Topics discussed under are:
Conflict and conflict management.
Causes of conflict.
Sources of conflict.
Types of conflict.
How to resolve conflicts.
While no single definition of conflict exists, most
definitions involve the following factors:
There are at least two independent groups:
• the groups perceive some incompatibility between
• the groups interact with each other in some way
"process in which one party perceives that its interests
are being opposed or negatively affected by another
On the other hand…
Conflict management is the process of limiting the
negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive
aspects of conflict. The aim of conflict management is to
enhance learning and group outcomes, including
effectiveness or performance in organizational setting.
Properly managed conflict can improve group outcomes
Conflict may occur when:
A party is required to engage in an activity that is incongruent
with his or her needs or interests.
A party holds behavioral preferences, the satisfaction of which
is incompatible with another person's implementation of his or
A party wants some mutually desirable resource that is in short
supply, such that the wants of all parties involved may not be
Causes of conflict
A party possesses attitudes, values, skills, and goals that
are salient in directing his or her behavior but are
perceived to be exclusive of the attitudes, values, skills,
and goals held by the other(s).
Two parties have partially exclusive behavioral
preferences regarding their joint actions.
Another cause of conflict is that because of
Disagreement over the decisions.
Causes of conflicts
Two parties are interdependent in the
performance of functions or activities.(Rahim,
2002, p. 207)
Different objectives of individual or groups
Distribution of resources
Causes of conflict
When you think of the different types of conflict, you
might instantly think of the ones referred to in literature,
especially in fiction. They can be applied to real life, of
Conflict is classified into the following four types:
Types of conflict
Interpersonal conflict refers to a conflict between two
individuals. This occurs typically due to how people are
different from one another. We have varied personalities
which usually results to incompatible choices and
opinions. Apparently, it is a natural occurrence which
can eventually help in personal growth or developing
your relationships with others.
Intrapersonal conflict occurs within an individual. The
experience takes place in the person’s mind. Hence, it is
a type of conflict that is psychological involving the
individual’s thoughts, values, principles and emotions.
Interpersonal conflict may come in different scales, from
the simpler mundane ones like deciding whether or not
to go organic for lunch to ones that can affect major
decisions such as choosing a career path.
Intragroup conflict is a type of conflict that happens
among individuals within a team. The incompatibilities
and misunderstandings among these individuals lead to
an intragroup conflict. It is arises from interpersonal
disagreements (e.g. team members have different
personalities which may lead to tension) or differences
in views and ideas (e.g. in a presentation, members of
the team might find the notions presented by the one
presiding to be erroneous due to their differences in
Within a team, conflict can be helpful in coming up with
decisions which will eventually allow them to reach their
objectives as a team. However, if the degree of conflict
disrupts harmony among the members, then some serious
guidance from a different party will be needed for it to be
Intergroup conflict takes place when a misunderstanding
arises among different teams within an organization. For
instance, the sales department of an organization can come in
conflict with the customer support department. This is due to
the varied sets of goals and interests of these different groups.
In addition, competition also contributes for intergroup conflict
to arise. There are other factors which fuel this type of conflict.
Some of these factors may include a rivalry in resources or the
boundaries set by a group to others which establishes their own
identity as a team.
The classification of conflict is often made on the basis of the
antecedent conditions that lead to conflict. Conflict may originate
from a number of sources, such as tasks, values, goals, and so on.
It has been found appropriate to classify conflict on the basis of
these sources for proper understanding of its nature and
implications. Following is a brief description of this
Sources of conflict
This occurs when two interacting social entities, while
trying to solve a problem together, become aware that their
feelings and emotions regarding some or all the issues are
incompatible (Guetzkow & Gyr, 1954.Pelled et al. defined
it as “a condition in which group members have
interpersonal clashes characterized by anger, frustration,
and other negative feelings”
This occurs when two or more organizational members disagree
on their task or content issues. This type of conflict has also been
labeled task conflict cognitive conflict and issue conflict.(Jehn
(1997b) characterized this type of conflict as “disagreements
among group members’ ideas and opinions about the task being
performed, such as disagreement regarding an organization’s
current strategic position or determining the correct data to
include in areport”.
This is defined as an inconsistency between two parties in their
preferences for the allocation of a scarce resource. This type of
conflict occurs “when each party, sharing the same understanding
of the situation, prefers a different and somewhat incompatible
solution to a problem involving either a distribution of scarce
resources between them or a decision to share the work of solving
it” (Druckman & Zechmeister, 1973, p. 450). The contention of
managers A and B for the same vice president’s job exemplifies a
conflict of interest
03. Conflict of Interest
This occurs when two social entities differ in their
values or ideologies on certain issues (Druckman,
Broome, & Korper, 1988). This is also called
ideological conflict. The ideological disagreement of
supervisors A and B on the question of
“compensatory hiring” is an example of value
conflict. Conflict between pro-life and pro-choice
groups in connection with abortion is another
example of conflict of values.
04. Conflict of Values
This occurs when a preferred outcome or an end-state of
two social entities is inconsistent. In rare cases “it may
involve divergent preferences over all of the decision
outcomes, constituting a zero-sum game” (Cosier & Rose,
1977, p. 378). The understanding of managers A and B that
only one of their preferred job design programs can be
implemented for their division is an example of goal
05. Goal Conflict
The former is characterized by situations in
which actors follow explicit rules and display
predictable behavior, and their relationship has
continuity, as in the case of line–staff conflict or
labor–management negotiations. Most
common conflict is non-institutionalized.
06. Institutionalized versus Non-institutionalized
This conflict is characterized by a situation where the
conflicting entities feel the need for a drawn-out conflict to
punish the opponent. In other words, each party determines
its gains, in part, by incurring costs to the other party
(Saaty, 1990, p. 49). Examples of retributive conflicts are
Northern Ireland and Palestinian– Israeli conflicts and the
Cold War between the former superpowers.
07. Retributive Conflict
This relates to the incorrect assignment of causes
(behaviors, parties, or issues) to conflict (Deutsch, 1977).
For example, an employee may wrongly attribute to his or
her supervisor a cut in the employee’s department budget,
which may have been done by higher-level managers over
the protest of the supervisor.
08. Misattributed Conflict
This type of conflict occurs when the conflicting parties
either direct their frustrations or hostilities to social entities
who are not involved in conflict or argue over secondary,
not major, issues (Deutsch, 1977).
09. Displaced Conflict
Giving up / withdrawal.
It is the poor way of management. It is the stop gap
approach and does not solve the problem. It only
temporarily delays the re-occurrence of problem.
It temporarily avoids the conflict by pleasing one or more
parties involved in project. It also does not provide long
Methods for Resolving Conflict
If the individual wants to satisfy his own needs without
giving any considerations to others needs then he is
pursuing a strategy of forcing.
It involves bargain between the disputing parties to reach
on and an agreement acceptable to both parties. The
disputing parties make trade of that often fall short of their
Method for Resolving conflict
Confronting / problem solving.
It is a method which requires participation of all the parties
involved in conflict. It involves the open talk to identify the root
cause of problem and joint effort to use problem solving
techniques to resolves the disputes.
Value of relationship
In 1970, a survey was conducts by Ronald Burkeys regarding 100
decisions that were made as a result of some conflict in different
organization. The result of that survey is as under:
Total % Effective % Un-effective %
Giving up/withdrawal 4.7 0 100
Smoothing 0.9 0 100
Forcing 51.9 23.6 76.4
Compromising 8.5 66.5 33.5
Confronting/problem solving 29.3 100 0