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Chapter 11

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Business Administration
BUS 272
Graeme Coetzer

Chapter 11 – Conflict and Negotiation in the Workplace  Conflict – a process in which one party perceives that its interests are being opposed or negatively affected by another party Is Conflict Good or Bad?  “conflict is bad” perspective now considered oversimplistic, but research shows that some conflict lowers job satisfaction, team cohesion, info sharing, biased perceptions and decisions, higher levels of org politics, stress, turnover, distracts employees and may cause them to withhold info, less motivated to communicate and try to understand other party, which leads to distorted perceptions and stereotypes  U-shaped relationship – wide acceptance in 1970s and still popular today o There is an optimal lvl of conflict, while too little/too much is bad for org effectiveness → research shows a moderate lvl of conflict produces several favourable outcomes (improved decision making, prevents orgs from stagnating and become nonresponsive to external enviro, potentially increases cohesion w/in the team)  The Emerging View: Constructive and Relationship Conflict o Constructive conflict (task/cognitive conflict) – occurs when ppl focus their discussion on the issue while maintaining respectfulness for ppl having other pov’s  Different pov’s are encouraged so that ideas/recommendations can be clarified, redesigned and tested for logical soundness → participants re-examine assumptions and beliefs about problem and possible solutions w/o triggering drive to define and associated negative emotions and ego-defense mechanism behaviours o Relationship conflict (socioemotional, affective, destructive conflict) occurs when ppl view their differences as personal attacks rather than attempts to resolve an issue  Attention on interpersonal incompatibilities rather than legitimate differences of opinion regarding tasks  Employees try to undermine others’ argument by questioning competency of person presenting that argument → triggers defense mechanisms and competitive orientation, less motivated to communicate and share info, making it more difficult to resolve conflict  Separating Constructive from Relationship Conflict o We should encourage constructive conflict for better decision making and minimize relationship conflict to avoid dysfunctional emotions and behaviours  However, research shows that constructive conflict often sows seeds of relationship conflict o 3 strategies to minimize lvl of relationship conflict  EI – if team members have high emotional intelligence, relationship conflict is less likely to occur/escalate; better able to regulate emotions during debate, reducing risk of escalating perceptions of interpersonal hostility; more likely to view co-workers emotional reaction as valuable info about person’s needs expectations  Cohesive team – relationship conflict is suppressed when conflict occurs w/in highly cohesive team; strong cohesion allows each person to know about and anticipate behaviours /emotions of teammates, gives more latitude to show emotions w/o being personally offended. Produces stronger social identity so team members are motivated to avoid relationship conflict  Supportive team norms – certain norms hold relationship conflict at bay during constructive debate, discourage team members from displaying negative emotions towards co-workers, encourage tactics that diffuse relationship conflict when it first appears Conflict Process Model  Sources of Conflict lead one or both parties to perceive that conflict exists → awareness that one party’s statements and actions are incompatible w/ own goals → conflict perceptions/emotions manifest in decisions and behaviours of one party toward another/ style of resolving the conflict (conflict episodes) → manifest conflict to conflict perceptions/emotions (series of episodes that may cycle into conflict escalation) Structural Sources of Conflict in Organizations  Incompatible Goals – where goals of one person or dept seem to interfere w/ another person’s or dept’s goals  Differentiation – differences among ppl/depts./ other entities regarding training/values/beliefs/experiences o Different from goal incompatibility n/v 3 ppl/depts. May agree on common goal but differ in how to achieve that goal o Intergenerational conlicts largely due to effects of differentiation – younger/older employees have different needs/expectations/values o Info tech maintains differentiation b/c w/o face-to-face experiences, employees have more difficulty forming common mental modes and norms  Interdependence – exists when team members must share common inputs to individual tasks, need to interact in process of executing work , or receive outcomes that are partly determined by performance of others o Higher interdependence increases risk of conflict b/c there is greater chance that each side will disrupt or interfere w/ other side’s goals o Potential for conflict is higher in sequential interdependence work relationships, but highest is in reciprocal interdependence situations (employees highly dependent on each other and have a higher chance of interfering w/ each other’s work and personal goals)  Scarce resources o Conflict generated b/c each person/unit requiring same resource necessarily others who also need that resource to fulfill their goals – not enough financial, human capital, other resources for everyone to accomplish goals, so employees need to justify why they should receive the resources  Ambiguous rules (or complete lack of them) o Uncertainty increases risk that one party will interfere w/ other party’s goals, encourages political tactics, or a free-for-all battle to win decisions in their favour → hence why conflict is more common during mergers/acquisitions o When clear rules exist, employees know what to expect from each other and have agreed to abide by those rules  Communication problems o Lack of opportunity/ability/motivation to communicate effectively breeds conflict o No opportunity – rely more on stereotypes to understand other party in conflict, which can distort meaning of an opponent’s actions which will escalate conflict o Lack of skill – some ppl don’t know how to communicate in a diplomatic/nonconfrontational manner, which can heighten the other side’s perception of the conflict o Low motivation – some ppl avoid interacting w/ others due to uncomfortableness of relationship conflict, but there is less opportunity to empathize w/ other side, so rey on stereotypes Interpersonal conflict handling styles  Problem Solving o Tries to find mutually beneficial solution for both parties (win-win situation) o Ppl believe resources at stake are expandable rather than ficxd if parties work together to find a solution o Info sharing is important feature – parties collaborate to identify common ground and potential solutions  Forcing o Tries to win the conflict at other’s expense (win-lose orientation) o Parties are drawing from a fixed pie, so more one party receives, less the other party receives o Relies on hard influence tactics  Avoiding o Tries to smooth over/avoid conflict situations together o Low concern for both self and other party – suppress thinking about the fonclit  Yielding o Giving in completely to other side’s wishes, or cooperating w/ little or no attention to your own interests o Making unilateral concessions and unconditional promises, offering help w/ no expectation of reciprocal help  Compromising o Looking for a position in which your losses are offset by equally valued gains o Matching other party’s concessions making conditional promises/threats, actively searching for middle ground  Choosing the best conflict handling style o Ppl tend towards 1-2 conflict handling styles that best match their personality, personal/cultural values/past experience o Confucian cultures prefer non-confrontational conflict handling styles b/c consistent w/ cultural value of harmony o Western cultures generally more comfortable w/ forcing approach (although less popular than other styles) o Gender differences – problem solving/compromising preferred more b
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