely to view a co-worker’s emotional reaction as valuable
information about that person’s needs and expectations, rather than as a personal attack.
Cohesive team.
Relationship conflict is suppressed when the conflict occurs within a highly cohesive team. The
longer people work together the more latitude they give to each other to show emotions
without being personally offended. (Might explain why task conflict is more effective in top
management teams).
Another benefit is that cohesion produces a stronger social identity with the group so team
members are motivated to avoid escalating relationship conflict during otherwise emotionally
turbulent discussions.
Supportive Team Norms.

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Various team norms can hold relationship conflict at bay during task-focused debate. Some
team norms encourage openness while other norms might discourage team members from
displaying negative emotions toward co-workers.
Team norms also encourage tactics that diffuse relationship conflict when it first appears.
LO3 Conflict Process Model
Arrows looping back from manifest conflict-to-conflict perceptions and emotions. These arrows
illustrate that the conflict process is really a series of episodes that potentially cycle into conflict
Structural Sources of Conflict in Organizations
The conflict model starts with the sources of conflict, so we need to understand these sources to
effective diagnose conflict episodes and subsequently resolve the conflict or occasionally to
generate conflict where it is lacking.
Sources of conflict (6 main conditions):
1. Incompatible Goals:
It occurs when the goals of one person or department seem to interfere with another person’s
or department’s objective.
Conflicts can also manifest due to differences about how to achieve a goal.
2. Differentiation
This can be a significant source of conflict because it usually represents differences among
people and work units regarding their training, values, beliefs, and experiences.
Incompatible goals
Scarce resources
Ambiguous rules
Poor communication
Conflict style
Overt behaviors
Better Decision
Responsive organization
Team Cohesion
Negative: Stress/low morale
o Turnover
o Politics
o Lower Performance
o Distorted Information
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