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Organizational Conflict – Introduction

It is a generic term starting from misunderstanding to irritation, structure breakdown and non-cooperation. The symptoms of conflict are confrontation, strikes, lock-outs, closer, agitation, destructions, obstructions and breakdown etc. Conflict means breakdown in the standard mechanism of decision making and it occurs when an individual or a group, experience difficulty in selecting an alternative. The conflict is multidimensional and the four dimensions of conflict are.

  • Conflict within the individual
  • Inter personal conflict
  • Inter group conflict
  • Inter organizational conflict


Conflict within the individual


Management should keep in mind that all men have conflict within themselves. The conflict within the individual can display in itself number of alternatives. Conflicts occur because of discrepancy between individuals’ real ability and the ability needed to hold his present position. Individual conflict can also occur because of is different positions and roles within the organization. The individual can also create conflict within himself if there are too many ambiguities contained in his position. Therefore there are number of reasons for conflict which an individual experiences within the confinement of his job duties.


Inter Personnel Conflicts


All conflicts are basically inter-personnel conflict because most of the conflicts involve conflict between a person in one organization or a group to another person in together organization or a group. Inter personal conflicts can be presented in terms of different level of obstruction. Inter personal conflict may lead to delay in decision making as may arise either due to distortion in the structure form or because of the complexity of individual needs. Inter personnel conflicts as the tendency to resolve itself because of the conflicting parties are not able to continue in a tense situation for a very long time. Time is the healing factor for inter personnel conflicts. It is the time factor which normally helps to resolve inter personnel conflicts.


Inter Group Conflicts


Most of the inter group conflicts are because of the rational goals of individuals or groups the conventional method of managing group on conflict are:


1. Use of authority for the suppression of conflicts

2. Blaming the other authority

3. Finding a scope goat

4. Bargaining and the third party intervention.


The managing conflict will vary because of the circumstances and external environment, case history, assumptions and belief about the groups. The new techniques of inter group conflict are:


1. Decentralization of power and authority

2. Development of subordinates

3. Participation style of management

4. Job Enrichment and job enlargement


Inter Organizational Conflicts


In inter-organizational conflicts, the external environment like social institutions, group dynamism, and culture of the group and government policies plays on important role. Conflicts are not evil but the part of the natural order. Conflicts are because of the generation gap. Managers must try to live with conflict. If the conflict is properly handled, it can be constructive in achieving the results. It can act as a stimulus; it may be a challenge and mutational force to keep the organization moving.


Stages of Conflict


Five stages of a conflict episode may be identified as

Latent conflict

Perceived conflict

Felt conflict

Manifest conflict and

Conflict aftermath

Let us discuss them one by one.


Latent Conflict


Four basic types of latent conflict are (a) competition for scarce resources (b) drives for autonomy (c) divergence of submit goals, and (d) role conflict. Competition forms the basis for conflict when the aggregated demands of participants for resources exceed the resource available to the organization. Autonomy needs form the basis of conflict when one party either seeks to exercise control over some activity that another party regards as it own province or seeks to insulate itself from such control; goal divergence is the source of conflict when two parties which must cooperate on some joint activity are unable or more types of latent conflicts may also be present at the same time.


The role conflict model treats the organization as a collection of role sets, each composed of the focal persons having different roles. Conflict is said to occur when the focal person receives incomputable role demands or expectations from the persons in his role set. The difficulty in this is that it treats the focal person as merely a passive receives rather than as a active participant in the relationship.


Perceived Conflict


Conflict may sometimes be perceived when no conditions of latent conflict exist and latent conditions may be present in a relationship without any of the participants perceiving the conflict. The case in which conflict is perceived when no latent conflict arises is said to result from the parties mis-understanding of each other true position. Such conflict can be resolved by improving communication between the parties.


Feit Conflict


There is an important difference between perceiving conflict and feeling. We may be aware that ‘B’ and ‘ A’ are in serious disagreement over some policy, but it may have no effect whatsoever. On A’s affection towards B. The personalization of conflict is the mechanism which causes many people to be concerned with disfunction of conflict. There are two explanations off the personalization of conflict. First, the inconsistent demand on efficient organization and individual growth which create within the individual. Anxieties may also result from crisis or from extra organizational internal equilibrium. Secondly conflict becomes personalized when the whole personality of the individuals is involved in the relationship. Hostile feelings are most common in the intimate relations that characterize various institutions and residential colleges.


Manifest Conflict


By manifest conflict it is meant any of the several varieties of conflict behaviors. The most obvious of the open aggression, but such physical and verbal violence is usually strongly prescribed by organizational norms. Except for prison, riots, political revolutions and extreme labour unrest, violence as a form of manifest conflict is rare. The motivations towards violence may remain, but them to be expressed in less violent form.


Conflict after Math


Each conflict episode is but one of the sequence of such episodes that constitute the relation ships among organization members. If the conflict is genuinely resolved to the satisfaction of all participants, the basis of a more co-operative relationship may be laid; of the participants in their drive for a more ordered relationship may focus on latent conflicts nor previously perceived an dealt. On the other hand, if the conflict is merely suppressed but not resolved the latent conditions of conflict may be aggravated and exploded on more serious form until they are rectified or until the relationship dissolves. This conflict is called “Conflict after math”.