In theories of conflict management, managers’ conflict resolution skills have often been understood as their relational attitudes and ability to communicate, but choices of conflict resolution strategies in organizational management should also depend on the types of conflicts managers face. Understanding how a complex conflict situation involves one or several conflict types is a matter of understanding the deep structure of the conflict. Knowledge of such deep structure is a key to realizing what the conflict is about and how it should be resolved. The chapter uses conflict theory to distinguish between six conflict types that are especially important from an organizational perspective: interpretation conflicts, argumentation conflicts, value conflicts, interest conflicts, role conflicts and personal conflicts. After having clarified their signifcance in an organizational context, the chapter elucidates how knowledge of the conflict types and how they are logically related to each other can be used in managers’ conflict resolution practices. The last part of the chapter uses the conflict types to develop a model for practical conflict resolution in management. The model can be used as a tool for analyzing conflict situations—to gain a deeper and more systematic understanding of how the situations should be resolved in accordance with the best interest of the organization.
Part of the book: Organizational Conflict
When people in an organization understand themselves and their context of interaction from very different perspectives, there is an increased risk of poor organizational dialogue. The reason is not only that individuals’ social interpretations of others are influenced by their idiosyncratic perspectives. In interactions involving a significant diversity of individual perspectives, there is also a risk that communicators form radically different interpretations of goals and processes in the organization. It is therefore of crucial importance that people have a sufficiently similar understanding of action-guiding information, communicative acts and the workplace itself. The chapter focuses on the importance of creating shared organizational culture on the basis of four communication conditions from social interaction theory. (1) In communicative processes, senders need to secure the attention of audiences. (2) Senders and audiences need to have a sufficiently similar understanding of the language that is used. (3) Senders and audiences need to interpret communicative acts in a sufficiently similar way. (4) The attitudes and values that audiences ascribe to senders must correspond to the values and attitudes that senders actually have. After having clarified these conditions, the chapter applies them to analyse fundamental organizational challenges. The final part of the chapter argues that the conditions can, typically on management levels, constitute conceptual tools for creating unifying communicative cultures. Furthermore, using the conditions (1)–(4) actively as a means for securing communication across a diversity of individual perspectives can contribute to reaching organizational goals, no matter how they are defined.
Part of the book: A Closer Look at Organizational Culture in Action