The pattern of conflict can be divided into two major categories: Positive and Negative pattern of conflict.
1. Positive or Functional Conflict
It supports the goal of the group and improves its performance. Here, people with differing points of view show mutual respect for each other’s idea, thoughts and feelings. This patterns develops cooperation and effective working relations, functional conflict mostly brings positive consequences.
- Major stimulant for change: Conflict focuses the problems that demand attention. It channelizes organizational efforts towards finding better solutions.
- Group think is avoided: With strong disagreement, group think could overpower a highly cohesive group, preventing it from making rational decisions based on facts.
- Conflict fosters creativity and innovation: In an open environment, people tend to put forward more imaginative solutions to problems. A climate to challenge compels individuals to think through their own ideas. Conflict can help individuals to test their capacities to learn and develop.
- Cohesion and satisfaction: Intergroup conflict and competition drives groups closer together. Under conditions of mild intergroup conflict, group membership can be very satisfying to members. In the face of common enemy, group members close ranks and put aside former disagreements.
- A minimum level of conflict is optimal: Conflict is necessary for the internal stability of organizations. Sometimes, conflict serves to balanced power relationship between departments. It also helps individuals in reducing accumulated ill-fillings and tensions between them.
2. Negative or Dysfunctional Conflict
It reduces group performance. In this pattern of conflict, people are more concerned above protecting themselves. It mostly brings negative consequences.
- Conflict creates stress in people: Conflict put its charge on the physical and mental health of the employees. Intense conflicts generate guilt, frustration and regret. Winners try to injure the feelings of the defeated. Losers involve in non-cooperation and pay limited attention to the needs and interests of other group members.
- Diversion of energy: Another consequence of conflict is the diversion of the group’s time effort towards winning the conflict rather than towards achieving organizational goals. Parties focus on their own narrow interests and tend to put their own aims above those of the organizations.
- Instability and chaos: Under intense conflicts, collaboration across individuals, groups and departments decreases. Tensions will continue to mount up and each new conflict will split organization subunits further apart leading to communication breakdowns. The normal work-flow is disrupted.
Levels of Conflict
Conflict can occur at the following levels:
- Intrapersonal Conflicts: It occurs within the individuals due to frustration resulting from blocking of goal-oriented drive. Conflicts in goals and roles are the main causes of such conflict.
- Interpersonal Conflicts: It is interactive conflict between individuals. It deeply affects a person’s emotions. It occurs due to personality clashes, communication failures, differences in perception, threat to self-concept, incompatible goals.
- Intergroup Conflict: It is interactive conflict between groups. It is expression of hostility between groups. It is intentional interference with each other’s activities. It occurs due to different viewpoints, conflicting reward system, competition for scarce resources, poor condition and group loyalties.
- Inter-organizational Conflict: It occurs between organizations. The causes are structure, competition, policy and practices.
Types of Conflicts
- Conflicts within an individual:
This conflict arises due to incompatibility of individual’s expected roles with his or her own values and beliefs. When a private business owner asks his secretary not to send any visitors into his private office, for an ethical secretary, it is difficult to tell visitors that his boss in not in the office. This is the conflict of expected role and personal values.
- Interpersonal conflict:
This conflict arises when there are clashes of interests between two or more individuals in the organization. A manager at the same level in organization competes with the other managers to be promoted for a post of executive director. This is an example of interpersonal conflict.
- Conflict between the individual and the group:
In some cases, although the individual belongs to a group, he or she may dislike the group’s operation style and thus conflicts arise. For example, the manage takes disciplinary action only against a member of a group. This may cause conflict between the individual and the group.
- Inter-group conflict:
This is the conflict between two groups in an organization. This conflict arises due to the clashes of group interests. A good example of such conflict is the conflict between labor and management.