The Three Views of Conflict Compare and Contrast

Table of Content

What is conflict? There are many definitions for conflict. A conflict is defined by Robbins & Judge (2011) as “A process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect something that the first party cares about”. In this paper the three views of conflict will be discussed, then compared and contrasted. They are: (1) traditional view ;( 2) human relations view and (3) interactionist view. In addition functional conflict and dysfunctional conflict are discussed with examples of criminal justice agencies that are in the midst of one of these types of conflict.

Traditional View According to Robbins & Judge (2011), the traditional view of conflict assumes that all conflict is bad and should be avoided. When there is poor communication in a group or a lack of openness, the end result is conflict among the members of the group. For example, a new officer is transferred from a patrol into the tactical unit, as the patrol finger print technician. Another officer that’s in the same squad takes an immediate dislike to the new officer. She sabotages the officer’s work and constantly startS arguments with her and other officers in the unit.

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This conflict is counterproductive, because there is no team work; there is constant tension among the memberS in the unit, which creates a hostile work environment. Human Relations View According to Robbins & Judge (2011) the human relations views conflict as a natural and an inevitable outcome in any group. In other words, when you have people working together there will always be conflict of some sort. The main focus of the human relations view of conflict is to resolve conflicts that occur in the group, because conflict is dysfunctional and counterproductive.

According to (Perrow, 1986; Andrade, Plowman & Duchon, 2008), The human relations view of conflict works to find constructive methods for resolving conflicts productively so that their disruptive influence can be minimized (Robbins & Judge, 2011). For example, in the case of the female co-worker that was a constant source of conflict and tension, the situation was resolved by removing her from the unit. After her removal, productivity increased and all the other officers resumed working as a team. Interactionist View

According to Robbins & Judge (2011) the interactionist view beliefs conflict in some situations is helpful. In some cases a minimal level of conflict can help keep a group viable, self critical and creative (Robbins & Judge, 2011). The interactionist view does not view all conflict as good, but rather as: functional or dysfunctional. When an organization is in conflict and the works is constructive and supports the goals of the group it is viewed as functional conflict. However if the conflict hinders the group’s performance and is destructive, it is viewed as dysfunctional conflict (Robbins & Judge, 2011).

The way to differentiate functional conflict from dysfunctional conflict is to look at the type of conflict. The first type is task conflict, which relates to the content and goals of the work (Robbins & Judge, 2011). The second type is relationship conflict; this conflict focuses on how group members relate to one another. The third type is process conflict which focuses on how the work gets done. In summary, these three conflict views, not all conflicts are counterproductive. Conflict can be either functional or dysfunctional as seen in the interactionist view of conflict.

When conflict occurs in a group that causes constant strife and discord, the group cannot function properly; this is known as dysfunctional conflict. However, conflict that is productive to the group is known as functional conflict. New York Police Department in the midst of functional conflict. The New York City Police Department is an example of an agency in midst functional conflict. New York City’s police department deals with conflict on a constant basis. This is mainly because of the war on terror. New York City has been the target of terrorist attacks both in 1993 and in 2001.

In addition, the NYPD counterterrorism unit works endlessly to fend off attacks from terrorist. The city of New York functions everyday in the midst of conflict. New York City’s police department is an excellent example of a criminal justice agency working amidst functional conflict. It is because of this conflict that this agency works together with other agencies (FBI, Homeland Security) to fight against terrorism and to protect its city and its citizens. New Orleans Police Department in the midst of dysfunctional conflict New Orleans police department is an example of a criminal justice agency in the idst of dysfunctional conflict. The New Orleans police department’s reputation for corruption is no secret. The Department of Justice in 2011, report, brings to light the department’s corruption, unprofessionalism, lack of training and lack of centralized authority.

In the executive summary of the report the DOJ says: “The NOPD has long been a troubled agency. Basic elements of effective policing—clear policies, training, accountability, and confidence of the citizenry—have been absent for years. During hurricane Katrina the officer’s that swore to protect and service the public abandoned their posts, leaving the city of New Orleans without adequate police service, putting the lives of the citizens and the officers that did remain in grave jeopardy. This is a clear example of dysfunction, and lack of competent leadership in the face of conflict. However, that being said, the city of New Orleans’ Police Department was dysfunctional long before Hurricane Katrina and that is the reason why they folded in the time of crisis.


Department of Justice. (2011). Retrieved from Department of Justice website: http://www. justice. gov/crt/about/spl/nopd_report. pdf Fox, J. (2011). In it up to their necks. New Statesman, 140(5048), 44-48. JOHNSON, S. (2010, December 9). Ex-New Orleans cop sentenced for Katrina shooting cover-up. New York Amsterdam News. p. 4. Miller, J. (n. d. ). New York city is safer 10 years after 9/11, thanks to the nypd read more on newsmax. com: New York city is safer 10 years after 9/11, thanks to the ny. Retrieved from http://www. newsmax. com/Miller/Remembering-9-11-NYPD/2011/09/11/id/410461 Horowitz, C. 2011, February 3). New york magazine. Retrieved from http://nymag. com/nymetro/news/features/n_8286/ Elliot, J. (2012, July 15). Interview by Raz G [Web Based Recording]. Counter terrorism and the nypd. NPR, United States. , Retrieved from http://www. npr. org/2012/07/15/156815759/counterterrorism-and-the-nypd Andrade, L. , Plowman, D. , & Duchon, D. (2008). Getting Past Conflict Resolution: A Complexity View of Conflict. Emergence: Complexity & Organization, 10(1), 23-38. Robbins, S. P, & Judge, T. A. (2011). Organizational Behavior. Upper Saddle River NJ. Prentice Hall

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