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The Types Of Conflicts

2460 words (10 pages) Essay in Cultural Studies

21/04/17 Cultural Studies Reference this

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Conflict and negotiation have been a serious matter for organization. As individuals have different thinking or way of doing things different from others, conflict may occur among them. So we will identify those types of conflict happening between individuals in the workplace. Then we will explain the different variety of organization conflict levels. After that we will explain Thomas-Kilmann Model used for conflict issues based on assertiveness and cooperativeness and then discuss the negotiation approaches used when parties are negotiating in something. Another part of the work will be taking about culture and then explain Schein’s iceberg model of culture and Handy four dimensions of organizational culture. The last episode will explain about Kurt Lewin’s three steps of change theory.


Conflict is a normal and natural part of our workplaces and lives. As people with diverse background come together in a working environment, differences in opinion, attitudes and beliefs. However conflict does not submit itself to a single and widely accepted definition, different peoples have given different definitions.

Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff( 1971:139) defined the concept as:

A ” Condition in which one identifiable group of human beings is engaged in conscious opposition to one or more other identifiable human groups because the groups are pursing what are or appear to be incompatible goals” (Dougherty, 1971). Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff’s definition clearly points to the fact that conflict arises out of interaction between and among people. Mc Shane and Olekalns also defined conflict as “a process in which one party perceives that its interests are being opposed or negatively affected by another party” (Mc Shane & Tony, 2010).

Types of conflicts:

Since all individual have different mindset, it is quite possible that there may be arguments or differences of opinion according certain issues. This take place most often in workplaces. Generally there are many types of conflict but the majority of them are found in places of work because most of our time is spend there. In our situation we will focus on just three types of conflict which is task conflict, relationship conflict and process conflict.

Task conflict- task conflict are conflict that happen within a group or team, this type of conflict is focused around the task at hand. It arises when the group members have different viewpoints, opinions and ideas.

Example: in a workplace, differences of opinion between the members of a project team on how to market a new product.

Relationship conflict- Relationship conflict concerns interpersonal animosities and tensions among individuals themselves rather than the task, it occur because of the presence of strong negative emotions, poor communication or miscommunication. This type of conflict happens every day in our life it is difficult to avoid it.


Process conflict:

Levels of Conflict: As we have seen, organization conflict can take place at a variety of levels. By far, conflict occurs at various social levels and may include intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup and interorganizational level of conflict. Intrapersonal Conflict occurs between the individual and may involve some form of goal, cognitive or affective conflict. Intrapersonal conflict is unique among the types of conflict, it is the sort of conflict that happens whenever an individual behave. This type of conflict is also known as psychic conflict. It occurs when an organizational is required to perform certain task and role that do not match his or her expertise, interests, goals and values. An example of interpersonal conflict is when an individual is attracted to two desirable goals but cannot pursue both. Interpersonal Conflict involves two or more individuals who believe that their attitudes, behavior or preferred goals are in opposition. This type of conflict between individuals is a concern for managers because it happens all the time between individuals in the same or different department or even different organizations. An example is conflict that occurs between two different hierarchical levels or units members in the same organization such as superiors and subordinators. Intergroup Conflict refers conflict between groups of individual such as members of different teams, department or groups. The group may be very large such as notions or much smaller social group such engineers or the production managers in a manufactory facility. Interorganizational conflict involve disputes between two or more organizations as a result of interdependence on membership and divisional or system wide success. An example is the competition against two different businesses to one another.

Conflict Mode: Thomas-Killmann Model. Conflict arise when people have different views on a subject, the Thomas-Killmann Model can be useful because it focuses on the individual style used most often in conflict issues, this conflict model is based on an access of assertiveness and cooperativeness. The elements of this model are followed: Avoiding, Accommodating, Competing, Compromising and Collaborating. Let’s start by the first one Avoiding people using this type think that they evade the conflict entirely, this style is typified by delegating controversial decisions, accepting wrong decisions, and not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings. However in many situations this is a weak and ineffective approach to take. The next one is Accommodating, this style indicates a willingness to meet the needs of others at the expense of the person’s own needs. The person using this style often knows when to give in to others, but can be persuaded to surrender a position even when it is not warranted. This person is not assertive but is highly cooperative. Accommodation is appropriate when the issues matter more to the other party, when peace is more valuable than winning. After accommodating we tend to Competing, strongly assertive and not inclined to cooperation. This is a power oriented approach, competing is appropriate when quick decisive actions is needed or when an unpopular but necessary course must be followed. This style can be useful when there is an emergency and a decision needs to be make fast. Another style is Compromising, this an intermediate style in both assertiveness and cooperativeness, individuals who prefer a compromising style try to find solution of the problems that will at least partially satisfy everyone. Each person is expected to give up something and the compromiser also expects to abandon something. This approach lead leads to expedient and acceptable outcomes that fall short of ideal but which both parties are willing to accept. The last one is Collaborating, this is where people try to work together like as they say two heads are better than one. Assertive and cooperative, this involves working with the other party to find a mutual agreeable solution. A collaborator will not be shy to express his or her views. This style is useful when you need to bring together a variety of viewpoints to get the best solution when the situation is too important for a simple trade-off.

Below is how the diagram of Thomas-Kilmann model is presented based on assertiveness and cooperativeness.

Negotiation Approaches: one distinctive type of conflict management is negotiation, where people engage in give and take discussions and consider various alternatives to reach a joint decision that is acceptable to both parties. Some conflicts require confrontation and negotiation between the parties. The strategy to negotiate requires skill on the part of the negotiator and careful planning before proceeding in negotiation. This process of negotiating involves an open discussion of problem solution. There are two (2) major negotiation approaches which are distributive and integrative. Distributive negotiation is considered the traditional model for handling negotiation. It is an approach in which the goals of one party are in direct conflict with the goals of the other party. In distributive negotiation each party attempts to get as much as they can. One side wants to win which means the other side must lose. With this win-lose approach, distributive negotiation is competitive and adversarial rather than collaborative and does not lead to positive long term relationship. An example, when negotiating for a used car, if the buyer feels that he got a good deal for the car, he ‘won’. But if he walks away feeling that he paid too much for it, he ‘lost’. On the other hand, Integrative negotiation is based on a win-win theory, in that all parties want to come up with a creative solution that can benefit both sides. With integrative negotiation, conflicts are managed through cooperation and compromise, which leads trust and positive long term relationship between the parties. Ideally, no one should loose in an integrative negotiation because the parties will sit together to analyze the solution of the problem so that each party will benefit from it and build a strong relationship. Example a trade union negotiating with the employers asking an increase in 2.5% of wages every year with bonus on every Christmas or they would go for strike. The employers suggested 1.5% increase in wages for every two years and 2 hours of work per day bonus will be given. Therefore, the suggestion is advantageous by both parties. Workers benefit good wages and bonus by only giving an extra two hours. The company’s work process will be increased that can tend to an increase in sales and profit. So, with integrative negotiation, both parties won.

Organizational Culture: According to Ross, culture is a ” Particular practices and values common to a population living in a given setting”. Schein states that the manifestation of organizational culture occurs at three levels: Artifacts, Beliefs or Values and Attitudes and Basic Assumptions. This model provides a useful approach to analyze the cultural construct based on the degree to which the cultural phenomenon is visible to the observer. Artifacts are the most visible aspects of culture, including language, clothing, manners, food, etc. they represent the physical construct of the organization and its social environment. Organizational artifacts include visible phenomena such as: technology and products, language, rites and rituals, uniforms, myths, organizational stories, symbols and ceremonies. Artifacts are easily visible. The second level of Schein’s Iceberg Model of culture Beliefs, Values and Attitudes are those values of cultural group which are not visible, but conscious to the members of the group. Schein argues that the artifacts that we can observe are manifestations of the values that constitute part of the organizational culture. The third is Basic Assumptions; these are invisible and unconscious beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and feelings shared by members of a common culture. These basic assumptions grow from the continuous use of a problem solution that has frequently been successful in the past. This is also a challenge for managers because it is quite a challenge to change something that you cannot see, but what is certain is that basic assumptions profoundly influence a person’s actions. Below shows Schein’s Iceberg Model of Culture.


Handy’s four dimension of organizational cultures:

Cultures are classified into four major types, Handy described the four of them.

Power culture: Handy illustrates the power culture as a spider’s web, with the all-important spider sitting in the centre. Typically found in small organizations, everything turns around the main person, all decision taken is made by them and they preserve absolute authority in whatever situation. The success of power culture depends on the capabilities of the focal person. Organizations with this type of culture can respond quickly to events, but they are heavily dependent for their continued success on the abilities of the people at the centre; succession is a critical issue.

Role culture: The role culture can be illustrated as a building supported by columns and beams: each column and beam has a specific role to playing keeping up the building. This type of culture is based on the existence of procedures and rule frameworks. The hierarchy and bureaucracy dominate this type of organization. Position is the main power source in the role culture as well as rules and procedures are the chief methods of influence. It finds it difficult to adapt to change; it is usually slow to perceive the need for it and to respond appropriately.

Task Culture: Task culture is job-or project-oriented, and its accompanying structure can be best represented as a net. This type culture uses a small team approach, where people are highly skilled and specialized in their own area of expertise. Tendency to change to a role or power culture when resources are limited or when the whole organization is unsuccessful. The expertise within this type of organization is vested in the individual within it and it is them who must be organized in way that it meets the needs of the business.

Person Culture: Person culture is an unusual culture in which individuals believe themselves superior to the organization. Clearly, not many organizations can exist with this sort of culture, or produce it, since organizations tend to have some form of corporate objective over and above the personal objectives of those who comprise them.

Change Management:

Change Theory: Kurt Lewin(1890-1947) wan an American social psychologist who contribute much to the understanding of group dynamics. His model state that changing an organization requires that we ‘shake’ it out of its equilibrium, effect changes while it is unstable and then allow it to settle into the new, desired equilibrium…. He proposed a three stage theory of change commonly reffered to as unfreezing, change and refreezing.

Kurt Lewin’s Model: Lewin’s model has influenced many later theory of change management. It describes the way in which many managers plan both strategic and operational change. The three levels are: unfreezing, change and refreezing. Unfreezing involve group discussions in which individuals experience others views and begin to adapt their own. Unfreezing means that destabilizing the present balance of forces that gives the organization or business its stability. He argued that this destabilizing process helps to overcome resistance to change. Change involves moving the unbalanced system in the desire direction. It has sometimes been applied more strictly than the intended. Refreezing is the final step of Lewin’s three step model, which refers of integrating the change into the organization and resuming the organization actions to regain its equilibrium.

Conclusion & Recommendation:

Conflict happens everywhere. Conflict and negotiation are aspects of operating a business. Business owners face conflict with partners, managers, employees and the general public. Negotiation is often necessary to create an amicable solution for all parties involved in the conflict. Many small or home-based businesses avoid internal conflict and negotiation because owners are primarily responsible for completing business functions. However, external conflict and negotiation occur for most companies in the business environment.

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