CONFLICT AND NEGOTIATION
After studying this chapter, students should be able to:
Differentiate between the traditional, human relations, and interactionist views of conflict.
Contrast task, relationship, and process conflict.
Outline the conflict process.
Describe the five conflict-handling intentions.
Contrast distributive and integrative bargaining.
Identify the five steps in the negotiation process.
Describe cultural differences in negotiations.
Many people automatically assume that conflict is related to lower group and organizational performance.
This chapter has demonstrated that this assumption is frequently incorrect. Conflict can be either constructive or
destructive to the functioning of a group or unit. As shown in Exhibit 14-8, levels of conflict can be either too high
or too low. Either extreme hinders performance. An optimal level is where there is enough conflict to prevent
stagnation, stimulate creativity, allow tensions to be released, and initiate the seeds for change, yet not so much
as to be disruptive or deter coordination of activities.
Inadequate or excessive levels of conflict can hinder the effectiveness of a group or an organization,
resulting in reduced satisfaction of group members, increased absence and turnover rates, and, eventually, lower
productivity. On the other hand, when conflict is at an optimal level, complacency and apathy should be
minimized, motivation should be enhanced through the creation of a challenging and questioning environment
with a vitality that makes work interesting, and there should be the amount of turnover needed to rid the
organization of misfits and poor performers.
What advice can we give managers faced with excessive conflict and the need to reduce it? Do not assume
there is one conflict-handling intention that will always be best! You should select an intention appropriate for the
situation. The following provides some guidelines:
Use competition when quick, decisive action is vital (in emergencies); on important issues, where unpopular
actions need implementing (in cost cutting, enforcing unpopular rules, discipline); on issues vital to the
organization’s welfare when you know you are right; and against people who take advantage of
Use collaboration to find an integrative solution when both sets of concerns are too important to be
compromised; when your objective is to learn; to merge insights from people with different perspectives; to
gain commitment by incorporating concerns into a consensus; and to work through feelings that have
interfered with a relationship.
Use avoidance when an issue is trivial, or more important issues are pressing; when you perceive no chance