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Chapter 13

Chapter 13 - Conflict and Stress


Department
Management (MGH)
Course Code
MGHB02H3
Professor
Joanna Heathcote
Chapter
13

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Chapter 13 – Conflict and Stress
What is Conflict?
-Interpersonal conflict – the process that occurs when one person, group or organizational
subunit frustrates the goal attainment of another
- Conflict involves antagonistic attitudes and behaviours
- Conflicting parties might develop a dislike for each other and see each other as unreasonable and
develop negative stereotypes of their opposites
Causes of Organizational Conflict
Group Identification and Intergroup Bias
- People have a tendency to develop a more positive view of their own “in-group” and a less
positive view of the “out-group” of which they are not a member
-Intergroup bias occur b/c self-esteem is probably a critical factor
-Identifying with the successes of one’s own group and disassociating oneself from out-group
failure boosts self-esteem and provides comforting feelings of social solidarity
Interdependence
-When individuals or subunits are mutually dependent on each other to accomplish their own
goals, the potential for conflict exists
-It necessitates interaction between the parties so that they can coordinate their interests
-Interdependence implies that each party has some power over the other, it is easy for one side or
the other to abuse its power and create antagonism
Differences in Power, Status and Culture
-Power – if dependence is not mutual, the potential for conflict increases
-Status – status differences provide little impetus for conflict when people of lower status are
dependent on those of higher status
-Culture – clash in beliefs and values can result in overt conflict
Ambiguity
- Ambiguous goals, jurisdiction or performance criteria can lead to conflict, under such ambiguity,
the formal and informal rules that govern interaction break down
- Ambiguous perf. Criteria are a frequent cause of conflict between managers and employees
Scarce Resources
- Differences in power are magnified when resources become scarce
Types of Conflict
-Relationship conflict – interpersonal tensions among individuals that have to do with their
relationship per se, not the task at hand, personality clashes
-Task conflict – disagreements about the nature of the work to be done, differences of opinions
about goals or technical matters
-Process conflict – disagreements about how work should be organized and accomplished,
disagreements about responsibility, authority, resource allocation and who should do what
- In the context of work groups and teams, task, relationship and process conflict tend to be
detrimental to member satisfaction and team performance, prevents cohesiveness
-Some degree of task conflict might be beneficial for team perf. Especially when the task is no
routine and requires a variety of perspectives to be considered and when it does not degenerate
into relationship conflict
Conflict Dynamics
- When conflict begins, we often see the following events transpire:
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- “winning” the conflict becomes more important than developing a good solution to the problem
at hand
- Parties begin to conceal info from each other or to pass distorted info
- Each side becomes more cohesive, deviants who speak of conciliation are punished and strict
conformity is expected
-Contact with the opposite party is discouraged except under formalized, restricted conditions
- While the opposite party is negatively stereotyped, the image of one’s own position is boosted
- On each side, more aggressive people who are skilled at engaging in conflict may emerge as
leaders
- The elements of this process work against the achievement of a peaceful solution
Modes of Managing Conflict
-The approaches to managing conflict are a function of both how assertive you are trying to satisfy
your own or your group’s concerns and how cooperative you are in trying to satisfy those of the
other party of group
-Avoiding – a conflict management style characterized by low assertiveness of one’s own interest
and low cooperation with the other party
- Does not really change situation, effectiveness is limited, effective when issue is trivial and info
is lacking, people need to cool down or opponent is very powerful and hostile
-Accommodating – one cooperates with the other party, while not asserting one’s own interests
- Effective when you are wrong, the issue is more important to the other party or you want to build
good will
-Competing – maximizes assertiveness and minimizes cooperation
- Tend to frame the conflict in strict win-lose terms, full priority is given to your own goals, facts
or procedures
- Competing style effective when you hold power and are sure of your facts, and the situation is
truly win-lose, or you will not have to interact with the other party in future
-Compromise – combines the intermediate levels of assertiveness and cooperation
-A compromise between pure competition and pure accommodation, attempt to satisfice rather
than maximize your outcomes and hope that same occurs for the other party
- places premium on determine rules of exchange between two parties
- it always contains the seeds for procedural conflict in addition to whatever else is being
negotiated
- compromise does not always result in the most creative response to conflict, not useful for
resolving conflicts that stem from power asymmetry b/c weaker party may have little to offer the
stronger party
- sensible reaction to conflict stemming from scarce resources
- a good fall-back position if other strategies fail
-collaborating – maximizes both assertiveness and cooperation
- emphasis is put on a win-win resolution in which there is no assumption that someone must lose
something
- assumed that the solution can leave both parties in a better condition
-works best when conflict is not intense and when each party has info that is useful to the other,
effective collaboration takes time and practice to develop, enhances productivity and
achievement, helps manage conflict inside org.
Managing Conflict with Negotiation
-negotiation - a decision making process among interdependent parties who do not share
identical preferences
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