Conflict in Organizations, Good or Bad

Topics: Conflict, Organizational conflict, Management Pages: 8 (2741 words) Published: January 28, 2013
Conflict in organizations is not bad. Discuss.
Organizational conflict is a state of discord caused by an actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between people working together. Conflict takes many forms in organizations. There is the inevitable clash between formal authority and power and those individuals and groups affected. There are disputes over how revenues should be divided, how the work should be done and how long and hard people should work (team and relationship conflict). There are jurisdictional disagreements among individuals, executives, managers, teams, departments, and between unions and management. There are subtler forms of conflict involving rivalries, jealousies, personality clashes, role definitions, and struggles for power and favor. There is also conflict within individuals — between competing needs and demands — to which individuals respond in different ways. A process that begins when an individual or group perceives differences and opposition between itself and another individual or group about interest and resources, beliefs, values or practices that matter to them. It occurs or arises due to difference in expectation and knowledge, poor communication, fear, attachment, incompatible values, harassments, stress, scarce resources, past trauma, misunderstandings and perceived oppression. It also arises usually during mergers and acquisitions, union negotiations, performance appraisals, interpersonal issues, changing job functions, downsizing and reorganizations. Conflict has negative effects on organizations such as, increase in turnovers, absenteeism, health issues, wasted resources, increase in production cost and decrease in job satisfaction and performance. Its positive effects include, increases effort of workers, diagnostic information, creativity, learning of new skills and forming of deep bonds. Conflicts can be handled through integrating, forcing, competition, sharing, smoothing, avoiding and compromising. There are two ways of looking at organizational conflict; the functional and dysfunctional.  Each of these ways is linked to a different set of assumptions about the purpose and function of organizations. Conflict that occurs in organizations need not be destructive, provided the energy associated with conflict is harnessed and directed towards problem-solving and organizational improvement.  However, managing conflict effectively requires that all parties understand the nature of conflict in the workplace.  The dysfunctional view (bad) of organizational conflict is imbedded in the notion that organizations are created to achieve goals by creating structures that perfectly define job responsibilities, authorities, and other job functions. Here, each worker knows where he or she fits, knows what he or she must do and knows how to relate to others in the organization.  This traditional view of organizations values orderliness, stability and the repression of any conflict that occurs.  To the "traditional" organizational thinker conflict implies that the organization is not designed or structured correctly or adequately.  Common remedies would be to further elaborate job descriptions, authorities and responsibilities, increase the use of central power (discipline), separate conflicting members, etc.    This view of organizations and conflict causes problems. Unfortunately, most managers consciously or unconsciously, value some of the characteristics of this "orderly" environment. Problems arise when it is not realized that this way of looking at organizational conflict only fits organizations that work in routine ways, where innovation and change are virtually eliminated.  Virtually all government organizations work within a very disorderly context -- one characterized by constant change and a need for constant adaptation.  Trying to "structure away" conflict and disagreement in a dynamic environment requires tremendous amounts of...
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