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Managing conict between

marketing and other functions


within charitable organisations
Roger Bennett
London Metropolitan University, London, UK, and
Sharmila Savani
Harrow College, London, UK
Keywords Marketing, Psychological research, Charities
Abstract Extensive research has been undertaken into the proposition that certain organisational
arrangements and working methods (e.g. centralisation, functional specialisation, multi-disciplinary
teamworking and training, organisation-wide reward systems) inuence the levels of dysfunctional
conict in businesses. The present study assessed the relevance of these variables for explaining the
existence of conict between marketing and other departments within non-prot organisations.
Additionally the investigation examined the role of psychological distance (a construct borrowed
from the international marketing literature) as a possible determinant of conict. A total of 148
marketing managers of large UK charities completed a questionnaire exploring these matters. It
emerged that several of the factors known to mitigate dysfunctional conict in the commercial world
exerted similar effects in many of the sample charities. Psychological distance was signicantly
associated with both the presence of dysfunctional conict within a charity and the manners whereby
conict resulted in adverse organisational consequences.
Introduction
A charitys ability to full its mission depends critically on its fundraising
capacities, for without a steady stream of income a charity cannot continue to
complete its philanthropic work. Moreover charities that are heavily involved
in raising public awareness of social issues (child abuse or domestic violence
for example) need to possess excellent advertising and other marketing
communications competencies in order to put their message across, and must
therefore apply the highest levels of professionalism to the creation and
implementation of their campaigns. It follows that charities have to employ top
calibre people to undertake specialist marketing tasks, and that the marketing
function should occupy a key organisational role (see Bond, 1996; Cervi, 1996;
Bennett and Gabriel, 1998). Examples of the consequences of marketing
orientation within charities abound. Numerous charitable organisations now
merchandise wide ranges of charity branded products not directly connected
with their philanthropic activities (e.g. credit and retail loyalty cards, insurance
policies, foreign holidays, confectionery, sun tan lotion, CDs, bank accounts,
burglar alarms (see Bennett and Gabriel, 1999)), and non-prot fundraisers are
at the forefront of developments in direct and database marketing, in the
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
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Received August 2002
Revised January 2003
Accepted July 2003
The Leadership & Organization
Development Journal
Vol. 25 No. 2, 2004
pp. 180-200
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
0143-7739
DOI 10.1108/1437730410521840
application of market segmentation software and techniques, and in the
protable utilisation of emotive advertising imagery (Bennett, 1998; Bennett
and Gabriel, 1998). It follows that a key function of the leadership of a
fundraising charity is the effective integration into the wider organisation of a
variety of marketing tasks.
There is evidence to suggest, however, that marketing departments do not
always t comfortably into organisations motivated primarily by values
rather than by wealth creation or the phenomenon of power (Lewis et al., 1997,
p. 279), and where the main focus is on helping the needy rather than on raising
funds. Indeed, anti-marketing bias has been observed in a number of the UKs
leading charities (see Burnett, 1986; Clutterbuck and Dearlove, 1996; Bennett,
1998). Charities have numerous and diverse stakeholders (beneciaries, donors,
volunteers, government agencies, politicians, trustees, programme managers,
employees, funding bodies, etc.), some of whom may believe emphatically that
a charity should devote virtually all its donor income to purely philanthropic
activities, not to marketing and public relations. Often, individuals join a
charitable organisation because of the compatibility of their beliefs with the
values of the organisation (Catano et al., 2001, p. 257), and competence at
marketing might not be among the characteristics of an organisation that the
person most admires. In particular, volunteers (especially those occupying
leadership positions) have been found to be heavily involved psychologically
with their organisations (Catano et al., 2001). Such involvement is mainly with
the philanthropic operations of the charity concerned, not with the ways in
which it presents itself to the outside world.
Hence a marketing department might be seen by detractors as a cost (as
opposed to a revenue generating) centre that, through its glossy promotions,
expensive advertising and public relations (PR) stunts, drains resources from
charitable programmes and inhibits the pursuit of philanthropic goals. Further
objections to charity marketing could derive from the assumptions that anything
gained by one charity from a successful campaign is necessarily lost by others
and that high-prole promotions create among potential donors feelings that
their contributions will merely be spent on additional advertising, not on
beneciaries. The latter conviction might be widely held. OSullivan (1993)
reported survey data indicating that 40 per cent of a sample of 1,312 people
thought that charities wasted money on advertising. It is relevant to note in
this context how the UK press has routinely attacked charities for having
relatively large fundraising to total expenditure ratios (see Omisakin, 1997;
Paton, 2002). Margolis (2001), for instance, noted the furore surrounding the press
expose of the fact that in 1999 the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Children (NSPCC) spent more on administration and marketing than on
helping children in need. (This pattern of expenditure was in fact fully justied
because the NSPCC is quintessentially an awareness-raising institution that, ipso
facto, spends large amounts on public education campaigns.)
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Clearly, conict between the marketing function and other areas of a
charitys operations can arise. Marketing staff may themselves feel alienated.
For example, they might perceive the marketing department to lack status and
to be regarded as little more than a cash cow which nances the rest of the
organisation but is not given the resources necessary to perform its duties
satisfactorily (see Barclay, 1991). A charitys marketing department requires
money, information and properly paid personnel, yet it may have to seek these
from people who are not sympathetic to marketings role. Hence, intense
negotiations may be needed to secure funds for the proper discharge of the
marketing function (see Srivastava et al., 1998), and to prioritise and implement
marketing activities (Hudson, 1995).
Positive and negative interdepartmental conict
Positive aspects of conict
Conict between functions within an organisation, according to Lewis et al. (1997),
is inevitable consequent to the boundaries arising within any organisational
structure and the need for the organisations members to compete for scarce
resources. In the words of Appelbaum et al. (1999, p. 62), conict is a process of
social interaction that involves a struggle over claims to resources, power and
status, beliefs, preferences and desires. Accordingly, Appelbaumet al. (1999, p. 62)
continued, conict is a natural phenomenon in social relations, as natural as
harmony. Nevertheless, conict within organisations can be managed (see
Amason et al., 1995; Menon et al., 1996; Lee, 1998; Darling and Walker, 2001; for
reviews of the academic literature on conict management within organisations),
and may have positive as well as negative consequences. Thus conict can be a
healthy incentive for action and competition when present in some forms and
degrees (Lewis et al., 1997, p. 275). Ideas, beliefs and pre-assumptions are
challenged vigorously (Bagshaw, 1998), innovation and the willingness to consider
fresh approaches are encouraged, information exchange and the free and frank
expression of opinions and feelings are stimulated (see Menon et al., 1996).
Arguments about how best to complete tasks and/or attain objectives allegedly
facilitate individual and group learning (Senge, 1990), increase critical vigilance
and self-appraisal (Darling and Walker, 2001, p. 232) and, according to Lee (1998)
represent a necessary and inevitable aspect of organisational change. Moreover the
consideration of a wider range of options resulting fromhelpful conict arguably
improves decision-making and generates stronger commitment to chosen
strategies (Amason, 1996; Menon et al., 1996; Lewis et al., 1997).
Dysfunctional conict
On the other hand, interdepartmental conict can be dysfunctional and
frustrate initiatives in other departments (Maltz and Kohli, 2000, p. 479).
Dysfunctional conict is said to be emotional in nature and, typically, to
involve personal disputes (Amason, 1996). Disagreements are seen as personal
criticism; debates as political gamesmanship. Manifestations of
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dysfunctional conict include interference with another functions work,
exaggeration of a persons inuence, withholding and/or distorting information
(Barclay, 1991), the creation of coalitions to block certain proposals,
non-response to requests for information, rigid adherence to procedures, and
generally apathetic behaviour (Mechanic, 1964; Lewis et al., 1997). Individual
reactions to dysfunctional conict may differ substantially. Some people might
respond by withdrawing from situations, sulking and becoming resentful.
Others may seek to compromise and accommodate (McKenna and Richardson,
1995). In extreme cases conict of this type can result in stress, hostility,
dissatisfaction, ill-feelings and greatly reduced co-operation (Pondy, 1967).
In the specic context of non-prots, Lewis et al. (1997, p. 275) observed how
dysfunctional conict could cripple their ability to function in goal setting,
stafng, the conduct of meetings, problem-solving and decision-making, the
identication and utilisation of individual skills, and writing submissions for
government funding. Dartington (1996, p. 12) concluded that typically the
accountability of the leadership of a non-prot organisation is complex, and
hence that criticisms and support are likely to come from any and all
quarters. This had the potential to destabilise a charity and generate conicts
capable of destroying its main aims and objectives. As accountability within a
charity is so complex, Dartington (1996) continued, the design of an
organisation so as to avoid dysfunctional conict represented a major
leadership task. It is relevant to note however that a number of studies have
found that leaders of non-prots need not adopt particular approaches to
leadership in order to succeed. Thus, for instance, Egri and Hermans (2000)
study of the leadership styles of leaders of North American non-prot
environmentalist organisations concluded that, although the leaders in the
sample differed from leaders of for-prot green businesses in relation to their
levels of emotional maturity, there were few actual differences in leadership
behaviour. Similarly, a survey of 29 non-prot organisations completed by
Adeyemi-Bello (2001) found that effective leadership style did not depend on
whether an organisation was for-prot or not-for-prot. Similar genres of
leadership behaviour were associated with successful outcomes in both sectors.
Johnson (1999, p. 21) argued that the competent leadership of UK charitable
hospices depended not on charismatic leadership styles, but rather on a
shared, clear corporate vision.
Origins of conicts between departments
Interdepartmental conict can arise from, inter alia, differences in aims, values,
expectations, intended courses of actions, and ideas about how best to handle
situations (Darling and Walker, 2001). Differences of this nature have been
variously attributed to dissimilarities in organisational demography (in
terms of cultural diversity, work relevant expectations, and employees
education and technological levels), to the ways in which organisations are
designed, and to personality factors. Allegedly, demographically dissimilar
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people approach and solve problems in divergent manners (Chatman et al.,
1998) and perceive the characteristics of their jobs and organisational roles
differently (see Pearson and Chatterjee (1997) for details of relevant literature).
Individual demographic dissimilarity has been found to impact on both task
conict and emotional conict between departments (see Pearson and
Chatterjee, 1997; Pelled et al., 2001).
Organisational design involves such matters as the mechanisms whereby
employees share tasks, the degree of centralisation, extent of formal rules and
procedures, and the intensity of the division of labour (see Barclay, 1991).
Inappropriate organisational design can lead to differences in departmental
goals, communications breakdowns, anxieties emerging from organisational
change, competition for resources, and unattainable desires for departmental
autonomy (Pondy, 1967). The design of the team structures and procedures that
govern the ways through which employees work can also affect the level of
conict (positive or dysfunctional) within an organisation. For example, Erez
et al. (2002) found that teams which rotated leadership among their members
experienced less conict than teams with appointed leaders. If conict did arise
within a team that rotated its leadership, the teams members were more likely
to offer constructive suggestions for change.
The central argument
Whereas all of the above-mentioned issues have been researched extensively in
the context of commercial businesses (for reviews see, for example, Ruekert and
Walker, 1987; Barclay, 1991; Amason, 1996; Menon et al., 1996; Maltz and
Kohli, 2000), they have not (to the very best of the authors knowledge) been
investigated in relation to charitable organisations. Yet, a priori, conicts
between certain departments within a charity might reasonably be expected to
occur. The aim of the research reported in the present paper was therefore to
add to what is known about both charity management and the antecedents of
interdepartmental conict via an empirical study of these matters in the
non-prot sector. In particular, the investigation assessed the inuence on
conict of a variable well-known in other areas of marketing research, but
which has not been fully explored in the context of interdepartmental relations,
i.e. psychological distance. The central argument underlying the work was
that organisational factors have the capacity: to determine whether
dysfunctional interdepartmental conict exists within a charity; and if it
exists, to inuence the level of intensity of such conict.
It is suggested moreover that the forces known to be relevant to these matters
in the commercial sector apply equally to fundraising non-prots. A priori, it is
posited that conicts between marketing and other functions within a charity are
to be expected as a matter of course, for the reasons previously outlined. A factor
not previously considered by the organisational conict literature is examined,
namely psychological distance. It is hypothesised that the presence of a
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substantial degree of psychological distance leads to dysfunctional conict and
that thereafter dysfunctional conict impairs organisational performance.
Development of the hypotheses
Psychological distance as a source of interdepartmental conict
The term psychological (or psychic) distance was coined by researchers in
the eld of international marketing to describe differences in language,
behaviour and culture that deter business people from wanting to enter certain
foreign markets. It is a perceptual state arising from disparities in norms and
values and which depends, therefore, on experiences and differences in the
cultural backgrounds of the people involved in the process of interaction.
Psychological distance does not imply dislike (Swift, 1998), but it does make
individuals feel less at ease with others they perceive to be different. Also the
higher the level of psychological distance the greater the effort required to
understand and effectively communicate with the other party and hence form a
close working relationship (Conway and Swift, 2000, p. 1391). Psychological
nearness, conversely, enables managers to notice (and appreciate) subtle yet
critical aspects of other peoples behaviour, hence facilitating learning (Evans
et al., 2000).
A number of variables can contribute to the level of psychological distance
between groups including, according to Fisher et al. (1997) and Swift (1998),
differences in education, values and attitudes, ethical and moral positions,
status, management style and working practices, decision-making processes,
tolerance for risk and, above all, language. Fisher et al. (1997, p. 57) observed
how language is the principal means whereby people access culture and
communicate. Language misunderstandings can impair communication
therefore even if the volume of communication is extensive. Marketing
professionals employed by charities frequently possess business qualications
and experience (Bond, 1996; Bennett and Gabriel, 1998) and are likely to speak
about revenue surpluses, efciency and performance. Their world view
might focus on market orientation, communications techniques and
technologies, the development of corporate image and identify, etc.
Conversely, managers in charge of a charitys operational programmes may
come from a wide range of backgrounds, possess non-business related
qualications, and have been attracted to charity work by heavily altruistic as
well as employment motives. Operational programme performance is rarely
measured in purely nancial terms (Hudson, 1995), but rather against
successes achieved in relation to helping and caring.
It is suggested here that a positive connection may exist between the
presence of dysfunctional conict and the extent to which charity marketing
managers are psychologically apart from the rest of the organisation. The
rationale for such a proposition is that functions that are psychologically close
should in principle be easier to learn about and understand (see Evans et al.,
2000); thus engendering trust, empathy, the formation of mutual
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understandings and appreciation of the other partys work (Swift, 1998). Each
side might be better able to comprehend the value systems and priorities of the
other, resulting in common perceptions of reality and uniform approaches to
problems (Barclay, 1991). Accordingly, the rst substantive hypothesis tested
in the course of the investigation was that:
H1. The greater the degree of psychological distance between marketing
and other departments within a charity the more likely that
dysfunctional conict will occur.
Co-ordinating mechanisms
Studies that have examined relationships between marketing and other
functions in commercial organisations (see Pinto et al. (1993) for details) have
identied a number of factors which seemingly affect levels of co-operation.
These factors include the presence of co-ordinating mechanisms (e.g. formal
rules and procedures), the degree of interfunctional interaction and the
similarities of the duties undertaken by various departments, physical
proximity of staff from disparate functions, and compensation systems that
reward the attainment of interfunctional (rather than departmental) goals.
Barclay (1991) noted how the existence within an organisation of competitive
reward systems might encourage employees to relate more to their functional
specialisms than to the attainment of superordinate goals. If people are paid
substantially on the basis of the achievement of organisation-wide rather than
functional objectives then, arguably, dysfunctional interdepartmental conicts
will be less likely because managers have material incentives to co-operate and
interact harmoniously with their colleagues (see Fisher et al. (1997, p. 57) for
details of relevant literature concerning this matter).
Co-ordinating mechanisms have been investigated extensively. Pondy (1967,
p. 299) for example noted how, by the 1960s, there existed a substantial body of
evidence recognising the desirability of institutionalisation, programming and
making routine of procedures for dealing with recurrent conict.
Bureaucratic rules and procedures offer a convenient mechanism for
integrating or co-ordinating activities, particularly those that cut across
departmental boundaries (Pinto et al., 1993). They make relationships
predictable, reduce the need for arbitrary decisions and clearly delineate
departmental responsibilities. On the other hand, they could rob people of their
autonomy and cause frustration that leads to aggressive behaviour towards
other departments. Likewise, specialisation allegedly carries the potential to
remove sources of disagreement through stipulating who does what and how
(Amason, 1996; Menon et al., 1996). Typically, staff working in a specialised
departmental structure will report to a single functional manager and will
become trained, experienced and competent in a particular functional area.
This competence may be recognised and valued by people in other departments
(Mechanic, 1964; Pinto et al., 1993). Specialised organisation systems are
logical, easy to understand, and have transparent chains of command that
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clearly dene personal obligations and departmental activities. Thus,
interdepartmental conicts may be less likely to arise in these conditions. On
the other hand, specialisation might stimulate conict by encouraging
departments to develop their own objectives, values and working methods and
not to communicate with others (Barclay, 1991). Managers could become
inexible and believe that their own function is more important than others
(Bennett, 1991), and conicts of interest between specialised departments might
emerge (Stoner and Wankel, 1986). For research purposes, however, the current
paper follows the greater part of the previous academic literature in the eld
(see Maltz and Kohli (2000) for details) in proposing that the impact of
specialisation on conict should be benecial.
The centralisation of authority within an organisation might also reduce
conict. Centralisation means that senior management takes all the most
important decisions. Departments do not determine the problems they are to
address, nor the methods to be used to overcome them. Employees are bound by
xed decision making protocols and exercise little discretion in the course of their
work. There is no question of decentralised units competing against each other
for resources or to undertake similar tasks (Bennett, 1991). The activities of all
sections can be related to the objectives of the organisation as a whole. In
principle, therefore, fewer opportunities for conict should arise (Bagshaw, 1998).
The above mentioned considerations imply:
H2. The closer the physical proximity of the staff in marketing and other
departments the less likely that dysfunctional conict will occur.
H3. The greater the degree to which compensation systems reward the
achievement of organisational rather than departmental goals the less
likely that dysfunctional conict will occur.
H4. The presence of co-ordinating mechanisms involving: (a) large
numbers of bureaucratic rules and procedures; (b) high levels of
specialisation; and (c) the centralisation of authority, will reduce the
occurrence of dysfunctional conict.
Training and teamwork
Other integrating factors that have been substantially researched are
multifunctional training and multidisciplinary teamworking (see Amason,
1996; Maltz and Kohli, 2000; Mollenkopf et al., 2000). Multifunctional training is
said to help managers to understand the:
.
jargon of other functions (thus reducing language barriers between
specialisations); and
.
aims, priorities and perspectives of other departments.
Similar outcomes allegedly emerge from having people work in
cross-functional teams. A substantial literature supports the proposition that
groups take decisions more effectively when composed of individuals
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possessing a variety of skills, knowledge bases, abilities, points of view and
attitudes (see Amason, 1996). Team members interact (socially as well as
formally) and gain experience of other functions that facilitates learning and
understanding (Swift, 1998).
Ruekert and Walker (1987) suggested that a further benet of
cross-functional teamworking was its encouragement of managers to focus
on organisation-wide superordinate goals rather than functional targets. A
superordinate goal, according to Pinto et al. (1993) is one that is urgent and
compelling for all the groups in an organisation but which requires the efforts
and resources of all the organisations groups for its attainment. A high level of
identication with the superordinate goals of the wider organisation
supposedly motivates interaction between functions (Ruekert and Walker,
1987). Additionally it might strengthen the impacts of various managerial
devices introduced to minimise dysfunctional conict (Fisher et al., 1997).
These comments suggest:
H5. The greater the amounts of: (a) multifunctional training; (b)
cross-functional teamworking; and (c) communication and
information sharing within a charity the less likely that
dysfunctional conict will occur.
The investigation
The above-mentioned matters were examined in the charity context through a
survey of the views of charity marketing managers. Although it would have
been desirable to compare the responses of marketing managers with those of
charity employees responsible for specic charity operational programmes,
this was not feasible in the context of the present study in consequence of the
diverse range of the activities in which the sample charities were involved.
There is no generic job title of eld operations manager within charities.
Rather, the humanitarian and/or philanthropic tasks undertaken by each
charity are unique to that organisation and the job titles within the charity will
reect those particular duties. Third World assistance charities, for instance,
have managers in charge of disaster relief and food distribution; whereas
health care charities have people responsible for providing medical facilities.
Animal charities build veterinary hospitals and rehoming units, employ police
liaison inspectorates, and so on. Hence, it was not possible to mail the
questionnaire to a single meaningful job title reecting the operational
charitable programmes of all the sample organisations.
The questionnaire
A questionnaire was developed to explore relevant issues and pre-tested via
discussions with 18 senior employees within three leading UK charities plus an
initial mailing to 75 charities drawn at random from the sampling frame (see
below for further details). This pre-test facilitated the renement of the wordings
of the questions and the removal of excessively overlapping items. The
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document itself opened with a general section querying the respondents
background (business, helping and caring or other), the persons experience and
qualications), the charity sector involved, the number of years the charity had
operated a marketing department, and the size of the charity. Thereafter the
questionnaire (which is summarised in the Appendix) contained sections
concerning organisation design, communication and information sharing among
departments, compensation and training systems, perceptions of psychological
distance between marketing and other functions, and the possible presence and
consequences of dysfunctional conict. A newinventory was developed to assess
interdepartmental psychological distance. The other constructs were measured
using instruments adapted from pre-existing literature in the organisational
conict area.
Items concerning organisational design were based on those employed by
McCabe (1987) and Barclay (1991) in earlier studies (see Appendix, Section A).
The extent of cross-functional teamworking was explored via items modied
from Bennett and Koudelova (2002) (Appendix, items A8 and A9); the degree of
communication and information sharing was examined through items adapted
from Ruekert and Walker (1987) and Fisher et al. (1997) (Appendix, items A15
and A16). Items based on instruments previously used by Fisher et al. (1997),
Maltz and Kohli (2000) and Bennett (2002) investigated the charitys employee
compensation systems (Appendix, items A13 and A14) and whether it engaged
in multifunctional training (Appendix, items A10, A11 and A12). The presence of
dysfunctional conict was assessed by items modied from Ruekert and Walker
(1987), Barclay (1991), and Maltz and Kohli (2000) (Appendix, section C).
An inventory to measure psychological distance[1] was developed in
accordance with the procedures recommended by Churchill (1979).
Accordingly, an initial pool of 12 items was generated from the applications
of the construct reported in the previously mentioned empirical literature in the
eld of international marketing. The 12 items were discussed with two senior
marketing managers, two nance directors and two operational programme
managers in each of three charities, and were circulated for comment via e-mail
to a marketing manager and a programme manager in each of six further
charities with which the authors had a direct relationship. Each interviewee or
e-mail respondent was presented with a denition of the psychological distance
construct and required to assess the 12 items on scales of one to ve in terms of
their appropriateness and clarity vis-a` -vis the measurement of the construct.
Only those items scoring four or ve were retained. Open-ended comments
about each item were also invited. Subsequent to the feedback received, certain
items were combined, reworded or deleted, resulting in the eight-item inventory
shown in the Appendix, section B. All the items in the questionnaire other than
factual queries were measured on ve-point scales: 5 strongly agree,
1 strongly disagree.
The questionnaire together with a covering letter and stamped addressed reply
envelope, was mailed to the heads of marketing of the UKs top 500 fundraising
Conict between
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charities listed (by order of annual income) in the Charity Commission register
(www.charity-commission.gov.uk). After a follow-up, 148 replies were received
(29 per cent of the sampling frame). The replies of the rst 30 and the last 30
respondents were compared, no meaningful differences emerging.
Analysis of the data
An earlier section developed ve hypotheses concerning the central proposition
that organisational considerations inuence the presence of dysfunctional
interdepartmental conict within a charity. To test these hypotheses it was
necessary to create from the questionnaire items (see the Appendix) a handful
of composite variables (each reecting a particular construct relevant to one or
more of the hypotheses covered by the investigation) that could be manipulated
in an orderly manner. This was done by factor analysing each of the groups of
items listed in the Appendix that contained four or more items, and examining
the correlations within the item groupings with just two or three items.
Consequently it was possible to form composite variables (i.e. averages of all
the items belonging to a specic group) for the following: psychological
distance, presence of dysfunctional conict, adverse consequences of
dysfunctional conict, centralisation, specialisation, degree of bureaucracy,
multifunctional training, interdepartmental communication, teamworking, and
the existence of collective reward systems. (Details of the procedures employed
are provided in [2], which also explains how the absence of common method
bias (i.e. problems possibly arising from the fact that the same person in each
charity had answered all the questions) was conrmed.)
The sample charities
The charities in the sample had a median of 101 full-time and 61 part-time
employees. Hence it is reasonable to suppose that issues concerning
organisational design, departmental structure and interfunctional
communications were of major concern to the managements of these
organisations. A total 87 per cent of the charities had operated a dedicated
marketing department or section for more than 15 years. Thus marketing
activities would be well-entrenched within the sample charities, the
managements of which would have extensive experience of overseeing
relationships between marketing and other functions. A total of 58 per cent of
the respondents had marketing backgrounds, 18 per cent described their prior
experience as being mainly concerned with their charitys philanthropic
operations. The sample covered a wide range of types of charity (healthcare,
animal welfare, disaster relief, etc.) with no single sector predominating. There
were no differences in response patterns between people with marketing
backgrounds and other backgrounds, or with respect to:
.
the individuals level of education (i.e. his or her highest qualication on
leaving school or college);
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.
charity age or size; or
.
how long the organisation had operated a marketing department.
A total of 27 of the 148 charities (18 per cent) fell in the top two response
categories of the dysfunctional conict composite; 67 (45 per cent) were in the
bottom two categories. This broadly matched the numbers in the top two and
bottom two categories of the adverse consequences composite. Of the
respondents, 52 (35 per cent) reported the presence of substantial psychological
distance between the marketing function and the rest of the organisation (in the
sense that their composited responses fell in the agree or strongly agree
categories of the amalgamated psychological distance scale). A total of 38 per
cent of the composited responses were in the disagree or strongly disagree
categories. Clearly, there existed within the sample organisations a fair spread
of circumstances pertaining to the topics under investigation. Specically, the
presence of psychological distance and dysfunctional conict was a fact of life
for a substantial number of the charities in the sample.
Tests of the hypotheses
The hypotheses were tested via a regression analysis that used the presence of
dysfunctional conict, psychological distance, and the adverse consequences of
conict as the variables to be explained. Signicant relationships among the
variables were identied through an experimental procedure whereby all the
candidate independent variables were entered in regression equations in
various combinations. An independent variable was removed if it failed to
attain signicance at the 0.05 level in any conguration of independent
variables. Then the composites for the presence of dysfunctional conict and
the adverse consequences of conict were correlated, the result (R 0:56,
p , 0:001) indicating that it was indeed the case that interdepartmental conict
within a charity was associated with inferior performance (in terms of the items
listed in Appendix, section C2).
The data were also examined for the possible presence of moderating
inuences among the variables. A moderating variable is one that affects the
strength of the relationship between two other variables, hence producing an
interaction effect[3]. Accordingly, an independent variable that is moderated by
another variable will exert a high or low impact on the dependent variable
according to the value of the third (moderating) variable. Tests for interaction
effects suggested the existence of two moderating variables. Psychological
distance was found to moderate downwards the inuence of specialisation on the
avoidance of conict. This means that specialisation within a charity did in fact
lead to an overall reduction in the level of dysfunctional conict, but that the
magnitude of the reduction in the degree of conict was lower in organisations
that also exhibited a high degree of psychological distance between departments.
In other words, the presence of psychological distance dampened the benecial
effects of a specialised organisation structure. Similarly, centralisation appeared
Conict between
marketing and
other functions
191
to moderate the link between the presence of dysfunctional conict and its
adverse consequences. Respondents who reported high levels of dysfunctional
conict in organisations that were highly centralised stated on average that their
charities experienced relatively fewer adverse consequences. Thus, the
detrimental impact of dysfunctional conict on operational difculties such as
the absence of co-operation, lack of trust between departments, resentment and
lack of understanding, etc. (see Appendix, section C2), was lower in charities that
were highly centralised. It seems that centralised organisation systems could
better accommodate and overcome some of the organisational difculties arising
from the existence of dysfunctional conict.
Consequent to the identication of signicant relationships among the
variables using the experimental procedure previously described, the nal model
emerging from the data analysis was estimated via the structural equation
modelling facility of the AMOS 4 package. (The degree of communication and
information sharing between marketing and other departments was highly
correlated with cross-functional teamworking (R 0:66) and with
multifunctional training (R 0:54) and thus was not used as a separate
regressor.) The results are listed in Table I and are illustrated diagrammatically
in Figure 1. It can be seen from Table I that several of the variables posited to
exert an inuence on the levels of dysfunctional conict within commercial
organisations by the academic literature in the eld (e.g. Pondy, 1967; Ruekert
and Walker, 1987; Barclay, 1991; Amason, 1996; Menon et al., 1996; Maltz and
Kohli, 2000) had a signicant impact on the occurrence of dysfunctional conict
within the sample charities. Accordingly, the central proposition of the
investigation (i.e. that organisational factors have the potential to contribute to
the presence of dysfunctional conict within charities) is substantiated so far as
this particular sample is concerned.
Beta coefcient Critical ratio
Adverse consequences of conict
Presence of dysfunctional conict 0.401 3.667
Presence of dysfunctional conict times by
centralisation
a
21.121 3.004
Presence of psychological distance
Centralisation 0.386 3.904
Presence of dysfunctional conict
Cross-functional teamwork 20.212 2.133
Multifunctional training 20.169 2.007
Specialisation 20.116 1.999
Presence of psychological distance 0.547 4.333
Specialisation times by the presence of
psychological distance
a
1.024 2.309
Note:
a
Moderating variables were mean centred to avoid problems of multicollinearity
Table I.
Parameter estimates
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Table I shows that specialisation within a charity signicantly reduced the
level of dysfunctional conict experienced. Within a specialised structure,
individuals concentrate on completing just a part of an organisations work
rather than being concerned with the organisations activities as a whole. This
compartmentalisation of duties presumably enables people to avoid getting in
each others way and hence to side step many potentially conict-ridden
situations. The diversity of skills that employees possess in a specialised set up
might be mutually recognised by everyone concerned. Cross-functional
teamworking and multifunctional training also exerted negative inuences on
the emergence of dysfunctional conict (see Table I). Activities of this nature
automatically bring people together and can help create common perspectives
on problems and how they might be resolved. Intergroup relations are likely to
improve in consequence of the enhanced familiarity with the work of other
departments that these integrating mechanisms generate.
However, organisation-wide reward systems and the existence of
numerous rules and procedures were not signicant. Arguably,
bureaucracy (in the sense of having to follow rigid rules) inhibits
creativity and free thinking within organisations. This might impact
predominantly on a persons relationship with the entire organisation as
opposed to the individuals dealings with other departments. Group reward
systems failed to affect the presence of dysfunctional conict, possibly
because the co-operation between departments anticipated on a priori
grounds from joint bonuses might have been counterbalanced by frictions
arising from the realisation that money would be lost if employees in other
departments were to underperform.
The existence of psychological distance (though not physical distance)
between marketing and other departments was heavily associated with the
presence of dysfunctional conict, conrming the critical role of this
previously under-researched (in the organisational leadership context)
variable. Psychological distance also affected the strength of the impact of
Figure 1.
Signicant pathways
Conict between
marketing and
other functions
193
specialisation on the degree of dysfunctional conict within an organisation.
Centralisation did not mitigate dysfunctional conict directly (the regression
parameter was only signicant at the 0.1 level), but it did act as a moderator
in that it helped prevent the transmission of the presence of dysfunctional
conict into adverse consequences. The greater the degree of centralisation,
the higher the likelihood of psychological distance occurring between
departments. (There was no evidence of multicollinearity among the
independent variables explaining the presence of dysfunctional conict[4].)
Presumably there was relatively little contact between departments in highly
centralised systems, where all substantial decisions would be taken by people
at the apex of a structure. Arguably there is less need for the sharing of
information, interdepartmental interaction and co-ordination in these
circumstances.
Conclusion
The rst hypothesis of the present paper, i.e. that the existence of substantial
psychological distance between the marketing department and the remainder
of a charitable organisation has the potential to aggravate dysfunctional
conict within that organisation, is supported by the outcomes to the
investigation. Moreover, psychological distance moderated downwards the
capacity of a highly specialised organisation system to prevent the emergence
of dysfunctional conict. These are disturbing outcomes, which suggest
strongly that the leadership of a non-prot organisation needs to pay a great
deal of attention to the application of measures that will minimise the extent of
the psychological distance between departments. What exactly these measures
should involve is a matter for further research, although the literature in other
elds offers a couple of suggestions. Thus, for example, differences in personal
norms and values among people in various departments might be addressed
through internal programmes for disseminating information about the roles,
activities and (importantly) the values of the contributions of specic
operational functions. Short-term secondments and interdepartmental planned
work experience assignments could also facilitate a sense of psychological
nearness between sections.
H2 and H3 concerning the possible benecial inuences of close physical
proximity of marketing to other employees and of widely based compensation
systems, are rejected so far as this particular sample is concerned. Perceptions
of nearness to the work of other departments appear to have subsisted more at
the mental than the physical level. Physical closeness to the ofce space
occupied by people from a different function did not emerge as a signicant
consideration. Likewise there was no evidence to support H4(a), that
bureaucratic rules and procedures help an organisation avoid dysfunctional
conict. H4(b), conversely, is accepted: specialisation seemingly provided a
charity with clear departmental boundaries, roles and duties that mitigated the
development of dysfunctional conict. It was not the case that people in
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specialised organisational structures failed to communicate or work effectively
with others (see Barclay, 1991).
When dysfunctional conict occurred it did indeed result in damaging
consequences. Hence the withholding of information, negative interference with
the activities of other sections, blocking other departments proposals, etc. (see
Appendix, section C, item 1) were not only annoying; but actually led to lack of
trust and co-operation, resentment, dissatisfaction, and so on (Appendix, section
C, item2). Thus the effects of the behaviour described in Appendix, section C, item
1 were concrete and generally harmful to the organisation. The centralisation of
authority and decision making within a charity was associated with lower levels
of conversion of dysfunctional conict into adverse consequences. As an
integrating mechanism, however, centralisation did not of itself appear to prevent
dysfunctional conict. Moreover, highly centralised charities were more prone to
exhibit psychological distance between departments. Conversely, all three of the
elements of hypothesis ve are accepted, conrming the outcomes to prior
research in the eld. Accordingly, dysfunctional conict between marketing and
other functions within a charity is apparently less likely in organisations wherein
there is extensive cross-functional teamworking, much socialisation across
departments, free and easy interdepartmental communications, and
cross-functional training. In these as in other areas, organisational factors
played a key role in determining the extents and natures of operational problems
relating to conict.
Further research is needed into the non-signicance of the numerous rules
and procedures variable, as this was the only organisation design factor
proposed by the previous academic literature on the subject which failed to
exert any sort of impact. Additional research would also be useful into the
relations between charities marketing departments and specic operational
programmes. What, for example, are the qualities of a marketing executive
that are most admired by charity programme managers? What are the major
factors that facilitate social bonding between marketing and other staff?
What are the roles of programme managers in the process of marketing
campaign planning? Case studies of individual charities with a view to
exploring in detail the characteristics of interfunctional relationships would
be extremely valuable. Equally useful would be a study of the antecedents
and consequences of benecial as opposed to dysfunctional conict in
non-prot organisations.
Notes
1. The term psychological distance was employed by Fisher et al. (1997) in the course of their
examination of the effectiveness of communications between marketing managers and
engineers. Fisher et als denition of the meaning of the phrase differed radically from that
employed in the present study however in that Fisher et al. (1997, p. 67) restricted the
construct to decision-making time horizons, tolerance for risk and the degree of focus on
technology.
Conict between
marketing and
other functions
195
2. The eight psychological distance items were factor analysed (using the facility available on
SPSS 11) and the resulting factor structure conrmed via the AMOS 4 package. A single factor
seven item solution emerged l 5:1, a 0:86), with Appendix, section B (h) (i.e. different
approaches to management and decision-making) as an outlier that failed to load signicantly
on the signicant factor. Hence itemB (h) was deleted from the inventory. The seven remaining
items were composited into a single psychological distance scale. Factor analyses of the items
for dysfunctional conict (Appendix, section C, item 1) and its consequences (Appendix,
section C, item 2) similarly generated univariate solutions l 4:3, a 0:79 for the former
construct, l 5:1, a 0:81 for the latter). Accordingly, single scales were created for each set
of items. The pairs and threesomes of items relating to each of the various dimensions of
section A of the Appendix were signicantly correlated (R .0.45 in all cases). Hence
amalgamated scales were created to reect each variable (the existence of rules and procedures
(A1), centralisation (A3, A4, A5), etc.). As the measures used in the study were based on
self-reported data it was necessary to test for the possibility of common method variance, i.e.
the ination or suppression of the magnitudes of the relationships under investigation
consequent to the fact that both the dependent variables and the independent variables were
obtained from the same source (Feldman and Lynch, 1988). As is conventional, the issue was
addressed via a joint factor analysis of all the variables employed in the study and an
examination of standard deviations and correlations among variables not theoretically related
to each other (Lindell and Whitney, 2001). For the joint factor analysis, the two items within
each construct that displayed the highest factor loadings when the relevant construct had been
analysed separately (see above), or which correlated most strongly with other items in the case
of a three-item construct, were employed in a 20-item exploratory analysis. (This reduction in
the number of items was necessary because of limited sample size.) An eight-factor solution
emerged corresponding to a priori expectations (each factor having an eigenvalue greater than
unity), and no one factor explaining more than a quarter of the total variation in the data. The
analysis was then repeated using (where appropriate) two different items to reect the
construct in question. This did not lead to any substantial changes in the pattern of the results.
The standard deviations of the variables indicated a wide range of response, and correlations
among variables not theoretically connected were insignicant. Hence there was no evidence to
suggest that the results were affected by common method variance.
3. If Y a bX, where b c dZ; then Y a cX dZX. Hence the statistical
signicance the parameter d on the variable Z times X would indicate that the strength of
the impact of X on Y is moderated by the value of variable Z.
4. Multicollinearity among regressors causes the standard errors on regression coefcients to
be biased downwards. The regression outputs were checked for harmful multicollinearity
using the variance ination index facility available on SPSS 11. In all cases the hypothesis
that the standard errors were unbiased could be accepted at 0.05 level.
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Appendix. The questionnaire
A. Organisational factors
(1) This charity has very many formal rules and procedures that have to be followed when
making decisions.
(2) Senior management is very strict with regard to following written rules and procedures
throughout the marketing process.
(3) Decision making in this rm is very centralised.
(4) Decisions made by the marketing department are subject to extensive review by senior
management prior to approval.
(5) Members of the marketing department rarely have the authority to exercise their own
judgement in relation to the charitys fundraising activities.
Specialisation/multi-functional activities
(6) There are many specialist departments and sections in this charity.
(7) Employees tend not to be involved in many duties or functions outside their own
narrow specialism.
(8) Members of the marketing department serve on many cross-functional teams.
(9) People from many other functions participate in teams set up to undertake marketing
tasks.
(10) Employees frequently participate in training programmes that acquaint them with
areas outside their own specic function.
(11) People in this charity are trained to do more than one job.
(12) Training and experience in more than one functional area are considered essential for
advancement in this charity.
Reward systems
(13) Bonuses linked to the overall performance of the charity as a whole are an important
component of an employees remuneration in this organisation.
(14) If people in one department under-perform, other departments will be made to suffer
nancially.
Conict between
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199
Communication and information sharing
(15) Communications between marketing and other departments are free and easy.
(16) Managers of different functions routinely and extensively share information.
(17) The marketing department is physically a long way away from other sections (e.g.
occupying its own separate ofces).
(18) People in the marketing department communicate extensively with people in other
departments.
B. Psychological distance. Compared to employees in the rest of the organisation, people in the
marketing department tend to:
(a) Speak a different language.
(b) Have a different World view.
(c) Have different norms and values.
(d) Have different motives for choosing to work for a charity.
(e) Have different educational backgrounds and/or work experience.
(f) Hold different ethical and moral positions.
(g) Have a different culture.
(h) Adopt different approaches to management and decision making.
C. Dysfunctional conict
(1) People in other departments frequently behave in the following ways towards the
marketing department:
(a) they block our proposals;
(b) they withhold or distort information;
(c) they see disagreements as personal criticism;
(d) they interfere with our work in negative ways;
(e) they fail to respond to requests for information;
(f) they frustrate our initiatives.
Consequences of dysfunctional conict
(2) Our relationships with other departments may be described as involving:
(a) little co-operation;
(b) many resentments;
(c) little mutual understanding;
(d) much dissatisfaction;
(e) feelings of being ill at ease when dealing with other departments;
(f) little appreciation of the importance of our work;
(g) lack of trust.
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