In this chapter, we looked at a ubiquitous facet of organizational life: conflict. We first conceptualized organizational conflict by defining conflict and considering the phases of conflict and the levels at which it can materialize. We then reviewed a number of methods for dealing with organizational conflict. We looked at the literature on conflict style and considered criticisms of the style approach. We then looked at more formal ways of settling organizational dispute: bargaining and negotiation. Then we considered third-party intervention
In the last section of the chapter, we looked at the number of factor that impinge on the conflict management process, including personal variables ( personality, gender, and frames ), relation variables ( hierarchical position and co-orientation ), and cultural variables. We concluded with a brief look at a feminist view of culture.
All of the approaches to organizational communication discussed in the first half of this textbook would view conflict as an important and interesting phenomenon , but in very different ways. As Table 9-6 indicates, classical theorists would see conflict as something that interrupts normal organizational
Table 9-6 Approaches to the Conflict Management Process
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functioning. Thus, the classical manager would try to eliminate conflict in the most efficient way possible. The human relations manager, too, would want to eliminate conflict, but for different reasons. For this manager, conflict is an indication that relationships are not all they could be in the organization. Conflict should thus be dealt with in ways that wouldn??™t rock the boat-perhaps through accommodating, avoiding, or compromising. In contrast, the human resource manager would consider both the functional and dysfunctional aspects of conflict. This manager would see conflict as a pathway to organizational change and would encourage managing conflict in a collaborative manner.
Conflict is described in this chapter as requiring the ???three I??™s??? of incompatible goals, interdependence, and interaction. Why are these three components necessary What situations might arise when only one or two of these components are present
Do you believe that you exhibit a typical conflict style If so, why do you think you use that style Are there aspects of the situation or the other parties in the conflict that have an influence on the conflict style you use
What are the differences between integrative and distributive strategies in conflict situations Why would you use one type of strategy over another What are the costs of using each of these strategies
Would you want to have and organization that is free of conflict Why or why not
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We often hear about the value of finding ???win-win??? solutions when dealing with conflict, but what is really meant by this term Using InfoTrac Collect Edition, find Lisa McNary??™s 2003 exploration of this issue, published in The Journal of Business Communication. What meanings of ???win-win??? does she explore, and how do these meanings relate to your own ideas about conflict resolution