The Oxford English Dictionary defines conflict as "a state of opposition ... the clashing of opposed principles...the opposition of incompatible wishes or needs". Change is "the act or an instance of making or becoming different." It is not surprising, then, that organisations experience tensions when new strategies are introduced, as it is at just such times that established principles and methods are most likely to be challenged, altered or jettisoned. The present environment in which LIS are operating is one of rapid technological development, increasing competition and social change (Bluck, in Pinder and Melling, 1996). Like many other organisations, they have had to reassess conventional practices, are adopting new structures, strategies and values, and are developing new skills amongst their staff.
For a manager, dealing with change presents a dichotomy. Buchanan and Huczynski (1991) point out the paradox that differences are essential to change but that it is these differences which can generate disputes. As Deutsch (in Vayrynen, 1991) points out, conflict is likely if there is a perceived incompatibility or if the participants perceive that there is utility in conflict, that is, something to be gained or less to lose than by remaining passive. However, many writers, including Handy (1993), Mullins (1996) and Edelmann (1993), argue that a certain amount of conflict is both inevitable and healthy, provided it is directed positively. The danger is that conflict can become personal and negative, and undermine individual and organisational performance. Striking a balance between the two is easier said than done and a manager will need to employ a variety of methods in attempting to do so. For the most part, the strategies for managing change and conflict in LIS are no different to those which apply to organisations in general because, essentially, they all deal with human reactions to a changing environment. Indeed the LIS...
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