Friend or Foe?

Workplace conflict is almost a fact of organizational life. Conflict manifests as interpersonal, intergroup, and role conflicts, as well task conflict, relationship conflict and process conflict. (Robbins & Judge, 2013). Both management science and practitioners are not in agreement on whether conflict is inevitable, or an unwelcome guest, or a beneficial phenomenon in organizational life. All agree, however on the need for conflict management in organizations.

Conflict Management Styles

There various models that offer conflict management styles, tools and techniques. The Dual Model of Cooperation and Competition describes conflict handling in terms of the human motives of “self-concern” and “others concern”. The Model incorporates the two concepts of cooperation and competition to explains the behavior of parties to a conflict. It suggests that in face of conflict people either cooperate out of others concerns or they compete out of self-concern. (Stangor, 2011).

Collaborative and Competitive Conflict Management Styles

According to this model, the two conflict handling styles are cooperation and competition. Cooperation strategies include collaboration, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and conciliation. (Stangor, 2011). Conflict is caused by both personal and situational factors. Consequently, conflict handling styles and strategies are also influenced by the same, e.g., values of justice and fairness, individualistic or collectivist culture, agreeable or disagreeable personality.

Distributive and Integrative Conflict Handling Styles

Robbins and Judge (2013) identify distributive and integrative styles to conflict handling, with five strategies, viz competing, collaborating, avoiding, accommodating, and compromising. (The five strategies above are also known as the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Handling Styles).

With the distributive style, parties seek to get as much as possible from the proverbial pie. It is an adversarial, win-lose, zero-sum game, employing competitive strategies. The integrative style seeks win-win end game, using cooperation strategies, like collaboration, negotiation, mediation, and conciliation.

Explore more on when to use these conflict handling tools in Rock Lilly’s Conflict Management Course

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.