Why Does Conflict Arise in Organizations

Topics: Conflict, Emotion, Organizational conflict Pages: 13 (3627 words) Published: April 27, 2010
Why does conflict arise in organizations, and how it can be managed


This essay seeks to illustrate how organizational conflict cannot be avoided. It will demonstrate the various ways in which conflict may arise within organizations and classify them into a range of groups. There will be a thorough analysis to show if conflict is positive or negative towards the growth of an organization. Findings of the previous will then lead to different mechanisms that can be used when managing conflict to ensure positive outcomes in an organization.

The aforementioned will be supported by relevant theories, which will assist in reinforcing the validity of this essay.


In this era of rapid development organizations are formed as a social entity to foster an environment of financial, economic and social growth. Organizations can range from large governmental bodies to small business. Organizations have evolved through different stages, from its birth to maturity. During these stages organizations tend to be adversely affected by crisis of leadership, autonomy, control and bureaucracy. Consequently these crises make conflict unavoidable.

Additionally, an organization may be exemplified where two or more individual establish a relationship in order to accomplish and acquire a desired goal. There are various schools of thought as it pertains to conflict including the Traditional View, Human Relations View and the Interactionist View. More so conflict exists at different levels namely Intrapersonal, Interpersonal and Intergroup. However there may be some techniques available to manage conflict like Negotiation, Mediation, Arbitration, Conciliation and Consultancy.

The following paragraphs will further explain the scopes of conflict and how it can be managed.


It is a process that begins when one part perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first part cares about.[1] An organization is a social arrangement which pursues collective goals, which controls its own performance, and which has a boundary separating it from its environment.[2] Schools of thoughts with regards to conflict:

The Traditional View:
This view was prevalent in the the 1930’s and 40’s where it was conceived that the existence of conflict can only be harmful to the growth of an organization. Therefore in that era conflict should have been avoided, this resulted in less focus to research on the causes of conflict. The Human Relations View:

The human relations position pioneered that conflict was inevitable in all groups and organizations. It could never be eliminated and it also sometimes proves to be beneficial to a group’s performance. This was dominant in the late 40’s and mid 70’s. The Interactionist View:

This view encourages the existence of conflict at an ongoing minimum level, enough to keep the group viable, critical and creative. After looking at the above views it will not be feasible to say that conflict is good or bad. It can only be analyzed as bad or good based on the type of conflict. (The schools of thoughts were taken from “Stephen Robbins, Organizational Behaviour, 10th ed.2003”)

Interactionist view does not see all conflict as good but those conflicts that supports the goals and improves performance is called functional conflict or constructive conflict. Dysfunctional:
On the other hand conflict that is dysfunctional relates to the conflict that promotes alienation, inefficiency and generally has adverse effects on productivity. To know if a conflict is either functional or dysfunctional, the types must be known. Types of Conflict

Task Conflict- this relates to the content and goals of the task that is to be performed, Relationship Conflict- this focus on interpersonal relationships, and Process Conflict- this relates to how the task gets done. Studies show that Relationship conflict most of the times turns out to...

Bibliography: [4] J.A.Wall, Jr., Negotiation: Theory and Practice, 1985
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