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Chapter 13


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University of Ottawa

Chapter 13I What Is ConflictInterpersonal conflict is a process that occurs when one person group or organizational subunit frustrates the goal attainment of another In its classic form conflict often involves antagonistic attitudes and behaviours such as name calling sabotage or even physical aggression II Causes of Organizational ConflictIt is possible to isolate a number of factors that contribute to organizational conflict A Group Identification and Intergroup Bias This is the tendency of people to develop a more positive view of their own ingroup and a less positive view of outgroups of which they are not a member This tendency appears to develop even when group membership is essentially arbitrary The best prognosis is that people who identify with some groups will tend to be leery of outgroup members B Interdependence When individuals or subunits are mutually dependent on each other to accomplish their own goals the potential for conflict exists The potential for the abuse of power in such relationships and the ongoing need for coordination are both potential problem areas C Differences in Power Status and Culture Conflict can erupt when parties differ significantly in power status or culture Power If dependence is not mutual but oneway an imbalance in power can arise and the potential for conflict increases Status Status differences have the greatest potential for conflict when a reversal of expected roles occurs that is when a high status person like an executive finds themselves being educated on computer usage by their administrative assistant Some executives are defensive about this reversal of roles Culture When two or more very different cultures develop in an organization the clash in beliefs and values can result in overt conflict D Ambiguity Ambiguous goals jurisdictions or performance criteria can lead to conflict Under such ambiguity the formal and informal roles that govern interaction break down and it may be difficult to determine responsibility Ambiguous performance criteria are a frequent cause of conflict between managers and employees
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