This study presents a review of conflict management approach. It presents the various views and definitions on conflict types of conflict. It further looks at five conflict management styles of Blake and Mouton. In addition, it provides some insight into conflict management from a Malaysian perspective.
Whether conflict within an organization is viewed as desirable or not, the fact is that conflict exists and is endemic. As human beings interact in organizations, differing values and situations create tension. Conflict is thereby viewed as a situation in which two or more individuals operating within a unit appear to be incompatible. When such conflict is recognized, acknowledged and managed in a proper manner, personal and organizational benefits will accrue. A caring, effective manager uses this situation as an opportunity for growth for both the organization and individuals. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the concept of Blake and Mouton conflict management styles as a tool whereby managers can more effectively manage conflict within their organizations. The concept of Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid provides a useful paradigm for helping individuals in an organization understand themselves and others. An understanding of the grid thereby provides a basis for visualizing personal strengths and weaknesses of individuals, and procedures for dealing with high stress in organizational relationships.
Conflict is a perpetual given of life, although varying views of it may be held. Some may view conflict as being a negative situation which must be avoided at any cost. Others may see conflict as being a phenomenon which necessitates management. Still others may consider conflict as being an exciting opportunity for personal growth and so try to use it to his or her best advantage. Wherever one may fall on this continuum of viewpoints concerning conflict, seldom would one expect to be in a continual state of conflict as the basis for employment. Coping efficiently and effectively with potential and genuine conflicts is possibly one of the most important aspects. (Nebgen, 1978). Since conflict is seemingly unavoidable, it is obviously necessary for us to be able to recognize conflict, to view its constructive as well as destructive potential, to learn how to manage conflict, and to apply conflict management strategies in a practical way.
Conflict is difficult to define, or rather it is difficult to come to a consensus concerning the definition of this term. Coser (1967, p.8) says that conflict is "a struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power, and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure, or eliminate the rivals." Schmidt and Kochan (1972) define conflict by saying that a perceived opportunity exists for interfering with the other's goal attainment. Finally, Hocker and Wilmot (1985, p. 23) define conflict from a communication perspective as "an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce rewards, and interference from the other party in achieving their goals." Obviously, there are many definitions of conflict. The sheer variety of definitions may make an analysis of conflict management episodes confusing. Therefore, in chapters four and five, Hocker, and Wilmot's (1985) definition is utilized because it is communication-based and also thorough.
Types of conflict
Pelled, Eisenhardt and Xin (1999), Schermerhorn, Hunt and Osborn (2000) and McShane and Glinow (2003) suggested two types of conflict named task-related conflict and emotional conflict. Task-related conflicts refer to conflicts rooted in the substance of the task to be undertaken. It happens when people have differing views on working together. More often than not, people argue over allocation of resources, distribution of rewards, task assignments, procedures, goals and important...