acquisition in multinational coperation

Topics: Psychology, Management, Interpersonal relationship Pages: 16 (7268 words) Published: April 22, 2014
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A re-evaluation of conflict theory
for the management of multiple,
simultaneous conflict episodes

Received 7 May 2008
Accepted 25 May 2009

James Speakman
IESEG School of Management, Catholic University of Lille, Lille, France, and

Lynette Ryals
Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK Abstract
Purpose – This conceptual paper aims to draw upon recent complexity and organizational psychology literature to examine conflict episodes, exploring the limitations of the predominant research paradigm that treats conflict episodes as occurring in sequence, as discrete isolated incidents. Design/methodology/approach – The paper addresses a long-standing issue in conflict management research, which is that the predominant typology of conflict is confusing. The complexity perspective challenges the fundamental paradigm, which has dominated research in the conflict field, in which conflict episodes occur in sequence and in isolation, with managers using one predominant form of conflict resolution behavior.

Findings – The findings are two-fold: first, the behavioral strategies adopted in the management of these conflicts will be highly complex and will be determined by a number of influencing factors; and second, this moves theory beyond the two dimensional duel concern perspective, in that the adaptable manager dealing with these multiple, simultaneous conflicts will also need to consider the possible implications of their chosen strategy along with the changing micro environment in which they operate.

Originality/value – This paper adds value to the field of conflict theory by moving beyond two dimensions and exploring a sequential contingency perspective for conflict management within the organization. It argues that multiple conflict episodes can occur simultaneously, requiring managers to use differing behaviors for successful conflict management. Keywords Conflict management, Conflict resolution, Organizational conflict, Individual behaviour, Interpersonal relations

Paper type Conceptual paper

International Journal of Conflict
Vol. 21 No. 2, 2010
pp. 186-201
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/10444061011037404

It is now over 40 years since Louis Pondy (1967) wrote his seminal article on conflict within the organization and its management and almost 20 years since his reflections on his earlier work were published (Pondy, 1989)[1]. In 1967 Pondy established what was for two decades the generally accepted paradigm of conflict: that conflict episodes occur as temporary disruptions to the otherwise cooperative relationships which make up the organization (Pondy, 1967). In his subsequent reflections on his earlier work and that of others, Pondy proposed that conflict is an inherent feature of organizational life, rather than an occasional breakdown of cooperation (Pondy, 1989). This radically challenged the previous paradigm. Indeed, Pondy (1989) even suggested that research into the phenomenon of cooperation within the organization could be beneficial in providing further insight into conflict within the organization, implying that it was cooperation, not

conflict, which was the anomalous state requiring investigation. Yet, for almost two decades, Pondy’s conceptualization of conflict as a natural state for the organization has remained largely unexplored despite the emergence of a complexity perspective which explores multiple elements of the conflict situation or cooperative state. One possible reason why Pondy’s challenge has not been answered is that some confusion has arisen over the terms and typologies used for the classification of conflict episodes. Consequently, debates about conflict structure or composition have tended to dominate the research agenda. The potential for confusion arising from these various conflict classifications...

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