Conflict is a condition that arises when two or more individuals or groups perceive their own interests as being challenged by others and when strong feelings can be aroused.

According to Etzioni, conflicts though not a definition states that, supervisors, organizational units, or staff division often come into conflict with one another either because of the principles that divide labour among them and prescribe their relations as not clear or because the prescribed rules are being adhered to by some but not by others or because differences or interest, view point, or personalities need to be reconciled.

Conflicts can further be defined as any discontent or dissatisfaction that affects organizational performance. As such, it can be stated or unvoiced, written or oral, legitimate or ridiculous. The only major restriction in this definition is that the discontent must affect worker performance. Despite the best of management practices in acting and communicating conflicts, between employees and the organization will occur. A total absence of conflict would be unbelievable, boring and a strong indication that such conflicts are being suppressed.

Discovery of Conflicts Interest

For many reasons, there is now more communication in organization than before the human relation movement as well as the activities of labour unions have led to this development.

These are some of the ways that conflict is discovered:

Direct Observation: Here a good supervisor knows the customarybehaviour of subordinates and when significant changes in that behaviour occur, he or she is concerned with possible motives, observations which may show a decline. Also such statistics as grievance rates, accident rates, request for transfer, resignations and disciplinary cases may reveal that an unspoken conflicts exists.

Suggestion Box: Here the staff is free to submit their complaintsanonymously.

suggestion box

Open Door Policy: This is where the executives allow all calibre of staff to interact with them freely. Most of times this does is not actually happen as the executives are “too busy” to give the junior staff such audience. But where it actually works, they are capable of detecting and removing grievances even before they mature.

Exit Interview: This is an interview granted by a departing employee.If the truth can be told, it is a good source of discovering the causes of dissatisfaction in organizations.

The Ombudsman: This is an additional ear for the Chief Executive.Although he is meant to receive and resolve grievance, the use it serves in this section for discovering of conflicts. Complaints taken to him which an employee is not able to take to his direct boss serves as a source of data for types and prevalence of conflicts in the organization.

Group Meeting: Here some Chief Executives or supervisors do solicitor complaints publicly at group meetings. At such meetings individuals who cannot complain on their own pick courage and reveal hidden conflicts. Some Executives use this soliciting method in individual interviews with present employees to discover sources of difficulty.

Types of Conflicts

There are five types of conflict.

Structural: It occurs because of cross functional departmentaldifferences over goals, time horizons, rewards, authority, line and staff activities, status and resources. Conflict can occur between staff and line position over status and authority differences.

Intra Personal: This occurs within an individual. This type ofconflict is divided into three:


–                     Intra-role Conflict


–                     Inter role Conflict


–                     Person role Conflict


Intra role Conflict refers to a situation where a person receives conflicting information from others concerning a particular role.

The Inter role conflict occur when an individual experiences pressure over several roles in the job or life; e.g. a single mother that is also working.

The third type, the person-role conflict occurs when a person, may experience conflict over being pressured to follow standards other than his own.

Inter-Personal Conflict: This type of conflicts occurs between two or more individual. One of the causes of this type of conflict is when a person is difficult. Some people are hostile – and aggressive in nature. The second type is the “know it all” which is subdi vided into the “Bulldozers and “Balloons”

Bulldozers are people who do know a subject competently but use their competency to bully others.

Balloons on the other hand are people who do not know a subject well and bluff instead.

Inter-Group Conflict: This occurs as a result of disagreement over anynumber of substantive issues. Also basic differences in group structures can often be sources of pressure between groups.

Inter-Organization Conflict: This occurs between enterprise andExternal Stakeholders Large Scale Strikes e.g. The one between ASSU – Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Conflict Resolution Management

There are five types of conflict management.


Competing: This is used when quick decision action is vital e.g.emergencies.


On important issues where unpopular action need implementing. On issues vital to company welfare when an individual knows he or she is right. And against people who take advantage of non-competitive behaviour.


Collaborating: To find an integrative solution when both sets ofconcern are too important to be compromised when the objective is to learn, to merge insights from people with different perspectives. To gain commitment by incorporating concerns into consensus. To work through feelings that have interfered with a relationship.


Compromising: When the goals are important, but not worth the effortor potential description of more assertive modes when opponents with equal power are committed to mutually exclusive goals. To achieve temporary settlement to complex issues. To arrive at expedient solutions under time pressure. And as a backup when collaboration or competition is unsuccessful.


Avoiding: this is used when an issue is stalled, or there are moreimportant issues at hand. When there is a perception of no chance of satisfying the aggrieved parties when potential description inter-weights the benefits of resolution. To let people cool down and regain perspective and when gathering information supersedes immediate desires and when others can resolve the conflict more effectively.


Accommodating: When you find you are wrong to allow a betterposition to be heard, learnt and to show your reasonableness. When issues are more important to others than yourself. To build social credits for later issues. To minimize loss when you are outmatched and losing when harmony and stability are especially important to allow employees to develop by learning from mistakes.

Source National Open University of Nigeria



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