Conflict in the Workplace

3573 Words Feb 8th, 2008 15 Pages
1. Abstract Interpersonal conflicts in the workplace are very common because they inevitably arise when groups or teams perform. This essay critically discusses the view that these conflicts can in certain circumstances be a positive factor in improving the individual performance. The approach used to address this issue is a combination of literature review and interviews of employees working at the chosen business, which is the PTA GmbH.

T he four levels of conflict in the workplace and the explanation of the traditional, behavioural and interactionist views of conflict are identified. C onflicts are classified using two approaches: First, they are grouped into relationship and task conflicts. Second, they are categorised by
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Task conflict , also called C-type or substantive conflict, is a conflict over content and goals of work (Esquivel & Kleiner, 1996). Task-related conflicts occur when people disagree about task issues, such as key decision areas, procedures, processes and the appropriate choice for action. This conflict is potentially healthy and valuable because it makes people rethink their perspectives and reality. As long as the conflict remains focused on the issue, new ideas may emerge and the conflict remains controlled (McShane & Von Glinow, 2003, p. 386). It can force participants to address some of their assumptions and override their attempts to achieve premature unanimity, thus leading to better performance (Wood et al., 2003, p. 597). Low to moderate levels of task conflict are functional and consistently demonstrate a positive effect on the individual performance (Robbins et al., 2003, p. 423 Tjosvold et al., 2003). Successful organisations encourage mild forms of task conflict without having the situation escalate into an emotional battle between employees or work units. The key is to create task conflicts and to prevent them from escalating into relationship conflicts (McShane & Von Glinow, 2003, p. 386).

1.3.2. Cooperative versus competitive conflict Another way to

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