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Benefits of organisational conflict


Passmore Machakaire/ Beauty Chingomanje/ Edith Chibato/ Precious Madzikova/ Delsh Z Sangoya

CONFLICTS are inevitable. In any environment, institution or organisation, conflict cannot be avoided due to differences among individuals’ ideas, desires, perceptions and needs.

Conflicts are an everyday phenomenon in many organisations. Globally, in most organisations, the recognition of the importance of conflict in an organisation has increased.

In broad-spectrum, conflict is defined as an antagonistic state of opposition, disagreement or incompatibility between two or more parties (Patzak, 2012 and Wilmont and Hocker, 2001).

Robbins (2005) defined conflict as a process that begins where one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about.

While, according to Mullins (1999), conflict can be regarded as behaviour intended to obstruct the achievement of some other person’s goals.

It is based on the notion of incompatible goals and arises from opposing behaviours of individuals or groups. From the definitions, it is indispensable for today’s leaders to manage conflict effectively and in order for them to effectively manage it, they must understand all aspects of it.

Conflict has both negative and positive effects on organisation, but when managed properly, the positive effects can be used to encourage organisational innovativeness and build cooperation among the employees (Hotepo et al, 2010).

According to Bowditch and Buono (2007), conflict has benefits to the organisation if managed correctly, conflict produces the following results: new ideas for changing organisations, solving of continuous problems, a chance for workers to expand their capabilities, and the introduction of creativity into thoughts about organisational problems.

Kinicki and Kreitner (2008), postulates that conflicts allow the manager to see how your employees react to problems and help you spot personality traits.

The manager might be able to recognise which of his or her employees are bullies, complainers, leaders, problem solvers, mediators or quitters.

So with conflict the manager will be able to identify potential candidates for promotion or employees who need to be terminated.

Conflict stimulates individuals to exert more effort and to work hard (Patzak, 2012). In a conflict situation the individual uses his abilities, skills and talents. This will be to prove that he or she is better than the others.

This may also happen between departments and sections where one department may work very hard to prove that they are the best than the others.

It may satisfy particular psychological requirements such as dominations, aggressions, esteems and egos, and accordingly gives chances for constructive uses and releases of aggressive urges.

Conflict also gives productive and creative ideas. For instance, the benefits that employees receive nowadays are the outcomes of the management-union conflicts during the last decades.

Where work lives would be boring and tedious, conflicts contribute to social changes which ensure intergroup and interpersonal dynamics in the sense that it adds variety to an individual’s organisational lives.

Moreover, conflict facilitates mutual understanding of the problems among individuals in conflicts and causes better coordination among management and people.

Furthermore, it strengthens intra-group relationships and  unities by allowing outlets for  members of groups to argue and debate their needs in the groups.

The group health usually declines without intra-group conflicts. According to Patzak (2012), conflicts among groups create units between the groups and increase co-operation as they are working to achieve popular goals of the groups for the outcomes of these conflicts. It also inspires creativity.

Conflicts are exploited by several organisations as a chance to look for effective solutions to problems.

Members can also be inspired by conflicts for brainstorming, whereas considering problems from different perspectives.

Also, conflict helps organisations to share and respect opinions. It is an opportunity for members of organisation to contribute their viewpoints with individuals of other  groups.

According to, Whetten David and Cameron, Kim (2012), conflicts can bring members of the organisation together to actively listen to each other and share views and experiences as they work to achieve the organisational objectives; in the sense that conflict is a tool for improving future communication and can provide members with the tools necessary to easily solve conflicts in the future.

Additionally, conflicts serve to discourage premature group decision making. In the process of making decisions, this forces participants to discover the needs and issues when they are sought.

Conflicts also allow for the understanding of the concerns of parties, causing agreements that benefit the interests of both parties with their organizations and relationships.

According to Filley, (1975) the benefits of conflict are it helps in diffusion of more serious conflicts.

Games can be used to moderate the attitudes of people by providing a competitive situation which can liberate tension in the conflicting parties, as well as having some entertainment value.

In organisations where members participate in decision making, disputes are usually minor and not acute as the closeness of members’ moderates’ belligerent and assertive behaviour into minor disagreements, which minimises the likelihood of major fights.

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