Conflict is inevitable,
Conflict is the “Incompatibility or inconsistency of
the relationship, objectives of the two or more
social entities,”
Conflict is the perception of differences of interests
among people,
Different attitudes, values, beliefs, and skills.
Conflict is a process of social interaction involving
a struggle over claims to:
power and status,
beliefs, and other preferences and desires.
The aims of the parties in conflict may extend from
simply attempting to gain acceptance of a preference, or
securing a resource advantage, to the extremes of injuring
or eliminating opponents.
Recently Scholars in organization theory became
interested in studying conflict,
Renewed interest and significant changes in the
study of conflict in social and organizational
International Association for Conflict Management
and Conflict Management Division of the
Academy of Management to encourage research,
Teaching, and training and development on
managing social and organizational conflicts and
The publication of the International Journal of
Conflict Management.
Philosophy and Sociology contributed most to the
theory of social conflict,
Philosophy: (Plato and Aristotle)
 tension within society is natural, and therefore
some conflict is inevitable. (Plato),
 Plato emphasised on proper balance of the parts to
keep social conflict at minimum,
 Balance can be obtain through appropriate
 Plato and Aristotle stressed that an absence of
conflict is a sine-qua-non for the attainment of the
just form of life in the city-state.
 To them, Conflict is a threat to the success of the
state and should be kept at an absolute minimum,
and removed altogether if possible”,
Both suggested government intervention
to maintain order in social relations,
Hobbes considered “human beings as
egotistical, the dupes of error, the slaves
of sin, of passion, and of fear,
Sovereign, should control human beings,
Locke was critical of Hobbes’s nature for
the political leader,
Although Locke also concluded that
government should control conflict,
Hegel’s philosophy is dominated by the notion of
the dialectic, which has developed four different
(1) arriving at the truth,
(2)dialogue or debate,
(3) process of ascertaining the unrestricted truth,
(4) process of change through the conflict of
opposing forces,
Hegel’s dialectic asserts that every finite concept
(thesis, or the first doctrine) bears within itself its own
opposite (antithesis, or the second doctrine).
To overcome the opposition, one must reconcile
the opposing concepts by coming to a third
position (synthesis, or the third doctrine).
The dialectics of Marx and Hegel are different,
Marx saw human history as full of conflict
between classes—bourgeoisie (business class)
and proletariat (working class)—which is the
mechanism of change and development.
Marx’s dialectic, is associated with class
conflict rooted in economic disparities.
influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution and
Hegel’s dialectic process,
“Conflict is the gadfly to thought. It stirs us to
observation and memory. It instigates us to
invention. It shocks us out to sheep-like
passivity, and sets us at noting and contriving”
(p. 300).
An individual should examine a conflict
situation to discover the various actions
possible and choose the one that is most
Readapt through a change in their accustomed
modes of conduct and belief.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
 Biological species survive and grow by
confronting environmental challenges.
 The growth of human beings is a function of
their response to conflict with the environment,
 If conflict were altogether absent—the progress
of human beings would be retarded.
Georg Simmel (1908/1955)
 His general hypothesis was that a certain amount of
conflict is as essential to the proper functioning of
groups, as are stability and order,
 He believed that in small groups such as the marital
couple, “a certain amount of discord, inner divergence
and outer controversy, is organically tied up with very
elements that ultimately hold the group together,
Elton Mayo’s (1933)
 To him, conflict was an evil and should be minimized
or, if possible, eliminated from organizations
 Conflict with management was thus a deviation that
threatened the effectiveness of organizations
Talcott Parsons’s formulated the structuralfunctional theory.
the basic assumption of the theory is that
society is inherently stable, integrated, and
functional, and, as a result, conflict is viewed to
be abnormal and dysfunctional.
The natural tendency of men to hostility, and
the difficulty of controlling them adequately.
Coser (1956), The Functions of Social Conflict
presented his viewpoint, focused on the
productive potential of conflict,
A realistic view of conflict is that it has productive, as
well as destructive potentials,
 The functional and dysfunctional outcomes of conflict in
organizations are as follows:
Functional Outcomes
• Conflict may stimulate innovation, creativity, and growth.
• Organizational decision making may be improved.
• Alternative solutions to a problem may be found.
• Conflict may lead to synergistic solutions to common
• Individual and group performance may be enhanced.
• Individuals and groups may be forced to search for new
• Individuals and groups may be required to articulate and
clarify their positions.
Dysfunctional Outcomes
• Conflict may cause job stress, burnout, and
• Communication between individuals and groups
may be reduced.
• A climate of distrust and suspicion can be developed.
• Relationships may be damaged.
• Job performance may be reduced.
• Resistance to change can increase.
• Organizational commitment and loyalty may be
Conflict is one of the major organizational
Organization theories “that do not admit conflict
provide poor guidance in dealing with problems of
organizational efficiency,
 stability,
 governance, and
 Change.
to understand the nature of organizational
behaviour and organizational processes”
organisational conflict important.
The classical organization theorists implicitly
assumed that conflict was detrimental to
organizational efficiency and therefore should be
minimized in organizations.
They prescribed organization structures—rules
and procedures, hierarchy, channel of command so
that organization members would be unlikely to
engage in conflict.
This approach was based on the assumption that
harmony, cooperation, and the absence of conflict
were appropriate for achieving organizational
believed that organization would improve if the principles of
scientific management were implemented.
 Taylor particularly insisted that the conflicts between labour
and management would disappear if these principles were
 Some of these principles involved the following:
1. The development of a true science of work that involves
determining a fair day’s work.
2. Scientific selection and progressive development of workers.
3. Fitting of workers to their respective tasks.
4. Constant and intimate cooperation of managers and workers.
5. Provision of means to encourage each person to the utmost
utilization of his or her capacity.
6. Development of organization structures to control the various
phases of production.
Modern organization theory is greatly indebted to Fayol,
Fayol advocated that the managerial functions, such as
coordination, and
control, are applicable to all sorts of organized human enterprise.
some of his organization principles, such as
unity of command,
 span of control,
 division of work, are widely used today.
He also like other classicists implicitly assumed that
conflict was detrimental to organizational effectiveness.
proposed a structure of organization that he called
 Bureaucratic organizations must follow several
fundamental principles:
1. A well-defined hierarchy of authority.
2. Division of work based on functional specialization.
3. A system of rules covering the rights and duties of
4. A system of procedures for dealing with work situations.
5. Impersonality in interpersonal relationships.
6. Selection of employees and their promotion based on
technical competence
 Weber left no room for conflict or deviance
She noted the value of constructive conflict in an
organization: “We can often measure our progress by
watching the nature of our conflicts.
According to her, we become spiritually more and
more developed as our conflicts rise to higher levels”
She strongly advocated the need for an integrative
(problem-solving) method for managing
organizational conflict.
Litterer (1966) argued that tension is normal, even
desirable, with the thought growing that “healthy”
personalities actually seek to increase tension.
Whyte (1967) stated organization must be capable of
recognizing the problems it faces and developing
ways of solving these problems.
“healthy” organizations seek to increase intraorganisational conflict.
Robbins (1974) presented three philosophies of
organizational conflict:
The classicists, or traditionalists,
Based on the assumption that conflict is detrimental to an
organization and, as such, must be reduced or eliminated.
2. behaviouralists’ philosophy,
“the recognition that conflict is inevitable in organizations.
3. The philosophy of conflict of the interactionists’ It is
characterized by the following:
Recognition of the absolute necessity of conflict;
Explicit encouragement of opposition;
Defining conflict management to include stimulation as
well as resolution methods; and
Considering the management of conflict as a major
responsibility of all administrators.
Organizational conflict is a positive indicator of
effective organizational management.
Conflict can be functional to the extent to which it
results in the,
creative solution to problems or
the effective attainment of organizational objectives
Little or no conflict in organizations may lead to
poor decisions, and

Conflict Management