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MNO1706 Organizational Behavior

Lesson 10: Conflict and Change


Instructor: A/P Lim Ghee Soon

Lesson 10: Conflict and Change
• Readings for Lesson 10: R & J, Chapters 14 & 17
– Chapter 14 (Conflict in Organizations)
• Workplace conflict arises when one party perceives what he/she cares
about has been or will be affected by another
• Incompatibility, disagreements, differences etc. may turn personal
– Traditional view: Conflict is always dysfunctional, should be avoided
– Interactionist view: May be a positive force; moderate functional conflict is
necessary, dysfunctional conflict should be avoided
• Types of conflict
– Task conflicts (content and goals)
» Functional at the top; dysfunctional at lower levels
» Functional if no other conflicts exist
» Moderate task conflict functional
» Functional if group members are open, emotionally stable
– Relationship conflicts (interpersonal relationship)
» Mostly dysfunctional
– Process conflicts (how the work is done)
» Over delegation: shirking; over roles: feeling of marginalization
» Time spent on arguments instead of work; usually degenerate into relationship
• Loci of Conflict
– Dyadic (Between 2 Persons), Intra-group, & Intergroup Conflicts
» Peripheral members who are accountable to their group are better
able to help to deal with intergroup conflicts
» High intergroup conflict may increase performance if members
support each other (internal team cohesion exist)
• The Conflict Process
– Stage I: Potential Opposition or Incompatibility
» Too little/much communication& communication breakdown
» Structure: Group size, degree of specialization, jurisdictional
clarity, member-group goal compatibility, leadership style, reward
system, interdependence between groups, tenure, turnover rate,
responsibility ambiguity, intergroup goal differences
» Personal Variables: Personality, values, emotions; e.g.,
disagreeable, neurotic, & self-monitoring types increase conflicts
– Stage II: Cognition and Personalization
» Felt conflict: Being aware and taking it personal
– Stage III: Intentions
» Infer the intentions of the other and respond in one of 5 ways:
• Compete, collaborate, avoid, accommodate, compromise
– Stage IV: Behavior (conflict becomes visible)
» Statements, actions, reactions
• Nilminor disagreementovert questioningassertive attacks
threatsaggressive physical attackovert efforts to destroy
» Response: Compete, collaborate, avoid, accommodate, compromise
– Stage V: Outcomes
» Functional:
• Conflict prevents groupthink; groupshift tends to lead to suboptimal
• Conflict challenges assumptions, examines all alternatives, crates new
ideas, reexamines goals and activities, looks at changes
• Moderate conflicts lead to functional outcomes, e.g., pronotes quality of
decisions, creativity, innovation, curiosity, self-evaluation, airing of views
(to release tensions)
» Dysfunctional:
• Uncontrolled opposition leads to discontent, ineffectiveness (e.g., poor
communication, low cohesiveness, subordinate group goals to infighting,
loss of trust, low satisfaction)
• Managing Functional Conflicts:
• Open/frank discussion, focus on shared interests and not issues
• Each side choose one top need to fulfill, take a cooperative rather than a
competitive approach, and focus on the common, larger goals
• Collectivistic culture: avoid direct expression of conflicts, uses third
parties, and show concern; prefers compromise and avoidance and
(in high-tech firms) collaboration
• Individualistic culture: Confront differences directly & openly;
• Negotiation
– Two parties decide how to allocate scarce resources
» Each negotiation affects relationships and feelings
» Need to maintain relationship and behave ethically
– Strategies
» Distributive: short-term zero-sum, win-lose, fixed pie, can/cannot accept it,
can’t see eye-to-eye (opposed), low info sharing
• Due to anchorage bias it is best to state position first and do so in an
aggressive manner to show power
» Integrative: long-term, win-win, let’s make pie larger (e.g., orange=juice+skin),
why you want it this way/much, can see eye-to-eye (congruent interests), high
info sharing,
• Need both parties to be open, candid, sensitive, flexible
• Can be attained when:
• Teams/more people negotiate (they bring out more ideas)
• More issues are negotiated as they can trade off, when the focus is
on interests (why you want it?) and not the “what you want” alone
• Focus is on learning and overall goals and not the bottom-line or the
individual decision
– The Negotiation Stages
» Prepare and Plan
» Ground Rules
» Clarification and Justification
» Bargaining & Problem Solving
» Closure and Implementation
• Individual Differences in Negotiation Effectiveness
– Personality Traits
» Agreeableness has a weak link as cooperative/compliant individuals may give in
more easily but being empathetic means he/she knows the state of mind of the
» Extraverted means he/she is assertive/enthusiastic in stating a demand but it
depends on how the counterpart reacts
– Moods/Emotions
» Depends on the emotion and the context
• Anger works if you have as much power as counterpart and do so from a deep
(nor surface) acting (no more room to spare) and repeat it over time (tough
negotiator) especially f you are East Asian (who usually don’t show anger)
• Disappointment displayed elicit guilty feeling in the counterpart
• Anxiety leads to use of deceptions and lower expectations and giving in and
up more easily/early
• Unpredictable change of emotions lead to control over the counterpart
– Cultural Differences
» Within culture negotiations easier than inter-culture ones
» Open and low time pressure help
» China/East Asia: Anger elicits tougher stance from the counterpart (because it
stinks to use anger!)
» U.S.: Anger elicits softer stance from the counterpart
– Gender Differences
» Women: Compassion and altruismmore accommodating, less assertive/self-
• Less likely to capitalize on an ambiguous situation
• Less confidence and less satisfied with outcomes
• More assertive when bargaining on behalf of someone else
» Men: Status, power, recognition
• Implications
– Use authoritarian management style in emergencies
– Use integrative solutions when the priorities are commitment, feelings,
consensus, learning, mutual understanding
– Use accommodating style to build trust, show reasonableness, acqure
buy-in/cooperation, or when a mistake is made, issues are important,
and counterpart needs to be heard
– Compromise if a temporary settlement is needed, both side have
mutually exclusive goals, opponent has equal power, disruption is not
worth it
– Set aggressive goal and find creative ways to attain win-win for long-
term relationship
– Chapter 17 (Managing Change)
• Environmental changeorganizational changeresistance to
changeovercome and manage change
• Demographic, social (e.g., consumer expectations), world poilticcs,
multicultural, immigration, outsourcing, technological, economic,
occupational structure, competitive (productive and business rivals)
changes unstoppablechange or die!
• Resistance: Ego and felt threats result in resistance to change
– Effects:
» Negative if it leads to tardiness, absenteeism, sick leave abuse, refusal
to listen
» Positive if it leads to discussion and debate
– Two main types of resistance:
» Overt and immediate
» Implicit and deferred
– Major Sources
» Individual Sources: Habit, security, economic factors, fear of unknown,
selective info processing (hear what they want to hear)
» Organizational Sources: Structural inertia (e.g., formalized
regulations), limited focus of change, work group inertia, threat to
expertise, threat to established power relationships
– Speedy change may be costly and wrong
• Overcoming Resistance to Change
– Education and communication
– Participation
– Building support and commitment
» Training, counselling, therapy, incentives, time off
– Develop positive relationship: Trust and relationship with supervisors
– Implement changes fairly & consistently: Everyone on the same boat
– Influential tactics:
» Manipulation: Covert influence attempt (e.g., spread the rumor
that the plant may be closed if pay not cut)
» Cooptation: Buy off the leader of the resistance
– Selecting people who accept change:
» Positive self-concept, high risk tolerance, open, flexible, growth-
needs, internal locus of control, internal work motivation, general
mental ability
– Coercion: Direct threats or force (e.g., close the plant if pay not cut)
• Approaches to Managing Organizational Change
– Kurt Lewin’s Three-Step Model
» Unfreezing, Movement, Refreezing
» Increase the driving forces, decrease the restraining forces, or do both
– John Kotter’s 8-Step Plan
» Sense of Urgency
» Coalition
» New Vision
» Communication
» Empower members
» Plan for and reward short-term wins
» Consolidate improvements
» Reinforce & follow-up
– Organizational Development
» A collection of change methods that try to improve organizational
effectiveness and employee well-being based on collaboration:
• Respect for people
• Trust and support
• Power equalization
• Confront the problems
• Participation
» OD Techniques:
• Survey feedback: Tabulate results by “family” and at the
organizational level to identify and discuss the issues/ideas
• Process consultation: External consultant to develop managers’
skill to analyze processes within the unit
• Team building: High-interaction group activities to improve trust,
openness, coordination, and performance within the team
• Intergroup development: Change groups’ attitudes, stereotypes,
and perceptions about each other demarcated by occupation,
department, division lines
• Appreciation inquiry: Identify unique qualities and special
strengths which the organization can build on (focus on the
– Creating a Culture for Change
» Innovation: A new idea applied to initiating or improving a product,
process, or service
• More innovative if the structure is organic, management is long-
tenured, slack resources are available, and interunit
communication is high
• The culture must encourage change and tolerate/celebrate failure
• Idea champions actively and enthusiastically promote new ideas,
build support, overcome resistance, and ensure that the ideas are
• Work Stress and Its Management
– A dynamic condition in which an individual is confronted with an
opportunity, demand, or resource related to what the individual
desires and for which the outcome is perceived to be both uncertain
and important
» Moderate stress may be good; negative stress is harmful
» Types of Stressors:
• Challenge stressors (obstacles to overcome to reach goals):
Workload, pressure, time urgency
• Hindrance stressors (obstacles that prevent one from reaching
goals): Red tape, office politics, confusion over job
• Challenge<Hindrance in terms of strain created
» If commitment highpsychological stress becomes
» Challenge stresshigh performance for those with organizational
» If resources match demands, stress from demands can be reduced
– Consequences of Stress
» Physiological symptoms
• Poor immunity, upper respiratory illnesses, heart problems,
sickness absence
» Psychological symptoms
• Job dissatisfaction
• Tension, anxiety, irritability, boredom, procrastination, less
involvement, exhaustion
» Behavioral Symptoms
• Reduction in productivity
• Absence
• Turnover
• Eating habits
• Smoking
• Alcohol
• Rapid speech
• Fidgeting
• Sleep disorder
– Managing Stress
» Management and employees may have different views about what
levels of stress are functional/good
• Individual Approaches
• Personal responsibilities
• Time management: make a list, prioritize individual
activities, schedule accordingly, know your daily cycle
and time the activities to fit in, avoid electronic and
other distractions
• Physical exercise
• Relaxation training
• Expanded social support network
• Organizational Approaches
• Controlled by management
• Employee selection
• Job placement
• Training
• Realistic goal setting
• Redesign of jobs
• Employee involvement
• Organizational communication
• Sabbatical
• Corporate wellness program