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Types of Conflict in Organisations (with Causes and Remedies)

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Everything you need to know about the types of conflict in organisations. Conflict is the difference between the perception/expectation and reality.

Organisations are responsible for creating a work environment that enables people to thrive. If disagreement and differences of opinion escalate into conflict then the organisation must intervene immediately.

Conflict in the organisation can be constructive or destructive for an organisation.

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The concept of conflict may be understood as collision or disagreement. The conflict may be with an individual when there is an incompatibility between his or her own goal and event; may be between two individual or between two groups of organisation.

On the basis of direction, the types of conflict in organisations are:- 1. Vertical Conflict  2. Horizontal Conflict  3. Line and Staff Conflict.

On the basis of level, the types of conflict in organisations can be studied under:-

1. Individual Level 2. Group Level 3. Organizational Level.

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Conflict at individual level are sub-divided into:- i. Inter Individual Conflicts ii. Intra Individual Conflicts. Conflict at group level are sub-divided into:- i. Inter Group Conflicts ii. Intra Group Conflicts. Conflict at organizational level are sub-divided into:- i. Inter Organizational Conflicts ii. Intra Organizational Conflicts.


Types and Classification of Conflict in Organisations: With Causes, Reasons, Strategies and Remedies

Types of Conflict in Organisations – On the Basis of Direction and On the Basis of Level

Conflicts in the organisation can be classified as follows:

I. On the basis of Direction:

(a) Vertical Conflict

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(b) Horizontal Conflict

(c) Line and Staff Conflict

II. On the basis of Level:

(a) Conflict at Individual Level

(b) Conflict at Group Level

(c) Conflict at Organizational Level

Let us discuss in detail the above level of conflicts:

I. On the basis of Directions:

Conflicts on the basis of direction are as follows:

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(a) Vertical Conflict:

These conflicts arise between superior and sub-ordinates in the organization’s hierarchy of authority. It may also between manager and deputy general manager. These conflicts may arise over things like task goals, deadlines and performance reports etc.

(b) Horizontal Conflict:

These conflicts take place between persons or groups operating at the same level in the hierarchy. It mat related to such things as goal compatibility, resources scarcity or due to interpersonal factors and reasons.

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(c) Line and Staff Conflict:

These conflicts take place between line and staff representatives when they disagree over different issues in their working relationships. These conflicts may lead delay in decision making.

II. On the basis of Levels:

Conflicts on the basis of levels are as follows:

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(a) Conflict at Individual Level:

These conflicts may be viewed into two ways:

(i) Intra-individual conflicts and

(ii) Inter- individual conflicts.

(i) Intra-Individual Conflicts:

It is a situation where an individual is in a problem of decision making within him.

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(ii) Inter-Individual Conflicts:

When two individuals are in confrontation with each other, it is called inter- individual conflict. It may be between two persons of the same group and it may be called as intra group conflict. If conflict is between two members of the different groups it is called as inter-individual conflict but if it is blown up, it may develop as inter-group conflict.

There are a number of causes why individual conflicts arises within organization and they are as follows:

1. Mismatching of individual needs with organizational reward.

2. The second cause of conflict may be the situation of widespread uncertainty and scarcity of acceptable alternatives.

3. Conflict may also develop if there exists a disparity between aspiration levels and achievement.

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4. Sometimes intra individual conflict is an outcome of inter individual conflict.

(b) Conflict at Group Level:

Conflicts at the groups (formal and informal) level may also be intra group conflicts and intergroup conflicts.

(i) Intra Group Conflicts:

When conflict develops between two individual members of the same group. It is intra group conflict.

These conflicts may be of the following reasons:

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(a) The group faces novel problems

(b) New values are imported from the social environment and

(c) A person’s extra group role gives birth to intra group conflict.

(ii) Inter Group Conflicts:

When two members of different group come into conflict, it may be an inter group conflict.

The causes of these conflicts may be:

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(a) Need for joint decision making which arises because of the following-

(i) There are limited resources

(ii) There may be need for joint decision making to determine the appropriate area for joint decision making

(iii) The need for joint decision making increases with the increase in the organizational levels

(iv) Lack of availability of resources in plenty poses a serious problem

(b) The differentiation of goals or of perception or of both. This occurs because of the following –

(i) Individual backgrounds such as family, education, culture, experience etc.

(ii) A person may be member of different informal group

(iii) The division of labour and task specialization create groups which internalize their subunit goals regardless of overall organizational goals

(iv) Differentiation of goals in an organization increases

(v) Often individuals and groups are set in competition for position or resources which are scarce.

(c) Conflicts at the Organizational Level:

Conflicts at organization level may be of two types:

(i) Intra organizational and

(ii) Inter organizational conflict

(i) Intra Organizational Conflict:

These conflicts comprise of all intra individual, inter individual, intra group and inter group conflicts because they all are the parts of the same organization.

(ii) Inter Organizational Conflicts:

These are assumed between two organizations or between a business organization and the government.

Types of Inter Organizational Conflicts:

Stagner and Rosen have identified five types of inter-organizational conflict:

1. Management-Government:

Conflicts over political contributions, bribery, anti-trust actions, fair trade, consumer protection etc. (The Government will generally monitor organizational activities and management performance in areas where government regulation of business is thought Necessary.)

2. Inter-Management:

Managements may compete against each other in ways that they believe will enhance their position in the industry. Disputes over patents and fulfillment of contracts, price wars may be included here.

3. Inter Union:

Unions may compete for members or jobs, as in jurisdictional disputes.

4. Union-Government:

The unions will be scrutinized by agents of government for illegal activities like criminal activities, discrimination, illegal strikes etc.

5. Union-Management:

If management and labour are to retain their institutional ideal ties, they must disagree and must adopt appropriate roles. Conflict is essential to survival for the union; lack of conflict would weaken it. Conflict between labour and management is expressed in many forms like strikes, peaceful bargains, grievances, debates, loyalties, sabotage and absenteeism.


Types of Conflict in Organisations – Individual Conflict, Group Conflict and Organisational Level Conflict

Conflict can be studied generally, under the following heads:

Type # 1. Individual Conflict:

Individuals are often caught in a dilemma especially when confronted with competing goals and are made to play different roles. Goal conflict occurs when one is forced to make a choice that has both positive and negative features. A Delhi University teacher may be offered an excellent job in a bad location. In pursuing a challenging goal like obtaining First rank in the University, many students must make personal sacrifices (time, energy, away from entertainments etc.).

Again, a worker may dislike his present job, but the alternative of leaving and looking for another job may be even less attractive. Role conflict occurs when a person is expected to play many roles that come with lot of expectations from others. Professors may slip into many roles such as teachers, researchers, consultants, wives or husbands, community leaders etc. While enacting these roles, a professor might actually carry out things that are guided by his own conscience rather than look at what others expect from such roles. Role conflict is the result of divergent role expectations.

Type # 2. Group Conflict:

In an organisation group level conflicts occur at two levels: at the interpersonal level or at the intergroup level. Interperson­al conflict involves two or more individuals fighting for a promotion, space, opportunities etc. It arises due to personality differences, due to varied backgrounds (in terms of education, training, experience etc.) and interests, power and status differences etc. Intergroup conflicts also are common in every organisation where different groups fight for space, authority, jurisdiction and resources.

The primary sources of inter-group conflict may be presented thus:

i. Incompatible Goals:

Quite often, the goals of one group are in­compatible with those of other groups. Differences in group goals can easily lead to group conflict. Goal incompatibility implies that goal attainment by one or more other groups. The achievement of one department’s goal often interferes with another departments’ goal. Quite often, this is due to high horizontal differentiation and task specialisation.

ii. Task Interdependence:

Task interdependence refers to the de­pendence of one unit on another for resources or information. The relationship between mutual task dependence and conflict is not direct. But in general, it can be said that as interdependence increases, the potential for conflict increases.

iii. Resource Allocation:

Quite often resource allocation is a bone of contention between organisation members and groups. Recourses symbolize power, influence and are the means of accomplish­ing goals. As such, most of the departments in an organisation jockey for resources and power base. In their anxiety to achieve goals, groups try to cut a bigger slick out of the common pool.

Generally, the more fixed the resources in terms of size, and the more parties competing for them, the more intense the conflict. Conflict may be minimized if the organisation is prospering and new resources are growing in allowing a greater share to each and every department.

iv. Competitive Incentive and Reward System:

When jobs can be performed independently, competitive incentive plans based on individual excellence can be successfully implemented. However, when tasks are interdependent, competition can hurt cooperation among members and performance may actually decline. When all students in a group received the same grade regardless of individual contribution, coordination and communication was better and the quality of the group project was better.

But when students were graded according to their personal contributions to the group, they try to succeed at the expense of others and were more frequently in conflict. Similarly, intergroup conflict is more likely to occur when the reward plan is tied to individual group performance rather than to overall organisational performance. If departments are regarded and judged only for departmental performance, managers are motivated to excel at the expense of others.

v. Line and Staff Conflicts:

Today, line and staff differences are the most common type of intergroup conflict. This conflict is basically a clash of domain caused by dividing expertise, authority and roles.

Dalton’s study of line and staff conflict highlighted the following sources:

a. Line managers dislike to take advice from younger staff specialists. They fear being ‘shown up’.

b. Line managers label “staff” as agents on trial. The staff, in turn, views himself as an expert.

c. Line managers feel that staff oversteps its authority.

d. Line people resent staff’s highly academic and untested ideas.

e. Staff people feel that line managers are bull-headed and do not clothe staff with enough authority and resist new ideas.

f. Differences in values or perceptions:

The differences in goals among the members of the various departments in the organisation are frequently accompanied by differences in attitudes, values and perceptions that can also lead to conflict. Young bank clerks with post graduate qualifica­tion may resent being given routine work, while the older, higher level (less educated sometimes) may view such task as a necessary part of training.

Engineering people may value sophisticated designs while manufacturing people may prefer simple designs. Many a time status differences also may spoil the show between two groups—for example group members of a prestigious project might perceive themselves as having higher status than others.

Type # 3. Organisational Level Conflict:

Conflict at the organisation level could occur at two levels within the same organisation-intra-organisational conflict or between two organisations (inter-organisational conflict). Conflict within the same organisation can take the shape of a horizontal conflict (between employees or departments at the same hierarchical level) or a vertical conflict (conflict between levels in an organisation such as the fight between senior and junior faculty in a college or between superiors and subordinates in an organisation. Inter-organizational conflicts between two organisations are extremely common when they fight for limited opportunities.


Types of Conflict in Organisations (With Causes) – As Classified by March and Simon

March and Simon have classified the conflicts as:

1. Conflicts at individual level;

2. Conflicts at group level; and

3. Conflict at organisational level.

Type # 1. Conflicts at the Individual Level:

Conflicts at individual level in as organisation may be viewed in two ways –

(a) Intra- individual; and

(b) Inter-individual.

(a) Intra-individual conflict – It is a situation where an individual is in a problem of decision – making within himself.

(b) Inter-individual conflict – When two individuals are in confrontation with each other, it may be said an inter-individual conflict. Inter-individual conflict may be between two individuals of the same group, In that case, it may be called ‘intragroup conflict’. If conflict is between two numbers of the different groups and it may simply be regarded an inter-individual conflict but if it is blown up, it may develop as inter-group conflict.

Causes of Conflicts at Individual Level:

There are a number of causes when individual conflicts arise within an Organisation and they are as follows:

(i) Mismatching of Individual Needs with Organisational Reward:

The first and the most important reasons of conflict at individual level is mismatching of individual needs with organisational reward. A man joins the institution with a number of psychological needs which he expects to be satisfied and in turn works to achieve organisation goal.

He also bring certain beliefs, values and perception to the organisation. As he starts working he elaborates beyond his format behaviour and finds himself unable to translate his ideas into reality because his initial needs constantly change on the hand, and he is bound to work under certain rules and regulations. Therefore, conflict arises with the clash of individual and organisational goals.

(ii) Situation of Widespread Uncertainty and Scarcity of Acceptable Alternatives:

The second cause of conflict may be the situation of widespread uncertainty and scarcity of acceptable alternatives which is caused by the complexity of problem and lack of past experience in handling such problems.

The less the complexity of decision situation and the greater the amount of past experience with a decision situation the lesser is the probability of intra-individual organisational conflict. For Example – A policy of frequent transfer from one department to another will cause uncertainty in the minds of people because they cannot accumulate experience.

(iii) Conflict May Also Develop if there Exists a Disparity between Aspiration Levels and Achievement:

That causes individual dissatisfaction. The greater the disparity, the higher is the probability of individual conflict. The best solution of such disparity lies in providing better environment in the organisation otherwise the gap between aspirations and achievements will continue to develop and if there is considerable time lag in the adjustment, the conflict will intensify. The disparity between these two variables develop especially in times of low organisational performance or where organisational performance and aspirations both rise; any check on the fulfillment of aspirations will cause conflict.

If the disparity between aspiration level and achievements exist persistently for a long time, it develops frustratively aggressive behaviour or the individual concerned will make an attempt to overcome an obstacle. Studies show that the relationship between frustration and aggression is not invariable one. Sometimes due to persistent frustration, the individual adjust his sights and reconciles with situation.

(iv) Sometimes Intra-Individual Conflict is an Outcome of Inter-Individual Conflict:

Many a time, the organisation puts two individuals in a conflicting situation. For Example – If the organisation has a reward system depending upon individual performance, but performance is not an independent factor, it is rather interdependent. Such situations open up the flood gates of inter-individual and intra-individual conflict.

Type # 2. Conflicts at Group Level:

Conflicts at the group (formal and informal) level may also be intra-group conflicts and inter-group conflicts.

(a) Intra-group Conflicts – When conflict develops between two individual members of the same group, it is intra-group conflict.

Sometimes intra-group conflicts develop due to the following reasons:

(i) The group faces a novel problem;

(ii) New values are imported from the social environment; or

(iii) A person’s extra-group role gives birth to intra-group conflict.

(b) Inter-group Conflicts – When two members of different group come into conflict, it may be an inter-individual conflict, if groups are not involved in the conflict but when inter-individual conflict between members of two groups involves two groups then it assumes the proportion of an inter-group conflict, sometimes, intra-group conflict divides the members of the group into two small groups, then the intra-group conflict is also transformed into inter-group conflict.

Sources or Causes of Group Conflicts:

The source of inter-group conflict lies in:

(1) Need for joint decision-making; and

(2) The differentiation of goals or of perception or of both.

Both the above conditions must be satisfied for an inter-group conflict. If there is a need of joint decision-making and all people agree on the proposal there will be no conflict. Similarly, if there is differentiations of goals or perception or both but joint decision of all persons are not necessary even then, there is no conflict. But in real organisational situations, both conditions exist still numerous inter-group conflicts arise.

(1) Need for decision-making arises because of the following:

(a) There are Limited Resources with every organisation which have to be shared with all groups. Moreover, technological considerations create inter­dependence and therefore, activities are to be scheduled. Need for sharing of limited resources and scheduling of activities make groups so inter­dependent that no one group can make decisions independently.

(b) There may be need for joint decision-making to determine the appropriate area for joint decision-making; such as authority and power relationship who will enjoy how much authority and what functions should be performed by whom etc.

This decision-making does not create any problem if the attitude of all the groups is co-operative. The problem arises only when groups and sub-groups internalise their sub-unit goals regardless of overall organisational goals. These groups in such circumstances become competitive rather than complementary.

(c) The need for joint decision-making increases with the increase in the organisational level: as things are co-ordinated at higher level – This phenomenon is greatly found in inter-dependent departments. The inter­dependence is most important to the head of all departments rather than to heads of various departments. So, they claim and counter-claim and the conflict develops. Sometimes conflict may develop between head of all departments (superior) and heads of the various departments (sub­ordinates).

(d) Lack of availability of resources in plenty poses serious problems –

Mutual dependence on limited resources is, in fact an organisational life and that sets people is competition for acquisition of means. This problem may arise in intra or inter-group posing a high tension. This type of competition in disruptive of group cohesiveness. Resources may be financial or personnel or materials etc.

(2) The differentiation of goals or perceptions or both occurs because of the following:

(a) Individual’s background such as family, education, culture, experience, etc., differ and so their values, beliefs and norms also differ which they bring to the organisation: Their own goals and professional ethics may have considerable effects upon them. The organisation attempts to obtain a homogeneous set of people through recruitment procedures.

(b) A person may be a member of different informal group and those groups may have different goals. At times, not only the goals of some groups of which he is member may conflict but also the roles he plays in different groups may conflict.

(c) The division of labour and task specialisation create groups which internalise their sub-unit goals regardless of overall organisational goals – Which themselves are generally highly non-operational, imperfectly rationalised, ambiguous or vague. The obvious case is that of line staff personnel. The former has to implement what latter proposes. The goals of the two kinds of personnel come into conflict.

(d) Differentiation of goals in an organisation increases as the inter-actions of people are reduced because by inter-action, they develop cohesiveness.

(e) Often individuals and groups are set in competition for positions or resources which are scare – The situation worsens of the rewarding system is linked to a very vague criterion, capable of different interpretation for different rewarding authorities. If resources are further reduced, this will generate tensions among people and groups. Moreover, reward distribution in organisation is also dependent upon the bargaining strength of the members of the group, not consistent with one’s merits.

Organisational environment also influence the reward system. As the reward remains undefined and ill-defined, hence in consistencies and ambiguities creep into the system which in turn cause goal differentiation.

Thus, we have seen that conflicts at group level may be intra-group and inter-group conflict. March and Simon have illustrated that inter-group conflicts arise mostly between inter-connected departments.

The closes the connections the greater will be the felt need for joint decision-making and less the differential of goals, the less the differentiation of perceptions. The actual degree of conflict depends upon the strength of the individual effects, of the inter-action among them.

Type # 3. Conflicts at the Organisation Level:

Conflicts at organisation level may also be of two types:

(a) Intra-organisational; and

(b) Inter-organisational.

(a) Intra-organisational conflicts comprise of all intra-individual, inter-individual, intra- group and inter-group conflicts, because they all are the parts of the same organisation. They may assume organisation wide proportions and turn into hierarchical conflicts, functional conflicts, professional versus functional conflicts, management versus shop floor conflicts or union versus union conflicts. What we have discussed here is all about intra- organisational conflicts.

(b) The inter-organisational conflicts are assumed between two organisation or between a business organisation and the government.


Types of Conflict in Organisations – Intra-Personal, Inter-Personal and Inter-Group Conflicts (With Strategies to Reduce Conflicts)

Conflict is the difference between the perception/expectation and reality. Conflicts are of different types. They are intra-personal, inter-personal/intra-group, and inter-group/intra-organisational conflicts.

1. Intra-Personal/Intra-Individual Conflicts:

Intra-personal or intra-individual conflicts, take place within one individual and is normally there within every person.

These conflicts arise due to:

i. A number of competing needs and roles;

ii. A variety of ways that drives and roles can be expressed;

iii. Various barriers which can occur between the drive and the goal;

iv. Attachment of positive and negative aspects of desired goals.

These factors complicate the human adaptation process and result in conflict. Intra-personal conflicts can be analysed in terms of the frustration model, goals and roles.

Conflict due to Frustration:

For example, the need of a CA (Chartered Accountant) student is to have a better economic and social status after completing his CA programme. His drive is to acquire financial managerial skills, leadership skills, and secure excellent score in the examinations. His goal is to get a financial manager’s job in a multinational company.

If he fails to get success in his CA programme due (barriers) to lack of time for preparation or his psychological weakness, he may get frustrated. The defence mechanisms available to a CA student are – behaving aggressively with friends or family members (aggression), discontinuing the course (withdrawal), taking the examinations again and again until the course is completed (fixation) and trying to join another course and another job in another organisation (compromise).

Frustration occurs when a motivated drive is blocked before a person reaches a desired goal. The barriers which stand as an obstacle towards achieving a goal may be outward or inward. Frustration normally triggers the defence mechanism in a person. The defence mechanisms include- aggression, withdrawal, fixation and compromise.

1. Goal Conflict:

Another common source of conflict for a person is a goal which has both positive and negative features or two or more competing goals. But in the frustration model, the single motive is blocked before the goal is reached.

Three separate types of goal conflicts are normally identified:

(a) Approach-Approach Conflict:

A person is motivated to approach two or more positive but mutually exclusive goals. Trying for promotion from junior management position to middle level management position in the same company and trying for a middle level management position in another company is an example for this type of conflict.

(b) Approach-Avoidance Conflict:

A person is motivated to approach a goal and at the same time is motivated to avoid it. The single goal contains both positive and negative features. Trying for promotion and at the same time avoiding it if the promotion is accompanied by transfer to a disturbed place like Afghanistan or Iraq is an example of approach-avoidance conflict. Going to USA for higher education/job in recent times (2009 and 2010) is also an example for approach-avoidance conflict for Indian youth.

(c) Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict:

A person is motivated to avoid two or more negative but mutually exclusive goals. The person may not choose either of them and simply leave the situation. Motivated to avoid transfer to the branch office in Kashmir or another office in Sri Lanka is an example of this type of conflict.

2. Role Conflict:

A variety of functions which are divided into jobs, positions and tasks should be performed by those associated with the company. They perform these functions with a view to attain objectives of the organisation as well as the individual employees. This function results in the specific behaviour of the individual.

Role is defined as the action performed by the person to indicate the occupation of this position. Keith Davis viewed role as the pattern of actions expected of a person in activities involving others. Similar opinion has also been expressed by Newcomb that roles are ways of behaving towards others, which are defined for different positions. A role is dynamic. It refers to the behaviour of the occupants of a position, not all their behaviour as persons, but to what they do as an occupant of the position.

Role reflects a person’s position in the social system with its accompanying rights and obligations, power and responsibility. People need some method to anticipate others’ behaviour in order to be able to interact with each other. Role performs this function in the social system.

Thus, the role theory views the person as a member of the social system. Further, a person has several roles in the society like occupational role as a worker, family role as a parent, social role as a club member, religious role as a disciple, role in marketing as a consumer, etc. The role behaviour of an employee is influenced by the various sub-systems of the organisational system, the economic system, the social system, the religious system, policies, objectives, goals and programmes of the company, etc.

3. Role Perceptions:

Activities of employees are guided by their views about their behaviour, i.e., how they think about their behaviour at work. In other words, they are guided by their imagination about their own roles in reaction to the roles of others at work. This is called perception of employees about their own roles.

Employees must be highly adaptable to different situations in order to change from one role to the other without any delay as they perform difficult roles in dynamic situations. Managers have to essentially change the roles quickly as they work with different levels and types of people like their superiors, subordinates, colleagues, field supervisors, technical and non-technical employees. Thus, for each manager, there are three different roles like superior, subordinate and colleague. Obviously, one cannot meet the needs of the other employees, unless one can perceive what they expect.

Each manager experiences conflict of different roles as employees, managers, customers and government officials perceive and expect differently from his role and he cannot meet all his expectations without limiting/resisting others. This is mainly because a human being has limited resources and time. Thus, every employee has a role conflict.

4. Role Ambiguity:

It exists in organisations when roles are either defined inadequately or substantially unknown. In this situation, employees are not quite sure of playing their roles. Role ambiguity and role conflict reduce job satisfaction and need fulfillment.

2. Interpersonal/Intra-Group Conflicts:

Interpersonal conflict arises when two or more individuals interact with one another. These conflicts are also called intra-group conflicts.

Interpersonal conflict can be explained through:

1. Transactional analysis and

2.  Johari window.

1. Transactional Analysis:

This is developed and popularized by Eric Berne through his book on “Games People Play” and Thomas Harris through his book on “I’m OK, You’re OK” respectively. Transactional analysis is the analysis of transactions between two or more persons. The major areas of transactional analysis can be explained through ego states, transactions and stroking.

Ego is a hypothetical construct and is used to help explain the complex dynamics of the human personality.

Transactional Analysis uses three ego states, viz.:

a. Child (C) Ego;

b. Adult (A) Ego and

c. Parent (P) ego.

a. Child Ego:

Child ego (C) is the state in which the individual acts like an impulsive child. The characteristics of child ego include being submissive or subordinate, adaptive, emotional, joyful or rebellious. The child state is characterised by immature behaviour.

For example, the Area Marketing Executive says to the Chief Marketing Manager, “you know better,” when he is asked to offer a suggestion. The ego state of Laxmana when his mother’s along with Bharat and Shatrugna came to the forest in the Ramayana may be referred to as child ego as Laxmana emotionally says to the Lord Rama “brother Bharat and Shatrugna are coming to wage war against us”.

Adaptive and Free Child Egos:

Child ego can be classified as adaptive child and free child. People sometimes listen to others and adapt themselves as per the requirements of others’ needs as well as their own situational needs. Such state is referred to as adaptive child ego.

For example, the subordinate accepts the decision of the superior and modifies his/her travel plans when the superior clarifies to the subordinate the conditions under which his/ her leave was not granted. People sometimes prefer to enjoy the life, and not to accept any responsibility. Such state is referred to as free child ego.

b. Adult Ego (A):

In the Adult ego, an individual acts like a matured person. The characteristics of adult ego stale include ‘cool-headed,’ rational behaviour, calculative, objectivity, fairness, gathering and analysing information, logical choice, etc. Lord Rama collected all information from his mother’s; Bharat and Satrugna when the latter came to the forest to explain the reasons led to disqualifying the former from being the king of Ayodya and request the former to accept the position of the king of Ayodya.

Then Lord Rama analysed the information collected and made a decision of not accepting the position based on analysis of information, consequences of all alternative solution, etc. The ego state of Rama in this incident is referred to as ‘Adult ego.’

c. Parent Ego (P):

In the Parent ego state, individual acts like a dominating parent. The characteristics of this state include- protective, loving, controlling, nurturing, critical, directive, commanding, etc. For example, people sometimes prefer to control others and critical of others’ acts and decisions. Similarly, traditional superiors used to control and of critical of subordinates activities as well as performance.

Critical Parent and Nurturing Parent Egos:

Parent ego is further classified as critical parent and nurturing parent. People under critical parent ego prefer to criticize others’ activities, decisions as well as performance. People under nurturing parent ego prefer to be supportive of others’ decisions and performance even though they fail to contribute to the achievement of organizational goals.

Transactions between Ego States:

A number of transactions take place between two or more individuals. They are classified as complementary, crossed and ulterior transactions.

I. Complementary Transactions:

Transactions are complementary, if the message sent or the behaviour exhibited by one person receives the appropriate and expected response from another person’s ego state. (See Fig. 18.2). Conflict does not arise between the transacting persons in complementary transactions.

i. P-C Transaction:

For example, the production supervisor tells the foreman to change the scheduling. The foreman obeyed the order. The production supervisor is in the parent ego state and the foreman is in the child ego state. This is a parent to child transaction {See Fig. 18.2 (a)}. The transaction between the production supervisor and the foreman is called complementary transaction. In this transaction, the foreman simply obeys the order of his boss without using his skills and knowledge.

As such, this type of transaction does not allow the subordinates to grow. Further, the superior overestimates his competency and underutilises the human resources of his/her subordinates, which in turn leads to underutilisation of the organisation’s human resources. However, this transaction is appropriate for routine decisions as well as activities where sharing of other’s skills and expertise is not needed.

ii. A-A Transaction:

In another incident, the Production Manager asked the Assistant Production Manager (APM) to suggest measures to reduce the cost of production. The APM analysed the data, identified the low cost sources and suggested measures to reduce the cost of production to the production manager.

This transaction is Adult to Adult transaction {see fig 18.2(b)}, which encourages both the parties to think rationally and allows them to use their human resources. This type of transaction is useful to make strategic decisions as well as use the human resources of subordinates and to make most effective decisions. Further it enables the subordinates to satisfy the need for belongingness and other social needs. However, this transaction consumes more time and as such may not be needed for routine and less important issues.

iii. C-P Transaction:

Mr. Prakash is a clerk in marketing department of Zuhari Cements, Yerraguntla- a faction area in Andhra Pradesh and also the Secretary of the Employees’ Union of the Company. Mr. Prakash is a follower of powerful local factionist. Employees’ Union resorted even to the physical threats in solving their problems in the past.

One day, he ordered the marketing manager to promote the Marketing Executives as the Senior Marketing Executives. The Marketing Manager had to accept the order due to the power of the trade union. Subordinate (Mr. Prakash) assumes parent ego while superior assumes child ego due to compulsion or fear of physical threat. This is Child-Parent transaction {See fig 18.2 (c)}. This transaction is also a complementary transaction, but is used by the powerful subordinates. These transactions also do not allow the employees particularly of superiors to use their human resources.

II. Crossed Transactions:

Crossed transaction occurs when the message sent or the behaviour exhibited by one person’s ego state is reacted to by an incompatible, and/or unexpected ego state on the part of the other person’ (see Fig, 18.3). For example, a customer came to the bank branch after business hours to encash a cheque and the branch manager ordered the officer concerned to pay the money (transaction is parent ego to child ego), but the officer replied as- withdrawals are not allowed after business hours (transaction is adult ego to adult ego).

Crossed transactions are the source of much interpersonal conflict. The consequences of this type of transaction include hurt one’s feelings and lead to frustration on the part of the parties and dysfunctional conflicts/consequences to the organisation. The branch manager, clerk and the customer in the previous example, experience conflict and frustration. This type of conflict is dysfunctional and damages the bank’s image. Therefore, steps should be taken to avert crossed transactions by managing ego states of oneself and others.

Crossed transaction takes place between parent ego and adult ego, between parent ego and parent ego, between adult ego and child ego and child ego and child ego. These take place as one parent can’t control another parent or one parent can’t nurture another parent. Similarly two persons who are in child egos can’t depend on each other or can’t become subordinates to each other.

a. Situation-Transaction Match:

Normally people believe that adult (A) – adult (A) transaction is the best. But this assumption is wrong as all situations do not need the expertise and knowledge of other party to the transaction. Therefore, adult (A) – adult (A) transaction is appropriate to only those situations like strategic and important that require the expertise and knowledge of other party.

The parent (A)-child (C) transaction can be used in those situations that don’t require others’ expertise and knowledge of others. Similarly, managers can be in the nurturing parent ego when the subordinates are in adaptive child ego slate and when the situation needs counseling about performance as well as career.

Managers can be in critical parent ego when the subordinate is in free child ego when the situation needs turnaround of the company or a department. Thus, transactions should be compatible to the situations to produce positive consequences in terms of relationships as well as functions.

b. Stroking:

Stroking is recognising the presence of others. It may be positive, negative, sarcastic or mixed. Positive stroking develops interpersonal relations, whereas negative and mixed stroking damages interpersonal relations. But sarcastic stroking is highly dangerous to interpersonal relations.

2. The Johari Window:

The other framework to explain interpersonal conflict is Johari Window developed by Joseph Loft and Henry Ingham (Johari). There are certain things that a person knows about himself and there are certain things that are unknown. This holds good for other persons also. This idea is the basis for Johari Window. Four cells are identified based on the above assumption (See Fig. 18.5). They are: open self, hidden self, blind self, and undiscovered self.

In the open self-form of interaction, the person knows about himself/herself and about the other person. This situation results in openness and compatibility and a little interpersonal conflict.

In the hidden self-situation, the individual only knows about himself/herself, but does not know about the other persons. The person remains hidden from the other since he does not know how the other might react. Thus, the person hides his true feelings or attitudes. This situation results in potential interpersonal conflict.

In the blind situation, the individual remains blind about himself but other people know about his behaviour. The individual may be unintentionally irritating the others and hurting the others’ feelings. The situation is also prone to high interpersonal conflict.

In undiscovered self-situation, the person does not know about himself/herself and about the others. This situation results in much misunderstanding and interpersonal conflict. Thus, this is potentially the most explosive situation.

Strategies for Interpersonal Conflict Resolution:

The simple strategies for inter-personal conflict resolution include: complementary transactions (particularly Adult ego state to Adult ego state) in transactional analysis, moving towards the open self of self-disclosure and feedback in the Johari window model, emotion management and management through reason and action.

In addition to the above, there are three basic strategies for management of conflict.

They are:

i. Lose-lose,

ii. Win-lose and

iii. Win-win.

i. Lose-Lose Strategy:

In the first approach, both the individuals lose. In other words, the solution to the problem would be a compromise or to take a middle point in a conflict. Another approach is pay­off (mostly in the form of bribes) to the one party. Third approach is to use a third party as an arbitrator. The fourth approach is to resort to the bureaucratic rules and regulations to resolve the conflict. Both the parties are involved in this strategy.

ii. Win-Lose Strategy:

In this approach, one party wins and the other party loses. This is I win. You lose approach. This strategy is common in a competitive type of culture.

iii. Win-Win Strategy:

There was only deputy production manager position in HLL during 2010. Mr. Prakash and Mr. Santosh were trying for promotion to the deputy production manager and consequently had conflicts. Both of them worked together like a team and adopted a new product based on the advice of the production manager. The company developed another unit for the new product and created another deputy production manager position and promoted both Prakash and Santosh.

This is win-win strategy to solve conflicts. In a win-win strategy, energies and creativity are aimed at solving the problem rather than beating the other party. This strategy takes the advantages of win-lose strategy and eliminates many of the dysfunctional aspects. The needs of both the parties are met and both the parties receive rewards by enhancing the resources available or output by both the parties. No one needs to lose or sacrifice in this strategy.

3. Inter-Group Conflicts:

Conflict between two groups or departments in an organisation refers to intergroup conflict. Conflicts between employees and management are also due to inter-group conflicts. Conflict between production department and marketing department is an example of this conflict.

Intergroup conflict arises due to:

i. Overlapping roles;

ii. Absence of cooperation;

iii. Lack of comprehensive understanding;

iv. Competition for sharing the same facilities;

v. Resource Crunch: when the available resources are less than the demand for the same;

vi. Lack of open minded approach;

vii. Absence of collaboration between/among groups;

viii. More concern for group goals rather than organisational goals; and

ix. Resistance either to communicate or receive communication.

Strategies to Reduce Intergroup Conflict:

i. Avoidance- Keep the conflict from surfacing at all.

ii. Diffusion- Deactivate the conflict and cool off the emotions and hostilities of the groups.

iii. Containment- Allow some conflict to surface and contain it carefully by pointing out which issues are to be discussed and how they are to be resolved.

iv. Confrontation- Bring all issues out into the open and allow the conflict groups to confront directly in an attempt to reach a mutually satisfactory solution.

v. Believe in win-win situations- The groups should have belief and advantages in Win-Win situations as they help both the groups in particular and the organisation in general.

vi. Information sharing- The departments in the company should share the information and data available with each other for the overall organisational development.

vii. Free flow of communication- The groups should allow their members to communicate with each other freely.

viii. Trust and confidence- Each group should have trust and confidence in other group.

ix. Collaboration- Teach the groups about total organisational productivity, profitability and effectiveness and encourage collaboration, among all groups and avoid organisational politicking.

x. Team building- Build interdepartmental teams and encourage the people to work beyond their departmental boundaries.

xi. Realise that organisational goals are superior to group goals.

Having studied the group conflicts, we shall study the negotiations through building teams.

Team-building is a method of improving organisational effectiveness at the team level by diagnosing barriers to team performance and improving inter-team relationships and task accomplishment. Team building analyses the activities, resource allocations and relationships of a group or team to improve its effectiveness. This technique can be used to develop a sense of unity among members.

Team building is for two types of teams, viz.:

(i) An existing or permanent team comprising of a manager and his/her subordinates often called a family group and

(ii) A new group made through a merger or other structural changes in the organisation or formed to solve a specific problem called the special group.

Teamwork needs collaboration among its members. It is said that one plus one may be three in teamwork due to the impact of synergy. The synergetic effect is evident in teamwork. Each team is a linking pin to another team and to the total organisation. Teams do wonders. They make the impossible things possible.


Types of Conflict in Organisations – Inter Personal Conflicts and Inter Group Conflicts (With Remedies)

The conflicts are broadly classified into two categories:

1. Inter Personal Conflicts

2. Inter Group Conflicts

1. Inter Personal Conflicts:

The managers has to take cognizance, “when the personal interest of two individuals clash with other and resolve the same such conflict is called as inter personal conflict.” Interpersonal conflict occurs when there is a clash between personal interests of two individuals.

There are three remedies on inter personal conflict, such as lose-lose strategy, means parties to the conflict prepared the conflict prepared to lose something and ready to accept a common solution and enter at a mutual compromise. The second solution is win-lose strategy. Both the parties feel winning against their opponent. In fact none of the party gain much, but there is a psychological satisfaction of their personal victory.

And the third remedy on the interpersonal conflict is win-win strategy, which is the best amongst all the remedies. In this strategy parties to the conflict think positively and rationally on the issue and resolve the conflict with such a solution, which will satisfy both the parties.

2. Inter-Group Conflicts:

The inter group conflict may be arise due to absence of joint or participative decision making, differences in goals and perceptions, opinion and viewpoints in different groups. Each group and the department when strive for maximum share of limited resources, it leads to enter departmental conflict. Participation or Join decision making is the best solution to resolve the inter-group conflicts.

There are 4 remedies to resolve inter group conflicts as under. The inter group conflict may be resolved by:

i. Interference or Intervention of Management:

According to this strategy management may interact with the parties hear and deal with both the parties and provide an amicable solution such as by providing incentives to them and overcome the conflicting situations. Something by adopting coercive measures resolve the conflicting situations. This conflict can be resolved by formal agreement between the parties and by executing the agreements.

A group conflict may resolve by the management by adopting the some procedures such as identifying the conflict, gathering the facts and information regarding it, analyzing the date, searching the reasons behind it and finding the solution on it and to eliminate the very source of conflict.

ii. Non-Intervention or Interference by the Management:

According to this strategy, the management is not intervene the conflict but left to parties concerned to come together and resolved the same. Generally the management ignore the conflict situation, simply because they have provided different techniques or machineries such as bargaining, persuasions, consultation, counseling, politics etc. which the parties to conflict can approach and can work out the alternative solutions on this conflicts.

Both the parties to conflict may be agree with the alternative solution and on this way conflict comes to an end. Bargaining is also one of the powerful, strong effective technique for resolving the conflicts. Labour management conflict can be resolved effectively by bargaining technique.

iii. Visualise and Reduce Negative Consequences of Conflict:

There are a number of negative consequences of conflict such as, employee inefficiency, poor performance, negligence, carelessness, indiscipline reduced production quality and quantity chaos, disorder wastage of valuable human and non-human resources, delays in work, negative attitude towards the work, less involvement and interest in the work etc. all these negative consequences of conflict must be visualized by the top management and reduced it by developing and increasing inter group contacts, communication between them, negotiations, between them etc.

iv. Adopting Preventive Measures:

The inter group conflicts can be prevented by participating employees in decision making process, increasing their involvement, creating more interest in their work, developing communication network, facilitating inter group interaction by inculcating team spirit, team work, by telling them how important their role and work is in an organization. Conflict can be prevented if the organizational goals and objectives are clear cut and understandable.

Keep the employees busy on their arrangements. Create the healthy and friendly environment in an organization. All these assist in prevention of conflicts where employees do not get time and energy in indulging in conflicts, clashes, disputes, quarrels, and frictions of any kind. There will be no scope for any kind of inter group rivalry, hatred etc.


Types of Conflict in Organisations – Classified as Individual Conflict, Inter Organisational Conflict and Constructive Conflicts

The organisational conflict may be classified on different basis as under:

1. Individual Conflict:

In business concerns, people possessing different personality traits and other characteristic employee on variety of jobs. Every individual is differ from other individual. In modern time’s individual differences is one of the important characteristics of modern business organization. Different individuals having different behaviour and attitude which creates obstacle in integrating and coordinating the activities cause to conflict.

Moreover it create hurdle in coordinating the individual objectives / goals and organizational goals and objectives and may create conflicting situations in a business organization.

2. Inter Organizational Conflict:

The conflicts arising between two different organizations are called inter organizational conflicts. It is arise due to unhealthy competition, rivalry etc.

On the basis of organization structure:

i. Hierarchical Conflicts:

This type of conflict may arise between the people working at different levels of management. A conflict situation may arise between top and middle level or middle and lower level executives.

ii. Functional Conflict:

Different department performs different functions. A conflict may arise between the department, such as production and finance, production and marketing, finance and research and development department personnel and finance department, personnel and research development of department etc. The reasons may be inter relation and interdependence of departments, limited resources lack of proper coordination poor and defective planning etc.

iii. Line and Staff Conflict:

Most of the time there is conflict between the line authority and staff authority. Line executive possess the authority but staff executive does not his role is only to give advice to line executives. Whatever advice given by staff executive it is not mandatory on line executives to follow the advice given by him it may give rise to conflict.

iv. Formal and Informal Conflicts:

In formal organization structure whatever the conflicts arises are called formal conflicts. It may arise due to their officially assigned duties, responsibilities and authorities. On the other hand informal conflicts arise in informal organization structure, here authority relationship does not exists. Due to informal groups and organization of employees conflicting situations may arise.

3. Constructive Conflicts:

Constructive conflicts are positive in nature. They helps to increase employee performance, efficiency, goal quality of production / services, less cost of production, minimum absenteeism, smooth. And continuous running of business, minimization of wastage etc. such conflicts are supportive to the attainment of organizational goals and objectives.


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