Conflict Management

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Managers spend a lot of time trying to eliminate conflict in organisations. Why and do you think this is a useful thing for them to do? Both the major sources of conflict and the strategies that managers can use to overcome conflict situations in organizations should be discussed in your answer.

“Conflict in an ever-present process in human relations.” (Charles, Loomis & Loomis, 1965, as cited in Ohio State University Fact Sheet, 2002) Debate, negotiations, bargaining, disagreements, and other forms of conflict are part of the everyday life of organizational members (Barker, Tjosvold, Robert, 1988). It is a vital aspect of organizations and cannot be ignored. This essay explores the importance of manager’s role in conflict management, examines the nature, core causes and effects of varies type of conflicts, and discusses various techniques that can be utilized to manage conflict within the organization.

Definition of conflict
Conflict is a natural disagreement resulting from two or more parties that differ in attitudes, beliefs, values or needs which impact their ability to work or affect the work environment. Each individual has through life experiences, develop a set of values and behavioral rules, and is motivated by a peculiarly unique degree of satisfactions in a set of needs (Jerome & Peppers, 1976). According to Boulding (1957), organization is living systems consisting of interacting units performing a task in a mutually dependent manner within a structure of scared resource, division of functions, power relations and role-differentiation. Organization can be seen as a micro-community, it is made up of individual human beings, when they work and interact as a whole, and conflict arises naturally and inevitably in organizations.

Views of conflicts
Traditionally, people make an assumption that conflict is bad and always be counterproductive to organizational goals, and give no attention to its positive side. Thus, organization often does not permit mistake or error, subordinates are obligated to avoid conflict and managers try their best, spending time and putting effort to prevent the conflicts to occur and eliminate them, in order to keep the organization functions smoothly. In fact, conflicts should not be view from negative prospective only. It is true that conflict may be a source of problems, such as delay projects, wasted resources, personal frustration, social-emotional separation, division of effort to winning rather than organizational goal achievement (Wall &Callister, 1995). Yet, it is necessary and beneficial when an organization requires change and innovation, conflicts can be the stimulant. As Leonard Rico stated, "The absence of conflict may indicate autocracy, uniformity, stagnation, and mental fixity; the presence of conflict may be indicative of democracy, diversity, growth, and self-actualization." (Jerome & Peppers,1976). Therefore, what is needed, as Harry Levinson indicates, is a supportive environment that gives the individual room to maneuver, freedom to make mistakes (Levinson. H, 1968, as cited in Jerome & Peppers, 1976), stimulation of creative conflict can be obtained by increasing the autonomy of individuals on their jobs (Jerome & Peppers, 1976), so as to stimulate conflicts. Rather spending time to eliminate conflict, manage should turn to encourage conflict and maximize its positive potential effects.

Manager’s role
Management plays an important role in conflict management. There is no doubt that managing conflict permeates every aspect of the manager role (Jerome & Peppers,1976). Ignoring its existence and taking no action to it can lead to worsen situation. As Parker (1974, as cited in Ohio State University Fact Sheet, 2002) notes, conflict not managed will bring about delays, disinterest, lack of action and, in extreme cases, a complete breakdown of the group. Therefore, effective manager requires capacity to aware the presence of conflict and responds to it on time...
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