Chapter 11


Organizations are made up of interacting individuals and groups with varying needs, objectives, values, and perspectives that naturally lead to the emergence of conflicts. Members of a group in conflict with another group (as in a competition) can increase performance and group solidarity, however, when the members are in conflict within the group itself dysfunctional hostility, distorted perceptions, negative stereotypes, and decreased communication can develop.

Conflicts need to be managed appropriately to provide positive outcomes and avoid negative possibilities. There are several managerial styles available for doing this. Notable forms are competing, avoiding, accommodating, collaborating, and compromising.

Interacting groups can be coordinated through rules and procedures, hierarchy, planning, liaison roles, task forces, teams, or integrating departments. When groups become dysfunctional changes need to be made. Strategies for dealing with dysfunctional aspects of the group include emphasizing the total organization by focusing on superordinate goals or a common enemy, increasing communication, joint problem solving, negotiating, expanding resources, obtaining a mediator, changing organization structure, smoothing things over, and avoiding potential win-lose conflict situations.



degenerative interaction climate


functional conflict

pooled interdependence

conflict-positive organization

sequential interdependence

dysfunctional conflict

reciprocal interdependence

conflict management style


distributive bargaining

role set

settlement range

role ambiguity

Integrative bargaining

role conflict


role overload

task force



  1. Define and describe the conflict process.
  2. Recognize symptoms of conflict.
  3. Identify sources of conflict
  4. Differentiate between functional and dysfunctional conflict.
  5. Utilize conflict styles appropriately.
  6. Apply conflict management strategies.
  7. Bargain and negotiate.


*****Use PPT 11-0 (Powerpoint slide #11-0) here: "Conflict Management and Negotiation*****

  1. Restructuring Promotes Quality At GM抯 Saturn Plant.
    1. When Saturn began, it began with a unique management labor relationship.
    2. Labor and management share all major decisions including strategic and operational decisions.
    3. The first barrier to making this new system work was to get rid of the traditional adversarial relationship that has characterized management and labor relationships this century.
    4. There are still conflicts but they are handled in a more cooperative way than ever before.

*****Use PPT 11-1 here: "Conflict Defined*****

  1. What Is Conflict?
    1. Conflict is a disagreement between two or more parties who perceive that they have incompatible concerns.

*****Use Learning Objective 1 here*****
*****Use PPT 11-2 here: "Functional versus dysfunctional conflict" *****

    1. Functional versus dysfunctional conflict.
      1. The traditional view of conflict (dysfunctional view) is that it is bad and should be avoided or eliminated as quickly as possible.
      2. The functional view, however, states that conflict is not always bad and it can be a positive experience that can bond a group together. It can, in fact, increase performance.
      3. Conflict is inevitable and should, therefore, be dealt with and managed.

*****Use Study and Discussion Question #2 here*****
*****Refer to Exhibit 11-1 here: "The Conflict Management Process"*****
*****Use PPT 11-3 here: "The Conflict Management Process" *****

    1. The conflict process. Although conflict does not exist until one party perceives that another party may negatively affect something that the first party cares about, the development of antecedent conditions marks the start of the process. Conflict usually proceeds through five stages:
  1. The Stages of Conflict?

*****Refer to Exhibit 11-2 here: "Stages of Conflict"*****
*****Use PPT 11-4 and 11-5 here: "Stages of Conflict"*****
*****Use Learning Objective #2 here: "Recognize Symptoms of Conflict"*****

    1. Stage 1: Latent conflict occurs when a change occurs (Example: a budget cutback).
    2. Stage 2: Perceived conflict occurs when the incompatibility of needs are perceived and tension begins to cause worry about what will happen.
    3. Stage 3: Felt conflict occurs when parties become emotionally involved and begin to focus on differences of opinion and opposing interests thus sharpening perceived conflict.
    4. Manifest conflict is an obvious display of conflict. When parties plan and follow through with acts to achieve their own objectives and frustrate the other.
    5. Conflict outcome is the results of interactions of the conflicting parties in the manifest conflict stage result in outcomes that can be functional or dysfunctional for one or both parties.

*****Refer to Exhibit 11-3 here: "Sources of Conflict" *****
*****Use PPT 11-6 to 11-11 here: "Sources of Conflict"*****
*****Use Learning Objective #3 here: "Identify Sources of Conflict"*****
*****Use Study and Discussion Question #7 here*****

  1. Sources of Conflict
    1. The primary causes of conflict in organizations can be condensed into five general categories. These categories are listed below.
    2. Goal incompatibility. Instead of harmony, group goals are often in conflict with one another. Reasons for this are:
      1. Mutually exclusive goals occur when one party抯 goal achievement is perceived as threatening to another抯. The result is a conflict that is usually a win-lose competition.
      2. Insufficient shared resources occur because organizations have finite resources. As parties compete for their share of the resources conflict often results. The result is a win-lose competition.
      3. Different time orientations occurs when parties need different time spans to achieve their goals. Short and long time orientations can cause conflict.

*****Use Eye on Ethics here; Use Learning Objective #2 here; Use Study and Discussion Question #1 here*****

    1. Structural design. Differences in goals, resource demands, and time orientations are related to interdependence, or the degree to which interactions between parties must be coordinated in order for them to perform adequately.
      1. The relationships between parties can be visualized on a continuum, ranging from complete dependence to complete interdependence.
      2. Most relationships fall somewhere between the two extremes.

*****Refer to Exhibit 11-4 here: "Types of Task Interdependence" *****
*****Use Study and Discussion Question #5 here*****

      1. Three interdependent relationships are:
        1. Pooled interdependence exists when two parties are independent of each other for their own performance outcomes, but each makes a discrete contribution to the overall organization that affects the well- being of all parties.
        2. Sequential interdependence occurs when the output of one party provides necessary inputs for another to accomplish its goals.
        3. Reciprocal interdependence exists if the outputs of two parties are inputs for each other. In such symbiotic relationships, each party supplies necessary inputs to the other.
      2. Awareness of the nature of interdependence is necessary to manage potential conflict and ensure optimal performance of interacting parties at any level.
      3. When groups are dependent on one another for the completion of their tasks, the potential for conflict is high.
      4. Lack of substitutability. The more alternative sources of needed resources and services available to a party, the greater its degree of substitutability.
      5. Power differentials. Since most groups, like most individuals, do not like to be completely dependent on someone else, power differences can cause intergroup conflict, especially when areas critical to goal achievement or satisfaction are involved.
    1. Different role expectations. A role is a set of related tasks and behaviors that an individual or group is expected to carry out.

3.      A role set is all the people who interact with a person or group in a specific role and have expectations about appropriate behavior.

4.      Since all members of a role set depend on the incumbent抯 performance in some manner, they actively attempt to bring about behavior consistent with their needs.

5.      Role ambiguity exists when role sets do not make clear their expectations of role holders.

6.      Role conflict exists when the behavioral expectations of the role holder and/or those of others in the role set do not agree. There are four types of role conflict:

        1. Intersender conflict--when prescriptions and proscriptions that come from a single member of the role set are inconsistent or conflicting, intrasender role conflict occurs.
        2. Intersender conflict--when pressures from one member of a party抯 role set conflict with those from one or more others in the same role set, intersender conflict occurs.
        3. Interrole conflict--when different roles held by the same party require mutually exclusive behaviors, interrole conflict exits.
        4. Person-role conflict--when your role requires you to do something you don抰 want to do or feel you shouldn抰 do, person-role conflict exits.
        5. Role overload occurs when role expectations exceed a party抯 ability to respond effectively.
        6. Uncertainty reduction. Eliminating uncertainty requires establishing task clarity.
    1. Degenerative climate. Degenerative interaction climates is an organizational climate that encourages dysfunctional conflict. They are win-lose situations. This can occur when:

0.      People with different values and expectations must interact with one another.

1.      When merged organizational cultures clash.

    1. Personal differences. There is a high potential for conflict between people with:

0.      Different values.

1.      Different preferred ways of behaving.

2.      Different views of the world.

*****Use Eye on Ethics here "Cutting the Fat or Cutting Too Deep?" *****
*****Use Exhibit 11-5 here "The Consequences and Outcomes of Conflict" *****
*****Use Learning Objective #4 here: "Differentiate between Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict"*****
*****Use Study and Discussion Question #4 here*****

  1. What Are The Consequences and Outcomes of Conflict?
    1. Functional conflict is conflict between groups that stimulates innovations and production.
      1. Conflict is inevitable even between departments that are supposed to cooperate to accomplish organizational goals.
      2. A conflict-positive organization is an organization in which participants conflict as an opportunity for personal and organizational growth.
        1. Discussing conflict openly can make organization members more aware and better able to cope with problems.
        2. Attention is drawn to issues that interfere with productivity.
        3. Successfully resolved conflicts can strengthen relationships.
        4. Personal development occurs as people learn about conflict styles.
        5. Conflict can be stimulating and fun if handled correctly.

*****Use PPT 11-12 here: "Functional Change Within Groups" *****

      1. Functional change within groups results in:
        1. Increased cohesion.
        2. Increased loyalty.
        3. Increased emphasis on task accomplishment.
        4. Acceptance of autocratic leadership.
      2. Research findings confirming the functionality of intragroup conflict.

*****Use PPT 11-13 here: "Functional Change Between Groups" *****

      1. Functional changes between groups. Potential positive consequences for relations between groups include:
        1. Increased problem awareness.
        2. Decreased tensions after disagreements have been resolved.
        3. More appropriate readjustments of tasks and resources.
        4. Establishment of mechanisms for obtaining feedback about intergroup problems.
        5. Clarification of priorities and tasks.
    1. Dysfunctional conflict is conflict between groups in the same organization that hinders the achievement of group and organizational goals. These are lose-lose situations.

*****Use PPT 11-14 here: "Dysfunctional change Between groups" *****

      1. Dysfunctional changes between groups. There are four common inter- group consequences of conflict:
        1. Hostility.
        2. Distorted perceptions.
        3. Negative stereotypes.
        4. Decreased communication.

*****Use PPT 11-15 here: "Dysfunctional change within groups" *****

      1. 2. Many of the same problems occur when there are dysfunctional changes within groups.

*****Use Learning Objective #4 here*****

  1. How Can Conflict Be Productively Managed?

*****Refer to Exhibit 11-6 here "Methods of Managing Conflict"*****
*****Use PPT 11-16 here: "Two Primary Concerns In a Conflict Situation"*****

    1. Interpersonal conflict-management styles are the different combinations of assertiveness and cooperation that people emphasize when in a conflict situation.

*****Use Your Turn here*****
*****Refer to Exhibit 11-7 here "Interpersonal Conflict Management Styles"*****
*****Use PPT 11-17 here: "Conflict Management Style Orientations"*****
*****Use PPT 11-18 here: "Competing Orientation"*****
*****Use Learning Objective #5 here: "Utilize Conflict Styles Appropriately"*****

      1. Competing is assertive and uncooperative behavior, embodied in individual抯 pursuit of their own concerns at others?expense.

*****Use PPT 11-19 here: "Accommodating Orientation"*****

      1. Accommodating is the opposite of competing. It consists of unassertive and cooperative behavior.

*****Use PPT 11-20 here: "Avoiding Orientation"*****

      1. Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative behavior. Individuals with this style pursue neither their own concerns or those of others.

*****Use PPT 11-21 here: "Collaborating Orientation"*****

      1. Collaborating is the opposite of avoiding; it consists of both assertive and and cooperative behavior.

*****Use PPT 11-22 here: "Compromising Orientation"*****

      1. Compromising falls somewhere between assertive and cooperative behaviors. The objective is to find a middle ground.

*****Use Study and Discussion Question #8 here*****
*****Use PPT 11-23 here: "Culture and Gender Differences" *****
*****Use Dynamics of Diversity here "Gender Conflicts in the Conference Room" *****
*****Use PPT 11-24 here: "Negotiating" *****
*****Use Learning Objective #6 here: "Bargain and Negotiate"*****

    1. Negotiating or bargaining is the practical application of collaborating and compromising approaches to conflict management. The two primary bargaining strategies are:
      1. Distributive bargaining where zero-sum conditions exist--only one party can gain..
      2. Integrative bargaining where parties assume that it is possible to create win-win situation

*****Use PPT 11-25 here: "Distributive versus Integrative Bargaining"*****
***** Use Exhibit 11-8 here: "Distributive Negotiation Bargaining Zone"*****
*****Use PPT 11-26 here: "Distributive Negotiation Bargaining Zone"*****
*****Use PPTs 11-27-11-29 here: "Guidelines for Effective Negotiating"*****
*****Use Technology Transformation here "Negotiating the E-Commerce Cyberspace" *****
*****Use Learning Objective #6 here: "Apply Conflict Management Strategies"*****
*****Use Personal Skills Exercise here ****

  1. Conflict Management Methods
    1. Coordination Strategies for Avoiding Intergroup Conflict
      1. It is important to detect, reduce, and act to prevent conflict.
      2. It is also important to watch for signals of conflict because this may signal deeper issues that need to be examined.

*****Use PPT 11-30here: "Conflict Management Methods"*****

      1. Outcomes can be win-win, win-lose, lose-lose, and compromising.
      2. Organizations with effectiveness intergroup coordination strategies can often manage conflict effectively without it becoming destructive.

*****Use PPTs 11-31-11-32 here: "Coordination Strategies for Avoiding Intergroup Conflict"*****
*****Refer to Exhibit 11-9: "Strategies for Coordinating Intergroup Conflict"*****

      1. Intergroup coordination strategies are:
        1. Rules and procedures--spell out in advance the required activities and behaviors.
        2. Hierarchy--conflict (when rules and procedures do not cover or work) can be passed up the hierarchy for resolution.
        3. Planning--in more complex situations, planning can set forth goals, rules, and responsibilities of all groups that need to cooperate.
        4. Liaison roles--liaison is a party that expedites lateral communication between interacting groups by circumventing formal organizational boundaries.
        5. Task forces--task force is a temporary group made up of individuals from interacting groups that resolve problems, facilitates cooperation, and promotes integration of efforts.
        6. Teams--meet in complex situations over a long period of time.
        7. Integrating departments--when the complexity flows between several interacting groups and is beyond the scope of plans, task forces, or even teams, and entire department can be established.

*****Use Study and Discussion Question #3 here*****
*****Use PPTs 11-33-11-34 here: "Strategies for Reducing Dysfunctional Conflict"*****

    1. Strategies for preventing and reducing dysfunctional intergroup conflict.
      1. Persistent dysfunctional intergroup conflict needs to be confronted.
      2. Techniques include:
        1. Superordinate goals. One of the most effective ways to reduce inter-group conflict is to determine an overriding goal that requires the cooperative effort of the conflicting groups. Forms of goals might be:
          1. Survival.
          2. Focus on a common enemy.

*****Use World Watch here "International Espionage or 慗ust Doing My Job!?quot; *****

        1. Increased communication. Devising a means to increase can do much to correct misunderstandings, reduce negative stereotypes, and develop more positive feelings among group members.
        2. Problem solving. The purpose is to identify and solve conflicts through a mutual airing of differences, complaints, and negative feelings.
        3. Negotiating. Negotiating is a form of problem solving where two groups with conflicting interests exchange things in order to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.
        4. Expansion of resources. This helps to spread scarce resources among conflicting groups.
        5. Third-party judgment. Let a mediator solve conflicts.
        6. Changes in organizational structure. When the reasons for intergroup conflict are scarce resources, status differences, or power imbalances, changes in organizational structure may be the answer.
        7. Smoothing. This provides some incentive to repress their conflict and avoid open expression.
        8. Avoidance. Some groups may be able to ignore dysfunctional situations temporarily by looking the other way or disregarding the threatening actions of others in the hope that the situation will resolve itself.

***** Use Exhibit 11-10 here "International Conflict Resolution Approaches"*****
*****Use Study and Discussion Question #6 here*****
*****Use Team Exercise here ****
*****Use Case here