Transitions in conflict


It is entirely appropriate to say that there has been conflict over the role of conflict in groups and organizations. One school of thought has argued that conflict must be avoided that it indicates a malfunctioning within the group. We call this the traditional view. Another school of thought, the human relations view, argues that conflict is a natural and inevitable outcome in any group and that it need not be evil, but rather has the potential to be a positive force in determining group performance. The third, and most recent, perspective proposes not only that conflict can be a positive force in a group but explicitly argues that some conflict is absolutely necessary for a group to perform effectively. We label this third school the inter-action approach. Let’s take a closer look at each of these views.

Traditional view

The early approach to conflict assumed that all conflict was bad. Conflict was viewed negatively, and it was used synonymously with such terms as violence, destruction, and irrationality to reinforce its negative connotation. Conflict, by definition was harmful and was to be avoided. The America syndicate’s management and the yacht’s team members essentially subscribed to this view of conflict.

The traditional view was consistent with the attitudes that prevailed about group behavior in the 1930s and 1940s.Conflict was seen as a dysfunctional outcome resulting from poor communication, a lack of openness and trust between people, and the failure of managers to be responsive to the needs an aspirations of their employees.

The view that all conflict is bad certainly offers a simple approach to looking at the behavior of people who create conflict .Since all conflict is to be avoided, we need merely direct our attention to the causes of conflict and correct these malfunctioning in order to improve group and organizational performance. Although research studies now provide strong evidence to dispute that this approach to conflict reduction results in high group results in high group performance ,many of us still evaluate conflict situations utilizing this outmoded standard. So, too, do many senior executives and boards of directors.

Human relations view

The human relations position argued that conflict was a natural occurrence in all groups and organizations. Since conflict was inevitable, the human relations school advocated acceptance of conflict. Proponents rationalized its existence: It cannot be eliminated, and there are even times when conflict may benefit a group’s performance. The human relations view dominated conflict theory from the late 1940s through the mid 1970s.

Interaction view

While the human relations approach accepted conflict, the interaction approach encourages conflict on the grounds that a harmonious peaceful, tranquil, and cooperative group is prone to becoming static, apathetic, and non responsive to needs for change and innovation. The major contribution of the interaction approach, therefore, is encouraging group leaders to maintain an ongoing minimum level of conflict enough to keep the group viable, self-critical and creative.


Office humor:
Employee found sleeping by the boss.
Boss: Wake Up, You Bum!
Employee’s choice of instant reply………….

“I wasn’t sleeping ! I was meditating on the mission statement.�

“I was testing my keyboard for drool resistance.

“I was doing a yoga exercise to relieve work-related stress.�

“Rats! Why did you interrupt me? I almost had figured out a solution to our biggest company problem.�

“The coffee machine’s broken.�

“Someone must have put decaf in the wrong pot.�