Very Short Question and Answers

1. State the human relations view of the conflict.

 From the late 1940s mid-70s, the human relations view dominated the topic of organizational conflict. The human relations view does not discard conflict as an outright negative and destructive thing. Instead, it says that an organizational conflict may be beneficial for the individuals, groups, and the organization in general. Moreover, this perspective even suggests that organizational conflicts within groups may even lead to better group performance and outcome.

2.  State the interactionist view of the conflict.

The human relations view argues that conflict is a natural occurrence in all groups and, as such, it should be managed and not eliminated. The interactionist view proposes that conflict can be a positive force in a group and explicitly argues that some conflict is necessary for a group to perform effectively.

3. What is intra-group conflict?

Intra-group conflict is the conflict between members within a group. It is the conflict within a group as an outcome of inter-group conflict.

4. Define functional conflict.

 The type of conflict that brings in positive consequences and supports the goals of the group is known as functional conflict. A functional conflict is thus a form of constructive conflict.

5. What is conflict?

Conflict is a situation in which two or more parties feel themselves in opposition. In other words, conflict is a process in which an effort is purposefully made by one person or unit to block another resulting in frustrating the attainment of other goals or the furthering of his or her interests.

6. Enumerate the nature of the conflict.

 The key features that enumerate the nature of conflict are enlisted as follows:

  • There remain mutually exclusive goals;
  • There exist two types of perception;
  • There must be intentional effort;
  • Conflict exists either at the latent or overt level.

Short Questions and Answers

1. What is conflict? Explain the conflict process.

Meaning of Conflict

Conflict is a situation in which two or more parties feel themselves in opposition. In other words, conflict is a process in which an effort is purposefully made by one person or unit to block another resulting in frustrating the attainment of other goals or the furthering of his or her interests.

The following is the process of conflict:

  • Potential opposition of incompatibility: The development of the feeling of opposition or incompatibility between the individuals or groups is the potential source of conflict. They provide opportunities to generate conflict in the surface. These conditions may be studied under the three categories such as communications, structure, and personal variables.
  • Cognition and personalization: If one of the factors mentioned in the potential opposition or incompatibility stage actually appears as a conflict, then state cognition and personalization are started based on a conflicting issue. During this stage, the perception of conflict arises between the parties involved in the opposition issue.
  • Intentions: The third stage of the conflicting process is intentions or decisions to take action in a certain way for handling conflict. Intentions intervene between individuals’ perceptions and emotions and their overt behaviour. Managers may have multiple choices for handling the conflict. However, using the cooperativeness and assertiveness dimension five conflict-handling intentions are identified. They are: competing, collaborating, avoiding, accommodating and compromising.
  • Behaviour: This is a stage where conflict becomes visible. The behaviour stage includes the statements, actions, and reactions made by the conflicting parties. These conflict behaviours are usually overt attempts to implement each party’s intentions. The conflicting parties show their behaviour by presenting their own views, opinions, evidence and logic. An important part of the management function is to understand the behaviour presented by conflicting parties for its solution.
  • Outcomes: The action-reaction interplay between the conflicting parties results in consequences. The consequences may be functional or dysfunctional. The outcome of the functional conflict is the improvement in the group’s performance whereas dysfunctional conflict hinders group performance, Conflict is constructive when it improves the number of decisions for the encouragement of creativity and innovations.
2. Explain the sources of conflict.

Sources/Nature of Conflicts

Conflict can arise from a variety of sources. They can be classified into two broad categories: structural factors, which stem from the nature of the organization and the way in which work is organized and personal factors, which arise from differences among individuals. The causes/sources of conflict can be summarized into two categories.

a) Structural Factors

  • Specialization: When jobs are highly specialized, employees become experts at certain tasks. For example, in case of a software company, there is one specialist for data bases, another for statistical packages, and yet another for expert systems. As the highly specialized people have little awareness of the tasks that others perform, such a case leads to conflict among the specialists.
  • Interdependence: Interdependence occurs when two or more groups depend on each other to accomplish their tasks. Depending on other people to work done is good when the process works smoothly. However, when problem arises, it becomes easy to blame other party, and as such, conflict escalates. The potential of conflict increases as the degree of interdependence increases.
  • Goal differences: Sometimes different work groups having different goals have incompatible goals. For example, in a cable television company, the salesperson’s goal is to sell as many new installations as possible. This can create problem for the service department, because their goal is to do timely installations.

b) Personal factors

  • Skills and abilities: The workforce in an organization/department is composed of people with varying levels of skills and abilities. Such diversity in skills and abilities leads to conflict, especially when jobs are interdependent. Workers may find it difficult to work with a new boss, fresh from University knowing a lot about managing people but unfamiliar with the technology they are working with.
  • Personalities: Personality also causes individual differences. It is differences in personality that neither the manager likes all of his co-managers and subordinates nor all of them like the manager. This creates conflict among them. Research studies report that usually an abrasive personality is rejected by others. An abrasive person is one who ignores the interpersonal aspects of work and the feelings of colleagues.
  • Perception: Differences in perceptions can also lead to conflict. One area in which perceptions can, for example, differ may be the perception of what motivates employees. Managers, for example, usually provide what they think employees want rather than what employees really want.
  • Values and ethics: People also hold different beliefs and adhere to different value system. Older workers, for example, value company loyalty and probably do not take a sick day when they are not really sick/ill. But, the younger workers, valuing mobility, may be taking a sick day to get away from work.
  • Emotion: The moods of the people can also be a source of conflict in the work place. Problems of home often spill over into the work arena, and the related moods can be hard for others to deal with.
  • Communication barriers: Communication barriers such as physical separation and language can create distortions in messages, and these, in turn, can lead to conflict Value judgment also sometimes serves as barrier.
3. Explain the concept of inter-group conflict? Enlist its types. Explain the dynamics of inter-group conflict.

Inter-Group Conflict

When there is a conflict between two different groups of an organization, it is called an inter-group conflict. The conflict between marketing and finance groups in an organization is an example of inter-group conflict.

The concepts of intergroup conflict can be explained below given points:

  • There are distortions of perception, related to one’s own group and about the other group. Firstly, perception of one’s own group is highly selective: people see only the best aspects of their own group and deny any weakness. Secondly, perception of the other groups is systematically distorted: groups see only the worst parts of other groups and deny other groups positive accomplishments. Thus, inter group conflict leads to increased use of stereotypes. Each group develops more positive stereotype of itself and a more negative of other.
  • Interaction and communication between groups decreases. As group members feel hostile toward members of rival groups, there is less desire for interaction with them. Moreover, decreased interaction. Makes it easier for each group to maintain its negative stereotype of the other. Even when groups are forced to interact with each other, those interactions become fairly rigid and formal. Whatever information is passed between groups is carefully rationed and sometimes deliberately distorted. Groups tend to ignore the similarities between their positions and exaggerate the differences.
  • There is a shift from problem-solving orientation toward other groups to a win-lose orientation. There are various facts to this shift in orientation. First, there is a much clearer distinction drawn between the groups, resulting in a “we- they” rather than a “We-versus’ – the problem” orientation. Second, all exchange with the other groups are evaluated in terms of victory or defeat. Third, the groups tend to see the problem only from their own point of view, rather than in terms of the needs of both groups. Fourth, the parties emphasize the benefits of winning the conflict in the short run and tend to ignore the long-term consequences of the conflict for the relationship between the groups.
  • As a result of negative stereotyping, decreased communication between groups, win-lose orientation, etc. hostility inevitably occurs between rival groups. Members of the other group are seen as the enemy, and deserving of hostile attacks.

Types of Inter-Group Conflict

The primary types of inter-group conflict are listed as follows:

a) Functional conflict: Conflict that supports the goals of the groups and improve its performance

b) Dys-functional conflicts: Conflict that hinders group performance

c) Task conflict: Conflict over content and goals of the work

d) Relationship conflict: Conflict based on interpersonal relationships

e) Process conflict: Conflicts over how work gets done

The Dynamics of Inter-Group Conflict

When conflicts take place between groups the following dynamism can be seen.

a) Changes within each group:

Each group now try to make them strong to meet the hurdles created, by another group. In this regard, one can observe the following scenarios.

  • Loyalty to the group becomes more important: In the face of an external threat, the group demands more loyalty from individual members. Not only is social interaction with people outside the group not encouraged; it is expressly discouraged. Such interaction could lead to an inadvertent betrayal of group strategy and secrets. Deviance is more closely monitored and punished.
  • There is increased concern for task accomplishment: When there is inter-group conflict, the group member becomes more concerned about accomplishing the task. There will be fewer informal relations among group members but high formal relations among group members.
  • Leadership in the group becomes more autocratic: When intergroup conflict is resent it is especially important for a group to be able to respond quickly and in a unified manner to the activities of other groups. A democratic work style can reduce the group’s capacity to respond quickly. Hence, the leadership usually switches to autocracy.
  • The organization and structure of the group become more rigid: After the inter-group conflict among the groups, each group, is concerned with making the group more effective. There will be a rigid organizational structure with more focus on formal relations. Moreover, tasks are highly valued.
  • Group cohesiveness (degree of unity) is increased: In the face of an external threat, past differences and difficulties between group members are forgotten. The group closes ranks to meet the challenge. Individual group members find both the group as a whole and other group members more attractive.

b) Changes in Relations between Groups:

  • Interaction and communication between groups decreases
  • There are distortions of perception, both one’s own group and about the other group`.
  • There is a shift from a problem-solving orientation toward other groups to a win-lose orientation
  • There is increased hostility forward the rival group.

Long Question and Answers

1. Discuss the approaches to conflict management.

Approaches to Conflict Management

Conflict arises from different sources. It is inevitable to avoid conflict in an organizational setting. So with appropriate techniques, conflict should be managed. There are different approaches to managing conflict. Some of the highly adopted approaches to conflict management are explained below.

  • Dominance: Dominance is the easiest technique to manage conflict. . In this technique manager will eliminate the conflicting parties. By dismissing the conflicting parties, the conflict can be managed. This is, however, a short-term solution.
  • Avoidance: Conflict can be managed by avoiding it. In this technique, one party avoids the conflict and lets the conflicting parties win. Moreover, redefining the goals and not making over-lapping goals helps to manage conflict.
  • Smoothing: In this technique, the differences between two parties are disguised while similarities are highlighted. This make both the party feel that they are not much apart. This shared viewpoint enhances the possibility of working together for common goals.
  • Compromise: In this technique, the conflicting parties compromise with each other on certain points. The party provides something else to other parties in exchange for the desired outcomes. If the desired outcome is not achieved conflict again rises. Hence, this is also a temporary solution.
  • Hierarchical decision-making: In this technique, a common superior can be requested to use his authority to resolve conflict. However, it is a very widely accepted technique that loses its best when the authority figure fails to understand the issue properly and the subordinates do not respect them.
  • System restructuring: By restructuring the system, one can often manage the conflict in the organization. It involves clarifying demands and segregating roles in different positions, and people can resolve role conflicts.
  • Bargaining: In this technique parties in conflict bargain with each other to solve the conflict. Here the use of bargaining power is highly used.
2. Examine their negative and positive outcomes in an organization.

Positive Outcomes of Conflict

More often conflict leads to certain positive outcomes. A few of them are:

  • It provides an individual with a chance to think again, undertake self-introspection and have a second look at the existing things, be they procedures, policies, equipment, behaviours etc. In this regard, conflict is a major stimulant for change.
  • It leads to innovation and at times, to a new direction. It is, therefore, even necessary for an organization’s survival and growth.
  • It helps seek classification and generate search behaviour.
  • At times, conflict is also used as a means to certain ends and to create confusion or set subordinates against each other in order to maintain the interested party’s own position. It may not be a positive outcome in the strict sense of the term from the organizational point of view, but it is certainly a management strategy to ward off problems temporarily. It may be viewed as an unavoidable cost of the pursuit of one’s aspirations.
  • When conflict is developed, attention is immediately drawn to the malfunctioning parts of a system. It is an indication that the situation. calls for improvement. Conflict is, therefore, an essential portion of a cyber-native system.
  • It energises people and leads to mild stimulation. Moreover, it helps the employee to test their capacities.
  • It serves as a cementing force in a group and incredible unity is witnessed even in a heterogeneous group in times of tension.
  • For some. It is exhilarating and provides endless challenge and meaning to their lines.

Negative Outcomes of Conflict

Many times conflicts may be detrimental and disastrous. A few of such circumstances in which it can be termed harmful and undesirable are discussed below.

  • When conflict does not lead to the solution to a problem, it is unproductive and investment of time and effort goes waste.
  • It is undesirable if it creates a climate of distrust and suspicion among people, if some people feel defeated and if it develops antagonism instead of a spirit of cooperation.
  • When management loses objectivity and treats disagreement as equivalent to disloyalty and rebellion, an opportunity for creativity should be deemed to have been lost. It may even pour oil over troubled waters; exploit differences to strengthen itself and weaken others, and accept resolutions capable of different interpretations.
  • In an attempt to find a solution, management may gloss over serious differences and suppress certain feelings which may except at inappropriate moments and hit safe targets.
  • In the event of a conflict, there may be an intensification of internalization of subunit goals which may result in the neglect of overall organizational goals.

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