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Organizational Conflict: Pros, Cons, Prevention Essay

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Updated: Jun 29th, 2020

The traditional view about conflict is that conflict is destructive and should be eliminated. However, this is not correct. In fact, the only type of conflict that poses negative effects to an organization is interpersonal conflict, as it causes individual distraction and divergence from organizational goals (Siira 22). Other forms of conflict, like task conflict and procedural conflict, only improve the capacity of decision-making and foster innovativeness and group discussions that result in positive benefits to the organization. Thus, the contemporary view and the interactionist view support conflict to some extent, citing that conflict management should only be enforced to ensure that conflict does not escalate to unmanageable levels. This essay seeks to analyze the view that conflict in organizations is harmful and should be eliminated through an analysis of both the negative and positive effects of conflict.

There are three primary types of conflict. These are interpersonal, procedural, and task conflict. Notably, members of a certain group may tend to disagree with opinions and facts from higher authorities (Hotepo et al. 2). Mostly, the conflict that arises due to substance matters being discussed is referred to as task conflict (Ongori 18). Normally, this kind of conflict is productive, as it tends to improve the capacity of decision-making, as well as intensifies the degree of rational thinking among members. Another area of conflict in interpersonal relationships, as they involve one to one interaction among the employees (Rahim 206).

This conflict arises due to personality differences among the members of the organization. The cause of the disagreements may be attributable to cruel remarks from one person or antagonistic remarks directed to the personal characteristics of a particular organizational member, among other causes (Beheshtifar and Zare 404). Normally, such conflicts lead to adverse effects, as people tend to disregard the general organizational good and resort to selfish aims. This kind of behavior is mainly expressed through nonverbal cues, such as icy glares and people avoiding eye contact with one another, among other expressions (Ongori 18). While interpersonal conflict is not avoidable, it is imperative that it is appropriately managed to ensure that members of the group can coexist.

Procedural conflict occurs when individual members of a group do not agree regarding a given procedure to be followed when executing assigned tasks. In effect, such conflict requires the implementation of new procedures and novel agenda setting. At times, it needs group modification (Ongori 18). Procedural conflict, just like task conflict, is a positive type of conflict. Notably, not all forms of conflict are harmful or pose adverse effects on the company. Similarly, not all conflicts bear a positive impact on the organization.

However, people assume that conflict is a negative occurrence and a hindrance to the successful completion of tasks and organizational goals (Aula and Siira 128). However, conflict can be categorized as good or bad, depending on how it is handled. There are some positive effects associated with conflict. For instance, conflict improves the quality of the decisions undertaken by the group members, stimulates group discussions, and helps to form strong groups. On the other hand, conflict is negative if it results in situations that limit an individual’s concentration in organizational work. Further, when conflict is not managed, it escalates and leads to bigger problems.

There are three aspects of the conflict. These are the traditional view, the behavioral view, and the interactionist view. The traditional view purports that conflict is predominantly bad, leads to negative effects, and results in poor performance with escalating conflict levels. Therefore, the traditionalist view asserts that conflict should be avoided by all means. According to this view, issues of conflict are linked to irrationality, violence, and destruction (Hotepo et al. 3).

Thus, it is the responsibility of any manager to ensure that a given project is free from any conflict by applying whatever means possible. Ideally, the application of an authoritarian approach is welcome. The use of this approach worked at times, though most times, it was ineffective. It was realized that when a conflict was suppressed, it was hard to identify the root cause, meaning that the substantially positive elements of conflict could not be felt (Ongori 16). Nonetheless, this traditional view of conflict is still popular among institutions and industrial businesses. The belief that conflict is harmful to an organization is furthered by past experiences of disruptive or violent incidents between employees and the managers.

The contemporary view is also termed as the human relations approach. According to this approach, conflict is inevitable, and a natural occurrence for all institutions. Nevertheless, the effects of conflict may be positive or negative, depending on how it is managed (Siira 37). Unlike the traditional approach, which implies that conflict is harmful and should be eliminated immediately, the contemporary approach seems to suggest that organizations should accept the occurrence of conflict (Hotepo et al. 5). Ideally, project managers should try to manage conflict rather than eliminate and hide due to the positive benefits of conflict.

Unlike the traditional view, the interactionist approach asserts that conflict is paramount to improve organizational performance. However, the approach differs from the interactionist view because it supports the occurrence of conflict, based on the notion that a peaceful and harmonious business climate is likely to result in a static, stagnant, and less innovative work environment (Hotepo et al. 5). However, it is important that managers assess the level of conflict in an organization and take action depending on its severity.

In conclusion, conflict is not entirely negative. While interpersonal conflict poses a danger to the achievement of organizational goals, it is the only form of conflict that is destructive. Other types of conflict, like task conflict and procedural conflict, foster corporate development through group discussions, change in procedural processes, and innovativeness, among other ways. Thus, it is not true that conflict is destructive and should be eliminated.

Works Cited

Aula, Pekka, and Kalle Siira. “Organizational Communication and Conflict Management Systems. A Social Complexity Approach.” Nordicom review: Nordic Research on Media & Communication 31.1 (2010): 125-141. Print.

Beheshtifar, Malikeh, and Elham Zare. “Interpersonal Conflict: A Substantial Factor to Organizational Failure.” International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences 3.5 (2014): 400-407. Print.

Hotepo, Oredola Matthew, Ayodele Sewanu Asokere, Abiodun Abdul-Azeez, and Stephen Ajemunigbohun. “Empirical Study of the Effect of Conflict on Organizational Performance in Nigeria.” Business and Economics Journal 15 (2010): 1-9. Print.

Ongori, Henry. “Organizational Conflict and its effects on Organizational Performance.” Research Journal of Business Management 2.1 (2009): 16-24. Print.

Rahim, M. Afzalur. “Toward a Theory of Managing Organizational Conflict.” International Journal of Conflict Management 13.3 (2002): 206-235. Print.

Siira, Kalle. . Doctoral dissertation, University of Helsinki, 2013. Web.

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