M- Core


Conflict is defined as the struggle between two parties who are interdependent of each other but who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from other people in achieving their goals.

Components of conflict

Interdependent goals

This denotes a relation that exists between individuals who are not dependent upon another, that is who has no special interest in what the other does. Each person’s choices affect the other person because conflict is a mutual activity. Parties in strategic conflict are never totally antagonistic and must have mutual interests, even if the interest is only in keeping the conflict going

Even though conflict parties are always interdependent to some extent, hw they perceive their mutuality affects t heir latter choices. Parties decide, although they may not be aware of this decision, whether they will act as relatively interdependent agents or relatively independent agents. (Gelfand 2007).

Perceived incompatible goals

M- Core

Opposing goals are a fact of life many times people are absolutely convinced that they have opposing goals and cannot agree on anything. However if goals were reframed or put in a different context the parties may agree.

Goals are perceived incompatible if the parties want the same thing or different things.

Parties wanting the same thing may be a source of incompatible goals if for example promotion in the company, the one available scholarship, or the attention of the parent.

When it comes to the case of wan ting different things a good example would be two people w ho have agreed to go and eat out, these two have different preferred spots for their outing and they may disagree as none wants to accommodate the choice of the other in this case the conflict is as a result of the individuals preference for different things.

Perceived scarce resources

Resource for the purpose of this study is any positively perceived physical, economic or social consequence. The resource may be real or perceived as real by the individual. In the same way scarcity, or limitation, may be apparent or actual. Ultimately one person can never force another to change his or her valuing of a resource or perception of how much is available, but the persuasion coupled with supportive responses for the person fearful of losing the reward can be helpful.


M- Core

People who are interdependent, perceive incompatible goals, and want the same scarce resource still may not meet t he conditions for conflict. The actual or perceived interference must be the other component that comes in to necessitate conflict. Conflict is looked at as a blockage to certain actions by an individual and the person blocking is looked at as the problem.( Cloke et al 2005).

Types of conflict

There are five types of conflicts: relationship conflicts, information conflicts, interest conflicts, value conflicts and structural conflicts.

Relationship conflict

This happens between two or more people who interact with one another, this type of conflict occurs because of:

Presence of negative emotions, Misconceptions or stereotypes, poor communication and, repetitive negative behavior.

Relationship problems often fuel disputes and lead unnecessarily to an escalating spiral of destructive conflict.

Information conflict

M- Core

Information conflict (too little or too much factual communication) occurs when people:

Have no adequate information to make sound decisions, are misinformed cannot come to terms on what information to be used, interpret information differently and have competing assessment procedures.

Interest conflicts

These conflicts are caused by competition, perceived or actual incompatible needs. An interest conflict result when one party believes that in order to meet his or her needs, those of another person must be sacrificed. Interest based conflicts occur over the following issues.

-Substantive issues such as money, physical resources and time

-Procedural issues, these concerns the manner in which something needs to be done.

-Psychological issues, perceptions of trust, fairness, desire for participation and respect.

Value conflicts

Value conflicts are caused by the perceived or actual incompatibility of belief systems between two or more people. Values are the particular inclinations that people posses and which they believe gives meaning to their lives and explains what is good and what is bad, right or wrong, just or unjust. Values are learnt at home and within a certain society.Value disputes only result

M- Core

when people try to force their values on others and to disallow divergent views and practices from being viewed.

Structural conflicts

Structural conflicts are due to the manner in which relationships are organized. These conflicts are due more specifically to trends in human relations. These trends are often shaped by forces not within the people in dispute.

Conflict results

The results of a conflict can either be constructive (functional) or destructive (dysfunctional).

Constructive conflict

This exists when disagreement and opposition support the achievement of the organizational goals. Constructive conflict results to in crease in the quality of group decisions, increases individual and organizational output and leads to higher performance. The following me be examples of results for constructive conflict

-Conflict makes us more aware of problems in our relationships that need to be solved. It increases awareness of what problems need to be solved and how they can be solved. Conflict can deepen or enrich a relationship, or reduce tension.

M- Core

-Conflict encourages change. There are times when things need to change, when skills need to be learned, when old habits need to be modified. (Gelfand 2007).

-Conflicts energize and increase one’s motivation to deal with problems. Awareness of conflict can trigger a great deal of physical energy and an intense desire to resolve the conflict and put one’s plan into action.

-Conflicts make life more interesting .Being in a conflict sparks curiosity and stimulates interest. Arguments about politics, sports, work and societal problem s make interpersonal interaction more intriguing and less boring.

-Better decisions are generally made when there is disagreement about what the decisions should be among the persons responsible for making them. Disagreement often causes decisions to be thought more clearly and thoroughly.

-Conflict can stimulate creativity by prompting an awareness of different ways of viewing problems and situations. The reorientation gained from viewing a problem from several different perspectives generates insights into the problem and fosters the formation of creative solutions. (Cloke et al 2005).

Destructive conflict

M- Core

When the conflict level is high and totally out of proportion, then its destructive and dysfunctional. This can lead to chaos and it can threaten the organization’s chance of survival because the opportunities for destructive interpersonal relations increase. Destructive conflict can influence communication in the organization negatively.

Managing conflict in the organization

The task of a manager in an organization is not to suppress conflict but to manage it effectively so that it is constructive nature can be in creased to the benefit of the organization. The following can be regarded as the key points towards managing conflict in an organization.

1. Take responsibility, it is important to make the decision to take responsibility to deal with


2. Uncover define and discuss the real problem

To facilitate this allow expression of opinions to defuse emotions. In most cases, bringing together the people involved is the best way to get the real problem out in the open to determine the cause.

Apply ground rules to reduce confrontation. Encourage the following: Everyone will be open and honest, everyone will a chance to speak his/her mind and be heard, everyone will listen to each other attentively and no negative reaction, every one should have a caring attitude also opinions and feelings should have a factual or behavioral backup.

-Ask and listen, Ask probing questions to explore all sides of the conflict and listen openly and objectively. If responses become accusatory or emotional, the ground rules should be re-stated to get the participants to focus on the real issue. If the employees are angry, do not get defensive or argue back. Listen to them without interruption and recognize their right to feel angry. Ask them for ideas on how to solve the problem.

M- Core

-Offer feedback to ensure understanding of the real problem.

-Set goals and create an action plan, a brain storming session is a good way to arrive at a plan of action that everyone can agree on. Goals set should be smart.

-Follow up, it is important that one checks on progress in implementing he action plan and provide the necessary positive reinforcement. (Berning 2005).


Conflict resolution is a process that is dependent on the type of conflict and the perceived origin of the conflict therefore the management of M core should ensure that the source of conflict is determined and used as a start to resolve the conflict.


Berning, J (2005) Focus on management principles: A generic approach, MacGraw- Hill

M- Core

Cloke K, Goldsmith, J and Bennis, W (2005). Resolving Conflict at Work

Revised edition .Jossey- Bass Publication.

Dedreau C (2002). Using conflict in organizations 3rd edition. Sage Publications.

Gelfand M (2007). The psychology of conflict and conflict management in

Organizations 1st edition. Erlbaum Psych Press