The Conflict Process Model and Its Application in Organisational Settings

Topics: Management, Organizational studies, Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research Pages: 6 (2084 words) Published: May 5, 2013
This essay endeavours to not only discuss the elements of the conflict process model such as the reasons or sources that can trigger conflict in an organisational setting, with particular reference to behavioural factors and what positive and negative impacts that can thus be resulted, but will also discuss the different behavioural characteristics and mechanisms that various cultural backgrounds reveal in order to manage conflict. It will further evaluate the consequences and drawbacks from stereotyping particular cultural groups and analyse the role and responsibility of the management in understanding the cause of conflicts and specifically cross-cultural conflict and how they could be solved effectively.

Conflict process model
Conflicts are the issues that arise between different parties in an organisation that can cause a rift between the workers. Conflict is instigated by many different sources such as incompatible goals, poor communication or scarce resources, which is outlined in the Model of Conflict Process, refer to figure 11.1 (McShane, Olekalns & Travaglione 2010, p. 415). The model outlines the process of a typical conflict beginning with the sources and ending with the possible positive or negative impacts on the workplace. The model allows for relapses or as it describes ‘ conflict escalation’, where the conflict is not resolved and refers back to the perceptions and emotions, thus showing a conflict cycle.

In reference to an organisational setting, it is important for management to be aware of a conflict model so they understand the process and cycle of conflict. It can assist them in making better decisions or resolving issues and therefore reducing the chance of escalation. However, it must be taken into account that although it is logical to apply the conflict process model to workplace problems, when emotions become involved, better judgement or logicality may become skewed or clouded. Therefore, management need to enforce certain mechanisms such as an impartial third party to ensure that the conflict process can reach a positive outcome.

Factors can trigger conflict
Conflict in the context of an organisation can be activated by many factors. In an organisation, there may be two forms of conflict that are classified according to the causes that trigger the conflict. Firstly, there is the task conflict. This is a form of conflict that arises when employees fail to agree on the decisions that should be made (Rahim 2011). It involves the difference in the understanding of the goals and tasks that are to be accomplished. In the case of the tasks conflict, the team members have different perceptions of the solutions that should be adopted to achieve a certain goal. For teamwork to be effective, it must have the capacity to bring into conformity its goals and objectives. In the event that such aspects are not put into consideration, the conflict will arise between the employees and the organisation.

Another source of task led conflict in an organisation is the ambiguity of rules (Cummings 2009). If employees in an organisation do not have a clear understanding of the rules to follow in solving problems in the organisation, there is high chance that a conflict may arise. Employees become confused on the course of action or the desirable outcome that should be realised at the end of the problem solving process (Cummings 2009). The roles and responsibilities in an organisation may be unclear thus sending conflicting messages to the employees. Such occurrences will prove to be major causes of conflicts in the organisation. Teams in the organisation are rendered ineffective in the long run if such conflicts persist.

On the other hand, relationship conflict arises, where the employees in an organisation allow their emotions to control their interaction with each other (Deutsch 2006). Such conflicts usually result from the fact that some employees feel that their personalities do...
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