and complacency. Conflict as a device for directing effort is, therefore, sometimes a desirable state. The focus of his contemporary view is on the successful management of conflict rather than its total elimination. Sources and Causes of Conflict: Conflict can spring from a variety of sources. Robbins suggests that these sources can be grouped into three general categories: communication, structural and personal behaviour factors. Communication factors Managers typically attribute a sizable proportion of the conflicts that arise in organisations to poor communication. Incorrect, distorted, or ambiguous information can create hostility. For example, a manager may fail to communicate clearly to his subordinates regarding who will be responsible for performing a distasteful task while he is away on vacation. Upon his return, he may find that his subordinates are 'at each another's throats" and that the task remains to be done. Structural factors Size : in a review of studies examining the relationship of conflict to organisational size, Robbins found fairly consistent evidence suggesting that conflict is greater in larger organisations. Participation : One might expect that greater subordinate participation (for example, in decision making) would reduce conflict. From a human relations perspective, one 60
might even argue that inviting subordinates to participate can satisfy a possible drive to be fully involved. Research on this topic, however, has shown that just the opposite is true; when subordinate participation is greater, levels of conflict tend to be higher. Line-Staff Distinctions: In surveys of managers, one of the most frequently mentioned sources of conflict is the distinction between line and staff units within the organisations. Line units perform jobs that are directly related to core activities of the organisation. In a manufacturing setting, the production department would be a line unit, while in a customer-oriented setting, the marketing or sales department might be considered line. Staff units perform jobs that support the line function. Examples of staff departments include research and development, public relations, personnel, and marketing research. Reward Systems : If one party obtains rewards at the expense of another party, conflict can be easily generated. This form of conflict can arise among individuals and groups, as well as among entire organisations. Resource Interdependence : Typically, groups must compete for the resources of their organisation. With a growing supply of money and other resources, such as space, equipment, and materials, conflicts may not arise. Power: The distribution of power within an organisation can also be a source of conflict. If a group feels that it possesses far less power than it should, or if it believes that another group holds an excessive amount of power, it is likely to challenge the existing order. The workers are pressing for more say in decisions which affect their lives.
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- Fall '19