Managerial Actions to Minimize Effects of Conditions Potentially Leading to Conflict

Managers can ensure that jobs are described with sufficient clarity and do not include overlapping responsibilities. The same attention should be paid to definition of the boundaries of work units and conditions under which boundary-spanning is required: these actions contribute to eliminating or reducing ambiguous jurisdictions. Another approach would be to review the organization’s structure with a view to eliminating needless differentiation. Some organizations emphasizing high employee involvement have incorporated semi-autonomous work teams that operate in a flat organization structure, a reward system that promotes multiskilling, and intensive training in interpersonal and problem-solving skills. Such an organization design reduces differentiation and communication barriers and builds into its structure and relationships a capacity for an integrative approach to conflict management. For example, the reward system and other managerial policies and practices in such organizations encourage dissemination of information to those who need it, rather than withholding information and use it as a leverage of power.

Situations of resource shortages are a fertile breeding ground for interpersonal conflicts in organizations. An effective set of actions that promote integrative conflict resolution in these situations would be (1) to clearly and unequivocally state the organization’s mission and purpose and (2) to ensure that all policies, practices and decisions relating to resource allocations and behaviour regulations stem from and are governed by the values and objectives of the stated mission and purpose. In other words, the organization’s mission and objectives become the superordinate goals comprising the criteria and principles for resolving conflict. The faithful adherence to the organization’s mission and its frequent communication help to make it salient to the employees and to create a climate in which disagreements are an opportunity to develop creative approaches to achieve the organization’s objectives more effectively.

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