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Conflict Resolution in Public Sector

By onyimadu Apr 01, 2010 27344 Words
1.1Background to the Study
Conflict is inevitable in organizations because, they function by means of adjustment and compromises among competitive elements in their structure and membership. Conflict also arises when there is change because, it may be seen as a threat to be challenged or resisted, or when there is frustration, this may produce an aggressive reaction, fight rather than flight. Conflict is not to be deplored, it is an inevitable result of progress and change and it can be used constructively. Conflict between individuals raises fewer problems than conflict between groups. Individuals cannot act independently and resolve their differences; members of group may have to accept the norms, goals and values of their group. The individual’s loyalty will usually be to his or her own group if it is in conflict with others.

When the climate of the organization is not conducive to the needs of the personnel, conflict can result. In the past this conflict was regarded as inherently bad. Managers believed it was generated by trouble makers trying to disrupt the organization. Today, this stereotype view is no longer accepted. Conflict is currently regarded as inevitable and, if properly managed, a source of increased organizational effectiveness.

The federal civil service commission is an organization of individuals and groups pursuing various goals. The federal civil service commission is established under section 153 (ii) of the 199 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. Specifically, part I (d), paragraph II of the third schedule to the constitution vests the commission with power to: (i)Appoint and promote persons to offices in the federal civil service, and. (ii)Dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding such offices”.

More so, in discharge of the above functions, the commission works in close operation with the ministries, departments and agencies (MDA’s) of the federal government.
In area of recruitment and appointment, the commission relies on the MDA to provide it with vacancy positions and make a formal request that the commission should fill the vacancies. The MDA’s stipulate what should be the requisite qualifications for particular positions if they are not provided for by the scheme of service. The commission also invites experts from MDA’s, making a request for recruitment to participate in the interview as resource persons. MDA’s can also reject any particular selected candidate(s) if they convince the commission that he or she does not have the requisite qualifications. Promotion exercise is carried out only on the basis of vacancies provided by the MDA’s and all candidates for promotion must be recommended by the MDA’s. Resource persons from the MDA’s participate in the conduct of promotion examinations. The commission can dismiss and exercise disciplinary control only on the recommendation of the MDA’s.

Section 170 of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria empowers the commission to delegate any of its functions as it deems fit. The commission has therefore delegated the following functions to federal ministries and extra – ministerial departments in order to speed up action on appointment, promotion and disciplinary control of officers in salary grade levels 03-06. However, the disciplinary control of officers on salary grade levels 07-13 after being considered by the senior staff committees (SSC) in the ministries. In order to monitor the effective utilization of the delegated powers, participation of commissioners from the commission in the meetings of SSCs is mandatory. Indeed, without the participation of members of the commission, decisions reached at such meetings would be null and void. Moreover, returns on all appointments, promotions and disciplinary cases considered in the meetings should be rendered to the commission within two weeks of concluding such matters.

In this research conflicts that arises as a result of the discharge of the federal civil service functions and duties and how they are managed will be discussed.
Conflict is a natural and inevitable outcome of the close interaction of people who may have diverse opinions and values, pursue different objectives and have differential access to information and resources within the organization. Individuals and groups will use power and political activity to handle their differences and manage conflict.

Too much conflict can be harmful to an organization. However conflict can also be a positive force because it challenges the status quo, encourages new ideas and approaches and leads to change. Some degree of conflict occurs in all human relationships, between friends, romantic partners and team mates as well as between parents and children, teachers and students and bosses and employees.

Conflict is not necessarily a negative force, it results from normal interaction of varying human interests and the goals they wish to achieve through the organization. In any organization that encourages a democratic push and pull of ideas, the forces of conflict, power and politics may be particularly evident. Managers in all organizations regularly deal with conflict and struggle with decisions about how to get the most out of employees, enhance Job satisfaction and team identification and realize high organizational performance.

Conflict between individuals and groups is a universal phenomenon. A better understanding of the important areas of conflict will help managers to use the people in the organization more effectively to reach organizational objectives. Failure to be concerned about conflict is very costly since ignoring it will almost guarantee that work and interpersonal relations will deteriorate. If this occurs, employees will have little motivation to work together and organizational effectiveness will suffer.

1.2Statement of the Problem
Each organization has an objective to achieve and the ability to achieve this objective depends on how integrated the personnel are in the pursuit of this objectives.
The civil services of the federation objectives include the following:- i)Appointment of qualified candidates including promotion to man the different ministries/extra–ministerial departments in the federal civil service. ii) Recommendations to government on personnel policies aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the federal civil service and, iii)Ensuring that personnel decisions including discipline are taken objectively, promptly and competently and that such decisions reflect the stated policies and interest of the government. The question to be investigated in the study proposed here will be, does conflict due to the lack of integration of the officer’s result to ineffective achievement of the objectives of the federal civil service commission? The question will be investigated using data already in existence with the addition of data that has accumulated since earlier studies were done and also data gathered during the research will be used.

1.3Objective of the Study
Effectiveness and efficiency can only be achieved in an organization when the various departments that exist in the organization work co-operatively. It is also one thing to argue that conflict can be valuable for an organization.

However, this research work aims at finding out the positive and negative effects of conflict, what happens to an organization without conflict, it will also seek to explain the types of conflict that exist, their sources and how conflict can be managed, that is, how it is controlled, resolved and how it can be stimulated.

Also the need for integration as a means for effectiveness and efficiency will be determined.

1.4Significance of the Study
We have come a long way since the days when conflict was believed to be universally destructive. Unfortunately, With the exception of some lip services given in recent years to the value of conflict in organizations, both practicing managers and management scholars continue to treat conflict management and conflict resolution as synonymous. There are some positive consequences to be gained from conflict, but also that organizations require functional conflict if they are to survive. There will be situations in which conflict levels are too low and as a result, the other side of the conflict management coin; conflict stimulation should not be ignored. Excessive levels of conflict can, and do hinder organizational effectiveness. Conflict should not be completely written off like in the traditional era, but should be encouraged as it helps to bring out efficiency and effectiveness if properly managed.

Mary parker Follet herself said that there is no good or bad conflict, but conflict provides opportunities for good or bad result. 1.5Research Questions
At the end of the study, the following questions shall be answered 1.What are the types of conflict that exists in an organization? 2.What are the sources of the conflict?
3.What are the Strategies for managing conflict?
4.What are the values of conflicts?
5.What are the transitions in conflict thought?
6.How can conflict be stimulated and why?
7.How can conflict be controlled and resolved?
8.What are the positive and negative effects of conflicts?
1.6Research Hypotheses
1.H0: Lack of integration between groups does not result to conflict in an organization
H1: lack of integration between groups results to conflict in the organization
2. H0: Conflict if properly managed does not improve organizational performance.
H1: Conflict if properly managed improves organizational performance

1.7Scope and Limitations of the Study
The scope of the study covers the departments including the offices of the commissioners of the various states in the federal civil service commission. The scope also covers the relationship between the groups, how integrated they are with one another in other to achieve organizational goals and objectives and how the conflicts that arise as a result of their relationship are managed.

However, the limitations encountered during the course of this research are as a result of the limited time frame available in acquiring information. Being the Federal Civil Service Commission there are a lot of Bureaucratic bottlenecks, getting required information took a lot of time, the letter of introduction which was addressed to the chairman took about a month, of which I had to rewrite another letter before getting any response. As a result for the duration of time I went to the organization once every week till I got the information I needed. Most officers were unwilling to give information concerning conflict in the organization, some even refused to admit that conflict existed in the organization; some thought that conflict implies physical combats instead of interference by a person or group on another. Only a few of them seemed to know what conflict is really about.

There is also the high cost of printing and photocopying of materials required for the study.

1.8Definition of Terms
Conflict: This is the behaviour by a person or group which is purposely designed to inhibit the attainment of goals by another person or group. Competition: Competition takes place when individuals or groups have incompatible goals but do not interfere with each other as they both try to attain their respective goals. Organization: A group of people who form a business club or work together in other to achieve a particular aim. Strategy: A plan that is intended to achieve a particular purpose. Management: Is the process of combining and utilizing, or of allocating organizations input (men, material and money) by planning, organizing, directing and controlling for the purpose of producing outputs (goods and services desired by customers so that the organizations objectives are accomplished). Value: Value is how much something is worth in money or other goods for which it can be exchanged or how much something is worth compared with its price. Structure: The way in which the parts of something are connected together, arranged or organized, a particular arrangement of parts, something that is made of several parts. Traditional: Being part of the beliefs customs or way of life of a particular group of people that have not changed for a long time. Intra-Individual Conflict: This refers to conflict within an individual about which work activities to perform. Inter-Individual Conflict: This refers to conflict between two individuals. Inter-Group Conflict: This is conflict between departments in a single firm as well as conflict between different firms. Conflict Management: Are techniques for controlling conflicting which either is to stimulate conflict or to resolve it. Conflict Stimulation: This enables groups or individuals in an organization who are too set in their ways or too willing to accept unquestioningly the view of a powerful individual. Conflict Resolution: These are techniques that are used in conflict situations. Smoothing: This is a conflict resolution technique which involves considerable use of tact by the party doing the smoothing. Playing down of differences between individuals and groups while, emphasizing their common interests. Consensus: Consensus requires the conflicting party to work together to find the best solution to their problem, an opinion that all members must agree. Confrontation: This technique requires the opposing parties to openly state their views to each other. A situation where there is an angry disagreement between people or groups who have different opinions. Integration: This technique requires the conflicting parties to collaborate in order to resolve the conflict. It requires both parties to have the attitude that, although they may be in conflict they will strive to develop collaboratively a solution that satisfies the needs of both parties.

2.1Definition of Conflict
Organizational conflict is inevitable because of the regular and continuing human interactions that must occur. It can be defined as all types of opposition or antagonistic interaction. It is based on scarcity of power, resources or social position, and differing value structures. Conflict occurs, between managers and subordinates, between labour and management, between work groups, and between the organization and its external environment. Many of the traditional management writers, both classicists and neoclassicists, treated the existence of conflict as an indication of a problem, a disturbance that interfered with the smooth operation of the organization. Current management writers and practicing managers are careful not to assume that all conflict is bad instead, conflict is viewed as a phenomenon that arises in every organization to a certain extent, and in some organizations it is a positive indicator of highly motivated, highly committed organization members. Conflict can be a highly constructive force, particularly in highly differentiated organizations which utilize a considerable amount of horizontal integration. The challenge to modern management is not to avoid conflict or suppress it; instead, managers must find ways to channel the energy that conflict represents into activities with positive payoffs for the organization and to keep it within acceptable limits. Conflicts need to be resolved constructively, not hidden from view.

According to Boone and Kortz (1987) conflict is opposition interaction resulting from scarcity of power, resources or social position, and different value structures on the part of the individuals or groups.

DuBose (1988) sees conflict as any kind of opposition or antagonistic interaction between two or more parties; it can be conceptualized as existing along continuous range. At one extreme, there is no conflict. At the other extreme is conflicts highest state, described behaviourally as the act of destroying or annihilating the opposing party. All intensities of interpersonal, intra group and inter group conflicts would fall somewhere along this continuum. Inherent in this definition is the requirement that conflict must be perceived by the involved parties. In other words, if there is opposition but the parties fail to perceive it; then it does not exist. Similarly, if a conflict is perceived, it exists whether or not that perception is accurate.

Griffin (2002) also sees conflict as a disagreement between two or more individuals, groups, or organizations. This disagreement may be relatively superficial or very strong. It may be short-lived or it can exist for months even years, and it may be work-related or personal.

Conflict according to Mullins (2007) is seen as behaviour intended to obstruct the achievement of some other person’s goals. Conflict is based on the incompatibility of goals and arises from opposing behaviours. It can be viewed at the individual, group or organization level. Management establishes boundaries that distinguish acceptable and non acceptable behaviour from employees. The actions of employees are then judged as falling on one side or the other of these boundaries.

According to Gray and Starke (1980) conflict is behaviour by a person or group which is purposely designed to inhibit the attainment of goals by another person or group. This purposeful inhibition may be active or passive. For example, in a sequential production line, if one group does not do its job and its output is the input for another department, the other department will be blocked from reaching its goals of say, producing at standard. Alternatively, the blocking behaviour may be active, as in the case of two fighters trying to knock each other out. The key issue in defining conflict is that of incompatible goals. When one person or group deliberately interferes with another person or group with the purpose of denying the other group goal achievement, conflict exists.

Conflict and Competition
Conflict is similar to competition but more severe competition means rivalry among groups in the pursuit of a common prize, while conflict presumes direct interference with goal achievement.
The terms of conflict and competition are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Perhaps the most widely accepted view at present is that competition takes place when individuals or groups have incompatible goals but do not interfere with each other as they both try to attain their respective goals. Conflict on the hand occurs when individuals or groups have incompatible goals and they interfere with each other as they try to attain their respective goals. These definitions suggests that the key behavioural difference in conflict and competition analogous to the behavioural differences evident in a race and a fight. In the former, the goals are incompatible (only one runner can win), but the runners do not interfere with one another. In the later the goals are also incompatible (only one fighter can win), but interference is an obvious part of the conflict.

Using these two definitions allows us to clearly categorize many of the familiar activities in our society. One of the things that become apparent immediately is that certain activities which are typically viewed as homogenous must be further broken down. For example, certain sports (boxing, tennis, football, hockey etc) are characterized by obvious blocking behaviour at the resource attainment level.

The general public usually refers to what businesses do to each other in the market place as competition, this is an over simplification. At one extreme, business firms vigorously block one another’s attempt to achieve goals and this is conflict. For example, in an industry where consumer demand is low and industry production capacity is high conflict is almost certain to result as each firm attempts to reach its goals at the expense of the other firms. Blocking activity in these cases, often takes place at the activity level. A different situation exists in industries where government’s contracts are the rule. Here, competition is more likely. Each firm submits bids and strives to reach its goal of getting the contract. Blocking behaviour is not evident even though there can be only one winner and the goals of the firm are incompatible. 2.2Nature of Conflict

Conflict may manifest itself in various ways. People may compete with one another, glare at one another, shout, or withdraw. Groups may band together to protect popular members or oust unpopular members. Organizations may seek legal remedy. Working with diversity discusses how casual dress policies are creating conflict in some organizations.

Most people assume that conflict is something to be avoided because it connotes antagonism, hostility, unpleasantness, and dissension. Indeed, managers and management theorists have traditionally viewed conflict as a problem to be avoided. In recent years however, we have come to recognize that, although conflict can be a major problem, certain kinds of conflict may also be beneficial. For instance, when two members of a site selection committee disagree over the best location for a new plant, each may be forceD to study and defend his or her preferred alternative more thoroughly. As a result of more systematic analysis and discussion the committee may make a better decision and be better prepared to justify it to others than if every one had agreed from the outset and accepted an alternative that was perhaps not well analyzed.

As long as conflict is being handled in a cordial and constructive manner, it is probably serving a useful purpose in the organization. On the other hand, when working relationships are being disrupted and the conflict has reached destructive levels, it has likely become dysfunctional and needs to be addressed.

According to Mullins (2007) conflict is not necessarily a bad thing however, it can be seen as a constructive force and in certain circumstances it can be welcomed or even encouraged. For example, it can be seen as an aid to incremental improvement in organization design and functioning and to the decision making process. Conflict can be an agent for evolution, and for internal and external change. Properly identified and handled, it can help to minimize the destructive influences of the win–lose situation.

From a survey of practicing managers who reported that they spend approximately 20 percent of their time dealing with conflict situations a number of both positive and negative outcomes of conflict were recorded positive outcomes include. a.Better ideas produced

b.People forced to search for new approaches.
c.Long-standing problems brought to the surface and resolved. d.Stimulation of interest and creativity.
e.A chance for people to test their capacities
Negative outcomes include:
a.Some people felt defeated and demeaned
b.The distance between people increased
c.A climate of mistrust and suspicion developed
d.Resistance developed rather than team work
e.An increase in employee turnover.

According to Gray and Starke (1980) the positive outcome of conflict an as follows: a.The energy level of groups or individuals increase with conflict. This increased energy level can be seen when people talk louder, listen more closely to what is being said, or work harder. Two of the benefits organizations get from increased energy levels are increased output and innovative ideas for doing the work better. b.Group cohesion increases. Research has shown that, when groups are engaged in a conflict, their internal cohesion increases. The other group is seen as the “enemy” and group resources are mobilized to meet the threat from the “outside”. To do this, disagreements within the group must be suppressed and all energies diverted towards the enemy. This process can be seen in the mid-east; Arab nations have trouble getting along with one another except when a common threat (Israel) dominates their relationship. The reason that increased cohesion is considered a positive outcome of conflict is that highly cohesive groups can have high productivity, particularly if they support management goals. c.Problems are made known during conflict when conflict develops management can readily see that something is amiss and can embark in a program to resolve the conflict. If two groups are in disagreement about something but never make it known, they may work at a reduced level of effectiveness without management being able to determine why. This is particularly likely to happen if the problem between the groups is caused by some system of work that management has set up. Group members may be reluctant to criticize management about the system, and the conflict will not be made known. Negative outcomes

d.A decline in communication between the conflicting parties,when individuals or groups are upset with each other, a common development is that they stop speaking. As we have seen, this is very dysfunctional because conflict is often worsened when there is little information passing between the conflicting parties. e.Hostility and aggression develop it is a typical human reaction to feel hostility toward someone who is blocking our attempts to reach a goal. Aggression (either physical or verbal) is also a common behaviour associated with hostility. While this may satisfy the person’s urges to attack the person doing the blocking, from the organizations point of view it is undesirable because it channels behaviour into non productive area. For example if two groups are in conflict about something they may spend much of the work day devising schemes to block the other group’s goal attainment. Obviously a point is reached where the work of each group does not get done. f.Over conformity to group demands. We noted above that conflict could cause groups to become cohesive and this might result in higher productivity. We must also recognize that members of a group faced with an outside threat may over conform to the group demands.This involves blind acceptance of the leaders’ interpretation of the opposing group and no thinking about solutions by anyone in the group. This prolongs the conflict and makes it more intense. As time passes, the group is unable to view its opposition with any objectivity and perceptions become very distorted.

Either too much or too little conflict can be dysfunctional for an organization. In either case performance maybe low. However, an optimal level of conflict that sparks motivation, creativity, innovation and initiation can result in higher levels of performance. If there is absolutely no conflict in the group or organization, its members may become complacent and apathetic. As a result group or organizational performance and innovation may begin to suffer. A moderate level of conflict among groups or organizational members, on the other hand, can spark motivation, creativity, innovation and initiation and raise performance. Too much conflict though, can produce undesirable results such as hostility and lack of cooperation, which lowers performance. The key for managers is to find and maintain the optimal amount of conflict that fosters performance. Of course, what constitutes optimal conflict varies with both situation and the people involved. 2.3Types of Conflicts

The first step in learning to deal with organizational conflict is the recognition that all conflicts are not alike; they spring from different sources and must be resolved in different ways. The major categories of organizational conflict are; intrapersonal conflict, interpersonal conflict, person group conflict and inter group conflict.

Intra personal conflict occurs within the individual that is a single member of the organization and comes primarily from two sources: role conflict and job stress.
Role conflict is the simultaneous occurrence of two (or more) role sending such that compliance with one would make more difficult compliance with the other. For instance a person’s superior may make it clear to him that he is expected to hold his subordinates strictly to company rules. At the same time, his subordinates may indicate in various ways that they would like loose, relaxed supervision, and that they will make things difficult if they are pushed too hard. Such cases are so common that a whole literature has been created on the problem of the first line supervision as the “man in the middle”.

In addition, role conflict may occur as the result of different roles an individual has to play. For instance, the role of parent and the role of employee may come into conflict when the employee’s child becomes sick. The wide spread presence of two wage-earner households and societal changes affecting values with respect to work have resulted in individuals being called upon to play a greater number of diverse roles. The result is increased frequency of this type of role conflict.

The second primary source of intra personal conflict in modern organization is job stress. As the pace of change quickens in organizations and throughout society, workers may come to feel lost, unsure of what is expected of them, and unsure of their abilities to cope with what they perceive as ever– mounting pressure. While some stress may even be a positive factor in motivating individuals and in fueling innovation, chronic over stress leads to short-tempered, uncooperative defensive employees who may even indulge in such self destructive activities as alcoholism and drug abuse, the cost of such response to stress maybe the individual’s family.

Job stress also results when the individual, on an on going basis, is unable to meet his or her own expectations, either in terms of performance (for example, the social worker who wishes to help people but feels unable to do so because of the nature of the system) or in terms of the nature of the work (for example, the assembling line worker who is bored by the repetitious nature of the job and feels that his skills and abilities are not being utilized).

Intrapersonal conflict is a subject of increasing concern to organizations due to its damaging impact in Job performance, absenteeism and turnover. Employee counseling centers, company-sponsored stress management seminars, and management by objectives programs are just some of the methods currently being used to combat this problem.

Interpersonal conflict is conflict occurring between two or more organizational members as a result of such factors as differences in managerial philosophies, values and problem-solving styles or competition for power or promotion. Traditionally this type of conflict was attributed to personality differences”. However, it can result from several factors. a.Differences in values. For instance, one manager might place a great emphasis in task accomplishment to the exclusion of all else, while another might stress the need to maintain good employee relations even if performance of the immediate task is slightly affected. b.Differences in problem-Solving styles. One person may prefer to work in groups, for example, while another prefers to work alone. c.Differences in managerial philosophies. One manage may favour decentralization of decision making while another favours centralization.

In addition, interpersonal conflict can occur due to competition between individuals, for power, for promotion, or for other organizational rewards.
Because interpersonal conflict interferes with effective communication, and thus problem solving, it is a cause of considerable concern for modern organization. Organization development and communication training are frequently used methods of modifying interpersonal conflicts and channeling them into more constructive paths. a.Person-group conflict. This is conflict resulting from individual opposition to group norms or rules of behaviour that govern group membership. The classic example of this phenomenon is the “rate breaker” who consistently performs at a level well above that of other group due to fear that higher performance standards will be established based on the performance of the rate breaker. A more recent example is the treatment sometimes afforded the “Whistle blower”, the individual who brings to the attention of management or the general public instances of waste, fraud or corruption. Such individual may be ostracized and subject to harassment by other members of the group.

On the other hand, person-group conflict can sometimes play a positive role within organizations. When an individual places his or her own needs for recognition or power ahead of the needs of the group to accomplish it’s task, group pressure can exert a powerful influence to bring the individual back into line with over all group norms.

Intergroup conflict- This type of conflict occurs between departments or work groups and typically revolves around issue of authority, jurisdiction, control of work flow, or access to scarce organizational resources. It arises directly from the need for differentiation in an organization. To deal with complexity, we resort to specialization and specialists’ people with diverse cognitive and emotional orientations in the various functional areas. Such people frequently experience difficulty in communicating and cooperating. Yet, for an organization to act as a unit there must be integration or collaboration among the various departments. Thus, management frequently faces a problem. Long-run performance requires substantial integration, but efforts to generate collaboration often produce short-run conflict.

Intergroup conflict arises from two sources: systems conflict and bargaining conflict. Systems conflict come about because of the divergence in objectives between work groups. For example, the marketing department may feel that rapid order processing is more important than quality control since replacing a defective unit is likely to produce less customer dissatisfaction than waiting on an unfilled order. The production department, on the other hand, may feel that its reputation depends on the continued high quality of its products and this belief may be supported by the incentive system used to govern rewards for production department personnel. Strategies for resolving system conflicts include rotation of department members among work units to improve understanding and empathy with the problems of other departments, charges in formal incentive systems to reflect overall organizational objectives related to the issue, and the use of horizontal integrative mechanisms such as task forces.

Bargaining conflicts occurs when groups compete for scarce organizational resources or for power and influence within the system. An excellent recent example of such conflicts involved government attempts to reduce budget deficits by reducing expenditures. Interest groups both inside and outside government have attempted to influence this process to ensure that their programs are not cut.

When viewed from the organizational level, conflict can often be categorized into two groups: Institutionalized and emergent. Each presents problem. Institutionalized conflict often results from organizational attempts to structure work assignments. This is clearly seen in the case of departmentalization, in which organizations group their personnel into major departments such as finance, marketing and production. Once assigned to such a bailiwick, it is common to find the personnel becoming highly concerned with the needs of their own particular department and relatively unconcerned with those of the others. Budget time finds everyone fighting for increased departmental allocations. Since this is a win lose situation, those who get percentage increases achieve them only at the expense of the other departments. Such a conflict situation, however, is often inevitable, since many people feel greater loyalty to their department in particular than to their organization in general.

A similar type of institutionalized conflict emerges from the organization’s creation of a hierarchy. Low level managers have short-run problems related to work schedules and quotas. Top managers have long-run concerns related to the future course of the total organization. Each hierarchical level tends to be in some degree of conflict with the one above. Similarly, line and staff personnel are often at loggerheads. The former is responsible for making action decisions, the latter provides support help.

Line-staff conflict is often brought about by the following attitudes and philosophies.
Line officers are highly action-oriented; staff officers are concerned with studying a problem in depth before making recommendation.
Line officers are highly intuitive in contrast to being analytical; staff officers are highly analytical, in contrast to being intuitive.
Line officers are often short sighted, staff officers are often long-range orientated.
Line officers often ask the wrong kinds of questions staff officers have answers and therefore spend their time looking for questions.
Line officers wants simple easy-to-use solutions, staff officers complicate situations by providing esoteric data.
Line officers are accustomed to examining some of the available alternatives and choosing one of them, staff officers are interested in examining all of the possible alternative, weighing them, analyzing them and then choosing the “best” one regardless of time or cost restraints.

Line officers are highly protective of the organization, staff are highly critical of the organization.
Each of these institutionalized conflicts is caused by the creation of a formal organization. Management cannot sidestep them; they are inherently in a hierarchical structure. All the organization can do is to try to manage them properly.

Emergent conflict arises from personnel and social causes one of the most common is formal-informal organizational conflict. When the goals of these two groups are incompatible, problems can result. The objectives of the formal organization may call for more output than the members of informal organization are willing to give.

A second form of emergent conflict arises from status incongruencies. Some people in the organization may feel that they know a great deal more than their supervisors about how to improve efficiency. However, status is often accorded on the basis of rank. Additionally, line managers often suffer status incongruency when staff advisers have the boss’s ear and can convince the latter to implement their recommendations. In such cases the line personnel are reduced to being order –takers, while the staff people call the shorts.

Additionally, if personnel are highly trained or well educated and the organization assigns them a job requiring minimum ability, they often feel the work is below them and suffer status conflict. So, too do personnel who are promoted to higher positions but not given the symbols that accompany the office. For example, a person who is promoted into the top-management ranks but not given a private office and a secretary like the other top managers may well have status problem.

These emergent conflict situations are personal and social in nature in that they involve individual and group norms. Whether or not there is a conflict depends upon how the people view the situation. An informal organization that feels management’s work quotas are too low may not have any problem accepting an increase in them. Likewise, a manager who is obvious to status symbols may not feel status inconsistency if the organization fails to provide a private office and a secretary. In most situations, however, this is not the case.

2.4Sources of Conflict
There are numerous sources of conflict within formal organization. Much has been written about the implications of conflict as a social process. The important point is not so much whether competing sub-groups and conflict are seen as inevitable consequences of organization structure, but how conflict, when found to exist, is handled and managed.

The following are the sources of conflict according to Mullins (2007).
Difference in perception- We all see things in different ways. We all have our own, unique picture or image of how we see the real world. Differences in perception result in different people attaching different meanings to the same stimuli. As perceptions became a person’s reality, value judgments can be a potential major source of conflict.

Limited resources- Most organization resources are limited and individuals and groups have to fight for their share, for example at the time of the allocation of the next year’s budget or when cutbacks have to be made, the greater the limitation of resources, then usually the greater the potential for conflict. In an organization with reducing profits or revenue the potential for conflict is likely to be intensified.

Departmentalization and specialization- Most work organizations are divided into departments with specialized functions. Because of familiarity with the manner in which they undertake their activities, managers tend to turn inwards and to concentrate on the achievement of their own particular goals. When departments need to co-operate, this is a frequent source of conflict.

Differing goals and internal environments of departments are also a potential source of conflict. In Woodward’s study of management organization of firms in the country she comments on the bad relationships between accountants and other managers. One reason for this hostility was the beginning of two quite separate financial functions. People concerned with works accounting tended to assume responsibility for end results that was not properly theirs; they saw their role as a controlling and sanctioning one rather than a serving and supportive one. Line managers resented this attitude and retaliated by becoming aggressive and obstructive.

The nature of work activities -Where the task of one person is dependent upon the work of others there is potential for conflict. For instance, if a worker is expected to complete the assembly of a given number of components in a week but the person forwarding the part assembled component does not supply a sufficient number on time. If reward and punishment systems are perceived to be based on keeping up with performance levels, then the potential for conflict is even greater. If the work of a department is dependent upon the output of another department, a similar situation could arise, especially if this situation is coupled with limited resources for example, where the activities of a department, whose budget reduced below what is believed necessary to run, the department efficiently, are interdependent with those of another department, which appears to have received a more generous budget allocation.

Role conflict- A role is the expected pattern of behaviour associated with the members occupying a particular position within the structure of the organization. In practice, the manner in which people actually behave may not be consistent with their expected pattern of behaviour. Problems of role incompatibility and role ambiguity arise from inadequate or inappropriate role definition and can be a significant source of conflict.

Inequitable treatment- A person’s perception of unjust treatment such as in the operation of personnel policies and practices, or in reward and punishment systems can lead to tension and conflict. For instance, according to the equity theory of motivation the perception of inequality will motivate a person to take action to restore equity including change to inputs or outputs.

Violation of territory- People tends to become attached to their own territory within work organizations, for example to their own area of work, or kinds of clients to be dealt with, or to their own room, chair or parking space. Jealously may arise over other people’s territory for instance, size of room company car, allocation of an assistant or other perks, through access to information or through membership of groups. A stranger walking into a place of work can create an immediate feeling of suspicion or even resentment because people do not usually like, ‘their’ territory entered by someone they do not know and whose motives are probably unclear to them.

Ownership of territory may be conferred formally for example by organization charts, job descriptions or management decisions. It may be established through procedures for instance circulation lists or membership of committees. Or it may arise informally, for example, through group norms, tradition or perceived status symbols. The place where people choose to meet can have a possible, significant symbolic value. For instance if a subordinate is summoned to a meeting in a manager’s office this might be taken that the manager is signaling higher status. If the manager chooses to meet at the subordinates place of work, or on neutral territory, this may be a signal that the manager wishes to meet the subordinate as an equal. If a person’s territory is violated this can lead to the possibility of retaliation and conflict.

Environment change- Change in an organization’s external environment such as shifts in demand, increased competition, government intervention, new technology or changing social values, can cause major areas of conflict. For instance a fall in demand for, or government financial restrictions, on, enrolments for a certain discipline in higher education can result in conflict for the allocation of resources. If the department concerned is a large and important one and led by a powerful head, there could be even greater potential for conflict.

There are other sources of organizational conflicts, including; Individual; Such as attitudes, personality characteristics or particular personal need, illness or stress. Group, Such as group skills, the informal organization and group norms. An Organization; such as communications, authority structure, leadership style, managerial behaviour. The age gap-relationships between older employees and younger managers, where experience is on one side and power on the other, can lead to conflict.

According to Gray and Starke (1980) sources of conflict are as follows. Limited Resource
Perhaps the most fundamental fact of organizational life is that resources are finite. Even the most successful companies have found that they are limited in what they can accomplish. With this realization groups and individuals see that there will be times when they will have to fight for what they want. The most obvious manifestation of this problem comes when the annual budget is set. Each department typically submits a request for its needs during the next fiscal year, and top management adjusts the request based on its knowledge of the total organization. Department heads often see their requests cut back because the resources for the total organization are limited. When cutbacks occur, however, the potential for conflict increases because the heads of various departments begin making value judgments about why management decided to cut back one department but not another. As a general rule the greater the scarcity of resources, the greater the potential for conflict. Interdependent work activities

Added to the basic problem of finite resources is the problem of organizational units having to work together. It is bad enough to get less than you wanted for your department because of some other department, but then to have to work with other departments may be more than some managers can take. Suppose you are the head of department A, and in the yearly budget just approved by top management, you received considerably less money for operations than you thought was minimally necessary to run your department. Suppose also that you see that department B got most of what it asked for. If the work activities of your department are interdependent with those of department B, you might well consider purposely slowing down your departments work in attempt to convince top management that they made a mistake in their allocation of funds.

This is a particularly salient cause of conflict because there is so much interdependence of work activities in organizations. On a grander scale, inter organizational conflict is often caused because the activities of many separate organizations must be coordinated. In May, 1979, California motorists found themselves in long lines waiting for gasoline. The oil companies, the oil producers, consumer groups, and the government spent considerable time arguing about who was to blame. The problem was most likely caused by the tight interdependence of work activities needed to get oil from wellhead to the consumer. Any purposeful disruption by one of the organizations in the system (e.g. Iranian government’s decision to reduce output) would cause conflict among the other parties in the system. As a general rule the more interdependent the work activities, the greater the potential for conflict.

It is important for management to know the nature of work interdependence so system of work can be implemented that will reduce the potentials for dysfunctional conflict. Differentiation of activities

We noted above that interdependence of work activities is an important source of conflict in organizations. Backing up a step furthermore, we can see that the mere existence of groups doing different functions created the potential for conflict. As groups become familiar with how they perform their jobs, they may turn inward and become uninterested in, (A) how their work fits in with other groups (B) the importance of other groups work. As a result, when difficult issues between the groups must be dealt with, each group behaves in a way that increases potential for harmful conflict.

This differentiation in work activities leads to differentiation in goals. Production goals may be to have long production runs with few changes in product style because this allows the production facilities to operate at peak efficiency. Marketing’s goal, on the other hand maybe to give customers what they want when they want it. This means rush orders, special orders, and other demands that directly conflict with production goals. Communication problems

Both the interdependence and differentiation of work activities demand that communication between individuals and groups be effective. However, this often does not occur. At the broadcast level, communication problems develop because not all groups have the same information. Each group therefore takes a position based on its view of the world and the information it has. The obvious solution to this problem is to give all groups equal information. However, this is generally not feasible because individuals with important information may want to use it for their own advantage and not share it.

Communication problems are also caused by technical Jargon that is so frequently used in organizations. Overtime, each group develops its own language which may mean nothing to another group. When the two groups must deal with a contentious issue, the “Us vs. them” mentally more easily develops because of the meanings each group attaches to words. Differences in perceptions

We all see the world slightly differently because we have all had different experiences. These different views of the world can be a major source of conflict in organizations because value judgments flow from these views. Differences in perceptions involve the value of experience vs. the value of education. Older, more experienced managers often are in conflict with younger, inexperienced managers about the way in which work should be done. The experienced person usually points out how knowledgeable he or she has become over the years, whereas the in experienced person argues for “new way” of doing things. Often this conflict is resolved by the older person exercising his or her authority.

It is hard to make unequivocal statements about how differences in perception will influence conflict. It is also difficult to deduce exactly how a person views the world, unless the person is well known to the manager. Nevertheless, a realization that differences in perception (by groups or individuals) is crucial to conflict means that it must be included in any discussion of the sources of conflict. The environment of the organization

Thus far, we have been concerned with factors inside organizations which cause conflict. However, changes in the firm’s environment (which it usually has no control over) can cause major conflict within the organization. In the late 1970’s, for example, college enrolment in liberal arts declined as students began entering disciplines which were more job-oriented. This shift in demand meant that there were pressures to reallocate resources within universities. These pressures caused real problem as the different faculties were in conflict as to how this reallocation should be done. As another example, consider a conglomerate which finds that the demand for the output of one of its divisions is rapidly declining. The obvious thing to do is to hit back activities in that division and channel corporate resources into more profitable divisions. However, if the division having difficulties is an important one, and its head is a powerful person, tremendous conflict may develop as other division heads argue for a redistribution of resources within the company.

Other sources of conflict exist in organizations. They are; (A)Individual differences (some people enjoy conflict while others don’t) (B)Unclear authority structures (conflict develops because people don’t know how far their authority extends) (C)Differences in attitudes (members of different groups have different attitudes). (D)Task asymmetries (one group is more powerful than another and the weaker group tries to change the situation. (E)Difference in time horizons (some departments have a long-run view and others a short-run view. 2.5 Strategies for Managing Conflict

Although a certain amount of organizational conflict may be seen as inevitable, there are a number of ways in which management can attempt to avoid the harmful effects of conflict. The strategies adopted will vary according to the nature and sources of conflict outlined above. a. Clarification of goals and objectives. The clarification and continual refinement of goals and objectives, role definitions and performance standards will help to avoid misunderstandings and conflict. Focusing attention on superordinate goals that are shared by the parties in conflict may help to diffuse hostility and lead to more co-operative behaviour. b. Resource distribution. Although it may not always be possible for managers to increase their allocated share of resources, they may be able to use imagination and initiative to help overcome conflict situations. For instance, making a special case to higher management; greater flexibility to transfer funds between budget headings, delaying staff appointments in one area to provide more money for another area. c.Human resource management policies and procedures. Careful and detailed attention to just and equitable human resource management policies and procedures may help to reduce areas of conflict. Examples are job analysis, recruitment and selection; systems of reward and punishment; appeals, grievance and disciplinary procedures; arbitration and mediation, recognition of trade unions and their officials. d.Non-monetary rewards. Where financial resources are limited, it may be possible to pay greater attention to non monetary rewards. Examples are job design, more interesting challenging or responsible work, increased delegation or empowerment, improved equipment, flexible working hours, attendance at course or conferences, unofficial perks or more relaxed working conditions. e.Development of interpersonal/group process skills. This may help to encourage a better understanding of ones own behaviour, the other person’s point of view, communication processes and problem solving. It may also encourage people to work through conflict situation in a constructive manner. f.Group activities. Attention to the composition of groups and to factors which affect group cohesiveness may reduce dysfunctional conflict. Overlapping group membership with a linking pin process, and the careful selection of project teams or task forces for problems affecting more than one group, may also be beneficial. g.Leadership and management. A more participative and supportive style of leadership and managerial behaviour is likely to assist in conflict management for example, showing an attitude of respect and trust, encouraging personal self- development, creating a work environment in which staff can work co-operatively. A participative approach to leadership and management may also help to create greater employee commitment. h.Organizational process. Conflict situations may be reduced by attention to such features as the nature of the authority structure, work organization, patterns of communication and sharing of information, democratic functioning of the organization unnecessary adherence to bureaucratic procedures and official rules and regulations. i.Socio-technical approach. Viewing the organization as a socio-technical system, in which psychological and social factors are developed in keeping with structural and technical requirements, will help in reducing dysfunctional conflict.

2.6The Value of Conflict
The interactionist philosophy does not propose that all conflicts are good for an organization. Excessive levels of conflict can and do hinder organizational effectiveness. It shows itself in reduced job satisfaction by employees, increased absence and turnover rates, and eventually in lower productivity. What the interactionist approach says is that managers should continue to resolve those conflicts that hinder the organization, but stimulate conflict intensity when the level is below that which is necessary to maintain a responsive and innovative unit. Without some level of constructive conflict, an organization’s survival will be in jeopardy. Survival can result only when an organization is able to adapt to constant changes in the environment. Adaptation is possible only through change, and change is stimulated by conflict.

Change develops from dissatisfaction, from a desire for improvement, and from creative development of alternatives. In other words, change do not just happen, they are inspired by conflict. Conflict is the catalyst of change. If we do not adapt our product and services to the changing needs of our customers, actions of our competitors, and new technological development, our organization will be sick and eventually die. Is it not possible that more organizations fail because of two little conflict rather than too much?

Without change, no organization can survive, and conflict spurs change. Opposition to others’ ideas, dissatisfaction with the status quo, concern about doing things better, and the desire to improve inadequacies are all seeds of change. Therefore, the factor that differentiates the interactionist philosophy most form its predecessors is the belief that just as the level of conflict may be too high, requiring resolution, it may also be too low and in need of stimulation.

There is a growing body of literature that supports the contention that organizations that have levels of conflict above, zero are more effective, that is functional levels of conflict are conducive to innovation and higher quality decisions. For instance, a review of the relationship between bureaucracy and innovation found that conflict encourages innovative solution. This relationship was more recently confirmed in a comparism of six major decisions during the administrations of four U.S presidents. The comparism demonstrated that conformity among presidential advisers was related to poor decisions, while an atmosphere of constructive conflict and critical thinking surrounded the well- developed decisions.

The bankruptcy of the penn central railroad has been generally attributed to mismanagement and a failure of the company’s board of directors to question actions taken by management. The board was composed of outside directors, who met monthly to oversee the railroad’s operations. Few questioned the decisions made by the operating management, though there was wide evidence that several board members were uncomfortable with many major decisions made by the management. Apathy and a desire to avoid conflict allowed poor decisions to stand unquestioned. It can only be postulated how differently things might have turned out for the penn central had it had an enquiring board which demanded that the company’s management discuss and justify key decisions.

In addition to better and more innovative decisions in situations where there is some conflict, there is evidence that indicates that conflict can be positively related to productivity. It was demonstrated that among the high conflict groups was 73 per cent greater than that of those groups characterized by low conflict conditions.

Similarly, an investigation of twenty-two teams of system analysts, which the researcher sought to assist the relationship between inter personal compatibility and productivity, achieved results consistent with the previous studies. The findings strongly suggested that the more incompatible groups were likely to be more productive. 2.7Transition in Conflict Thought

According to Dubose (1980), the development of conflict thought as professed by academic has gone through three distinct stages which he labeled as traditional, behavioural and internationalist.
The prescription of the early management theories, the traditionalists, towards conflict was simple. It should be eliminated. All conflicts were seen as destructive and it was management role to rid the organization of them. This philosophy dominated during the nineteenth century and continued to the middle 1940s.

Thetraditional view was replaced in the late 1940s and early 1950s with a behavioural approach. Those who studied organizations began to recognize that all organizations, by their very nature, had built in contents. Since conflict was inevitable, the behaviouralist prescribed “acceptance” of conflict. They rationalized its existence. However, as with the traditionalists, the behaviouralist approach to managing conflict was to resolve it.

Looking at the behaviours of manager, it seems clear that the traditional philosophy is still the most prevalent in organizations. We live in a society that has been built upon anti-conflict values. Since our earliest years we have been indoctrinated in the belief that it was important to get along with others and to avoid conflict. Parents in the home, teachers and administrators in school, teachings of the church, and authority figures in social groups all have historically reinforced the belief that disagreement bred discontent, which acted to dissolve common ties and could eventually lead to destruction of the system. Certainly we should not be surprised to find that children raised to view all conflict as destructive would mature into adult managers who would maintain and encourage the same values. In addition, the senior managers in most organizations praise and reward managers who maintain peace, harmony, and tranquility in their units, while disequilibrium, confrontation, and dissatisfaction are appraised negatively. Given that managers seek to “look good” on the criteria by which they are evaluated, and since the absence of conflict is frequently used at evaluation time as a proxy for managerial effectiveness, it should not be surprising to find that most managers are concerned with eliminating or suppressing all conflicts.

According to Gray and Stark (1980) there are two distinct phases of thinking about conflict: the traditional view and the current view. The traditional view of conflict assumes that conflict is bad for organizations. In the view of the traditionalist, organizational conflict was proof that there was something “wrong” with the organization. The Hawthorne studies were probably important in shaping the traditional view because in those studies the dysfunctional consequences of conflict were noted. Another likely factor in the traditional view was the development of labour unions and the often violent conflict between labour and management. During the early twentieth century labour unions were struggling for the legal right to bargain collectively. It was not until the 1930s that this goal was reached. Along the way, many confrontations occurred between labour and management. These were almost always viewed as bad for both the organization and the individual and it is therefore not surprising that the traditionalists viewed conflict as undesirable.

Because conflict was viewed as bad, considerable attention was given to reducing or eliminating it. Perhaps the most general reaction was to suppress it. This was done in an obvious way by simply demanding that people in conflicting situation change their behaviour for the good of the company. It was also done indirectly by rigidly prescribing the limits of authority of each job so that individuals would be less likely to be in conflict while these tactics sometimes worked, they were largely ineffective because they did not get at the exact cause of the conflict and suppressing the conflict did not allow any of the positive aspects of conflict to come out.

The traditional view of conflict appears to be losing ground as time passes, yet it still describes the view of many people. Why should this view be so wide spread, given that some conflict has been shown to be beneficial? One researcher answers this question by saying that the important institutions in our society, the home, church, and school are founded in the traditional view of conflict, and these institutions have a powerful influence in society. Since these institutions are very influential when we are young, we are subtly influenced to have a particular view of conflict. In the home for example, parents suppress conflict by telling their children to stop fighting. In schools, teachers are assumed to have the correct answers, and exams are a check to see whether students are deviating from these. Most churches stress brotherhood and peace not conflict. If this argument is correct, the change in the view of conflict from traditional to current will take many years.

The current view – the view prevails among researchers at present (and is gaining ground in the rest of society) is that organizational conflict is neither good nor bad per se, but is inevitable. Thus conflict will occur even if organizations have taken great pains to prevent it. It is noted that the informal organization will emerge and be active irrespective of management’s attempts to suppress it. Thus, organizations will experience conflict even if they have carefully defined employee Jobs and their managers are reasonable people who treat employees well. There are even some instances were conflict is purposely created.

There are two important implications of the current view. First, much of the conflict in organizations may be good because it stimulates people to find new ways of doing things. If two employees are in conflict about the best way to do a job, the manager might be advised to encourage the conflict, to see which individual is correct. The best technique can then be used in doing the jobs in the future. (This approach should be used sparingly because it usually results in a winner and a loser and this has implications for the organization). As another example, consider two departments that are in conflict. Each department tries to get its own way and engaged in whatever blocking behaviour it feels is necessary to prevent the other department from attaining its goals. Top management may see this as dysfunctional, but instead of trying to suppress the conflict (the traditional approach), management might try to induce the departments to find a solution which allows each to get what they want.

Second, management of conflict, not suppression becomes a key activity. If we assume that conflict can be good or bad, it is important that constructive conflict be encouraged and destructive conflict be resolved. But what criterion should we use to make this decision? Robbins suggests that the most practical and important criterion is group performance. Organizations exists to achieve goals, and high performance by groups in the organization increases the likelihood that organizational goals will be reached. Thus, if this criterion is used, managers must view conflict in terms of its effect on group performance before they move to resolve it or encourage it.

2.8Psychological Theories of Conflict
Sherif’s Theory of Group Conflict
Sherif and his assistance developed a major theory of inter-group conflict in their field experiments with American boys attending summer camps. Sherif’s work was a land mark, not just for it’s methodology ( it marked a change from contrived laboratory based studies) but because he located the cause of conflict in the relationships between groups rather than in the motivations and frustrations of individuals. He predicted that where groups were in competition for mutually incompatible goals, conflict would arise and where groups engaged in tasks which needed inter-dependent behaviour, co-operation would ensue. Moreover, he argues that the inter-group antagonism and intra -group solidarity which may arise would be founded on differences in real material interests between the groups. This was sufficient condition for conflict to occur. Sherif’s programme of research, begun in 1949, consisted of three sets of experiments, each lasting about three weeks with different subjects and in different locations. Most accounts summarize the findings of all three experiments together, as a composite. The subjects were carefully selected to be well-adjusted eleven to twelve year old America boys, with no previous friendships with one another and with no pronounced differences in cultural background or physical appearance. The careful selection of subjects was to avoid any alternative individual based explanations of the results, for example, that the subjects were mal adjusted. The boys attended camps and were isolated from outside social contacts, camp personnel, unknown to the boys, were all trained observers and experimenters. There were three stages of group interaction: group formation, inter-group conflict, and reduction of conflict, the conditions for which were manipulated by the experimenters to test their hypotheses.

The stage of group formation started when, on arrival, the boys were divided into two groups, with contact between the groups being prevented until the next stage. Over about a week, group cohesion developed, friendships formed, status, and roles developed within the group.

In the second stage of inter-group conflict, the groups were brought into functional contact whereby they competed for goals which both groups valued but which only one group could win (for example competitive team games) inter and intra-group attitudes and behaviour during the second stage (of competition) revealed consistencies in all the experiments (even where friendships developed in the first stage were broken by placing friends in separate groups for the second stage). Unfavourable attitudes to the out-group developed, and contact with members of the other group decreased shortly. Derogatory traits were attributed to the other group and lower estimates made of, and value placed on their achievement (even where the experimenters were able to take covert objective measures which showed no difference in the performance of the two groups). The hostility and conflict between the two groups could be very intense (the second experiment actually had to be abandoned because the level of hostility between the groups was so high). While social distance from the other group increased, at the same time solidarity and cooperativeness within each group increased, with interpersonal conflict minimized. Members tended to overestimate the achievements of their own group.

In the third stage, of the reduction of inter-group conflict conditions which encouraged inter-group co-operation were introduced. Situations where valued goals could only be achieved by both groups acting co-operatively, (for example helping to pull a truck to get it started). Initially, inter-group hostility and tension remained high and it was only after a series of such tasks that friendly social interaction between the groups took place and the negative traits attributed to the other group were gradually replaced by more positive ones. Overtime interaction with the other group members became as desired as interaction with members of one’s own group. The reduction in conflict was not due simply to increase interaction between the group: where that had occurred verbal and physical abuse remained high. Sherif and his associates demonstrated that inter-group hostility could be reduced only through the presence of goals and tasks which both groups desired and which neither group could achieve alone.

Sherif’s theory has been tested in laboratory-based experiments and with temporary working groups. Blake and Mouton (1962), for example, working with a variety of groups including both managers and trade unionists, showed that conflict could be induced where groups competed for outcomes attainable only by one (in experimental gaming terms these were zero sum games), and cooperativeness would be stimulated by jointly working on common or subordinate goals. The work of Blake and Mouton has become popular in organizational behavuiour, where the key lesson taken is that the provision of common goals eliminates conflict, although the notion of joint goals as the only means to conflict elimination ignores the conflict of interests between managers and employees. Also it is important to recognize that Blake and Mouton’s work derived from training workshops which present somewhat artificial and temporary, tasks and groups.

Although a number of writers have pointed to the relevance of sherif’s work to understanding industrial conflict, sheriff himself was cautious. He placed two caveats on the application of his work to industrial settings. Firstly, he noted that an interdisciplinary understanding of conflict was essential not all problems pertaining to groups and their relations are psychological he suggested that analysis was needed at more than one level. Secondly, he pointed out that in industrial settings it is important to specify differences from the model of our experiments. A salient difference is that some groups in industry posses notably more power than others.

For sherif, this suggested that the development of superordinate goals might not always be sufficient to reduce inter-group conflict. Many organizational behaviour writers have ignored this caveat in their exhortations to management to develop common goals with their work force as a principal means of conflict reduction. Tajfel’s Theory of Social Competition

The work of Tajfel and his associates (Tajfel, Bullig, Bundy and Flament 1971, Tajfel and Fraser, 1978) extended theory about inter-group conflict they suggested that while sherif’s theory is empirically supported, it is incomplete as an explanation of group conflict because they argue, inter-group conflict can be caused without the difference in the material interests of groups. Tajfel proposed that the simple fact of belonging to a group was significant for group members in terms of social identity. Brought into interaction, or even just the presence of another group, group members will tend to evaluate their own group in positive terms and out group in negative terms. Also they will prefer to interact with and reward their own group members. This Tajfel suggests, is sufficient for conflict to occur, through discrimination, and reduced interaction with out-group. Once conflict, is initiated, it takes a similar course, in terms of attitudes, perceptions, and behaviour for the groups as that described by Sherif. Tajfel calls his a theory of social competition, to distinguish it from sheriff’s theory of real material competition. Tajfel thus extends the causes of inter-group conflict, although he does not contradict the work of sheriff.

The evidence for Tajfel ideas of social identity and social comparison in groups derives from a set of laboratory experiments. The minimal group experiment consisted of subjects who were assigned to groups on the basis of insignificant criteria. Subjects were unaware of the basis for their group assignment, although they knew which group they and the other subjects were in. They were then asked to award points to members of their own or the other group over a series of trials (although the subjects did not meet, as this might have confounded the experiment by introducing personal preference influence). Where in group and out group members were paired reward tended to be allocated to create maximum difference between the groups while favouring their own group (even where this meant that the in-group received less than their maximum available reward). Although this minimal group experiment did not model conflict behaviours, it does indicate that identification with a group can be sufficient to cause discriminatory behaviour between groups, and we can infer that the discrimination may exacerbate existing tensions.

While other experiments have been conducted, these have largely been laboratory based and are not necessarily indicative of how groups in industrial settings might behave. In other words, the external validity of the experiments is low. With no other information to go on than group membership, subjects may have discriminated in favour of their own group for a variety of reasons (although the trials with same group members to some extent controlled for this). Also a theory developed in a laboratory is able to present subjects with clear and unambiguous group categories, which may be less than realistic, given the multiple memberships an individual has of groups in real life. However, the theory is important in pointing to the importance of inter group perceptions, group identification, and relative status, and how these interact to sustain and magnify differences of objectives and perceptions.

The theories of sheriff and Tajfel are similar in seeing the group, rather than the individual, as the basis of conflict. Both seem useful in understanding how industrial conflict and strikes in particular, may develop and escalate. The attitudinal and behavioural correlates of inter group hostility may help to explain why, when conflict has started, it is difficult to stop. Both theories are valuable in emphasizing the importance of perceptions and attitudes in the development of the conflict, which kornhauser, dubin, and ross (1954) and poundy (1967) note as a significant element in manifest conflict.

On their own, however these theories cannot provide a complete explanation of conflict generation if divergent interests between management and workforce are accepted. Sherif’s theory is unable to explain why strike and other forms of action are not more widespread. Tajfel, notion of group identification and social competition also has difficulties, given widespread class and occupational differentiation in industry, in explaining why conflict is not more prevalent than it is. Psychological theories of conflict need to be able to explain industrial peace as well as industrial conflict. Additionally, such theories must take account of the fact that strike levels change overtime and that certain industries and plants are more strike-prone than others. Sherif’s point that power is a salient component of industrial relations has not been pursued by psychologists, although there is increasing interest in perceptions of power as a dimension of inter-group relations. These criticisms should not be taken to suggest that social psychological theories of conflict are inappropriate; they can be valuable when integrated with explanations at other levels of analysis. 2.9Conflict Management

Causes of conflict are embedded in the characteristics and structures of most organizations and hence are to some degree inescapable. For this reason, managers should learn how to successfully resolve or manage conflict. Conflict management refers to all actions and mechanism used by parties in opposition or independent third parties to keep conflict from interfering with accomplishment of enterprise objectives. What exact actions and mechanism are employed is largely a function of the nature of an enterprise and the attitude toward conflict as undesirable and detrimental to an organization, in their view it should not exist and should be eliminated. Other managers contend that conflict is normal, even desirable and can be managed. For the benefit of the organization, three basic approaches have been proposed for managing conflict. a.Discuss the situation with the parties involved in an effort to resolve their differences. b.If their differences cannot be resolved through discussion, resort to majority rule, externally imposed compromise, or hierarchical appeal to a higher authority. c.modify the situation to eliminate the cause differences. This may involve redesigning present positions or creating new positions. According to Gray and Starke (1980) if we accept the argument that conflict can have either positive or negative effects on organizations, then it follows that managers have considerable flexibility in dealing with conflict. While there are many specific techniques for managing conflict, there are only two broad approaches. a)Stimulate the conflict (b) Resolve it. The specific techniques that can be used in each of these cases are discussed below. Conflict Stimulation- If groups or individuals in an organization are too set in their ways or too willing to accept unquestioningly the views of a powerful individual, management may benefit from stimulating conflict among them. The fact that groups and individuals may come up with inferior decisions because there is too little disagreement has been demonstrated on many occasions. In fact, one of the major reasons for antitrust legislations is that the government assumes consumers will be better off if vigorously competition and conflict exist among firms supplying consumer goods. Without this conflict, the impetus for new product development and technological breakthrough would be very low.

One laboratory experiment demonstrated this point very clearly. Groups were formed to solve a problem. As in the typical experiment, there were experimental and control groups. The experimental group had a “planted” member whose job it was to challenge the majority view; the control groups had no such member. In all cases, the experimental group came up with better solutions to the problem than did the control groups.

What can management do to stimulate conflict? First it can openly state that it feels conflict to be desirable in certain occasions. For instance, departments managed by individuals who are feared by their subordinates may benefit considerably if conflict with the boss is encouraged when a new department head takes over. Although the goals of the boss may be blocked in the process, if these goals were not reasonable or functional in the first place, the organization will be better off. The same thing is possible in the interdepartmental level. If the sates department succeeds in blocking the production department’s goal of smooth production scheduling and in the process better serves the consumer, the firm will probably be better off than if strictly internal considerations (like scheduling) had dictated the decision.

Second, new individuals can be brought into the existing situations these individuals many know little or nothing about the problems and opportunities facing the organizations, but their thoughtful questions and comments may force the long time members to see new ways of doing things. This is readily seen when “outside” members are asked to join the boards of directors of certain firms. These outsiders may severely question accepted industry practices. In the process, long time board members may get very upset with challenges to the normal way of doing things. But in the end new approaches often result.

Third, the organization can be restructured, when this is done, new reporting relationships develop, and during this development enough uncertainty usually exists that conflict arises. As this conflict is worked out better ways are sometimes found to do the important tasks of the organization.

Finally, management can implement programs that are specifically designed to induce conflict or competition. The most obvious example of this is sales contests where the winner receives a substantial prize. In many cases these contests are simply competition and not true conflict (salesmen do not interfere with one another), but in others (e.g. selling cars), dealers are in conflict with one another as they try to reach the goal. Blocking behaviour such as advertising and price dealing is necessary because dealers know that there is a limit on the numbers of cars that can be sold in a given time period.

DuBose (1988) proposed some ides as to when to stimulate conflict he wrote; Are there any signals that the practicing manager can look for to suggest that conflict levels may be too low? The answer to this question is a qualified “yes”. While there is no definitive method for universally assessing the need for more conflict, affirmative answers to one or more of the following question suggests there may be a need for conflict simulation. 1.Are you surrounded by “yes” men?

2.Are subordinates afraid to admit ignorance and uncertainties to you? 3.Is there so much concentration by decision makers on reaching a compromise that they may lose sight of values, long-term objectives or the company welfare? 4.Do managers believe that it is in their best interest to maintain the impression of peace and cooperation in their unit, regardless of the price? 5.Is there an excessive concern by decision makers in not hurting the feeling of others? 6.Do managers believe that popularity is more important for the obtaining census for their decisions? 7.Are managers unduly enamoured with obtaining consensus for their decisions? 8.Do employees show unusually high resistance to change?

9. Is there a lack of new ideas forthcoming?
10.Is there an unusually low level of employee turn over?
On how to manage conflict, our knowledge of stimulation techniques is primitive relative to our understanding of methods for resolving conflicts. His suggestion was organized into three categories; methods that manipulate the communication channel, those that alter the structure and techniques that deal with modifying value and personality variables. Two particularly strong communication stimulators are repression of information and the communication of ambiguous or threatening information. Each is rapidly implemented and easily controlled. By holding back date we can quickly stimulate greater conflict. It can work as an excellent fine – tuning device because the decision on the data repressed will influence the degree of increased hostility. Most importantly, it has an easily available escape valve should the intensity become too great and thus dysfunctional. A release of information should immediately initiate a reduction in conflict intensity. Ambiguous information is very similar to repression. Ambiguity initiates discord, but the release of further information that can clarify the vague data will immediately set in action resolving forces. Threatening communications can successfully stimulate conflict as rapidly as any of the techniques that will be discussed. When an individual’s or group’s survival is at stake, especially under win-lose criteria, conflict will rapidly accelerate. In contrast to ambiguity or repressions, threatening information does not offer the easy safety valve. Perception is the key. When individuals are threatened, the actual removal of the threat may not reduce hostility. If one perceives an action to be threatening, even though it no longer is he will behave as if he is truly threatened. Therefore, the manager who uses threatening Communications to increase conflict must recognize that should intensity become too great, not only will the threat need to be rescinded but the perception that the threat still exists must also be removed. Finally, initiating changes in channels or overloading the channel with information offers opportunities for stimulating conflict. Deviating communication from previous formal channels and utilization of the informal grapevine are both effective, the latter being a frequently used method for disseminating threatening information. Through the transmission of too much information, channels can be overloaded, resulting in confusion and accelerated conflict levels. One weakness in utilizing channel overload would be the possibility of organizational members selectively filtering the information. The full impact may be reduced as individuals only absorbs facts they view as relevant, receiving only the data they want to hear. Below are four methods for stimulating conflict that relate to altering variables within or about the structure: size bureaucratic qualities, position changes, and interdependence. By increasing the number of organizational entities, the total organization becomes more complex and opposition is stimulated. Such actions are costly, therefore the decisions to increase size solely to spur conflict would probably occur only when conflict intensity had reached a long impasse at an obviously inadequately low level. As the size of the organization expands, bureaucratic tendencies will be reinforced. Additionally, increased specialization will stimulate conflict intensity. Transferring into a unit a “devil advocate”, who seeks to challenge the traditional view of others, would be included here. Additionally, efforts to infuse units with young individuals and to increase turnover should intensify conflict. Finally, structural conflict can be accelerated by increasing the interdependency between individuals or organizational units. By organizing so as to create interpersonal or inter unit dependency, especially one-way dependency, the manager will stimulate conflict. The third area for stimulating conflict is personal behaviour factors. Generally, these techniques lack the potency of methods previously mentioned. For instance, by placing into leadership positions individuals who possess personality characteristics of high authoritarianism, dogmatism, and low self-esteem, conflict should be stimulated between themselves and their followers. When a group member finds the positional role behaviour expected of him disagreeable, it can stimulate intraunit conflict. Also, stimulation will develop if members perceive insignificant disparity between the status they discern in their position and the status others attribute to it.

Stimulation Techniques
Manipulate communication channel
a.Deviate messages from traditional channels
b.Repress information
c.Transmit too much information
d.Transmit ambiguous or threatening information
Alter the organizations structure (redefine jobs, alter tasks, reform units or activities). a.Increase a unit’s size.
b.Increase Specialization and standardization
c.Add, delete or transfer organizational members
d.Increase interdependence between units.
Add personal behaviour factors.
a.Change personality characteristics of leader.
b.Create role conflict.
c.Develop role incongruence.
According to Griffin (2002), managers can draw upon several different techniques to stimulate, control, resolve or eliminate conflict depending on their unique circumstances. On stimulating conflict, he proposed that in some situations, an organization may stimulate conflict by placing individual employees or groups in competitive situation. Managers can establish sales contests, incentive plans, bonuses, or other competitive stimuli to spark competition. As long as the ground rules are equitable and all participants perceive the contest as fair, the conflict created by the competition is likely to be constructive because each participant will work hard to win (thereby enhancing some aspect of organizational performance). Another useful method for stimulating conflict is to bring in one or more outsiders who will shake things up and present a new perspective in organizational practices. Outsiders may be new employees, current employees assigned to an existing work groups or consultants or advisers hired on a temporary basis. Of course, this action can also provoke resentment from insiders who feel they were qualified for the position. The Beecham Group, a British company, once hired an executive from the United States for its CEO position expressly to change how the company did its business. His arrival brought with it new ways of doing things and a new enthusiasm for competitiveness. Unfortunately, some valued employees also chose to leave Beecham because they resented some of the changes that were made. Changing established procedures, especially procedures that have out lived their usefulness, can also stimulate conflict. Such actions cause people to reassess how they perform their jobs and whether they perform them correctly. For instance, one university president announced that all vacant staff positions could be filled only after written justification had received his approval. Conflict arose between the president and the department heads who felt they had to do more paper work than was necessary. Most requests were okayed, but because department heads now had to think through their staffing needs, a few unnecessary positions were appropriately eliminated.

2.10Controlling Conflict
According to Griffin (2002) one method of controlling conflict is to expand the resource base. Suppose a top manager receives two budgets requests for $100,000 each. If she has only $180,000 to distribute, the stage is set for conflict because each group will feel its Proposal is worth funding and will be unhappy if it is not fully funded. If both proposals are indeed worthwhile, it may be possible for her to come up with the extra $20,000 from other source and thereby avoid difficulty.

As noted earlier pooled sequential and reciprocal interdependence can all result in conflict. If managers use an appropriate technique for enhancing coordination, they can reduce the probability that conflict will arise. Techniques for coordination include making use of the managerial hierarchy relying on roles and procedures, enlisting liaison persons, forming task forces, and integrating departments. At a department store, conflict recently arose between stock room employees and some associates. The sales associates claimed that the stock room employees were slow in delivering merchandise to the sales floor so that it could be priced and shelved. The stock room employees, in turn, claimed that the sales associates were not giving them enough lead time to get the merchandise delivered and failed to understand that they had additional duties besides carrying merchandise to the sales floor. The conflict was addressed by providing sales people with clearer forms on which to specify the merchandise they needed and in what sequence. If one coordination technique does not have the desired effect, a manager might shift to another.

Competing goals can also be a potential source of conflict among individuals and groups. Managers can sometimes focus employee attention on higher level, or superordinate, goals as a way of eliminating lower-level conflict. When labour unions such as the united auto workers make wage concessions to ensure survival of the automobile industry, they are responding to superordinate goals. Their immediate goal may be higher wages for members, but they realize that without the automobile industry, their members would not even have jobs.

Finally, managers should try to match the personalities and work habits of employees to avoid conflict between individuals. For instance, two valuable subordinates, one a chain smoker and the other a vehement non-smoker, should probably not be required to work together in an enclosed space. If conflict does arise between incompatible individuals a manager might seek an equitable transfer for one or both of them to other units. 2.11Resolving and Eliminating Conflict

Despite everyone’s best intentions, conflict will sometimes flare up if it is disrupting the work place, creating too much hostility and tension, or otherwise harming the organization, attempts must be made to resolve it. Some managers who are uncomfortable dealing with conflict choose to avoid the conflict and hope it will go away. Avoidance may sometimes be effective in the short run for some kinds of interpersonal disagreements, but it does little to resolve long-run or chronic conflict. Even more unadvisable though, is “smoothing” – minimizing the conflict and telling everyone that things will get “better”. Often the conflict will only worsen as people continue to brood over it.

Compromise is striking a middle-range position between two extremes this approach can work if it is used with care, but in most compromise situations some one wins and some one loses. Budget problems are one of the few areas amenable to compromise because of their objective nature. Assume, for instance that additional resources are not available to the manager mentioned earlier. She has $180,000 to divide, and each two group’s claims to need $100,000. If the manager believes that both projects warrant funding, she can allocate $90,000 to each. The fact that the two groups have at least been treated equally may minimize the potential conflict.

The confrontation approach to conflict resolution, also called interpersonal problem solving, consists of bringing the parties together to confront the conflict. The parties discuss the nature of their conflict and attempt to reach an agreement or a solution. Confrontation requires a reasonable degree of maturity on the part of the participants, and the manager must structure the situation carefully. If handled well, this approach can be an effective means of resolving conflict. In recent years, many organizations have experimented with a technique called alternative dispute resolution, using team of employees to arbitrate conflict in this way.

Regardless of the approach, organizations and their managers must realize that conflict must be addressed if it is to serve constructive purposes and to prevent destructive consequences. Conflict is inevitable in organizations, but its effects can be constrained with proper attention. For instance, union carbide once sent two hundred of its managers to a three day workshop on conflict management. The managers engaged in a variety of exercises and discussions to learn with whom they were most likely to come into conflict and how they should try to resolve it. As a result, managers at the firm later reported that hostility and resentment in the organization had been greatly diminished and that people in the firm reported more pleasant working relationships.

According to Gray and Starke (1980), a variety of conflict resolution techniques have been used in conflict situations. Only those that seem to have gained fairly wide acceptance will be discussed. Forcing- If two subordinates are in conflict and the boss says “you two stop arguing; I will decide which course of action is reasonable” the two subordinates can no longer disagree about the issue. The manager has “forced” a resolution of the conflict. Obviously, this method leads to quick resolution, but the aftermath of the conflict may be very negative. The subordinates who loses (i.e, the boss agrees with the other subordinate argument) will often try to get revenge for the incident. This behaviour may involve refusal to help out the fellow worker or trying to make the boss look bad. Smoothing- As the term suggests, this conflict resolution technique involves considerable use of tact by the party doing the smoothing. Smoothing can be an effective strategy in many instances. A manager who is confronted by subordinates who are in disagreement may find that they are in conflict simply because of lack of information. Once the manager supplies the relevant information, the conflict may disappear. Suppose that worker A and B are having dispute about work procedures, worker A argues that B should change the way B does a particular task so that A’s work will be easier. Worker B says that the method can’t be changed because that is the way B was told to do it by the foreman. If the foreman simply tells A and B why B’s job has to be done in a certain way, the conflict is more likely to be easily resolved.

Smoothing is usually an ineffective resolution technique if the subordinates think that there is an unreasonable rationale for the decision (e.g. favouritism). In the example above, if the foreman resolves the conflict in favour of worker B and A thinks this is only because the foreman likes B, worker A is hardly going to be happy with the decision. On balance, smoothing works most effectively when, the parties in conflict are not aware of important information relevant to the conflict. Individuals who have this information and can bring it to the attention of the conflicting parties can often resolve the conflict. Majority rule- Many disputes which drag on for a long time are tempting to resolve by a simple vote. For instance, in committees discussing a controversial point where there are reasonable arguments in both sides, we often hear the sentiment, “we’ve heard enough talk on this issue, “lets’ vote” (this sentiment is usually expressed by those who feel they have the votes to win!). Although voting and majority rule are important in our democratic society, research has shown that a quick vote on issues usually suppresses thoughtful consideration of the issues.

The other problem with majority rule (in the minority’s eyes) is that one group always wins and another group always loses. The losing side hardly feels that the voting system is fair and hence they will often agitate for changes which favour them. In many companies, for example, one department of the business usually has more status than another. People who work in the lower status department get fed up over a period of years as they see resources going to the higher status department when the rational thing to do (from their view point) would be to shift the resource allocation to a more equitable basis. Compromise- Perhaps the most widely used of all techniques, compromise involves giving each of the parties in the conflict some of what they want. This is most easily seen in labour-management conflicts. Labour usually begins bargaining by asking for much more than it actually hopes to get, while management begins by offering less than it actually expects to have to give. Even if an arbitrator is used to settle the dispute, the parties will probably behave this way as they attempt to convince the arbitrator that their position is right.

The main advantage of compromise is that it allows a solution to major conflicts. In many instances it is almost impossible to resolve a conflict unless each party sees that the other is giving up something. The motivation to reciprocate (“you give I give”) may be the only motivation operating to move the parties toward a solution.

The tendency of people to exaggerate their demands in the hope of getting what they really wanted all along is one of the big problems with compromise as a conflict resolution technique. Consider a conglomerate where the head of each division must submit a proposed budget for next year’s operations. These proposals are considered by the board of directors who adjust the amount as they see fit. It would not be surprising (and infact is very common) to find the division heads asking for more than they need. They reason that, even if their request is cut back, they should still get enough to carry on their division’s activities. The division heads therefore find themselves in something of a game with the board of directors precisely because the board has developed a reputation for cutting back requests.

The other major disadvantage of compromise is that neither of the conflicting parties is enthusiastic about the solution. They may both feel they lost because they did not get what they wanted. Their only solace is that the opposing party did not get what it wanted either. Consensus- this is a means of improving group effectiveness. As a conflict resolution technique, consensus requires the conflicting parties to work together to find the best solution to their problem. While this may sound imperical there are situation where consensus will be appropriate. When an issue (e.g., organizational survival) is so important that the conflicting parties can easily see that their conflict must be resolved, consensus decision making is useful. The laboratory parallel of this real world situation is found in the “arctic and desert survival games” in these games, individuals are told to imagine that they have crash landed in the arctic or in a remote desert and they have 15 or so items that they may have salvaged from the wreck. They are then asked to rank these items in order of importance.

Once this is done, groups are formed and the group, using consensus problem solving, develops its own ranking of the 15 items. With few exceptions, the group decision is superior to the individuals’ decision. (the “best” ranking is based on opinions expressed by arctic or desert search-and-rescue teams.) although major conflict sometimes develops over the ranking of certain items, the consensus problem solving system resolves these conflicts and the end result is a better decision. In both these cases, the parties can clearly see that their difference must be resolved if they and/ or the organization are to survive.

Certain ground rules should be observed when using consensus as a conflict resolution technique. These are as follows. 1.Do not vote. Voting tends to suppress analysis of the problem and generally results in poorer decisions. It also creates a win lose atmosphere. 2.Do not “horse trade”. One of the tendencies people have when trying to settle a conflict is to say things like, “I’ll accept your view on point X if you‘ll accept mine on point Y. “In consensus decision making this is discouraged. Instead, each party is required to decide what the most reasonable position on both x and y is. 3.Each person is encouraged to speak. Some of the most helpful comments are made by individuals who are not aggressive. It is important to create an environment where everyone feels free to contribute to the resolution of the conflict. 4.Reach a consensus. It is not necessary to have unanimity. It is important, however, that each party to the conflict feels that he or she can live with the decision that is reached.

Overall, consensus is a positive conflict resolution technique because (A) It moves the parties away from the win/lose mentality and (B) It takes advantages of the diverse resources available within the group. Confrontation – This technique requires the opposing parties to openly state their views to each other while it may seem that this would happen in the normal course of conflict episode, the fact is that the conflicting parties may often not state the real problem. Husband-wife arguments for example, are often characterized by beating around the bush and refusing to state the real problem. While this is often done because one person doesn’t want to hurt the other’s feelings, the fact is that the problem cannot be solved until it is known. The same is true in organizational conflict. If two departments are in conflict over an apparently trivial point, we might suspect that something far more fundamental is at stake but the parties are unwilling to admit it.

Once the real reason for the conflict has been brought out, the reasons it came into being and the ways it can be resolved are analyzed. The solution is often a fairly simple one, and this is further support for the argument that the reason the conflict wasn’t solved sooner was because no one is willing to state the real cause of the conflict. Integration- This technique requires the conflicting parties to collaborate in order to resolve the conflict. It requires both parties to have the attitude that, although they may be in conflict, they will strive to develop collaboratively a solution that satisfies the needs of both parties thus the needs of the parties will be integrated by the solution.

That this is a desirable route is often difficult for the conflicting parties to see. The win-lose mentality is often so strong that the opposing groups assume an integrative solution is impossible. What is needed, therefore, is for the conflicting parties to develop the ability to rise above the usual “we-they” view and assume that integration is feasible. A systematic search for these win-win solutions can then be instituted. For instance a college student returned home for Easter vacation to find his mother and father in conflict about how to finish the new cabinets in the kitchen the father (carpenter) had built the cabinets and wanted them stained a light colour while the mother wanted to paint them a much darker colour.

The student persuaded the parents to back off from the conflict and write down their goals about how they wanted the cabinets to look. The father wanted the beautiful wool grain to show through and also wanted his workmanship to be seen. The mother’s goal was to have cabinets that would coordinate with the colour of the floor and would be as stylish as some she has seen in better homes and Gardens.

Once these goals became clear, it was possible to point out to the Parents that a stain could be used that would satisfy both of them. The one that was chosen (a medium-dark oil hood stain) allowed the grain to show through, showed off the workmanship, matches the floor and looked stylish.

According to Hodgetts and Actman (1979) some of the common methods of handling conflict include mutual problem solving, superordinate goals, and expansion of resources, avoidance, smoothing and compromise. Mutual problem solving- One of the simplest methods for resolving conflict is through mutual problem solving in which all of the parties are required to come face-to-face with each other and discuss the issues. For instance, the production manager who believes that the department can increase its efficiency by introducing new technology may be fighting resistance from the workers who feel threatened by these proposed changes through sharing and communicating their differences, it is often possible to accentuate the position by highlighting the commonly held views of the parties and identifying similarities which can serve as a basis for cooperative effort. Such a procedure tends to overcome Gresham’s law of conflict, which holds that forces working to increase cooperation tend to be pushed out by those accentuating differences. In short, conflict forces often win out over cooperative forces. Mutual problem solving works to fight Gresham’s law by achieving cooperation and productive action from group members.

However, while mutual problem-solving can prove useful in resolving some conflict situations, it is often ineffective in handling conflict stemming from differing value systems. When the parties have incompatible values, mutual problem solving often results in their discovering how much they actually disagree in various issues. Mutual problem solving encourages cooperation and productive actions. Superordinate Goals - Superordinate goals also encourages cooperative and productive action. A complementary approach to mutual problem solving in which, an objective requiring the cooperation of all parties is identified. In a manufacturing firm, for example, profit depends upon coordination of all departmental activities. No one department can go off on it’s own without hurting the overall profitability of the entire organization. Thus profit is a superordinate goal, and management attempts to resolve interdepartmental conflict by getting everyone to put aside his or her individual differences and work toward this shared goal.

The same holds true in the case of management-union conflict. Regardless of their differences, their conflict must be kept within bounds. If the union, declares a strikes and stays out for six months the company may have to declare bankruptcy. If the company refuses to provide competitive wages, the union may walk out. Each therefore, must try to resolve its differences under the banner of “we are all in this together”. By choosing an objective such as survival, which transcends individual differences, at least partial resolution of management-union conflict can be achieved. However, there are short comings to this method. As sherif notes “superordinate goals are possible only when two or more groups find a purpose toward which each can strive without sacrificing the most cherished aspirations of its members. When this is not possible, group conflict continues despite efforts to forestall its ultimate consequences and despite practices that appear legitimate to each group”. Expansion of Resources- Sometimes conflict is based upon the scarcity of resources. There may be only so much money available to meet budget requests, and an increase in one department’s allocation may mean less for another. Or there may be only one promotion available and three highly qualified people in line for it. These win-lose situations can sometimes be avoided if the organization can expand its resources. For example, by delaying capital expenditures and putting the money into the current budget. The organization may be able to meet all of the departmental requests. Likewise, by reorganizing the structure the manager may be able to create three positions for the three available people. Unfortunately, while this method often reduces conflict, in most organizations resources rarely exist in such quantities as to be easily expanded. Avoidance- When individuals find themselves in conflict with each other, one way to deal with the situation is to avoid the other party. This can take two forms withdrawal and suppression. In the case of withdrawal, for example, when the marketing department finds that it cannot deal with the manufacturing people, it may withdraw from interaction with them, by sending its reports directly to the president, who will then forward them, to manufacturing. Meanwhile, intra departmental withdrawal often takes the form of “staking out a territory”. Each party to the conflict decides what it will do, and no one interferes with the work of the others. In situations in which close coordination is unnecessary such a resolution technique can work well.

In the case of suppression, each party merely withholds information or feelings that will upset the other. This evasion tactic does not really address the cause of the conflict, but it does prevent a win-lose situation. Yet it is an effective resolution technique and may indeed be one of the primary factors holding together many organizational relationships. Smoothing- is the playing down of differences between individuals and groups while emphasizing their common interests. When applied to conflict the use of this technique can act as a counter veiling force to Gresham’s law. Of course, since it is only superficial resolution, smoothing is used primarily when a temporary solution is sought. In the long run, these dissimilarities will arise again, and more long-run solutions will have to be implemented. Compromise- The major portion of resolution methods developed in the literature consist of compromise techniques, in this process there is no distinct loser or decisive winner because each party is required to give up something. Many illustration of compromise can be cited, perhaps one of the best known being union-management negotiations. During contract talks it is typical to find each side giving up something if the other will do likewise. Of course, the amount given up by each party will be in direct relation to its strength. For example, if the union feels it has management at a disadvantage for one reason or another, it will give up less than the latter. Never the less, such negotiations can result in satisfactory solutions, at least for the short run. However, in the long run each side often feels that they gave up more than it should have and is determined to bargain more strongly the next time. The same is true in the case of compromise when applied to interdepartmental and interpersonal conflict. Neither party to the agreement may feel happy with the final outcome. As a result, “Conflict resolution is usually only temporary, and the conflict that initiated the compromise situation will probably recur”.

Finally, Follet observed that conflict is usually present in management situation and offered a process for resolving it. The managers must handle conflict by (A) compromise (B) Domination (C) Integration. The first two never satisfies anyone, but integration provides a new approach to the problem that will satisfy all parties. In order to achieve integration;

1.The differences must be brought into the open
2.A reevaluation must be made by all parties
3.All parties must anticipate the response of the others and seek new positions that suit not only the parties but the relationship among the parties. In other words each party should avoid the limitations of his own position and seek a new integrated position acceptable to all. 2.12Background of the Civil Service Commission

Dating into the colonial period, a major attempt in establishing a central public service in Nigeria emanated from the acceptance of the Nigerianization report of 1st January, 1949 by the colonial office. Later, a caretaker central public service commission was constituted on 3rd May, 1952 under the provision of section 169 of the Nigerian order-in-council (constitution) of 1951. The Federal Public Service Commission was established on 1st April, 1954 under section 174 of the Nigerian order-in-council (constitution) of 1954.

With the evolution of modern state and the adoption of the concept of separation of powers, the Civil Services emerged as an organ of the executive responsible for advising it on policy directions and implementation of decisions. The great English Public Servant, Sir Warren Fisher in his report of Royal Commission on the Civil Service in 1929 stated that “Determination of Policy is the function of ministers; and once a policy is determined, it is the unquestioned and unquestionable business of the civil servant to strive to carry out that policy with precisely the same good will, whether he agrees with it or not” in other words, the basic functions of the civil service and the civil servant all over the world are: a)To assist the government in the formation of policy by providing the necessary data, b)To implement the decisions (that is, the approved policies) without fear or favour, c)To assure that when advising government the civil servant sets out the wider and more enduring considerations against the exigencies of the moment so that the conveniences of today does not become the embarrassment of tomorrow. For the civil servant to be able to do this, he must be assured that his bosses would not “get at him” for taking the correct actions that might not be politically correct or palatable to the power that be. The public service and the Nigerian state during the colonial era and immediately after independence, was that of a Central Agency responsible for managing various governments functions delineated into departments i.e. public works, treasury, trade etc, the major purpose of governance then was the collection of revenue through tax, provision of security and limited social services. These were provided timely and efficiently delivered. However, with the attainment of political independence in 1960 and the eventual transition into a republic in 1963, these departments transformed into ministries and extra-ministerial establishment, with greater responsibilities. The various civil services at the central, regions, and the states witnessed a lot of transformation both in size, quality, and personnel outlook and from a predominantly expatriate manned outfit, they had become purely Nigerianised. This was the position till 1967 when the Nigeria civil war commenced. However, the last three and half decades, beginning from the end of the Nigerian Civil war in 1970 to date has witnessed various governments in the country attempting to create and recreate work structures which they thought would assist in fast tracking development and better service delivery.

Expansion in state responsibilities necessitated attempts to transform the Nigerian public service through certain reforms, the Nigerian Public Service had gone through 12 major reforms in the previous 50 years, some of which include:- Philipson/ Adebo Report of 1950

Gorsuch Committee of 1954
Newns Committee of 1959
Morgan Salaries and wages commission of 1963
Wey panel on public service management and salary administration of 1968, Elwood Grading Team of 1969,
Adebo Commission of 1973
Public Service Review Commission (Udoji Report) of 1974
Study Team on the structure, staffing and operations of the Nigerian Civil Service (Philip, Report) of 1985, Presidential Task Force on the implementation of the Civil Service Reforms (koshon Report) of 1988 that resulted in Decree 43 of 1988 and Ayida Review Panel of 1995.

Of these reforms, the Udoji Report of 1974 and Decree 43 of 1988 had the greatest impact on the service, the major purpose of these reform were either to create new structures for the public service. Review the benefits and other conditions of work in the public service. Reduce waste, compact governance and fight against corruption.

These various attempts did not adequately address the issue of productivity, management succession and a growing service that would bring about needed economic and social development required for the transformation of the Nigerian state into a twenty-first century developed nation. On the contrary, they brought about the under listed consequences. a)Corruption

iPrevalence and virtual institutionalization of corruption at all levels of the civil service, particularly in the parastatals iiDisregard for financial accountability and probity which resulted in the over bloating of government contracts. The civil service was accused of corruption gross ineptitude and inefficiency. It was also accused of arrogating too much power to itself and taking advantage of the military interregnum to seize power. Some of these allegations are not altogether untrue. However, one of the disturbing features following the mass retirement exercise in 1975 and 1984-1985 as well as, various tribunals of enquiry is that the average public officer is being portrayed to the general public as a common thief. This is very unfortunate. b)Productivity

iDeclining levels of efficiency, effectiveness and non-delivery of services iiLow morals and frustration of civil services due to low level of remuneration; job insecurity, absence of basic working materials and deteriorating working condition etc. c)Politicalization of the service

iPoliticalization of the civil service especially at the top echelon with the result that excessive cultural, pluralistic and social cleavages derived from ethnic and religious influences were brought to bear on the Human Resources management of the civil service, particularly in the parastatal or extra- ministerial establishments. iiAt a certain point, the politicization of the civil service by removing the accounting powers of the permanent secretary and bestowing then on the minister, who automatically became the chief executive and accounting officer of the ministry. iiiThe position of permanent secretary was abolished and replaced with that of the Director General who would retire with the government that appointed him. d)Collapse of systems and structures

The uniform system of organization and method of management adopted by the reform, with the pooling system used in servicing the human resource needs of the services, could not deliver required productivity, efficiency and targets due to its faculty approach and application. e)Appointment, promotion and disciplinary matters

iOver bloating of the Junior Staff Cadre in GL01 to GL06. Statistically this Cadre which was comparatively less productive constituted by 2005, 70% of the total staff strength of the federal civil service. iiLack of uniformly in the standard of recruitment, promotion and discipline across the entire service. The issue of fair distribution and federal character were completely ignored and Heads of parastatals went into a free for all recruitment process. iiiArbitrary suspension of officers beyond stipulated periods and the use of inappropriate disciplinary procedures. Indeed many officers were suspended at the whims and caprices of both political and administrative heads. ivExcessive complaints by officers against stagnation without justifiable reason, thereby lowering the morale of staff. vFailure of many political heads to recruit the right mix of required staff due to corruption, nepotism and tribalism despite the guidelines provided by the federal civil service commission. Hence, professionalism is based on core competence. viScant regard for the rules, regulations and procedures resulting in arbitrary decisions and general loss of direction in the management of the service. f)Statistical Evidence on the over bloating of the service resulting from studies of the reform

With the end of the civil war in 1970, there emerged the period of the oil boom that gave Nigeria sudden wealth through multiple foreign earnings, on sales of crude oil. Nigeria also was confronted with the problem of rehabilitating its war devasted economy. In an attempt to do this, the policy of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation was introduced. This meant iIncrease in government responsibilities

iiIncrease involvement of government in the provision of social and economic services iiiDiversification, expansion and erection of new infrastructures; such as roads, schools, hospitals, industries and housing etc ivGeneral transformation of the economy into a predominantly public sector one

Obviously, this resulted in the expansion of government ministries and the creation of so many extra-ministerial establishments, some of whom were called parastatals. These parastatals where largely the creation of the military, that were often made through decrees which granted then enormous autonomy in the management of their day to day functions.

Consequently, by 1999 when the last military regime left office, the federal public service consisted of about 26 ministers and over 400 extra-ministerial departments/parastatals. They were divided into two categories namely, the civil service with a work force of about 273,392, while the extra-ministerial department/ parastatals had a workforce of about 1.2 million. The public service then had a total work force of about 1,433,392 public servants, servicing a growing population of about 120 million people up till the year 2003, when the recent reforms commenced; only 26% of this workforce was civil servant under the control of the federal civil service commission.

An X-ray of these parastatals indicated that the Federal Ministry of Health had 77 of them, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology had 40, Federal Ministry of Education had 41, Federal Ministry of Agriculture had 34, while the Federal Ministry of Power and Steel had 27 to mention a few, the result was that:- iManaging these parastatals had become a problem

iiThese were duplication in mandate/ Functions
They were unable to provide timely and efficient services for which they were set up. iiiThey became a major source of waste of public funds
They became cesspit of corruption, resulting in the ever bloating of contracts, loss of public confidence and great out cry for something to be done urgently. 2.13 Organizational Structure
The federal civil service commission comprises a chairman, 15 honourable commissioners and a secretariat headed by the permanent secretary. The secretariat has six departments namely, recruitment/appointment, promotion, discipline /appeals, administration, planning, research and statistics and finance/accounts. It also has six units namely, legal, servicom, press/public relations, anti corruption/ transparency, procurement and internal audit as well as the liaison office in Lagos.

2.14Conflict and Its Management in the Commission
Conflict exists in every of organization as long as there are objectives to achieve, goals to set, targets to reach. Most importantly to achieve all of these, the human factor cannot be left out, employees are needed to achieve all these goals, objectives and targets. In doing this they must interact with one another. As humans are different like finger prints, so also do our personalities differ. Their values are not the same, and may even belong to different departments. All these will result to conflict in any organization.

The Federal Civil Service Commission is not left out on this. In carrying out their functions as officers of the commission, different types of conflict arise such as intrapersonal conflict which occurs within the individual that is a single member of the organization and comes primarily from two sources role conflict and Job stress. A lot of officers experience role conflict. Most officers are family men who have to balance problems at home with office work, in some cases, problems at home affects an officers ability to perform properly in the office, also societal changes affecting values with respect to work have resulted in individuals being called upon to play a greater number of diverse roles. Moreso at times an officer who does not report to one boss finds himself in role conflict when both bosses ask him to do a task to be completed at the same time which leaves him with the dilemma of which to do first.

Consequently, on Job stress most officers complained that they always have a lot of work to complete within a short period of time, they have two rolls of files some even more to go through before the end of the day, they come to feel lost and unsure of what is expected of them, unsure of their ability to cope with what they perceive to be ever mounting pressure.

Inter-personal conflict is conflict occurring between two or more organizational members as a result of such factors as difference in managerial philosophies, values and problem solving styles or competition for power or promotion. On an occasion while I was at the commission I witnessed an officer complaining to another that, his colleague does not allow him to do work that is meant for him and as a result he seats all day long doing nothing because his Job is being done by another officer, the other officer advised him to go and talk to his colleague and if he refuses to listen, then he can go to a higher authority in this case who is the chief officer.

Inter group conflict is the type of conflict that occurs between department or work groups and typically revolves around issues of authority, jurisdiction, control of work flow, or access to scarce organizational resources. The commission is made up of various departments, though with various diverse function to perform. In 2002 annual report on the promotion of officers in the ministry of foreign affairs one major problem that was encountered in the conduct of 2001 promotion/interview examination for officers on SGL.14-16 was lack of transparency by some ministries/ Agencies with declaration of vacancies to the commission. This resulted in commission making avoidable mistakes of promoting officers to non-existing vacancies. Also the officers of staff welfare and training division are regularly being sat on training, it is a known fact that training attracts payments to the attendants and as such administration officers insisted on going on training with the staff welfare division who declined saying that the training is simply meant for them alone, the administration department still insisted to be part of the training. This resulted in conflict between the groups.

In the commission institutionalized conflict occurs when work assignments are structured, when organizations are grouped into department, once a bailiwick, it is common to find officers becoming highly concerned with the needs of their own particular department and relatively unconcerned with those of the others. Budget time finds everyone fighting for increased departmental allocations. Since this is a win-lose situation, those who get percentage increases achieve them only at the expense of the other departments. Such a conflict situation however is often inevitable, since many people feel greater loyalty to their department in particular than to their organization in general.

Similarly conflict emerges from the organizations creation of hierarchy. Low level directors have short run problems related to work schedules and quotas. Top directors have long-run concerns related to the future course of the total organization. Each hierarchical level tends to be in some degree of conflict with the one above.

On the management of conflict in the commission, conflict is managed through dialogue both parties involved are called to discuss the situation in an effort to resolve their differences, if their differences cannot be resolved through discussion it resorts to majority rule, or a hierarchical appeal to a higher authority.

3.1Research Design
Research design is the structuring of investigation aimed at identifying variables and their relationships to one another. This is used for the purpose of obtaining data, to test hypothesis or answer research questions.

For the purpose of this research both primary and secondary data were collected, the secondary data comprises of books by various authors and bulletins, journal and annual reports. While the primary data comprised solely of a questionnaire and interviews.

The questionnaire consists of only one section comprising of 19 questions in open ended and close ended form, this will enable the officers to answer the questions without any fear of reprisal
More so, an introduction letter was attached to the questionnaire indicating the purpose of the study. All the respondents were given the benefit of anonymity to make them feel free in answering the questions sent to them with all sincerity.

Some of the officers were also interviewed for the research

3.2Area of Study
The research is carried out on the officers of the federal civil service commission at the federal civil service commission, Abuja, which is situated at Wuse 3 directly beside customs office.

3.3Population of the Study
The research is based on conflict in the Civil Service Commission and as such, it focuses on the employees or officers of the organization that is, it is based on the officers of the various departments in the federal civil services and the offices of the commissioners. The federal civil service commission comprises of six departments, offices commissioners and their supports

3.4Sample and Sampling Technique
200 Officers of the organization under the study formed the sample for this research from among the staff strength. 110 respondents returned their questionnaires, out of 200 that were given out to the six departments of federal civil services which are Recruitment/Appointment, promotion, discipline/ Appeals, Administration, planning, research and statistics and finance/ accounts.

Including the offices of the commissioners representing the various states of the country and their supports. 3.5Sources of Data
The Data used for this research are of both primary and secondary source: Primary Data: For the primary data questionnaires and interviews was used to elicit information from the officers. The questionnaires were in both open ended and close ended form, for the departments. However, this source is primary because the information collected is raw and have not been used for any research work. Secondary Data: Here literature on related topics like textbooks, bulletins, journals and annual reports were used to obtain both practical and theoretical studies

3.6Instrument for Data Collection
The techniques and instruments used in this research for collecting data is the questionnaire, and interviews which was constructed in both open ended and closed end form. The questionnaire is of only one composed section to be answered by all the officers. Assurance of confidentiality of the answers given aided the respondents to answer the questions in the questionnaire without any fear of reprisal. Various officers who were willing were also interviewed during the course of the research.

3.7Validity and Reliability of Instrument
The instruments used (questionnaire and the interviews) were simple and direct which made it possible to elicit quick and accurate information from the officers of the commission.
Further more, some officers were completely willing and helpful with information necessary for the research as well as providing journals and bulletins on the organization. Also some chief officers were interviewed who gave necessary information.

More so, secondary instrument like textbooks which can also be applied in further studies was used.

3.8Administration of the Instrument
Questionnaire was used as a primary instrument and the questionnaire were administered by hand. As a result each questionnaire was handed to departments and units in the organization and the responses were collected the next day. Meanwhile, few did not answer the questions completely and as a result was not included in the data analysis.

Interview was also conducted in person.

3.9Method of Data Analysis
After collecting the data, they were organized into tables, frequencies and percentages. This gives a concise view and understanding of the implicit nature of the data collected. Chi square (x2) method was used in testing the hypothesis at 0.05% level of significance. The chi square formula that was used in the research is given as: X2= ∑ (0-E)2

X2= Chi-square
O = Observed frequency
E= Expected frequency

4.1 Data Presentation and Analysis
In this chapter, the responses of the officers concerning the questions given to them in the questionnaire are analyzed and interpreted to show whether answers have been satisfied or not. In order draw conclusions and summarize findings on the analysis of the responses given by the respondents.

The questions are 19 in all. Most of the officers were not willing to fill the questionnaire due to scepticism as to the use of responses given in the questionnaire. Some of the questionnaires were rejected; some who took the questionnaire eventually did not return them.

However, 110 questionnaires were returned of the 200 that were given out

Table 4.1.1 Sex Distribution of Respondents
SexFrequencyPercentage (%)
Sources: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.1 above indicates the sex distribution of the respondents. It shows that 70 respondents representing 63.64% are male, while 40 respondents representing 36.36% are female. The number of male officers is greater than that of the female. This means that there is gender inequality and as such the male officers’ opinion will always be considered. This will lead to interpersonal conflict.

Table 4.1.2 Age distribution of respondents
Age FrequencyPercentage (%)
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.2 above shows that majority of the respondents are those within the age bracket of 41-60 years who are 62 in number representing 56.36% while those under the age of 19-40years are 48 in number representing 43.64%. This will result to conflict because those within 41-60 are officers at the top of the hierarchy and the latter are those below the hierarchy. They lack the experience which the top officers have but they come up with new ways of doing things.

Table 4.1.3 Marital Status of respondents
Marital StatusFrequencyPercentage (%)
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.3 above shows that 38 of the respondents representing 34.55% are single while 72 of the respondents are married representing 64.45%.The married officers are more likely to suffer intrapersonal conflict compared to the single officers

Table 4.1.4 Educational Qualification of respondents QualificationFrequencyPercentage (%)
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.4 above shows that 89 of the respondents are OND/HND/ holders representing 80.91% of the respondents. While 21 of the respondents are masters’ degree holders representing 19.09% of the respondents. None were SSCE or GCE holders. Showing they all had higher education training. This creates a situation were every one feels qualified to carry out any responsibility. There is no room for correction; any attempt to correct will lead to conflict.

Table 4.1.5 Job Position of Respondent
Job PositionFrequencyPercentage (%)
Chief Officer109.09
Chief Secretary4843.64
Secretary II4238.18
Assistant Director109.09
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.5 above shows that 10 respondents representing 9.09% are Chief Officers, 48 respondents representing 43.64% are Chief Secretaries, and 42 respondents are Secretary II representing 38.18% while 10 representing 9.09% are Assistant Directors. The different job position shows that conflict is bound to occur.

Table 4.1.6 Length of Service of Respondents
No of yearsFrequencyPercentage (%)

Source: field survey 2009
Table 4.1.6 shows that 40 of the respondents representing 36.36% have spent 1-20years in the commission while 70 respondents representing 63.64% have spent 21-30 years. Those that have spent 21-30 years in the commission have more experience which they would hold against those who have spent fewer years; and as such they would want their opinion to be sought after.

Table 4.1.7 Satisfaction with the relationship of the departments. ResponsesFrequencyPercentage (%)
Yes 8476.36
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.7 shows that 76.36% of respondents who are 84 in number are satisfied with the relationship of the departments while 26 respondents representing 23.64% are not satisfied with the relationship. The majority of respondents are satisfied with the relationship of the departments. Meaning that conflict rarely occurs between departments. While the officers, who chose no, imply that inter group conflict occurs.

Table 4.1.8 If not satisfied to what extent does it hinder the achievement of the organizations objectives? ResponsesFrequencyPercentage (%)
Very satisfied6458.18
Not very satisfied2421.82
Not at all2220
I don’t know--
Total 110100
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.8 shows that 64 of the respondents representing 58.18% are very satisfied with the relationship between departments, 24 of the respondents representing 21.82% are not very satisfied and 22of the respondents representing 20% wrote not at all. Even thought the majority chose not at all, intergroup conflict occurs, but it is repressed in one way or the other.

Table 4.1.9 If satisfied to what extent does it promote organizational objectives? ResponsesFrequencyPercentage (%)
A large extent6458.18
Only a little2421.82
Not at all--
I don’t know2220
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.9 shows that 64 respondents representing 58.18% said that relationship between departments promotes organizational objectives, 24 respondents representing 21.82% chose only a little, while 22 respondents representing 20% chose not at all. Conflict hinders performance and as such does not promote organizational objectives. It should be managed once it is discovered.

Table 4.1.10 what types of the conflict exist?
TypesFrequencyPercentage (%)
Intrapersonal conflict
Role conflict2522.73
Job stress4036.36
Interpersonal conflict3632.73
Intergroup conflict 98.18
Systems conflict
Bargaining conflict-
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.10 above shows that 25 respondents representing 22.73% chose role conflict, 40 of the respondents representing 36.36% chose Job stress, 36 respondent representing 32.78% chose interpersonal conflict while 9 respondent representing 8.18% chose intergroup conflict. The majority of the respondents chose job stress due to number of responsibilities to be carried out by an officer. Interpersonal and intergroup conflict will occur due to interdependent relationship of officers.

Table 4.1.11 Apart from the ones listed is there still any other types of conflict you are aware of? ResponsesFrequencyPercentage (%)
I don’t know--
Total 110100%
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.11 shows that there are no other type of conflict of that exist apart from the ones already listed 110 respondents representing 100% chose yes. There is no other type of conflict existing in the organization.

Table 4.1.12 Does conflict hinder performance?
SexFrequencyPercentage (%)
Source: Field Survey
Table 4.1.12 above shows that 110 respondents representing 100% said yes that conflict hinders performance. Even though most officers said that they are satisfied with the relationships of the departments, they also agree that conflict hinders performance

Table 4.1.13 How does it hinder performance?
ResponseFrequencyPercentage (%)
Low productivity5650.91
Loss of concentration5449.09
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.13 above shows that 56 respondents representing 50.91% experience low productivity during conflict. While 54 respondents representing 49.09% experiences loss in concentration. Majority of the officers chose job stress as a type of conflict in the organization, job stress results to low productivity. Loss in concentration is as a result of role conflict.

Table 4.1.14 What are the positive effects of conflict?
Responses FrequencyPercentage (%)
The energy level of group or individual increases with conflict 30
Group cohesion increases4944.55
Problems are made know during conflict3128.18
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.14 above shows the positive effect of conflict in the organization, 30 respondents representing 27.27% chose the energy level of group or individual increases with conflict, 49 respondents representing 44.55% chose group cohesion increases during conflict, while 31 representing 28.18% chose problems are made known during conflict. Conflict is good for the organization as they are able to work cooperatively well with one another. This makes the achievement of organizational objectives possible.

Table 4.1.15 What are the negative effects of conflict?
Responses FrequencyPercentage (%)
A decline in communication between conflicting parties
Hostility and aggression develop3229.09
Over conformity to group demands2825.45
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.15 above shows the distribution of negative effect of conflict 50 respondents representing 45.45% chose a decline in communication between conflicting parties, 32 respondents representing 29.09% chose hostility and aggression develop, 28 respondents representing 25.45% chose over conformity to group demands. This is due to lack of integration but with proper management, it will help to develop the organization.

Table 4.1.16 Do departments cooperate with one another in the organization? ResponsesFrequencyPercentage (%)
I don’t know--
Total 110100
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.16 above shows that 78 respondents representing 70.91% cooperate with other departments, 32 respondents, representing 29.09% chose No, the majority chose yes. If departments cooperate with one another, there will be intergration among officers hence, there will be no conflict.

Table 4.1.17 Conflict if properly managed improves organizational performance SexFrequencyPercentage (%)
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.17 above shows 90 respondent which is the majority representing 81.82% chose yes conflict if properly managed improves organizational performance, 20 respondents representing 18.18% chose No, it does not improve organizations performance. Majority agreed that if conflict is properly managed it improves organizational performance. It enables achievement of objectives.

Table 4.1.18 What are the sources of conflict in the organization? ResponseFrequencyPercentage (%)
Difference in perception6054.55
Limited resources--
Nature of work activities2623.64
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.18 shows that 60 respondents representing 54.55% which is the majority chose difference in perception, 24 respondents representing 21.82% chose departmentalization, 26 respondents representing 23.64% chose Nature of work activities. A person does not make up an organization but a group of persons who are further divided into other groups. And as such conflict is inevitable.

Table 4.1.19 Lack of integration between groups results to conflict in the organization ResponsesFrequencyPercentage (%)
Total 110100
Source: Field Survey 2009
Table 4.1.19 above shows 82 respondents representing 74.55% agree that lack to integration in an organization results in conflict in the organization, 10 respondents representing 9.09% disagree while 18 respondents representing 16.36% are undecided. The majority agreed that where there is no cooperation and integration between groups, conflict will occur.

4.2Test of Hypotheses
Having collected, presented and analyzed the data in respect of conflict and its management in the Federal Civil Service Commission testing the hypotheses against the findings makes it possible to draw a reasonable, and valid conclusion and also make meaningful recommendations.

Chi-square method is used to test the following hypotheses
Hypothesis One:
H0: lack of integration between groups does not results to conflict in the organization
H1: lack of integration between groups result to conflict in the organization
The formula for Chi-square is given as:

X2 = ∑ (O-E) 2
Where x2 = chi-square
O = observed frequency
E = Expected frequency
The level of significance used is 5% or 0.05
The degree of 15 arrived at with the formula DF = (R-1) (C-1) Using table 4.1.19 to test hypothesis
Total 110174.71
Observed values x = 174.71
V = df = (R-1) (C-1)
= (3-1) (1-1)
V = df = 2 degrees of freedom
X2 table at the 5% significance level are v= 2 degrees of freedom Theoretical x2 value = 5.991
Decision Rule is; accept H0 if the empirical x2 value is less than the table / critical x2 value. Otherwise reject it and accept H1. Therefore:
174.71 > 5.991
We reject null hypothesis and conclude that lack of integration between group results in conflict in the organization.

Hypothesis Two
H0: conflict if properly managed does not improve organizations performance H1: conflict if properly managed improves organizations performance Using Table 4.1.17 to test hypothesis
Total 11077.15
Observed value of x2 = 77.15
V = df = (R – 1) (C – 1)
df = (2 – 1) ( 1 – 1)
V = dF = 1 degree of freedom
X2 table at the 5% significance level and V = 1 degree of freedom Theoretical X2 value = 3.841
Therefore 77.15 > 3.841
Decision Rule = I reject the null hypothesis and conclude that, conflict if properly managed improves organizational performance. 4.3Summary of Findings
Appropriate generalization can be made on conflict and its management in the Federal Civil Service Commission from the answers gotten from the respondents in the questionnaire.
According to the test of hypotheses, it is evident that lack of integration will result to conflict in an organization. Majority agreed that where there is no cooperation and integration between groups, conflict will occur. . Also when conflict is properly, managed organizational performance also improves. Majority agreed that if conflict is properly managed it improves organizational performance. It enables achievement of objectives.

The number of male officers is greater than that of the female. This means that there is gender inequality and as such the male officers’ opinion will always be considered. This will lead to interpersonal conflict.

Those within 41-60 are officers at the top of the hierarchy and the latter are those below the hierarchy. They lack the experience which the top officers have but they come up with new ways of doing things.

Officers of the service all have higher education training. This creates a situation were every one feels qualified to carry out any responsibility. There is no room for correction; any attempt to correct will lead to conflict. Those that have spent 21-30 years in the commission have more experience which they would hold against those who have spent fewer years; and as such they would want their opinion to be sought after. There is satisfaction among officers with the relationship of the departments; meaning that conflict rarely occurs between departments. While the officers, who chose no, imply that inter group conflict occurs. Officers agreed that conflict hinders achievement organizational objectives. Majority of the officers chose job stress as a type of conflict in the organization, job stress results to low productivity. Loss in concentration is as a result of role conflict. Various types of conflict exist in the organizations which are: intrapersonal conflict, role conflict, job stress, interpersonal conflict, intergroup conflict. Job stress is the predominant type of conflict according 40 officers representing 36.36. Conflict hinders performance, but its positive effects include: increased energy level of group or individual, group cohesion increases, problems are made known during conflict. The negative effect of conflict in the organization include: a decline in communication between conflicting parties, hostility and aggression develops and over conformity to group demands. There is cooperation between the departments and also conflict arises due majorly to difference in perception, limited resources, departmentalization and nature of work activities. Conclusively discussions with top management officers further revealed that conflict is resolved through dialogue between conflicting parties.

The transition in conflict thought as professed by academic has gone through three distinct stages which are traditional, behavioural and interactionist.
The traditionalist views conflict as destructive and it was managements’ role to rid the organization of them the traditionalist view was replaced in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s with a behavioural approach, which prescribed acceptance of conflict, they rationalized its existence. However, as with the traditionalist; the behaviouralist approach to managing conflict was to resolve it.

The current view prevails among researchers at present and is gaining ground in the rest of the society, which argues that conflict is neither good nor bad per se, but is inevitable. Thus conflict will occur even if organizations have taken great plan to prevent it. Conflict is good because it stimulates people to find new ways of doing things.

In organizations various types of conflict can be identified whether intra personal conflict which is conflict occurring within a single member of the organization as a result of role conflict and or job stress, inter personal conflict which is conflict occurring between two or more organizational members as a result of such factors as differences in managerial philosophies, values and problem styles or competition for power or promotion. Inter group conflict which is conflict occurring between departments or work groups as a result of such issues as authority, jurisdiction, control of work flow, and for access to scarce resources. Institutionalized conflict often results from organizational attempts to structure work assignments.

There are numerous sources of conflict within formal organization; the most fundamental fact of organizational life is that resources are finite. Even the most successful companies have found that they are limited in what they can accomplish. Added to the basic problem of finite resources is the problem of organizational units having to work together (interdependent work activities).It is important for management to know the nature of work interdependence so systems of work can be implemented, that will reduce the potential for dysfunctional conflict. Differentiation of activities leads to differentiation in goals. Both the interdependence and differentiation of work activities demand that communication between individuals and groups be effective. Communication problems develop because not all groups have the same information. Differences in perceptions can be a major source of conflict in organizations because value judgments flow from these views.

On the value of conflict there is a growing body of literature that supports that organizations that have levels of conflict above zero are more effective, that is functional levels of conflict are conducive to innovation and higher quality decisions.

Sherif’s theory of group conflict proved that conflict can occur between groups who are pursuing the same goal.
The theories of Sherif and Tajfel are similar in seeing the group rather than the individual, as the basis of conflict. Both seem useful in understanding how industrial conflict and strikes in particular may develop and escalate. The attitudinal and behavioural correlates of inter-group hostility may help to explain why, when conflict has started; it is difficult to stop. Both theories are valuable in emphasizing the importance of perceptions and attitude in the development of conflict.

The strategies adopted will vary according to the nature and sources of conflict, the strategies for managing conflict is listed as clarification of goals and objectives, resource distribution, human resource management policies and procedures, non-monetary rewards, development of inter personal/ group process skills, group activities, leadership and management, organizational process and socio- technical approach.

Causes of conflict are embedded in the characteristics and structure of most organizations and hence are to some degree inescapable. For this reason, managers should learn how to successfully resolve and manage conflict. What exact actions and mechanism are employed is largely a function of the nature of an enterprise and the attitude towards conflict as undesirable and detrimental to an organization. In the traditionalist view it should not exist and should be eliminated. Other managers contend that conflict is normal even desirable and can be managed for the benefit of the organization.

Three basic approaches have been proposed for managing conflict which is; to discuss the situation with the parties involved in an effort to resolve their differences, if their differences cannot be resolved through discussion, resort to majority rule, externally imposed compromise, or hierarchical appeal to a higher authority, and modify the situation to eliminate the cause differences. This may involve redesigning present positions or creating new positions.

After the collection, presentation and analysis of available data two hypotheses were tested which led to two findings. The first hypothesis is; lack of integration between groups results to conflict in the organization. The findings revealed that when there is proper integration between the various departments in the organization conflict is less likely to occur and as a result organizational performance increases through achievement of the organizations goals and objectives.

The second hypothesis revealed that when conflict is properly managed, organizational performance increases. Conflict is a productive force, one that can stimulate members of the organization to increase their knowledge and skills and make productive contribution to the organization.

Keys in organizations success lays not in structure, clarity and orderliness, but in creativity, responsiveness and adaptability. The successful organization needs conflict. So that developing views can be put on the table, and new ways of doing things can be created.

Conflict provides people with feedback about how things are going. Even personality conflict carries’ information to the man about what is not working in an organization, affording opportunity to improve.

If you subscribe to a flexible vision of effective organization and recognize that each conflict situation provides opportunity to improve, you then shift your view of conflict. Rather than trying to eliminate conflict or suppress it’s symptoms, your task becomes managing conflict so that it enhances people and organization rather than destroying people and organizations.

Conflict occurs when the goal striving of one group or individual is deliberately blocked by another group or individual. Conflict is distinct from competition in that the latter involves no interference between the parties as they strive to achieve their goal.

We all see the world slightly differently because we have all had different experiences. These different views of the world can be a major source of conflict in organizations because value judgments flow from these views. Differences in perceptions involve the value of experience vs. the value of education. Older, more experienced managers often are in conflict with younger, inexperienced managers about the way in which work should be done. The experienced person usually points out how knowledgeable he or she has become over the years, whereas the in experienced person argues for “new way” of doing things. Often this conflict is resolved by the older person exercising his or her authority.

The current view of conflict prevails among researchers at present (and is gaining ground in the rest of society) which argues that organizational conflict is neither good nor bad per se, but is inevitable. Thus conflict will occur even if organizations have taken great pains to prevent it. It is noted that the informal organization will emerge and be active irrespective of management’s attempts to suppress it. Thus, organizations will experience conflict even if they have carefully defined employee Jobs and their managers are reasonable people who treat employees well. There are even some instances were conflict is purposely created.

Conflict that occurs in organizations need not be destructive provided the energy associated with conflict is harnessed and directed towards problem –solving and organizational improvement.
However, managing conflict require that all parties understand the nature of conflict in the work place. The notion that conflict should be avoided is one of the major contributors to the growth of destructive conflict in the work place. The bad view of conflict that is associated with a vision of organizational effectiveness is no longer valid. Conflict can be directed and managed so that it causes both people and organizations to grow, innovate and improve. However, this requires that conflict is not to be repressed, since attempts to repress it are more likely to generate ugly situations.

From the foregoing study the following recommendations are considered worthy to help improve the management of conflict in the organization and the organization in general.
At the beginning of this research, during my first visit to the service i was told by different officers that there was no conflict in the organization this is because conflict is most times ignored. The most common repressive management strategy is non action, doing nothing. Now sometimes doing nothing is a smart thing to do provided the decision to do nothing is well thought out and based on an analysis of the situation. Most of the time, people “do nothing” about conflict situations for other reasons, such as fear of bringing conflict into view, or discomfort with anger.

Unfortunately, doing nothing generally results in conflict escalating, and sets a tone for the organization, “we don’t have conflict here”. Everyone knows that conflict exists and if one feels oblivious, that person seem dense and out of touch.

The organization must fully admit that conflict exist, and try to resolve it. This will bring about new ideas and help to improve the organization efficiently and effectively.
Administrative orbiting should be avoided in the service this occurs when appeals for change or redress are always kept under consideration, orbiting will say things like “We are dealing with the problem” but the problem never gets addressed. Common stalls include collecting more data, documenting performance, cancelling meetings etc. conflict should be addressed as soon as it is detected.

A common means of avoiding conflict (or repressing it) is to be secretive. The notion is that if nobody knows what you are doing, there can be little conflict; this is simply illogical and senseless. By being secretive conflict and information may be delayed, but when it does surface it will have far more negative emotions attached to it than would have been the case if things were more open.

Law and order is used by some managers who mistakenly think that they can order people to not be in conflict using regulations and power, the person using this approach “leans on” people to repress the outward manifestations of conflict.

This doesn’t make conflict go away, it just sends it scuttling to the underground, where it will grow and increase its destructive power.
Corruption is a big problem in Nigeria, even in the Federal Civil Service Commission. To be able to erode corruption in the service, we can borrow a leaf from Singapore’s civil service were the civil servants are paid an amount that matches those obtained in the private sector. This system must be working for them and should work for us here too since Singapore is one of the least corrupt countries of the world.

Because inter personal conflict interferes with effective communication, and thus problem solving, it is a cause of considerable concern for modern organization. Organization development and communications training should be frequently used to moderate inter personal conflicts and channel then into more constructive paths.

Finally, officers should endeavour to separate their public life from their private life, as this will go a long way to enable the officer make appropriate rational decisions that is in accordance with the goals of the organization.

Also full implementation of meritocratic principle should be properly adopted were the best and the brightest in the country after higher education are employed to make their career in the civil service. This is also called green harvesting in the employment process.

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Philip B. Du Loise edt, (1988) Readings in Management, Practice Hall Inc. R. Moutom, Jane Srygly (1962) Management grid, Newyork Macmillian Richard I. Daff (2001) Organization Theory and Design 7th Edition, South-Wester College Publishing

Roland E Kidwell J and Christopher, L. Martin edt (2005) Managing Organizational Deviance, Saga Publication Inc.

2002 Annual Report of the Federal Civil Service Commission


Department of Public Administration
University of Abuja
Dear Respondents,
This questionnaire is designed towards obtaining information about low conflict arises and how they are managed while carrying out public service matters.
The information you will give is purely for research purposes, therefore will be treated in absolute confidence. I am a student of the University of Abuja, Abuja conducting a research on conflict and its management in the Federal Civil Service Commission as it relates to public service matters.

Kindly read the questions below and thick the option that closely represents your option. It should be answered by the departments. SECTION A
1.Sex(a) Male(b) Female
2.Age(a) 19 – 40 years(b) 41 – 60 years
3.Marital Status(a) Single(b) Married
(c) Separated(d) Widowed
4.What is your educational qualification? (a) SSCE/GCE
(b) OND/HND/
5.Your position in present job?(a) Chief Officer
(b) Chief Secretary (c) Secretary (d) Assistant Director 6.How long have you been in the organization? (a) 1-20years(b) 21-30years 7.Are you satisfied with the relationship of various departments?

(a) Yes(b) No
8.If not satisfied to what extent does if hinder the achievement of the organizations objectives? (a) A large extent(b) Only a little
(c) Not at all(d) I don’t know
9.If not satisfied to what extent does it promote organizational objectives? (a) Large extent (b) only a little(c) not at all
(d) I don’t know
10.What type of conflict exists in the organization?(a)`Intrpersonal conflict: role conflict job stress(b) Inter personal conflict
(c) Inter group conflict: system conflict bargaining conflict
(d) Institutionalizes conflict
11. Apart from the one listed above are there still any other type of conflict you are aware of (a) yes(b) No 12.Does conflict hinder performance? (a) Yes(b) No
13.How does it hinder performance (a) Low productivity(b) loss of concentration
14.What are the positive effects of conflict (a) The energy level of group or individual increases with conflict (b) Group cohesion increases (c) Problems are made known during conflict

15.What are the negative effects of conflict? (a) A decline in communication between conflicting parties(b) Hostility and aggression develop (c) Over conformity to group demands 16.Do departments co-operate with one another in the organization (a)Yes(b) No(c) I don’t know

17.Conflict if properly managed improves organization performance
(a)Yes(b) No
18.What are the sources of conflict? (a) Difference in perception
(b) limited resources(c) departmentalization
(d) Nature of work activities
19.Lack of integration between groups results to conflict in an organization
(a) Agree(b) Disagree(c) Undecided

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