Sample Case Study on Conflict Management
Case study on Conflict Management
“Conflict is an inevitable part of the human relatedness process. Conflict is “the interaction of interdependent people who perceive opposition of goals, aims, and values, and who see the other party as potentially interfering with the realization of these goals” (Putnam & Poole, 1987, p. 552).” (Ting-Toomey, 87) In such a competitive business arena, corporations must not only focus on increasing profit, retaining market share, etc., but must also deal with internal conflict management; which encompasses different methods on identifying and interjecting techniques related to the workplace environment. It is imperative that a clear definition of conflict management is discuss and to dissect the different layers that intertwine with one another, to grasp a better appreciation of all the techniques utilize in managing conflict. Conflict management consists of different types of identification, such as the different stages of moral development, which have an array of stages and levels. The different style use in conflict management is classified into three categories and several sub categories, which represents a two dimensional result and transitions into moral development and styles of handling conflict. Managing conflict usually falls upon employees, who must determine which style in which to cope with such a situation, such as, three forms of organizational justice and the styles in which they are handle.
The different stages and levels of conflict management indicates that, “…Integrating or problem solving style of handling conflict, when paired with other styles, leads to more effective conflict management. Now, if the application of a particular conflict style can lead to high or low performance, antecedents of the use of styles should be studied with a goal of strengthening antecedents that lead to high performance and other desired outcomes and minimizing antecedents that lead to low performance and other undesired outcomes. And if ethical standards are associated with high performance while lack of ethical standards are associated with low performance, then possible intervening variables through which those ethical standards are expressed surely…” (Ting-Toomey, 87) To clearly understand the complex integration of handling conflict, one must comprehend the moral factor, which is a motivating factor in decision-making. This highly complex process is dissect into several stages and levels which will transcend and integrate into the styles that are use to handle conflict.
To begin, “Moral development concerns the manner in which individuals make judgments about right and wrong (Rest, 1986). Kohlberg’s (1969) formulation is perhaps the best known of the contemporary theories, and is closely followed by Rest. The theory divides individuals on the basis of their moral development into six stages, two at the pre-conventional level, two at the conventional level, and two at the post-conventional level.” (Ting-Toomey, 87)
The different levels are as follows:
“At the pre-conventional stages of moral development the concepts of good and bad, right or wrong, are interpreted in terms of pleasure/pain consequences or physical power. Pre-conventional are restrained from possible wrongdoing by their fear of the consequences. They may be spurred to other action by their expectations of pleasant consequences.” (Ting-Toomey, 87)
“At the conventional stages of moral development, conformity and meeting social expectations are important. “Good” behavior is behavior that pleases or helps others, and respect for authority and deference are important. For conventional individuals, decisions and actions are judged moral to the extent that they meet these standards.” (Ting-Toomey, 87)
“Abstractions such as morality, utilitarianism, reciprocity, and justice comprise the ethical framework of individuals at the post-conventional level. Actions are judged according to the extent to which they are consistent with lofty ideals. In contrast to “conventional,” who revere social norms and laws, “post-conventional” question and oppose norms and laws which seem to violate universal principles such as distributive justice and respect for life.” (Ting-Toomey, 87)
Now to explain the different methods and styles, in which conflict is handle, an unambiguous definition of the three main ways of dealing with conflict must be discuss. The various methods use to handle conflict can be identify as, “…–domination, compromise, and integration–as well as several secondary ways including avoidance and suppression. Later, Blake and Mouton (1964) were the first to present a grid for classifying the modes for handling interpersonal conflicts into five types: forcing, withdrawal, smoothing, compromise, and confrontation. The five modes of handling conflict were classified along two dimensions related to the attitudes of the manager: concern for production and concern for people. Blake and Mouton’s classification as reinterpreted and refined by Thomas (1976) considered the intentions of a party (cooperativeness and assertiveness) in classifying the modes of handling conflict into five types.” (Ting-Toomey, 87) Furthermore, the five styles of handling conflict are as follows:
“This style involves high concern for self as well as the other party involved in conflict. It is concerned with collaboration between parties (i.e., openness, exchange of information, and examination of differences) to reach a solution acceptable to both parties.” (Rahim & Bonoma, 1979, p. 1327)
“This style involves low concern for self and high concern for the other party involved in conflict. An obliging person attempts to play down the differences and emphasizes commonalties to satisfy the concerns of the other party.” (Rahim & Bonoma, 1979, p. 1327)
“This style involves high concern for self and low concern for the other party involved in conflict. It has been identified with a win-lose orientation or with forcing behavior to win one’s position.” (Rahim & Bonoma, 1979, p. 1327)
“This is associated with low concern for self as well as for the other party involved in conflict. It has been associated with withdrawal, passing-the-buck, sidestepping, or “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” tactics.” (Rahim & Bonoma, 1979, p. 1327)
“This style involves moderate concern for self as well as the other party involved in conflict. It is associated with give-and-take or sharing whereby both parties give up something to make a mutually acceptable decision.” (Rahim & Bonoma, 1979, p. 1327)
In essence, Rahim et al. (1992) proposed that each of the above five styles of handling conflict may be ethically appropriate depending upon certain situational characteristics. Four of the five may be ethically inappropriate under certain conditions and only the integrating style is thought to be appropriate in all circumstances in which a win-win solution is at least a possibility. Although each conflict-handling style may be ethically appropriate in some circumstances (Rahim et al., 1992), each requires a different approach to the conflict.
Now that a clear decisive definition and all methods incasing conflict/conflict management been illustrated, the management techniques must be delivered. Rahim explains that, “One factor that has an important impact on the constructive management of organizational conflict is the style employees use to handle conflicts they are involved in. There are various styles of behavior by which interpersonal conflict may be handled. Mary P. Follett (1940) proposed three main ways of dealing with conflict: domination, compromise, and integration. She also identified other secondary ways of handling conflict in organizations, such as avoidance and suppression. Blake and Mouton (1964) were the first to present a conceptual scheme for classifying the modes (i.e., styles) of handling interpersonal conflict into five types: forcing, withdrawing, smoothing, compromising, and problem solving. They differentiated the five modes of handling conflict on two dimensions related to attitudes of the manager: concern for production and concern for people. Thomas (1976) reinterpreted their scheme by considering the intentions of a party (cooperativeness, i.e., attempting to satisfy the other party’s concerns; and assertiveness, i.e., attempting to satisfy one’s own concerns) in classifying the modes of handling conflict into five types.” These five types of modes constitute a complex dimensional scheme that focuses on the motivation factors that present itself during conflict. It is important that individuals partaking in a conflict understand the five modes within conflict. An expansion of these modes is as follows:
“This style, which involves high concern for self as well as the other party, has also been described as problem solving, collaboration, cooperation, solution-orientation, win-win, or positive-sum style. Integrating involves active collaboration between the parties (i.e., openness, exchange of information, and examination of differences) to reach a solution that satisfies the concerns of both parties. “The first rule … for obtaining integration is to put your cards on the table, face the real issue, uncover the conflict, bring the whole thing into the open” (Follett, 1940, p. 38). Prein (1976) suggested that this style has two distinctive elements: confrontation and problem solving. Confrontation involves open and direct communication that should make way for problem solving. As a result, it may lead to creative solutions to problems.”
“This style, which involves low concern for self and high concern for the other party, is also called accommodation, non-confrontation, yielding, or the lose-win style. It is associated with attempting to play down the differences and emphasizing commonalities to satisfy the concerns of the other party. There is an element of self-sacrifice in this style that may take the form of selfless generosity, charity, or obedience to another person’s orders. An obliging person neglects his or her own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other party. Such an individual is like a “conflict absorber,” i.e., a “person whose reaction to a perceived hostile act on the part of another has low hostility or even positive friendliness” (Boulding, 1962, p. 171).”
“This style, which involves high concern for self and low concern for the other party, is also called competing, control, contending, win-lose, or zero-sum style. It has been identified with a win-lose orientation and forcing behavior to win one’s position. A dominating person goes all out to win his or her objective and, as a result, often ignores the needs and expectations of the other party. Dominating may mean standing up for one’s rights and/or defending a position that the person believes to be correct. Sometimes a dominating person wants to win at any cost. Dominating supervisors are likely to use their position of power to impose their will on subordinates and command obedience.”
“This style, which involves low concern for self as well as for the other party, is also called inaction, withdrawal, or the ignoring style. It has been associated with buck-passing, sidestepping, or “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” situations. Avoiding may take the form of postponing an issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation. An avoiding person satisfies neither his or her own concerns nor the concerns of the other party. This style is often characterized by an unconcerned attitude toward the issues or parties involved in conflict. An avoiding person may refuse to acknowledge in public that there is a conflict that should be dealt with.”
“This style, which involves moderate concern for self as well as for the other party, is also called the mixed motive style in game theory. It involves give-and-take or sharing, whereby both parties give up something to make a mutually acceptable decision. A compromising person gives up more than a dominating person, but less than an obliging person. Likewise, a compromising person addresses an issue more directly than an avoiding person, but does not explore it in as much depth as an integrating person. For this reason, compromising typically means splitting the difference, or seeking other quick middle-ground positions.”
In conclusion, with all the various variables that makeup conflict/conflict management, it defines the complexity of how people interact with one another in such a confrontational situation within an organizational setting. The methods and styles comprehensively determine how management handles a confliction issue within an organizational environment; hold importance in handling employee confrontations with an array of different dimensional elements, such as, characteristic traits and/or moral capabilities. A manager must be able to decipher the situation and be capable to select the best strategy to resolve issue(s) without jeopardizing the integrity of the organization. In my opinion, if a manager recognizes and utilizes the techniques and methods, said forth, then the confrontational element would be reduce and business matters may go on immediately without deviating from maximizing profit.