Introduction This essay endeavours to not only discuss the elements of the conflict process model such as the reasons or sources that can trigger conflict in an organisational setting, with particular reference to behavioural factors and what positive and negative impacts that can thus be resulted, but will also discuss the different behavioural characteristics and mechanisms that various cultural backgrounds reveal in order to manage conflict.
It will further evaluate the consequences and drawbacks from stereotyping particular cultural groups and analyse the role and responsibility of the management in understanding the cause of conflicts and specifically cross-cultural conflict and how they could be solved effectively.
Conflict process model Conflicts are the issues that arise between different parties in an organisation that can cause a rift between the workers. Conflict is instigated by many different sources such as incompatible goals, poor communication or scarce resources, which is outlined in the Model of Conflict Process, refer to figure 11. (McShane, Olekalns & Travaglione 2010, p.
415). The model outlines the process of a typical conflict beginning with the sources and ending with the possible positive or negative impacts on the workplace. The model allows for relapses or as it describes ‘ conflict escalation’, where the conflict is not resolved and refers back to the perceptions and emotions, thus showing a conflict cycle. In reference to an organisational setting, it is important for management to be aware of a conflict model so they understand the process and cycle of conflict.
It can assist them in making better decisions or resolving issues and therefore reducing the chance of escalation. However, it must be taken into account that although it is logical to apply the conflict process model to workplace problems, when emotions become involved, better judgement or logicality may become skewed or clouded. Therefore, management need to enforce certain mechanisms such as an impartial third party to ensure that the conflict process can reach a positive outcome. Factors can trigger conflict Conflict in the context of an organisation can be activated by many factors.
In an organisation, there may be two forms of conflict that are classified according to the causes that trigger the conflict. Firstly, there is the task conflict. This is a form of conflict that arises when employees fail to agree on the decisions that should be made (Rahim 2011). It involves the difference in the understanding of the goals and tasks that are to be accomplished. In the case of the tasks conflict, the team members have different perceptions of the solutions that should be adopted to achieve a certain goal.
For teamwork to be effective, it must have the capacity to bring into conformity its goals and objectives. In the event that such aspects are not put into consideration, the conflict will arise between the employees and the organisation. Another source of task led conflict in an organisation is the ambiguity of rules (Cummings 2009). If employees in an organisation do not have a clear understanding of the rules to follow in solving problems in the organisation, there is high chance that a conflict may arise.
Employees become confused on the course of action or the desirable outcome that should be realised at the end of the problem solving process (Cummings 2009). The roles and responsibilities in an organisation may be unclear thus sending conflicting messages to the employees. Such occurrences will prove to be major causes of conflicts in the organisation. Teams in the organisation are rendered ineffective in the long run if such conflicts persist. On the other hand, relationship conflict arises, where the employees in an organisation allow their emotions to control their interaction with each other (Deutsch 2006).
Such conflicts usually result from the fact that some employees feel that their personalities do not match with those of others. With the development of this perception, the employees view themselves as rivals to each other. Every action that they engage in after the emotions have been developed is aimed at proving their superiority to others (Deutsch 2006). In most cases, employees are engaged in ensuring they are viewed as the better ones in any undertaking in the organisation. Research indicates that relationship conflict have more negative effects than task conflict.
The fact that relationship conflicts result in the use of emotions in coming up with solutions makes it more stressful to the employees. Behavioural factors that can manifest conflict Organisational conflicts are characterised by a variety of factors and in particular behavioural. These may take different forms depending on the nature in which they are portrayed. They could either be written, oral or physical. The oral behaviour that manifests conflict in the organisation involves a case where the employees engage in exchange of unpleasant words that display the existence of the conflict.
Secondly, the conflict may be in the form of written documents that bear evidence of conflict (Popejoy 2002). Such documents may be in form of e-mails that are exchanged between the parties in conflict in the organisation. Finally, the conflict in the organisation may be portrayed in terms of physical confrontation among the employees and this is the highest limit that the conflict in the organisation can be portrayed through (Popejoy 2002). There are different approaches that could be used by people of different cultural backgrounds in managing a conflict.
Firstly, a person in the conflict may seek to solve the conflict through adoption of the dominance approach (Rahim 2011). This is where the person aims at solving the conflict by appearing as the winner. Such people will have an ego that makes them want to dominate the other party as a strategy of solving the conflict. Another behavioural trait that may be adopted by parties in a conflict is avoidance (Rahim 2011). In such traits, a person will be willing to exclude themselves from the conflict and let the situations calm down.
People from the cultural backgrounds that portray this form of behaviour usually have low levels of tolerance in the conflict. They do not prefer arguing, but will opt for an environment where conflicts do not exist. Thirdly, there could be the adoption of the accommodative behavioural trait (Rahim 2011). This involves a case where one of the parties seeks to ignore his or her interests and instead advocate for the interests of others. Such parties are not driven by the need to meet their goals in the organisation, but in ensuing that other parties are satisfied.
This approach is believed to have the capacity to finally end the conflict between the parties thus restoring normalcy. Behavioural traits from three different cultural backgrounds A workplace can contain people from many different cultural backgrounds. It is important for management to understand that different people and cultures have diverse beliefs, values and approaches to coping with conflict. If cultural diversity in an organisation is not embraced then the full potential of the employees will not be reached (Jackson et al. 1991). Stereotypically speaking, Australians are observed as lazy and laidback, therefore it can be assumed that their approach to managing conflict can reflect these traits. Whereas, African Americas can be stereotyped as taking a more aggressive or defensive attitude towards conflict due to their history of being seen as inferior. The Asian culture can be perceived as quiet and hardworking. Thus may take a more logical and passive approach to conflict rather than allowing their emotions to get involved.
Unfortunately, people tend to classify others from different cultures, such as the examples provided, into stereotypes, which can have a negative consequence on employee feelings and behaviour, which ultimately has an effect on their full potential (Riordan 2000). Evidence shows that “individuals tend to integrate more strongly with members of their in-group and are unfavourably disposed towards out-group members” (Riordan 2000). This can be defined as people tending to associate their time and efforts in the workplace with people of their own race, gender or intellectual ability, thus affecting the cohesion of the organisation.
If management eliminates stereotyping, it will enable employees “flourish and advance” (Roberson and Kulik, 2007, p. 25). Pitfalls of stereotyping cultural groups Stereotyping could be viewed as the aspect of perceiving people differently based on their cultural origin (Nelson 2006). This is an aspect that reduces the overall understanding that exist between people. Stereotyping has been seen as an undesirable aspect that leads to development of poor relationship between the parties involved.
One of the undesirable effects that could be realised from the stereotyping of cultural groups is the development of poor judgment among the parties involved (Nelson 2006). In most cases, the perception that is developed among people in the stereotype culture is usually misguided. This proves to be an unfavourable outcome that is realised from the stereotyping of people based on their cultural backgrounds. Additionally, the stereotyping of others based on their cultural backgrounds results in the development of an insecure environment among the people (Shajahan 2004).
If a person, who is being stereotyped, learns of it, he or she may feel offended by such occurrences. People who are negatively impacted on by conflicts tend to be more reserved in their context and also reduce the interactions that they have with other people in society. Such occurrences may lead to the development of feeling of prejudice and discrimination among the parties involved and could ultimately have impact on the performance needed in an organisation in order to complete or achieve goals and tasks.
Positive and negative outcomes that result from cross-cultural conflict Cross-cultural conflicts in the context of an organisation can results in both positive and negative outcomes. One of the positive outcomes that may be realised is the development of better decisions within the organisation (Rahim 2011). After parties have been engaged in conflicts, the areas of conflict will be realised and addressed more effectively. This implies that the decisions made in the context of an organisation will be efficient. Also, conflicts will lead to team cohesion.
Engaging and solving conflicts will ensure that members of a team become more aware of others and how to relate well with them (Rahim 2011). This makes organisational conflict somehow useful. However, the cross-cultural conflicts in the organisation could also result to major negative effects. Among them is the high level of stress that may face the employees. Stressful employees will be less productive in the organisation. Also, there could be high levels of turnover due to dissatisfaction of the employees (Ting-Toomey 2001).
Additionally, the overall performance of the organisation will be lowered. Conclusion In conclusion, conflicts in the context of an organisation should be considered to be an important aspect that needs to be given much attention. In order to solve or control conflict within a workplace, it is crucial that the management adequately understands conflict such as the sources that triggered it, and the ways in which it can be resolved. This will enable positive outcomes such as better decisions and team cooperation, thus creating a functional workplace that will perform and achieve tasks.
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