Conflict Collective Individual

Discuss the role of procedure in managing both individual and collective conflict in organisations.


The entire paper discusses about conflict management in organization and also discusses about different types and model of conflicts which arises due to people’s different perception, attitude and behaviour. It also illustrates about individual conflict management and collective conflict management along with third party intervention.


Conflict is a word that facilitates the reason for most of us a great degree of discomfort, frustration, anger, pain and sadness. Conflict could exist between individuals, groups and within organizations. To improve the organizational performance, conflicts should be understood and managed effectively. Conducting effective conflict management helps organizations to match up with any new innovations or changes and leads to finding out resolution for any possible risks and prospects. Conflicts occurring in any organization should be treated as problem-solving and improvising the organization as a whole. However, it should not be destructive and hamper the smooth functioning of the organization (Kabanoff, 1991).

According to Bloisi (2007), “Conflict is a term which means a disagreement between two or more parties as for example, individuals, groups, departments, organizations, countries- who perceive that they incompatible concerns”. Conflict is related to power and politics and it is also considered as a part of organizational behaviour. Conflict arises due to imbalance of behaviour of an individual, group within the organization, which hampers the achievement of the objectives of the organizations (Mullins, 2005). As per Furnham (2005), conflict is a process which deals with the perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and intentions of individuals.

Ways of analyzing Conflict (Reasons).

Fritchie and Leary (1998), assumes that there are three ways of looking at conflict associated with the organization. It is assumed that all the three ways are set different about the purpose and function of organization.


The dysfunctional view of organizational conflict is imbedded in the concept that organizations are shaped to accomplish goals by creating structures that perfectly define job responsibilities, the system, and other job task. According to the traditional approach, conflict informs that every organization is not well designed adequately. This wrong notion creates problem in an organization.


According to this assumption, conflict is considered as a fruitful force, which helps the employees of the organization to stimulate accordingly and improve their existing skills, knowledge by contributing to the organizational advancement and its productivity. The success of any organization does not depend on the structure and clarity but it depends on the creativity, responsiveness and the adaptability of the organization. Conflict gives a chance to people to express their opinions and suggestions in a manner of feedback session. Even “personality conflicts” carries a piece of data to the manager about what is not working in an organization, managing the prospects to improve.


We have the good conflict which is positive, the bad conflict which has to be avoided, and now we need to focus on the ugly conflict.

Ugly conflict is where the manager and also employees make an attempt to eradicate or restrain conflict in the circumstances where it is highly impossible to perform. Ugly conflict arises due to the following reasons: –

  • Conflict running for years
  • People have given up on resolution and tackling conflict problems
  • There is a good deal of corporate politics which is unnecessary and difficult to solve.
  • Staff show little interest in working to common goals, but spend more time and energy on protecting themselves

Usually when there is an Ugly situation arising then the manager is to be blamed for the confusion. It is the manager and the supervisor who finds out the occurrence of the conflict in an organization.

Contradictory view on conflict: –

Conflict has a different meaning in the employee relationship which has a critical impact on the theories of industrial relations. It has been looked upon in different ways and in different scenarios like unitary, pluralist and interactionist and radical.

According to Mullins (2005), it is said that conflict depicts negative impact on the situation which leads to inefficiency, ineffectiveness or dysfunctional situations which is not good for any organization. Unitary perspective is an initial analysis of conflict, which amounts to a process that is harmful and it should be avoided. Due to this reason, it was viewed as a result of poor communication, lack of openness and trust among people, and the incapability of the superiors to respond back to the requirement of the subordinates. Though the major chunk is considered as negative but still at times it can be considered as beneficial. A total absence of conflict can lead to indifference and exhaustion (Moorhead and Griffin, 1992). According to the pluralist perception, conflict can be considered as a natural factor which is at time s desirable, because it supports transformational change (Furnham, 2005). The outcomes of this perception are motivational, beneficial and it challenges those individuals who do not wish to change. It is believed that this pluralist approach brings change, increases consistency and develops organizational effectiveness. This is the approach which brings change in individuals and organizational outlook.

Moving further down to interactionist viewpoint, peace of mind, concord, harmony and co-operation might create lack of interest and might generate an easiness of the status quo, with insufficient response for any change or innovation. As per this viewpoint, conflict should not be abided however it should also be encouraged for the acceptance of a minimum level of conflict. There has to a required amount of conflict to ensure the group is feasible, creative and essential (McKenna, 2003). Interactionist termed conflict as a constructive tool or measure which helps in fulfilling the group’s objectives and which also helps in improving their performance. Rahim (2001), believes that organizational conflict is valid and thus cannot be evaded because it is an optimistic marker, and conflict at certain limit plays a vital role for productivity for managing organizations effectively.

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According to Robbins (1974), conflict should not be too high or too low which would force the organization to increase or to reduce, it has to be balanced as the organization do not encourage conflict which increases the possibility of stagnant thinking, deprived decisions and at the most the failure of an organization. Focusing towards the radical view, conflict is all about specialized values, inadequate resources and career progress. As per this view there is a discrepancy between the owners (managers) and the employees working within the organization. In a capitalist economy, the radical frame of reference on conflict is viewed as organizational conflict which is an unavoidable significance of unequal relationship of employees in an organization (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007).

Types of Conflicts






Interpersonal Conflict: – It is the conflict between individuals based on different goals or values.

Intragroup Conflict: – It occurs within a group or team.

Intergroup Conflict: – It occurs between two or more teams or groups. Managers play a vital role in resolving this conflict.

Inter-organizational Conflict: – It occurs within the organization. Here the managers will assume that another manager would not work according to business ethics.

Sources of conflict

Different goals and time Horizon: – Different groups have different goals. Here the production manager focuses on efficiency and marketing on sales.

Overlapping authority: – More than two managers claim authority for the same activities. Due to this, conflict arises between the managers and employees.

Task interdependencies: – here the one member of a group does not achieve a task that another member of a group is depending on. This makes the employees who are waiting lack behind.

Scarce resources: – Managers can get into a conflict while resource allocation. When the resources are scarce, managers will revolt while allocating it.

Status inconsistencies: – here some groups may have a higher status compared to others.

Resolving Conflict

Alter the source of conflict: – due to overlapping any authority, managers try to fix the problem to change the source.

Negotiation: – Uses when parties have equal power. Parties try to find a common ground by considering various alternatives. In distributive negotiation, parties see there is a fixed resource base where integrative negotiation parties increases total resources by coming up with new solutions.

Functional conflict resolution: – Tries to handle conflict by compromising or collaborating between parties. Managers also need to address individual source of conflict.

Pondy’s Model of Organizational conflict

Pony’s model of organizational conflict is one of the basic models we have. According to Louis Pondy (1967), conflict is an active procedure consisting of five levels. This model is usually followed by managers around the world to solve a conflict which arises or to prepare for any kind of conflict (George and Jones, 2005). Any hidden conflict usually occurs when there is any kind of change. This change can happen due to a reduction in budget, may be because of a change in any kind of organizational goals, because of personal objectives, may be because of any new project venture on overloaded employees, or an expected occurrence that does not happen.

The level of perceived conflict arises when one party irrespective of an individual or a group comes to know that their objectives are not fulfilled. Due to this, employees frustrated and there is a situation of conflict arising. This is the stage where employees come to know that there is a problem. At this stage, no employees would care about anything which is actually being clearly threatened (Bloisi, 2007). During a situation when one comes to know about the conflict, the parties whoever is involved will develop negative feeling about each other. Here the parties involved gets emotional and they start to concentrate on the differences of judgment and their different interests which help in shaping the perceived conflict

Stage 2.

Perceived Conflict

Stage 1.

Hidden Conflict

Stage 5.

Conflict aftermath

Stage 4.

Manifest Conflict

Stage 3.

Felt Conflict

Source: Adapted from George and Jones (2005)

In level 4 which is Manifest Conflict, the party decides to deal with the conflict from the source given, due to which the conflict arises. Here both the parties try to hurt each other and tries to destroy the other party’s goals. This conflict also has non co-operation between employees which indirectly will affect the organization. The aftermath of this conflict will leave both the parties with responding to their future events. If this conflict can be resolved by any kind of collaboration before progressing to the next level that is manifest conflict then conflict aftermath will initiate good working relationships (George and Jones, 2005).

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It is observed from the above part of this paper that conflict has many facets and it is a continuous challenge for the managers who are responsible for achieving any kind of organizational objectives. Managers have to be careful while dealing with conflict as the side effects of the conflict should not be destructive. A manager should be ready in resolving any kind of harmful complex situation.

Managing conflict

According to the management point of view, conflict should be avoided at the cost cutting level and it should be managed by resolving a conflict (Robbins, 1974). Now a day, managing conflict has become a critical problem because it involves the interpretation, the recognition, the encouragement or the discouragement of conflict in accordance to encourage the outcome which is a solution for reduction and elimination (Amason, 1996; Rahim, Garrett and Buntzman, 1992). Conflict enhanced individual, group and organizational efficiency, management of conflict cannot be ignored (Rahim, 2001). In addition to this, Pawlak (1998), asserts that managing conflict plays a critical responsibilities in private, public and political organization as well as in legal and work disputes, in military operation and other situation. The current picture of motivating conflict within an organization can be useful (Amason, 1996). However, in such conditions conflict should be handled in a very vigilant way so that the situation does not exceed in a highly dysfunctional way.

Procedures Including Individual and Collective Conflict

Individual Conflict



As per George and Jones (2005), individual level conflict management focuses on changing the attitudes or behaviours of those individuals involved in a conflict. Disciplinary and grievance are the two formal methods involved in individual management conflict. If a conflict arises due to differences in the personalities of people and the parties involved here do not understand each other point of view then, the organization can help this people by bringing in outside help in order to resolve the conflict. For this, the organization can utilize education and training which will help the employees to fill in the differences of their attitudes and successfully resolve the conflict.


According to Bratton and Gold (2007), when employee’s voice method fails to create a desirable employee attitudes and behaviours then the manager may require disciplinary action. Any organization has certain rules and regulations which the employees must abide and strictly follow. Every organization implements different standards and norms. The objectives of the norms are as follows: – the employees have to fully get equipped with the standards followed in their company, these standards and norms has to be clearly laid out in the organization for the better understanding of it. If these standards and norms are not implemented, this will lead to individual conflict. Examples of certain norms and standards followed in organizations are ISO 2001, BS (British Standards) norms and standards, BS 7799 etc. By discipline we mean, maintaining standards of behaviour and performance (ACAS, 1987). The best way to do make the employees aware of the disciplinary action is to agree standards and make sure that all the employees know what this are. These are the rules and regulations followed in place of unacceptable behaviour and unsatisfactory performance within the organization. The main focus of this is to maintain standards and not punishment. Disciplinary action varies from verbal warning to redundancy of the relationship with the employees and the target here is to make the employees behaviour acceptable. Mabey, Skinner and Clark (1998), assumes that the employees who have negative expressions of Total Quality Management (TQM) and this due to the environment which implies excessive use of disciplinary action against individual.


According to ACAS (1987), Grievance is a critical issue which any employee may face in their work during the working hours or relationship with co-workers. That is why it is necessary for any organization to have it. Grievance is an official presented acquisition to a management representative or to a union official (Pigors and Myers, 1977). Foot and Hook (2005), expresses that, if there was no method for resolving grievances then it would be possible that the employee would complain to co-peers and as result of that the whole department or the whole process would have faced problem because of this. Conflict comprises of two phenomenal factors which are Greed and Grievance. The theory of grievance occurs due to the imbalance of behaviour of employees within themselves. It arises due to personal bias. The theory of greed explains about any kind of problem or issue arising in any organization due to greedy behaviour and offer rebellious group due to lack of natural resources. This theory if not followed would result into individual conflict. Therefore we now know that the disciplinary action is normally implemented in any organization to bring about positive changes in the behaviour of the employee. And hence it is initiative by different parties.



Collective Conflict

Collective conflict management means changing the attitude and behaviours of groups and departments within an organization. The two basic procedures which is a part of collective conflict management are Bargaining and Negotiation. For this third party intervention can also be helpful in this field.

Decentralized Bargaining

Workplace Manager

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Bargaining table


The bargaining structure has two tensions that is power vs. responsiveness. Decentralized bargaining is more responsive to the basic needs – the problems are more homogenous and the negotiator is closely connected with their constituents. Decentralized bargaining is not very suitable for employees. In bargaining, it is difficult to hire replacement employees because of the number of positions that need to be filled up. In negotiation structure problem becomes more heterogeneous and the negotiators are removed from their constituents, on both the employees and the management sides. Here, an organization in which all locations are shut down by a strike uses all sources of revenue.


It is the form of solving problems between groups of people having conflicting interest exchange vibes in order to resolve problem (Bloisi, 2007). Negotiation is of two types- distributive and integrative




Distributive negotiation means wining and loosing thinking, where as integrative negotiation means win-win strategy (Fisher and Ury, 1981). According to Thomas (1992), there are five forms of negotiation which are taken as a group to handle conflict with others and they are- Compromise, Collaboration, Accommodation, Avoidance and Competition.

Third Party Interventions

Third party interventions are required when there is no chance of conflict resolution or integrative negotiations in between the parties. By integrative negotiation we mean, adding value which is required for intergroup and inter-organizational conflict. There are two basic forms of third party intervention which includes – Mediation and Arbitration (Bloisi, 2007). Mediation is a method where a neutral third party of the conflict helps in achieving a negotiated solution by the use of proper reason, persuasion and other alternatives. Arbitration is a method where a third party of a conflict has an authority to lay an agreement which is binding on the parties in conflicts (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007).


This paper has tried to analyze the procedures in managing the individual and the collective conflict in an organization with considering difference frame of references. This will help any Human Resource manager to effectively practice or implement the disciplinary action and grievances (individual) and collective bargaining and negotiation. Now we can say that, conflict can occur in any organization at any given point of time. It is believed now that conflict can never be completed or eliminated or managed properly because it is a dysfunctional outcome. Hence therefore any conflict resolution helps in improving the organizational performance.


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