While considering the essence of conflict, it is important to define its determinants and precursors. People organize companies in which specific objectives, vision and mission are identified, and these are the values which must be respected if the person wants to become a part of the team. Nonetheless, there might be miscommunication, lack of understanding, and discrepancies in views on the way the company should operate. In the attempts to solve such problems, it is essential to understand major aspects and underpinnings of conflict management. Cooperation relies on mutual understanding and interaction, but settling conflicts is also the key to the development of fruitful dialogue. The assessment of the conflict management theories and styles includes the analysis of the influence conflicts produce on organizational success and productivity. Apparently, there are different contexts in which conflict management should be tackled differently. At this point, it is highly important for managers to understand which style or approach should be chosen.
The Impact of Inter-Group and Intra-Group Conflict in the Organization
The inter-group and intra-group conflicts are predetermined by the shortcomings of inter-group and intra-group cooperation. At this point, it is crucial for the manager to understand the underpinnings and pillars of effective cooperation. Bohm and Rockenbach (2013) have conducted a specific research on the difference between inter-group and intra-group cooperation which defined the main principles and how conflicts occur and develop. Specifically, as the authors mention, “it has been shown that cooperation within the own group and (costly) norm enforcement…increases if the intra-group conflict is embedded in a structural inter-group conflict; the so-called inter-group conflict – intra-group cooperation/cohesion effect” (Bohm and Rockenbach, 2013, p. 1). At the same time, in the majority of cases, an inter-group conflict is regarded as a game where everybody loses and which can destroy the resources due to the fact that such a conflict has negative consequences for both the inferior and victorious groups. Therefore, involvement in inter-group conflict and joining efforts of your group members to oppose another group is not always efficient from the viewpoint of cooperation.
With regard to the above-mentioned facts, there is difference between the proposed types of conflicts in terms of appropriation and production. The model displays the group cohesion effect, according to which the competition between the groups becomes more definite in case the players dedicate fewer resources to the emergence and development of intra-group conflict. Furthermore, there is also the so-called reversed group cohesion effect, which postulates that in case the intra-group competition becomes less definite, the players dedicate more resources to the competition with other groups. The proposed model sheds light on the questions regarding the involvement of groups into more or less productive activities. The authors argue that there is balanced size of the company which is defined by the trade-off between raising returns to increase in production and raising the costs of relevant activities.
New schemes should be designed to introduce an effective management style to handle conflicts. Conflict management depends largely on the type of leadership which has been chosen for a specific context. Leadership can rely on tasks or relations. The latter seems to be more efficient in terms of reducing the probability of conflict and disagreement within a group.
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Different Styles of Conflict Management
In general, a conflict is associated with tangible incompatibilities in perceptions, opinions and expectations of several parties engaged into a specific problem-solving situation. An intra-group conflict develops in the situation when the group members focus on discrepant views or have personality clashes with each other. There are several types and sources of tensions and disagreements which have been reported in literature; and these underlying reasons which lead to conflicts were defined long time ago. A task conflict is associated with the disagreement among the group members regarding the content of the assignment in the light of diverse ideas, opinions, and viewpoints, whereas a relationship conflict arises from interpersonal frictions within the group leading to annoyance, tension, and animosity. Certain empirical studies conclude that these types of conflict are independent whereas others demonstrate uncertainty about this. However, the distinction is essential because these two situations of conflict are based on the opposite outcomes of group performance. The nature of a task conflict is fruitful as it may increase the quality of decision, along with the satisfaction with reaching a compromise within the group, whereas a relationship conflict has a detrimental influence on group performance. Additionally, Curseu (2011) asserts that “because the quality of communication is essential for both coordination and planning process, it is expected that relations oriented leadership…to be beneficial for teamwork quality, to a greater extent than task oriented leadership” (p. 5). Additionally, relation-oriented leaders are regarded as more effective in resolving intra-group conflicts. With reliance on the above-presented arguments, leadership orientation is presented as influential on group activities, along with the relationship between intra-group processes and groups conflicts.
The Pros and Cons of the Chosen Conflict Management Style
The choice of relationship leadership has many advantages in social, psychological, and ethical terms. First of all, focus on individual skills, experience, quality of work, and performance can increase motivation and stimulate employees to work more efficiently. Second, leaders can have greater control of relations and interactions within a group to understand the optimal conditions under which group members can contribute to the company’s productivity and excellent performance. Finally, a person-orientated approach can increase the probability of developing trustful relations between the leaders and their followers as well as enhancing the organizational culture. After all, the understanding of personal needs could also expand the leaders’ outlook on the company’s objectives, which could be changed and advanced in favor of the company’s development and enrichment of the organizational culture and environment.
Apart from the advantages, there could still be shortcomings. To begin with, leaders who are more focused on understanding psychological and social interactions can be distracted from the accomplishment of the company’s genuine mission and objectives. Excessive attention to employees’ concerns, goals, and perceptions does not always contribute to the success of the mission and overall welfare of the company. In this respect, the task of the leader is to strike the balance between personal interests of employees and company’s utmost goals, values, and objectives. Second, if the leader is more concerned with the relations which are beyond his or her competence, it may lead to the subjective attitude and unnecessary conflicts, which arise due to the inadequate distribution of appraisals. As a result, employees could be discouraged because of the unequal treatment by the company management. To avoid such a situation, the leader should focus his or her attention specifically on working conditions, accomplishment of tasks and project management. Furthermore, the group members should also be aware of the Code of Ethics in the company to respect these values and minimize the discrepancies in views.
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Overall, the chosen style is appropriate in the light of global trends of managing companies in terms of disagreements and discrepancies. Tolerance to culture and social background should be regarded not as subjective attitude, but the pursuit of harmonious environment in which employees could be more open in displaying their views on the company’s culture and values. In such a manner, it will also be possible to introduce positive changes to the managerial style and overall control over operational, financial, and business activities. The value of leadership plays a decisive role in eliminating the precursors of ineffective communication. The existence of diverse opinion could be tackled in regular meetings and conferences, during which leaders should listen to the problems and solve them in the most objective ways to reduce the probability of conflict occurrence inside groups and between them.
In conclusion, inter-group and intra-group conflicts could be used for either advancing or changing the existing values and mission within companies. The very nature of conflicts is predetermined by the lack of agreement on a specific question or mission within an organization. In this respect, the choice of relational leadership could be regarded as the best solution because it focuses on the way employees are motivated and engaged into the task accomplishment. However, leaders should not step too far in terms of managing personal problems of employees. Their concerns should be confined to understanding their problems in the work environment. Tolerance to culture, communication issues, and social benefits are among the priorities which should be discussed during conferences and meetings. The rest of the problems must be eliminated at the very beginning to make employees understand that certain personal issues should stay beyond the company’s activities. Overall, relational management is more beneficial than task-oriental management because the latter totally ignores ethical and social dimensions in managing business. Greater attention to psychological and ethical issues could bring a competitive advantage.