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Chapter 13

MGHB02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Reaction Formation, Defence Mechanisms, Flextime


Department
Management (MGH)
Course Code
MGHB02H3
Professor
Julie Mc Carthy
Chapter
13

Page:
of 9
Questions and Exercises prepared by Alan Saks.
I. What Is Conflict?
Interpersonal 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 Conflict
It 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 "in-group" and a less
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ositive view of "out-groups" of which they are not a member.
This tendency appears to develop even when group membership is essentially arbitrary. The best
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rognosis is that people who identify with some groups will tend to be leery of out-group members.
B. Interdependence
When individuals or subunits are mutually dependent on each other to accomplish their own goals, the
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otential for conflict exists. The potential for the abuse of power in such relationships and the on-going
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 one-way, 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.
E. Scarce Resources
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Differences in power are magnified when common resources are in short supply. Resources may also act
as buffers in sufficient quantities which, when removed, allow conflict to surface. Scarcity has a way of
turning latent or disguised conflict into overt conflict.
III. Types of Conflict
Relationship conflict concerns interpersonal tensions among individuals that have to do with their
relationship per se, not the task at hand. So-called “personality clashes” are examples of relationship
conflicts. Task conflict concerns disagreements about the nature of the work to be done.
Differences of opinion about goals or technical matters are examples of task conflict. Process conflict
involves disagreements about how work should be organized and accomplished. Disagreements about
responsibility, authority, resource allocation, and who should do what all constitute process conflict. In
the context of work groups and teams, task, relationship, and process conflict tend to be detrimental to
member satisfaction and team performance.
IV. Conflict Dynamics
A number of events occur when one or more of the causes of conflict takes effect. As a conflict begins,
"winning" becomes very important, the parties conceal information from each other, each group
becomes more cohesive, contact with the opposite party is discouraged, negative stereotypes of the
opposite party develop, and an aggressive leader skilled at engaging in conflict may emerge. Based on
these internal dynamics, the elements of this process work against the achievement of a peaceful
solution and the conflict continues to cycle "on its own steam."
V. Modes of Managing Conflict
Conflict expert Kenneth Thomas has developed a set of five conflict management styles or strategies
that are a function of both how assertive you are in trying to satisfy your own or your group’s concerns,
and how cooperative you are in trying to satisfy those of the other party or group. Each style might have
its place given the situation in which the conflict episode occurs.
A. Avoiding
Avoiding is a conflict management style characterized by low assertiveness of one's own interests and
low cooperation with the other party. This is the "hiding the head in the sand" response to conflict. Its
effectiveness is often limited.
B. Accommodating
Accommodating is a conflict management style in which one party cooperates with the other party,
while not asserting one's own interests. This may be seen as a sign of weakness.
C. Competing
Competing is a conflict management style that maximizes assertiveness for your own position and
minimizes cooperative responses. The conflict tends to be framed in strict win-lose terms.
D. Compromise
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Compromise is a conflict management style that combines intermediate levels of assertiveness and
cooperation. This tends to be a satisficing approach — neither true competition nor true accommodation.
Compromise does not always result in the most creative response to conflict.
E. Collaborating
Collaborating is a conflict management style that maximizes both assertiveness and cooperation.
Collaboration works as a problem-solving approach where the object is to determine a win-win solution
to the conflict that fully satisfies the interests of both parties. It is assumed that the solution to the
conflict can leave both parties in a better condition. Effective collaboration frequently enhances
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roductivity and achievement. Collaboration between organizational departments is particularly
important for providing good customer service.
VI. Managing Conflict with Negotiation
Negotiation is a decision-making process among interdependent parties who do not share identical
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references. Labour and management negotiate over wages and conditions, but job applicants also
negotiate for starting salaries, employees negotiate for better job assignments, and people with sick kids
negotiate to leave work early. Negotiation constitutes conflict management, in that it is an attempt either
to prevent conflict or to resolve existing conflict. It is an attempt to reach a satisfactory exchange among
or between the parties.
It has become common to distinguish between distributive and integrative negotiation tactics.
Distributive negotiation assumes a zero-sum, win-lose situation in which a fixed amount of assets is
divided between parties.
Integrative negotiation is a win-win negotiation that assumes that mutual problem solving can enlarge
the assets to be divided between the parties. Distributive and integrative negotiations can take place
simultaneously.
A. Distributive Negotiation Tactics
Distributive negotiation is essentially single-issue negotiation. Reaching an acceptable resolution in
distributive negotiation involves both parties arriving at a point in the "settlement range", an area of
overlap between each party's target and their resistance point. Several techniques can influence how that
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oint is determined.
Threats and Promises. Threats consist of implying that punishment will be forthcoming if the opponent
does not concede to your position. Promises are pledges that concessions will lead to rewards in the
future.
Firmness versus Concessions. Intransigence — not moving — is often met by the same and the
negotiations are deadlocked. A series of small concessions early in the process will often be matched.
Persuasion. Verbal persuasion or debate is common in negotiations. It is an attempt to change the
attitudes of the other party toward your target position.
B. Integrative Negotiation Tactics
The effort and creativity required to move past "fixe
d
-pie" bargaining can be well worth the effort. A
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