Conflict in the Organization Chapter 9 (pp. 157-171)

Conflict in the Organization
Chapter 9
(pp. 157-171)
 Communication & Conflict
 Defining Conflict
 Origins
 Consequences
 Factors Influencing Conflict
 Conflict Styles
 Disputes and Negotiation
 Conflict Management &
Resolution Skills
Communication & Conflict
 Mild “tensions” vs. Incapacitation
 Understanding conflict is critical to
communication success
 Communication constitutes the essence
of conflict in that it undergirds the
formation of opposing issues, frames
perceptions of the felt conflict,
translates emotions and perceptions
into conflict behaviors, and sets the
stage for future conflicts (Putnam &
Poole, 1987)
Conflict Defined
 Two or more interdependent parties who
perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources,
and interference from others in achieving that
goal (Hocker & Wilmot, 1995)
 Competition between interdependent parties
who perceive that they have incompatible
needs, goals, desires, or ideas (Van Slyke,
 The interaction of interdependent people who
perceive opposition of goals, aims, and values,
and who see the other party as potentially
interfering with the realization of these goals
(Putnam & Poole, 1987)
Conflict Defined
 Interdependence
 Perceived Incompatible Goals
 Scarce Resources
 Interference
 Social Interaction
 Central to Conflict
 How conflict is identified and framed
Origins of Conflict
 Four Events that precipitate interpersonal conflict
 Failure to respond to appeal for desired action
 Unjust or extreme request
 Unfavorable or demeaning verbal or nonverbal act
 Repetition of instances that crosses tolerance threshold
 Five Factors that favor the development of conflict
Frequency of Occurrence
Goal Mutuality
Goal-Path Uncertainty
Attribution of Cause
Negative Feelings
Consequences of Conflict
 Negative Consequences
 Less Effective
 Suboptimal Productivity
 Inhibited Cognitive Functioning
 Positive Consequences
 Identify and Better Understand Issues
 Clarify Issues
 Creative Solutions
Factors Influencing Conflict
Content Related vs. Personal
Size of Conflict
Rigidity of the Issue
Power Differences
Individual Personalities, Traits,
and Dispositions
Conflict Styles
Strategy Effectiveness
Adapt to the Situation
Be Fair and Objective
Appropriate and Effective
Mutual Awareness
Open-minded Attitudes
Willingness to Ignore Power Issues
Problem-Solving Procedures
Characterizing Conflict Styles
 5 Basic Conflict Styles
Withdrawing (Avoiding)
Smoothing (Accomodating)
Forcing (Dominating; Competing)
Confronting (Collaborating, Problem Solving,
 Compromising
 Ethical Climate Determines Effectiveness
of Conflict Style
 Formal Procedures / Rules
 McKinney, Kelly, and Duran (1997)
 CMMS scale Ross & DeWine (1988)
 Concern for other, self, and issue
 Nicotera (1994)
Conflict Styles Research
 McKinney, Kelly, and Duran (1997)
 Concern for other and issue positively related to
social confirmation
 Concern for other and issue positively related
with social experience
 Concern for self negatively related to social
 Nicotera (1994)
AVOID - evasive vs. estranged
ACCOMMODATE - accommodate vs. patronize
COMPETE - assertive vs. aggressive
COLLOBORATE - consolidate vs. begrudge
 Flexibility is influenced by liking, loyalty,
and personality factors (aggressiveness,
tolerance, and innovativeness)
Conflict Styles Research
 Superior’s Conflict Styles and Rewards
for Subordinates
 System Rewards (salary, benefits, promotions)
 Performance Rewards (responsibility, decision
making input, meaningful/challenging work)
 Interpersonal Rewards (recognition, friendship,
status, appreciation, feeling of belonging)
 Results
 Collaboration and Forcing styles predict
Interpersonal and Performance Rewards
 No relationships identified . . .
 between accommodation and perceived
 between manager conflict styles and system
Conflict Styles Research
Diversity and Gender
Workplace diversity and
orientations toward conflict can
heighten the frequency and
intensity of conflict situations
Lack of understanding of cultural
differences can result in conflict
Personality has a greater impact on
conflict style than biological sex
Disputes and Negotiation
 Bargaining as Compromise
 Participants negotiate mutually shared
rules and then cooperate within these
rules to gain a competitive advantage
over opponent
 Bargaining and Negotiation are
 Organizational Responses (Disputing Process
Instrument (DPI) Morrill & Thomas, 1992)
Aggressiveness - expense of others
Authoritativeness - resources of
social position
Observability visible to social
 Seven Conflict Behaviors (DPI)
The Negotiation Process
 The goal of negotiation is no longer
exclusively getting an effective settlement
 Redefinition of the problem
 Perceptual change in the elements of the
 New appreciation of the socio/historical context
of the dispute
 Communication-as-Negotiation
 Transformational power that transcends notions
of technical and instrumental rationality
 Participants define the conflict and its
 Rationality and Effectiveness (and
Appropriateness) help define many aspects of
organizational life
Conflict Management & Resolution Skills
 First, understand the factors contributing to conflict
 Next, we identify the methods for resolving conflict
 Two Forms of Conflict Resolution
 Distributive Conflict Resolution
 Winning through the use of negative behaviors
 Disagreement to prevent others from reaching their goals
 Serves personal needs and goals at the expense of others
 Conflict as WIN - lose
 Integrative Conflict Resolution
 Foster cooperation and shared solutions
 Modifying ideas, bargaining for an acceptable
 Search for solutions and provide support for others
 Cooperative and not mutually exclusive
 Objective is to share values, highlight common
objectives, and help achieve consensus
 Transition from distributive to integrative conflict resolution
occurs when the need to accomplish a common goal is
Conflict Management & Resolution Skills
 Once individuals realize that it will be impossible to
achieve the desired goal without resources and abilities
beyond their own, the transition can take place.
 Ability to establish effective working relationships
 Must have cooperative and problem-solution attitudes
 Must be able to manage the group process and group
decision making be knowledgeable about the issues
 Interpersonal Relationships are at the core of our
ability to resolve conflict
 Effective development of interpersonal relationships
among co-workers can potentially decrease the severity
of grievances filed
 Metaphors to describe attitudes toward conflict
 CONFLICT as WAR (great personal cost)
 CONFLICT as IMPOTENCE (powerless to impact)
 CONFLICT as RATIONAL PROCESS (collaboration)
 Most frequent - conflict as impotence
Conflict Management & Resolution Skills
 Having skills and knowledge of different approaches to
conflict may help one overcome a sense of helplessness
in conflict settings
 Resolving conflicts depends on the perceptions of the
 Misinformation can lead to negative perceptions
 Organizational conflict can be one of the most
frustrating and difficult aspects of working in an
 Especially frustrating when people feel they have no
control over the outcome
 Be sensitive to your own style of interacting and
managing conflict and pay attention to the styles of
 Conflict is expected and anticipated in the
communicative organization (CO)
 The only UNKNOWN is how parties respond to
Strategies for Dealing with Conflict
 Be Objective
 Analyze and separate content and personal issues
 Planning stage for strategic communication
 Be Aware of Preferred Style of Conflict Resolution
 Plan, Recognize, Contain, and Cope
 Distinguish Symptoms from Causes
 Symptoms let us know a conflict is present
 Causes of conflict are issues underlying the
 Identify Success of Methods already Implemented
 Ignore problems
 Persuasion
 Compromise
 Be Sensitive to Different Approaches and Views of
Conflict based on Gender and Cultural Diversity
 Communication & Conflict
 Defining Conflict
 Origins
 Consequences
 Factors Influencing Conflict
 Conflict Styles
 Disputes and Negotiation
 Conflict Management &
Resolution Skills