Conflict Management Process. The Case of the Poisoned Chalice

Term Paper, 2012

11 Pages, Grade: B


Table of Contents

Executive Summary

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Background Information
1.2 Aims
1.3 Scope

2.0 Literature Analysis
2.1 Fighting Futility: Tools for Mediation Success by Bultena, Ramser and Tilker (2010)
2.2 What Corporations need to know about how to install an Integrated Conflict Management System by Cohen (2009)
2.3 Managing Intractable Identity Conflicts by Fiol, Pratt & O’Connor (2009)

3.0 The Conflict Management Process
3.1 Communication
3.1.1 Managing the communication aspect of conflict
3.2 Conflict among Groups
3.2.1 Management of Group Conflict
3.3 Interpersonal Conflicts
3.3.1 Management of Interpersonal Conflicts

4.0 Conclusion

5.0 Recommendations
5.1 Financial Analysis
5.2 Implementation Plan (Figure 1)


1.0 Introduction

Conflict is present in every organisation at one level or the other. Unresolved conflicts in the workplace tend to have negative consequences that impact on productivity, job satisfaction and interpersonal relationships (Carter & Byrnes, 2006).

1.1 Background Information

Joseph, the new Manager assigned to lead a taskforce of two teams, is faced with a challenge involving conflict between both teams; conflict between both teams and the other support departments; and the apparent undermining of his authority by his boss who tried to resolve the issue himself. Unknown to him until recently, this newly acquired, 5 month old taskforce, has had on going, unresolved conflicts arising out of team perceptions of the other team’s superiority or inferiority and also due to fear-induced, antagonistic behaviour from the support departments. Because of the conflict and its negative impact on productivity, there is the possibility that the project will not be completed on time and that Joseph will be held responsible for the taskforce not meeting the project objectives.

1.2 Aims

The purpose of this report is to explore the conflict management process and to determine the conflict resolution approach that will best satisfy all parties involved in the most efficient, and effective manner, and in the shortest possible period of time given the deadline constraints.

1.3 Scope

This report will examine the various approaches to the conflict resolution management process at the workplace as well as give commentary on how successfully each approach has been applied in various situations in the past. The research was conducted using secondary data from a wide selection of scholarly sources.

2.0 Literature Analysis

The literature analysis involves a review of 3 scholarly articles which address how communication considerations, time pressure and group settings affect conflict management strategy and process. The articles each appear in academic journals spanning the period 2009 to 2010 and bear relevance to the determination of how conflicts should be handled in the modern organisation.

2.1 Fighting Futility: Tools for Mediation Success by Bultena, Ramser and Tilker (2010)

Conflict can be solved using a variety of methods. Although arbitration is commonly practised as an approach to conflict resolution, it is costly and usually results with one party being the winner and one party being the loser. In the workplace setting,

conflict is more effectively resolved when both parties feel satisfied that the solution is balanced and beneficial for each side. One approach to conflict resolution that has been growing in popularity and has resulted in numerous cases of successful conflict resolution is mediation (Bultena, Ramser and Tilker, 2010). Mediation involves the use of an objective third party who can facilitate constructive communication.

2.2 What Corporations need to know about how to install an Integrated Conflict Management System by Cohen (2009)

In this article, the author recommends what is referred to as an Integrated Conflict Management System (ICMS) that has the objective of shaping the conflict management culture of the organisation. In this system, conflict resolution is dealt with by engaging an outsourced conflict management practitioner who focuses on improving communication between conflicting parties as a method of resolving conflict. The conflict expert encourages the disputants involved to view conflicts from novel perspectives and assists them by proposing options for dealing with the conflicts (Cohen, 2009). Alternately, mediation or peer review may be used to seek to address the issues by integrating different groups or individuals into the conflict resolution process.

2.3 Managing Intractable Identity Conflicts by Fiol, Pratt & O’Connor (2009)

This piece endorses a conflict resolution process that incorporates several different phases in which parties are encouraged to change perceptions of their own identities in an effort to foster group agreement. The authors claim that “when identities are implicated in a conflict, the conflict tends to escalate, encompassing an ever-widening number of issues” (Fiol, Pratt & O’Connor, 2009, p. 32). Conventional methods of resolving conflict such as mediation are described as ineffective in handling group conflicts in which identities are undermined or criticised.

3.0 The Conflict Management Process

Organizational changes are inevitable. However, the systems that are needed to assist employees to adjust to changes such as new job requirements, are either ineffective or non- existent (Zikiv, Marinovic & Trandafilovic, 2012). This situation usually leads to conflict as employees try to adjust to new situations. It is important that conflict management strategies be implemented to prevent the negative consequences of unresolved conflict including decreased productivity, frustration, job turnover and even violence.

Conflict management is a process that must start with a careful diagnosis of the conflict which would include measurement of the severity and scope of the conflict and the underlying reasons for it. This is followed by the application of appropriate intervention strategies which is dependent upon the particular circumstances of the case. During the process, some amount of learning should take place, which should impact on the behaviours of involved parties. Finally feedback is obtained, whether formally or informally, which determines whether further diagnosis and retracing of the entire process is necessary (Rahim,


The case involves a range of issues that must be addressed if the conflict is to be resolved effectively, fairly and efficiently. The sources of the conflict include poor communication, and fear-induced, antagonistic group behaviours as a result of the establishment of the two (2) different taskforce teams. The conflict has escalated because of conflict avoidance by the previous manager and the undermining of the authority of the current manager who has only recently been made aware of the on-going, unresolved conflict between the various groups. A diagnosis of the situation brings to light that there are at least two (2) levels of conflict to be tackled. These are interpersonal conflict between the manager and his boss, and between the Manager and individuals in all groups; as well as intergroup conflict among the two (2) taskforce groups and the support department.

The intervention aspect of the conflict management process will address the issues of communication, interpersonal and group conflict and the appropriate conflict management strategies that need to be applied for the resolution of this particular case.


Excerpt out of 11 pages


Conflict Management Process. The Case of the Poisoned Chalice
University of Cambridge
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Quote paper
Richards Macdonald (Author), 2012, Conflict Management Process. The Case of the Poisoned Chalice , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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