Conflict Management Essay

3386 words - 14 pages

Effective Methods of Resolving Conflict in a Diverse Workplace


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Table of Contents
Abstract 3
Problem Statement 4
Literature Review 10
Draft Research Design 22
References 29

Workplace conflict must be analyzed as a social phenomenon and this social context means that conflicts are caused by a wide variety of factors, including an increasingly diverse workplace. The focus of this study is on how these forms of social conflict are managed and resolved in the workplace – which has become increasingly more diverse ...view middle of the document...

The formation of the International Association for Conflict Management and Conflict Management Division of the Academy of Management to encourage research, teaching, and training and development on managing social and organizational conflicts and the publication of the International Journal of Conflict Management attest to this renewed interest. In recent years, a number of universities in the United States, such as Harvard, Northwestern, George Mason, for example, have shown great interest in teaching and research on social and organizational conflicts (Rahim, 2001).
Workplace conflict must be analyzed as a social phenomenon and this social context means that conflicts are caused by a wide variety of factors. The focus of this study is on how these forms of social conflict are managed and resolved in the workplace – which has become increasingly more diverse in recent years – with particular attention to innovative perspectives that facilitate better understanding of conflict resolution and improve approaches to conflict management.
Conflict within organizations is commonly accepted as a natural occurrence, and one that is not necessarily something to be avoided, as it may indicate effective management practices. In fact, as the literature review will support, an acceptable level of conflict may actually be essential to a productive workplace. While that concept may seem counterintuitive, conflict that is kept within reasonable limits can have the effect of forcing creative solutions to problems or attaining objectives that may not have been possible through other means. In fact, in many cases, an organization that is without conflict may become ineffective and inactive or even make consistently bad decisions, as a result of avoiding conflict at all costs. Of course, if conflict is not controlled and resolved, the workplace and the organization will become even less effective. Therefore, conflict in the workplace should not be totally eliminated but properly managed in order to maintain a properly functioning environment.
Understandably, in a workplace that is very diverse, the incidence of conflicts may be more prevalent than in an environment that has less diversity. Even in such a case, there is still a need for moderate levels of conflict in order to reach and sustain an optimum level of organizational effectiveness (Rahim, 2001). However, in this setting, it is the type of conflict that needs to be understood, even more so than the frequency of conflict. In the diverse workplace, conflicts based on emotional issues may arise, and these are conflicts that are not at all productive. On the other hand, conflict that is related to assigned tasks – substantive conflict – is appropriate for attaining and maintaining an optimum level of organizational effectiveness.
Approaches to conflict management have varied during the twentieth century. In the present business environment, the type of management mechanisms employed...

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