Sources of Conflict

Organizations encounter several procedural problems and conflicts, which can lead them to come up with flawed or undemocratic decisions.  Moreover, these conflicts can prevent organizations from reaching decisions or cause groups or the whole organization to break apart.

The paper of Jameson[1] expounds the theoretical foundations for a comprehensive model for the evaluation and management of intraorganizational conflict.  Jameson came up with this model to offer members of non-union organizations with rules for choosing proper conflict management strategies for various sources and kinds of conflict.  Previous models on the evaluation and management of intraorganizational conflict were mainly limited to discussions regarding grievances or restricted to the activities of managers as third parties[2]  The model of Jameson encompasses a wide explanation including var4ious conflict management strategies and third parties.

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Conflict has various meanings for different instances.  According to Denhardt, R. et al.[3], conflict is desirable and inevitable in organizations.  However, a high level of unsettled conflict could certainly be chaotic and destructive.  Based on the given scenario, when the company has become tumultuous and people are already hostile to each other up to the point of sabotaging each other’s work, we can say that conflict is indeed already destructive.  This is because when conflict goes unresolved, administrators risk letting conflicting perspectives goes undirected, frequently resulting in dysfunction and tension instead of progressive and creative change.

In order to diagnose and provide solutions to conflicts, whether interpersonal or organizational, it is imperative to examine or evaluate the different sources or causes of conflict.  As maintained by Whetten and Cameron[4], there are four possible sources of interpersonal conflict as follows: personal differences, information deficiencies, role incompatibility, and environmental stress.

In the paper of Jameson[5], it was stressed that conflict happens because interdependent parties recognize mismatched objectives.  Because an organization is characterized as a system, of interdependent units with frequently opposing interests, conflict becomes unavoidable and grows to be a persistent part of organizational life.  Luthans, Rosenkrantz & Hennessey[6] said that the frequency of informal conflict is backed by further study assessing managerial activities which discovered that the most successful managers showed a greater percentage of behaviors particularly connected to conflict management.

According to Jameson,[7]  there could be two general sources of conflicts, which are informal and formal.  Informal conflicts might take place among employees, coworkers and supervisors, between or within groups, or among departments within an organization.  She said that conflicts frequently happen when there are differences in beliefs, values or opinions about how tasks or resources are delivered, how work gets done, or where priorities must be positioned.  On the contrary, formal conflict happens when there is a supposed violation of policy or human rights.  Since formal conflicts are more possible to bring about litigation, these conflicts are frequently dealt with compliant with official corporate conflict management procedures. In terms of informal conflicts, because of its characteristics, such methods hardly ever apply.

Assuming that these sources are real, the first step to eliminate the problem is to evaluate the situation and choose the best strategy, which will address the situation.  This step will enable you to understand the strategy to be able to effectively use it to solve the problem.  In my opinion, the collaborative/integrative strategy should be used to address the problem.  This strategy involves a cooperative mutual orientation, expressing trust, looking for mutually beneficial solutions, showing concern, and seeking areas of agreement. I believe that this strategy is more feasible because there will be a common ground between parties.  This way, there is a possibility of looking for an alternative that suits the persons involved.  Moreover, in this strategy is applicable when both parties consider their relationship and the objective of the conflict as equally significant.  Also, this strategy seeks a win-win solution for everyone.  This strategy has also a lot of advantages as follows:  first, all parties are empowered to come up with decisions for themselves; second, every party has a say in the result or outcome; third, every person is building confidence in himself or herself to manage conflicts in the future; and fourth, every person gains a better recognition of each other’s needs and perspective.

Personally, I believe that it is important in an organization to understand and recognize these sources of conflicts so that the that the organization can come up with conflict management strategies, which consist of detailed procedures for dealing with conflict like arbitration, mediation, and negotiation.  Moreover, understanding these sources of conflict will help in the attainment of the goals of the organization.