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Conflict Behavior In An Organisation

Conflicts are inevitable in one's organizational life and personal life. Probably, the executive starts his work-day with a conflict and ends the day with another conflict. He is fortunate if he does not carry a conflict home, but more often, he does, to the chagrin of his spouse, his children and himself.

I. Potential Antagonism
The first stage is the presence of antecedent conditions that create opportunities for conflict to arise.

II. Cognition & personalization
The antecedent conditions must be perceived as threatening if conflict is to develop. The situation may be ignored if it is seen as minimally threatening. III. Conflictive & Conflict

III. Management Behavior
Manifest behavior is the action resulting from perceived &/or felt conflict. At this stage, a conscious attempt is made by one party to block the goal achievement of the other party. Such behavior may range from subtle, indirect & highly controlled forms of interference to more open forms of aggressive behavior like strikes, riots & war.

IV. Aftermath
The interplay between different forms of overt conflict behavior & conflict handling strategies of stimulation or resolution influence the consequences. These consequences (in terms of performance of the group , the level of satisfaction & quality of relationship in the involved parties, change of parties, change of structure & policies , etc. )In turn influence the antecedent conditions & probability of future conflict. Sometimes, the aftermath sows the seeds of yet another conflict episode in which case the entire process is repeated.


As we know conflict may occur between two individuals, as in the case of superior vs. subordinate, between two HODs, etc. Groups may be drawn into conflict with each other on the basis of performance, importance to a particular group and in general the union- management rivalries. Conflict can also occur within an individual as in situations of dilemma of choice, vividly characterized by phrases such as ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea’ or ‘caught on the horns of a dilemma’. For example, a personnel manager may be quite undecided about how to deal with the conflict (with workers, union) that is likely to result in work stoppage &loss in productivity.

While analyzing the impact of conflicts in any organization we will deal separately the two types of conflicts i.e. interpersonal conflicts and inter-group conflicts. First we will discuss interpersonal conflicts.

The general assumption is that conflict tends to have negative consequences for both the individual and the organization. For example, imagine yourself in an intense conflict situation. Examine your state of mind. You are tense, uneasy, extremely anxious & probably unable to concentrate on your work. Naturally in such situations, your performance is adversely affected. Decisions made may not be appropriate. Occasionally, they might even be unrealistic or irrational. Thus, conflicts tend to impair one’s efficiency.

Sometimes, conflict is also observed to give rise to certain maladjusted behaviors in individuals trying to cope with it. These include alcoholism, drug abuse, excessive smoking, under eating or overeating and extremely aggressive or submissive behavior.

Apart from the above psychological & behavioral consequences, conflict has also certain physiological consequences (more so under intense conflict situations) in that, certain changes take place within the physiological system which are often ignored or unnoticed. Some of the changes that occur within the system are:

- More adrenalin & nor adrenalin are shot into the blood & continue the state of arousal & excitation;

- Speed-up of the heart beat & increase in blood pressure;

- More of hydrochloric acid is secreted into the stomach.

Hence, it may be understood that conflict not only affects an individual’s performance, but also gives rise to psychosomatic disturbances, which undermine the health of the individual.

Below is a summarized list of the affect of conflicts on an individual

1. Psychological Responses

• inattentiveness to other things
• lack of interest in work
• job dissatisfaction
• work anxiety
• estrangement or alienation from others
• frustration

2. Behavioral Responses

• excessive smoking
• alcoholism
• under eating or overeating
• aggression towards others or work sabotage
• decreased communication
• resisting influence attempts

3. Physiological Responses

• peptic ulcers
• respiratory problems such as asthma
• hypertension
• headaches
• coronary problems

Conflicts in work situations may also give rise to organization related individual consequences:

- Job dissatisfaction
- Apathy or indifference to work
- Role-set members & the company
- Job stress & burnout
- Disloyalty
- Work sabotage
- Employee turnover
- Increased territoriality & resistance to change
- Decreased information sharing, etc.

Can conflicts be positive? It can also be argued that conflicts are not necessarily bad. The progress we have made so far in our civilization is due to the conflict between nature & man. Conflict releases energy at every level of human activity- energy that can produce positive, constructive results. Conflicts tend to have a motivational value; they drive or energize an individual to tackle a situation. To resolve a conflict one might explore different avenues or alternatives of action, which make him/her more knowledgeable. Conflicts also provide opportunities to test one’s own abilities.

While successful resolution of a conflict adds to one’s self-confidence, unsuccessful attempts make one more realistic & resourceful to seek better alternatives& thereby improve one’s skills. It is perhaps so in everyone’s experience. For example, think of any of the personal or organizational problems that you may have faced in near future. It was probably difficult for you to resolve them at that time. But if the same problems were to recur, surely you would have more confidence to tackle them at present than you had earlier when they first occurred. It may even be amusing to think that such problems bothered you then, even though they appear so simple now.

Every organization must have faced internal & external conflicts from the time of its inception. However, organizations that resolved their earlier conflicts in positive & constructive ways have survived, grown & prospered because they benefited from their learning experiences. In certain instances they have also emerged as the captains of the industry. Similarly, in organizations, when individuals find themselves in critical situations, they often come up with workable & novel solutions because of the stakes involved for themselves & their department. Given below is the list of consequences of conflict.

Beneficial Consequences

- Motivate individuals to do better and to work harder. One‘s talents and abilities come to the forefront in a conflict situation.

- Satisfy certain psychological needs like dominance, aggression, esteem and ego, and thereby provide an opportunity for the constructive use and release of aggressive urges.

- Provide creative and innovative ideas. For example employee benefits of the preset day are an outcome of the union –management conflicts over the past decades.

- Add variety to one’s organizational life, otherwise work life would be dull and ‘boring.

- Facilitate an understanding of the problem, people and interrelationships between people, better coordination among individuals & departments, in addition to strengthening intra-group relationshipsComputer Technology Articles, etc.

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As one of the leading article writer, and corporate hotel professional. Advisor to various organizations and great sports fan. He is an elected member of south Indian hotel and restaurant federation. Now staying at city of Athens Greece.
Amarendra bhushan Dhiraj
Athens, Greece

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