The win-lose conflict in groups may have some of the following negative effects : Divert time and energy from the main issues
Drive unaggressive committee members to the sidelines
Interfere with listening
Obstruct exploration of more alternatives
Decrease or destroy sensitivity
Cause members to drop out or resign from committees
Arouse anger that disrupts a meeting
Interfere with empathy
Leave losers resentful
Incline underdogs to sabotage
Provoke personal abuse
* Results of group conflicts
Conflict in the group need not lead to negative results, however. The presence of a dissenting member or subgroup often results in more penetration of the group's problem and more creative solutions. This is because disagreement forces the members to think harder in an attempt to cope with what may be valid objections to general group opinion. But the group must know how to deal with differences that may arise.
True interdependence among members leads automatically to conflict resolution in the group. Interdependence recognizes that differences will exist and that they can be helpful. Hence, members learn to accept ideas from dissenters (which does not imply agreeing with them), they learn to listen and to value openness, and they learn to share a mutual problem-solving attitude to ensure the exploration of all facets of a problem facing the group.
Intergroup conflict between groups is a sometimes necessary, sometimes destructive, event that occurs at all levels and across all functions in organizations. Intergroup conflict may help generate creative tensions leading to more effective contributions to the organization's goals, such as competition between sales districts for the highest sales. Intergroup conflict is destructive when it alienates groups that should be working together, when it results in win-lose competition, and when it leads to compromises that represent less-than-optimum outcomes.
Intergroup conflict occurs in two general forms. Horizontal strain involves competition between functions: for example, sales versus production, research and development versus engineering, purchasing versus legal, line versus staff, and so on. Vertical strain involves competition between hierarchical levels: for example, union versus management, foremen versus middle management, shop workers versus foremen. A struggle between a group of employees and management is an example of vertical strain or conflict. A clash between a sales department and production over inventory policy would be an example of horizontal strain.
Certain activities and attitudes are typical in groups involved in a win-lose conflict. Each side closes ranks and prepares itself for battle. Members show increased loyalty and support for their own groups. Minor differences between group members tend to be smoothed over, and deviants are dealt with harshly. The level of morale in the groups increases and infuses everyone with competitive spirit. The power structure becomes better defined, as the "real" leaders come to the surface and members rally around the "best" thinkers and talkers.
In addition, each group tends to distort both its own views and those of the competing group. What is perceived as "good" in one's own position is emphasized, what is "bad" is ignored; the position of the other group is assessed as uniformly "bad," with little "good" to be acknowledged or accepted. Thus, the judgment and objectivity of both groups are impaired. When such groups meet to "discuss" their differences, constructive, rational behavior is severely inhibited. Each side phrases its questions and answers in a way that strengthens its own position and disparages the other's. Hostility between the two groups increases; mutual understandings are buried in negative stereotypes.
It is easy to see that under the conditions described...