The Info List - Conflict Management

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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 (Ra him, 2002, p. 208). Properly managed conflict can improve group outcomes (Alpert, Tjosvaldo, Bodtker Rahim Kuhn DeChurch "> Conflict management does not imply conflict resolution .

Conflict management minimizes the negative outcomes of conflict and promotes the positive outcomes of conflict with the goal of improving learning in an organization. (Rahim, 2002, p. 208)

Properly managed conflict increases organizational learning by increasing the number of questions asked and encourages people to challenge the status quo (Luthans, Rubach, it can also lead the "loser" to feel mediocre. When the win-win orientation is absent in negotiation, we can observe different responses to conflict.


Blake and Mouton (1964) were among the first to present a conceptual scheme for classifying the modes (styles) for handling interpersonal conflicts in five types: forcing, withdrawing, smoothing, compromising, and problem solving.

In the 1970s and 1980s, researchers began using the intentions of the parties involved to classify the styles of conflict management that they would include in their models. Both Thomas (1976) and Pruitt (1983) put forth a model based on the concerns of the parties involved in the conflict. The combination of the parties concern for their own interests (i.e. assertiveness ) and their concern for the interests of those across the table (i.e. cooperativeness ) would yield a particular conflict management style. Pruitt called these styles yielding (low assertiveness/high cooperativeness), problem solving (high assertiveness/high cooperativeness), inaction (low assertiveness/low cooperativeness), and contending (high assertiveness/low cooperativeness). Pruitt argues that problem-solving is the preferred method when seeking mutually beneficial options (win-win ).


Khun and Poole (2000) established a similar system of group conflict management. In their system, they split Kozan's confrontational model into two sub models: distributive and integrative.

* Distributive – Here conflict is approached as a distribution of a fixed amount of positive outcomes or resources, where one side will end up winning and the other losing, even if they do win some concessions. * Integrative – Groups utilizing the integrative model see conflict as a chance to integrate the needs and concerns of both groups and make the best outcome possible. This model has a heavier emphasis on compromise than the distributive model. Khun and Poole found that the integrative model resulted in consistently better task related outcomes than those using the distributive model.


DeChurch and Marks (2001) examined the literature available on conflict management at the time and Ni established what they claimed was a "meta-taxonomy" that encompasses all other models.

They argued that all other styles have inherent in them into two dimensions:

* activeness ("the extent to which conflict behaviors make a responsive and direct rather than inert and indirect impression"). High activeness is characterized by openly discussing differences of opinion while fully going after their own interest. * agreeableness ("the extent to which conflict behaviors make a pleasant and relaxed rather than unpleasant and strainful impression"). High agreeableness is characterized by attempting to satisfy all parties involved

In the study they conducted to validate this division, activeness did not have a significant effect on the effectiveness of conflict resolution , but the agreeableness of the conflict management style, whatever it was, did in fact have a positive impact on how groups felt about the way the conflict was managed, regardless of the outcome.


Rahim (2002) noted that there is agreement among management scholars that there is no one best approach to how to make decisions, lead or manage conflict.

In a similar vein, rather than creating a very specific model of conflict management, Rahim created a meta-model (in much the same way that DeChurch and Marks, 2001, created a meta-taxonomy) for conflict styles based on two dimensions, concern for self and concern for others.

Within this framework are five management approaches: integrating, obliging, dominating, avoiding, and compromising.

* Integration involves openness, exchanging information, looking for alternatives, and examining differences so solve the problem in a manner that is acceptable to both parties. * Obliging is associated with attempting to minimize the differences and highlight the commonalities to satisfy the concern of the other party. * Dominating in this style one party goes all out to win his or her objective and, as a result, often ignores the needs and expectations of the other party. * Avoiding here a party fails to satisfy his or her own concern as well as the concern of the other party. * Compromising involves give-and-take whereby both parties give up something to make a mutually acceptable decision. (Rahim, 2002).


consideration should be paid to conflict management between two parties from distinct cultures. In addition to the everyday sources of conflict, "misunderstandings, and from this counterproductive, pseudo conflicts, arise when members of one culture are unable to understand culturally determined differences in communication practices, traditions, and thought processing" (Borisoff & Victor, 1989). Indeed, this has already been observed in the business research literature.

Renner (2007) recounted several episodes where managers from developed countries moved to less developed countries to resolve conflicts within the company and met with little success due to their failure to adapt to the conflict management styles of the local culture.

As an example, in Kozan's study noted above, he noted that Asian cultures are far more likely to use a harmony model of conflict management. If a party operating from a harmony model comes in conflict with a party using a more confrontational model, misunderstandings above and beyond those generated by the conflict itself will arise.

International conflict management, and the cultural issues associated with it, is one of the primary areas of research in the field at the time, as existing research is insufficient to deal with the ever-increasing contact occurring between international entities.



With only 14% of researched universities reporting mandatory courses in this subject, and with up to 25% of the manager day being spent on dealing with conflict, education needs to reconsider the importance of this subject. The subject warrants emphasis on enabling students to deal with conflict management (Lang, p. 240).

"Providing more conflict management training in undergraduate business programs could help raise the emotional intelligence of future managers." The improvement of emotional intelligence found that employees were more likely to use problem-solving skills, instead of trying to bargain (Lang, p. 241).

Students need to have a good set of social skills. Good communication skills allow the manager to accomplish interpersonal situations and conflict. Instead of focusing on conflict as a behavior issue, focus on the communication of it. (Myers & Larson, 2005, p. 307)

With an understanding of the communications required, the student will gain the aptitude needed to differentiate between the nature and types of conflicts. These skills also teach that relational and procedural conflict needs a high degree of immediacy to resolution. If these two conflicts are not dealt with quickly, an employee will become dissatisfied or perform poorly. (Myers & Larson, p. 313)

It is also the responsibility of companies to react. One option is to identify the skills needed in house, but if the skills for creating workplace fairness are already lacking, it may be best to have an outside organization assist. These are called "Developmental Assessment Centers".

According to Rupp, Baldwin, and Bashur, these organizations "have become a popular means for providing coaching, feedback, and experiential learning opportunities" (Rupp, Baldwin Tjosvold, D.; Law, K. S. (2000). "Conflict management, efficacy, and performance in organizational teams". Personnel Psychology. 53: 625–642. doi :10.1111/j.1744-6570.2000.tb00216.x . * Amason, A. C. (1996). "Distinguishing the effects of functional and dysfunctional conflict on strategic decision making: Resolving a paradox for top management teams". Academy of Management Journal. 39: 123–1. doi :10.2307/256633 . * Baron, R. A. (1997). Positive effects of conflict: Insights from social cognition. In C. K. W. DeDreu Peterson, R. S.; Mannis, E. A.; Trochim, W. M. K. (2008). "The critical role of conflict resolution in teams: A close look at the links between conflict type, conflict management strategies, and team outcomes". Journal of Applied Psychology. 93: 170–188. PMID 18211143 . doi :10.1037/0021-9010.93.1.170 . * Blake, R. R., Jameson, J. K. (2001). "Emotion in conflict formation and its transformation: Application to organizational conflict management". The International Journal of Conflict Management. 3: 259–275. doi :10.1108/eb022858 . * Borisoff, D., Weingart, L. R. (2003). "Task versus relationship conflict, team performance, and team member satisfaction: A meta-analysis". Journal of Applied Psychology. 88: 741–749. PMID 12940412 . doi :10.1037/0021-9010.88.4.741 . * DeChurch, L. A; Marks, M. A. (2001). "Maximizing the benefits of task conflict: The role of conflict management". The International Journal of Conflict Management. 12: 4–22. doi :10.1108/eb022847 . * Follett, M. P. (1940). Constructive conflict. In H. C. Metcalf & L. Urwick (Eds.), Dynamic administration: The collected papers of Mary Parker Follett (pp. 30–49). New York: Harper Gyr, J. (1954). "An analysis of conflict in decision-making groups". Hitman Relations. 7: 367–381. doi :10.1177/001872675400700307 . * Jehn, K. A. (1995). "A multimethod examination of the benefits and determinants of intragroup conflict". Administrative Science Quarterly. 40: 256–282. doi :10.2307/2393638 . * Jehn, K. A. (1997). "A qualitative analysis of conflict types and dimensions of organizational groups". Administrative Science Quarterly. 42: 530–557. doi :10.2307/2393737 . * Jehn, K. A.; Northcraft, G. B.; Neale, M. A. (1999). "Why differences make a difference: A field study of diversity, conflict, and performance in workgroups". Administrative Science Quarterly. 44: 741–763. doi :10.2307/2667054 . * Kozan, M. K. (1997). "Culture and conflict management: A theoretical framework". The International Journal of Conflict Management. 8: 338–360. doi :10.1108/eb022801 . * Kuhn, T.; Poole, M. S. (2000). "Do conflict management styles affect group decision making?". Human Communication Research. 26: 558–590. doi :10.1093/hcr/26.4.558 . * Luthans, F.; Rubach, M. J.; Marsnik, P. (1995). "Going beyond total quality: The characteristics, techniques, and measures of learning organizations". International Journal of Organizational Analysis. 3: 24–44. doi :10.1108/eb028822 . * Pinkley, R. L. (1990). "Dimensions of conflict frame: Disputant interpretations of conflict". Journal of Applied Psychology. 75: 117–126. doi :10.1037/0021-9010.75.2.117 . * Pruitt, D. G. (1983). "Strategic choice in negotiation". American Behavioral Scientist. 27: 167–194. doi :10.1177/000276483027002005 .

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* Conflict Management Articles - A collection of Conflict