Dealing with organizational conflicts

By on July 25, 2012

The disagreement which arise when the interest, values or goals of various groups or individuals are incapable and those groups or individuals who opposes or block some others attempts to gain the objectives is organizational conflict. An inevitable part of organizational life is conflict because various stakeholders’ goals such as workers and managers are often irreconcilable. Organizational conflict also exists between divisions and departments that strive for resources or between managers who may strive for promotion for the next level in the hierarchy of organization.

In general, there are four primary organizational sources of conflict (Pneuman & Bruehl, 1982). They occur due to the following reasons:

  1. When an organization, as a whole lags in perceiving necessary changes in reaching its goal, a conflict occurs. This is caused when the feedback loop in the system is not proper
  2. When there is lack of internal fit among the components of the organization and/or lack of internal-external balance, a conflict occurs (Darkenwald, 1971; Tjosvold, 1998). External conditions do not uniformly affect internal units, especially when the organization is highly differentiated and decentralized. Therefore some units may perceive a need for organizational change while others see no reason to deviate from the current strategy
  3. When there are disagreements about the ways that differences should be resolved, a conflict arises. In such cases, even after a need for change has been identified, organizational members may dispute how the change should be implemented (iv) finally, sub-optimization leads to organizational conflict. Residual or persistent power struggles within the organization focus on maximizing current subunit goals at the expense of overall organizational objectives.

While these being the reasons of conflict to occur the types of organizational conflict vary from one organization to another. Therefore By perceiving how the above conflict types vary managers can effectively deal with conflict.


  • Pneuman R W and Bruehl M E (1982), Managing Conflict: A complete process centered handbook, Prentice Hall, New Jersey.
  • Darkenwald G (1971), Organizational Conflict in colleges and universities, Administrative Science Quarterly, pp 407-412, USA.
  • Tjosvold D (1998), “Cooperative and competitive goal approach to conflict: accomplishments and challenges,” International Review, pp. 285-342, New Jersey.