According to the Oxford Concise Dictionary (2009), conflict can be defined as “a serious disagreement or argument” or more specifically in a business environment, as “an incompatibility between opinions, principles, etc.: a conflict of interests”. In order to fully understand the notion of conflict we need to explore the various groups who can be involved as well asthe different forms it may take within an organization. Buchanan and Huczynski (2004) theorize four approaches one can view conflict with. Firstly, the unitarist sees an organization as a big happy family, with their interest aligned with one another. Therefore any form of conflict is seen as negative and effectively detrimental to the firm. The pluralist observes that individuals are different andhave their own interests, and so conflict in inevitable in this environment. The positive perspective is the interactionist, which builds on from the pluralist and feels conflict is necessary for good, strong performance within the company. Finally, the radical approach considers that conflict is the result of a bad relationship between managers and employees in a capitalist style economy, whereagents take advantage of their employees in order to profit maximize.
CAUSES OF CONFLICT
There are mainly six different causes of conflict, depicted in Bauer and Erdogan (2009), which are explained below.
In companies which use a matrix form as an organizational structure, conflicts might arise when a manager reports to two different heads. For example, inthe IT firm Infosys, could arise when different business units have to share resources with one another on a particular project.
Certain resources are scarce within organizations and so some people feel deprived and even envious of others who receive such privileges. In management consultancies a main resource would be technology, such as PDA’s or laptops and sometimescompany perks like club memberships or company cars. Particular departments may get these additional items which will help increase their business efficiency, but problems appear when other divisions lose out on these technological advances.
When divisions have to collaborate with one another on a project, conflict is likely to occur when one is dependent on the other forits services. A good example would be the airline industry. Airlines such as Emirates and Virgin are dependent on airport personnel to provide top service to their high clientele customers in the executive lounges to meet customer expectations that are met on the actual flight.
Specific situations might arise when your subordinates have different goals and motives comparedto your own. If in a company the CEO offers a high reward to a Manager for a specific project if he and his team meet required target. This task will be dependent on the Managers ability to facilitate the work of his employees. However, in most cases the employees might not be as motivated because they are not offered any financial reward and in general their goals are misaligned with that oftheir Manager.
When working in a group, such as on the Management MSc here at Cass, individual’s personalities can often clash. Whilst working on group tasks, it could be difficult to take into account everyone’s opinions and maintain a balance in the team as each individual has different ideas, speaks different languages and comes from various backgrounds.Communication Problems
Problems might arise due to lack of communication between co-workers on important issues. For example, while working on our group assignments there was a miscommunication as to when we were to meet. This resulted in a few members not being able to attend since they thought it was going to be the day after, and the remaining team members doubted their commitment. In a business...