In fact, there are different ways to obtain an outcome through co-operation within groups or meetings which people come up with distinct opinions and ideas. As a result, it sometimes ends up with conflicts and the responsibility for arbitrating fall on the group's leader or one who is in charge. However, Taylor stated that in scientific method it is possible to find "one best way" to perform each task (F. W. Taylor 1856-1917 quoted by Laurie J Mullins (2002) p. 55). Although there are many kinds of conflict, this essay will focus on the conflict in groups in organizations.
It will also explain sources and consequences of conflicts and the approaches of how the leaders can effectively manage conflicts in groups. First of all, I would like to begin with meanings and results of conflict which can be interpreted in many ways. Oxford dictionary, 2000 defines a conflict as a situation in which people, groups, or countries are involved in a serious disagreement or argument. Marx and Weber view group conflict as inevitable the result of social class and organizational hierarchy (Kolb, et al (1992), p. 2).
In addition, John Hunt defined in the role of perception in conflict as "Interpersonal conflict occurs between two or more persons when attitudes, motives, values, expectations or activities are incompatible and if those people perceive themselves to be in disagreement. "( Hunt 1982 quoted by Guirdham 1990: p331), while Mullins see conflict as behaviour intended to obstruct the achievement of some other person's goal and conflict is based on the incompatible of goals and arises from opposing behaviour (Laurie J. Mullins, (1985), p. 814).
Generally speaking, most people interpret conflict in negative ways due to the fact that it always results in ineffective productions and destructive outcomes such as a mistrust atmosphere, resistance to team work, broken-down relationship which cause tension and keep distance between people in a work place. On the one hand, well-managed conflict can be beneficial to an organization. From Schmidt survey of practicing managers, who spend 20 percent of their time dealing with conflict situations, positive outcomes of conflict lead to better understandings and supports within an organization or even generate creative thinking.
It can be seen as an aid to incremental improvement in organization design and functioning and to the decision-making process. Therefore, all these aspects are some benefits of constructive conflict (Schmidt 1974 quoted by Mullins (1985), p. 814). Whenever conflict occurs in a firm, firstly, a leader needs to understand causes of organizational conflict in order to approach it with appropriate strategies.
Secondly, he/she should realize all parties who involve in the situation such as their status, role, responsibility or even their personality, if necessary. Next, the leader decides whether he/she can be a mediator or a negotiator based on his/her backgrounds affecting on the issue. The final process is to execute the fight to achieve a constructive result. As far as I concern, another factor which should be consider is the time frame in that the more time a leader consume to finalize conflict, the more adverse impacts damage to the company.
Regarding sources of conflict, it may derive from miscommunication or misinformation, differences in needs and priorities, differences in values, beliefs, attitudes and culture as well as differences in structural conditions (Kelsey and Plumb (2001), p. 1). People react with conflict differently. By using Hofstede scales, people respond with conflict into five styles: integrating, obliging, dominating, avoiding and compromising (Hofstede, (1980) quoted by Rahim, et al, 1994). Leaders should be able to interpret and classify their staff to cope with them properly in various circumstances. Each style will be illustrated and explained below.