3 views of conflict are traditional, human relations, and interactionist view; where each view treats and manage conflict uniquely and differently.
Organizational conflict is the discord that arises when the goals, interests or values of different individuals or groups are incompatible and those individuals or groups block or thwart one another’s attempts to achieve their objective.
Conflicts can occur because of the task, relationship, or process related issues between personnel.
Conflicts at the organization were perceived or viewed as only a negative object.
But through the development of “organizational behavior” studies; conflict is now viewed differently and organizations now learned how to manage them.
But, there is conflict over the role of conflict in groups and organizations.
Changing Views of Organizational Conflict
Attitude towards conflict in organizations has changed considerably in the last few decades.
Once upon a time conflict was considered fully harmful and must be avoided for the betterment of the organization.
With the passes of time that views changed largely. Conflict is now an inevitable part of organizations. Its presence is positive in some aspects.
Here explain the 3 different views on organizational conflicts. With continuous studies and researches in the field of organizational behavior and management, that thinking gradually changed.
These views advocate the same concept that there are different types of conflicts and not all of them have to be bad and dysfunctional.
3 Views of Conflict are;
- Traditional view of organizational conflict,
- Human relations view of organizational conflict, and
- Interactionist view of organizational conflict.
Conflict views are described below;
Traditional View of Organizational Conflict
The traditional view on organizational conflict is the earliest of the trio.
It was first developed in the late 1930s and early 1940s, with the most linear and simple approach towards conflict. According to the traditional view, any conflict in an organization is Outright bad, negative and harmful.
Although conflicts are of different types, the traditional view only sees conflict as dysfunctional and destructive.
It suggests that organizational conflict must be avoided by identifying the malfunctioning callus.
Moreover, the traditional view on organizational conflict identifies poor communication, disagreement, lack of openness and trust among individuals and the failure of managers to be responsive to their employees’ needs as the main causes and reasons of organizational conflict
The traditional view is the early approach to conflict which assumed that all conflict was bad and to be avoided. The conflict was treated negatively and discussed with such terms as violence, destruction, and irrationality to reinforce its negative implication.
The conflict was a dysfunctional outcome; resulting from poor communication, lack of transparency and trust between people, and the failure of managers to be responsive to the necessities and aspirations of their employees.
The view that all conflict is negative certainly offers a simple approach to looking at the behavior of people who create conflict.
We simply need to direct our attention to the causes of conflict, analyzing them and take measures to correct those malfunctions for the benefit of the group and organizational performance.
The traditional view of conflict fell out of favor for a long time as scholars and academics came to realize that in some circumstances a conflict was inescapable.
Human Relations View of Organizational Conflict
From the late 1940s to the mid-70s, the human relations view dominated the topic of organizational conflict.
In that period, the fields of management and organizational behavior were expanding.
The traditional view was challenged by various studies and surveys, and therefore, the human relations view on organizational conflict presented a significantly different perspective on the topic.
The human relations view on organizational conflict primarily teaches us to accept conflict, It identifies conflict as an important aspect of any organization, which simply cannot be more important, unlike the traditional view, the human relations view does not discard conflict as an outright negative and destructive thing.
Instead, it says that an organizational conflict may be beneficial for the individuals, groups and the organization in general.
Moreover, this perspective even suggests that organizational conflicts within groups may even lead to better group performance and outcome.
The human relations view of conflict treats conflict as a natural and inevitable phenomenon and, so can’t be eliminated completely from any organization.
Here, the conflict was seen in a positive light as it was suggested that conflict may lead to an improvement in a group’s performance.
But it is similar to the interactionist view of the conflict.
Interactionist View of Organizational Conflict
With passing time and further studies in the field of organizational behavior, people started to accept conflict as an integral and somewhat positive aspect.
The interactionist view on organizational conflict extends that concept.
While the human relations view accepted organizational conflict as an important part, the interactionist view on- organizational conflict takes the same concept one step further.
It suggests that an ongoing, minimum level of conflict is actually necessary and beneficial for a group.
In the interactionist view, an organization or group with no conflict is more likely to become static, non-responsive, inflexible and inadaptable.
It states that a minimum level of conflict is actually beneficial for the group because it maintains a certain level of creativity, self-evaluation, and competition among the individuals.
All these things result in increased group performance, more creative solutions to problems and better outcomes.
We should mind it that even the interactionist view does not claim that every type of conflict is beneficial and healthy.
It clearly states that only the functional and constructive forms of conflict help the group, while the dysfunctional or destructive forms of conflict should be avoided.
The interactionist view indicates that conflict is not only an encouraging force in a group but also an absolute necessity for a group to perform effectively.
While the human relations view accepted conflict, the interactionist view encourages conflicts on the grounds that a harmonious, peaceful, tranquil, and cooperative group is prone to becoming static apathetic and non-responsive to needs for change in innovation.
So the major contribution of the interactionist view is encouraging group leaders to sustain an ongoing minimum level of conflict enough to keep the group viable, self-critical and inspired.
Traditional Vs Current Views of Conflict
|Traditional view of organizational conflict||Current view of organizational conflict|
|Conflict is avoidable.||Conflict is inevitable.|
|Conflict is caused by management error in designing organizations or by trouble makers.||Conflict arises from many causes, including organizational structure, unavoidable differences in goals, differences in perceptions and values of specialized personnel and so on.|
|Conflict disrupts the organization and prevents optimal performance.||Conflict contributes and detracts from organizational performance in varying degrees.|
|The task of the management is to eliminate conflict.||The task of the management is to manage the level of conflict and its resolution for optimal organizational performance.|
|Optimal organizational performance requires the removal of conflict.||Optimal organizational performance requires a moderate level of conflict.|
Traditional view of conflict started to change as organizational, behavior researchers and management writers began to identify causes of organizational conflict independent of management error and as the advantages of effectively managed conflict started to be recognized.
Current view also called the interactionist view, is that conflict in organizations is inevitable and even necessary, no matter how organizations are designed and operated.
This view says that some conflicts are dysfunctional; it can harm individuals and impede the attainment of organizational goals.
But some conflicts can also be functional – because it may make organizations more effective. Conflict can lead to the search for solutions. Thus it is an instrument of organizational innovation and change.