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Tesco, a major supermarket chain company in the UK has been experiencing a lot of internal and external conflicts in the past few years. The supermarket chain has had several conflicts with both individuals and other organizations. Internally, the organization has experienced conflict on its treatment to employees and its customers.
The company has also had several conflicts with government authorities and human rights groups over its approach to its businesses in foreign countries.
Externally, the supermarket chain has been in conflict with small businesses due to the perceived threat it poses resulting from product monopoly. The company has been so far unable to handle these conflict as a result has often been engaged in litigation to an extent it had to appear before the House of Lords.
Conflicts within Tesco
Most of Tesco’s internal conflicts began after it had instituted a given change. According to Mitchell (2005), change usually creates losers and winners and the former may usually be not very happy. Tesco’s conflict with its employees began in 2004 when it reduced its sick pay in order to decrease the level of impromptu absence.
In the case of Tesco, the move to reduce sick pay saw the employees face the risk of working while they were sick or receive a much less salary. The company on the other hand managed to achieve its desired goal of reducing unplanned absence from its employees.
The company’s move to acquire other supermarkets with the aim of expanding also resulted into conflicts between Tesco and local retailers, consumers and other groups. In 2006, the company was investigated by the United Kingdom Competition Commission over whether it was right for the company to gain such a powerful position such that small business owners are unable to operate effectively.
Constructive Conflict Management within Tesco
Most of Tesco’s internal conflicts can be handled through constructive conflict management. According to Tjosvold (2008), not all conflict is harmful and when managed properly, conflicts can help improve teamwork both within an organization and between different organizations.
Tesco’s internal conflict with its employees has so far been dealt inappropriately resulting in the escalation of tension and the company’s perception by both employees and consumers has suffered. Looking at the ideas presented by Valentine, Godkin and Varca (2009), Tesco has applied poor levels of mindfulness in its dealings with the employees, suppliers as well as local retailers.
Valentine et al. (2009) defines mindfulness as the ability to assess external and internal situations in a manner that will help yield important ideas.
Tesco initial plan was to reduce the number of unexpected absence by its employees. It however did not take into consideration what putting its plan into action will yield in the long run. Once the plan was implemented, there was an immediate conflict between the company and its employees.
Tjosvold (2008) noted that conflict is the means through which problems are acknowledged and solved. Constructive conflict management strategies would be especially effective in this case as it can help improve both productivity and innovation of the employees. One of the most notable constructive conflict management techniques suitable for this situation is collective bargaining and negotiation.
The company and employee representatives could meet and find a common ground that would benefit both parties. Mediation and arbitration would be effective in dealing with the local retailers as well as the suppliers. The company also needs to develop a positive conflict management culture that is built on cooperative relationship. This would allow open minded discussion with its employees in case of any potential conflict (Valentine et al. 2009).
Tesco Supermarkets has for a long time been plagued with conflicts. However, it has handled these conflicts inappropriately leading to escalation rather that resolution. By applying constructive conflict management practices, the company can be able to find an agreeable solution to several of its problem bringing an end to the various conflicts that have both harmed its perception in the market and its productivity.
Mitchell, C. (2005). Conflict, Social Change and Conflict Resolution: An Inquiry. Berlin: Berghof Handbook for Conflict Transformation (online). Web.
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Tjosvold, D. (2008). The conflict-positive organization: it depends upon us. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29: 19–28.
Valentine, S., Godkin, L. & Varca, P. (2009). Role Conflict, Mindfulness, and Organizational Ethics in an Education-Based Healthcare Institution. Journal of Business ethics, 94(3): 455-469