Is organizational conflict a necessary evil?

By on October 20, 2011

Conflict is a natural consequence of the human beings interaction that begins when more than one social entity (i.e., individual organizations, nations and groups) joins in contact with one another in achieving their objectives. Relationship in such entities may become inconsistent or incompatible when:

  1. More than one of them requires same resource for which there is a shortage of supply.
  2. They have been affected with behavioral preferences regarding their combined action.
  3. They have different values, beliefs, attitudes and skills.

According to French D (1998), conflict is unavoidable among human beings.

Impact of Organizational conflict

Organizational conflict is not a myth but an existing reality that prevails in almost every organization (Schreiber D M, 1997). For example, misunderstanding and lack of communication among team members is the best example for a group conflict.  To define more clearly, one of the famous organizations recruited a new employee to a team that was led by a well-experience team leader. The newbie, who was enthusiastic initially, started showing poor performance an absenteeism in due course of time. The team leader on examining the case understood that the new comer was not entertained to express his ideas in the team and the team members were not cooperative. Had the team leader interacted with the newcomer himself and given an opportunity for other team members to interact with the new member at the initial stage, this would not have happened. A good rapport would have been established between the team mates and everyone, including the newcomer, would have performed well in achieving the organization’s objectives. This case stands as an example in illustrating the role of a leader in preventing conflicts in organization.

Is organizational conflict a necessary evil?

Robbins S P (1978) says that not at all, some people see politics as a necessary burden that someone inevitably has to participate in. However, most managers look for win-win situations. A win-win approach to organizational politics actually provides a source of zest and a positive sense of contribution, not just a necessary evil. Working this way is generally associated with an effective leadership style, especially when working with the variety of stakeholders in any given project.

Organizational conflict may sound evil and had been considered as harmful by researchers for centuries. However, the modern organizations have understood that organizational conflict is unavoidable and have learnt to manage it properly to make the best out of a negative conflict. Today’s organizations act smart towards conflict. The managers and leaders welcome conflict with a positive attitude and tackle it applying their wisdom to convert the conflict, beneficial to the organization.


To conclude, anything in this world has both pros and cons. Organizational conflict is not an exception to it, but with its negative effects slightly greater than that of the positive effects. However, proper diagnosis, training, experience and effective application of management strategies will help organizations drive out the evil impacts of organizational conflict. Organizational conflict will render adverse effects only when left unnoticed. If noticed and managed properly, it can yield several benefits to an organization. With the changing attitudes of people and changing work culture across organizations worldwide, organizational conflict is no more an evil to an organization but a necessity for the development of a healthy environment in an organization.

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  • French D (1998), Resolving a Moral Conflict, Journal of Business Ethics, London.
  • Robbins S. P (1978). Conflict resolution and Conflict management, California Management Review, California.
  • Schreiber D M (1997), Effects of conflict on organizational performance and strategic decision making. London: SAGE.


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