Individual Level Conflict - Organizational Behavior

Human behavior is need motivated. A person joins any organization basically to satisfy his varying needs. He faces a conflict within himself when he perceives that organization is not satisfying his needs in accordance with his perceived standards, in the words of Keith Davis, "organizations are the systems of medieval torture which suppress and subjugate their victim individual. He lives in helpless conformity, stripped challenge for psychological fulfillment." Likewise, Chris Argyis writes, "there is a lack of congruity between the needs of healthy individuals and the demands of the organization" under such adverse situation, he faces a great psychological conflict as he is neither in a position to leave the organization, nor rectify it, nor is satisfied. As a result, he becomes tension ridden and remains frustrated. Individual level conflicts can be divided into two categories, i.e.

I.            Intra-individual conflicts,

II.            Inter-individual conflicts.

I.            Intra-individual conflict: intra-individual conflicts arise within a person and are of psychological nature. Many times, the individual remains conflict-ridden, but he fails to perceive it. However, they may be latent or overt. Such conflicts are generally related to the goals a person wants to achieve or roles in the manner he wants to achieve. Hence, intra-individual conflicts are of three types:

a)      Conflict due to frustration

b)     Goal conflict

c)      Role conflict

a)      Conflict due to frustration: frustration occurs when a motivated drive is blocked before a person reaches a desired goal, figure below illustrates what happens. The barrier may be either overt (outward, or physical) or covert (inward, or mental-socio psychological). The frustration model can be useful in the analysis not of behavior in general but also specific aspects of on-the job behavior. Theft of company property and even violence on the job may be a form of an aggressive outcome to job frustration.

For example, a sunray article on violence in the workplace noted that I recent years more than a thousand Americans were murdered while on the job. Although the vast majority of these deaths were not the result of work-related incidents, homicide is still considered to be the second leading cause of death in the workplace (behind transportation accidents) and the leading cause of workplace death for women, and it has even been suggested that workplace homicide is the fastest-growing category of murder In the united states.

b)     Goal conflicts: another common source of conflict for an individual is a goal that has both positive and negative features, or two or more competing goals. Whereas in frustration motives are blocked before the goal is reached, in goal conflict two or more motives block one another. For ease of analysis, three separate types of goal conflict are generally identified:

I.            Approach-approach conflict, where the individual is motivated to approach  two or more positive but mutually exclusive goals. For example, the person might be torn between two lucrative jobs.

II.           Approach-avoidance conflict, where the individual is motivated to approach a goal and at the same tome is motivated to avoid it. The single goal contains both positive and negative characteristics for the individual . for example , a Delhi  university teacher may be offered an excellent job in a bad location.

III.          Avoidance-avoidance conflict, where the individual is motivated to avoid two or more negative but mutually exclusive goals, for example, worker may dislike his present job, but the alternative of leaving and look up for another job may be even less attractive.

To varying degrees, each of these forms of goal conflict exists in the modern organization, but approach-avoidance is most relevant to the analysis of conflict.

c)      Role conflict: an individual performs a number of roles. Although all the roles, which he brings into the organization, are relevant to his behavior, in the study of organizational behavior, however, his organizational roles is most important, in the organization, every person is expected to behave in a particular manner while performing a specific role. When expectations of a role are materially different or opposite from the behavior anticipated by the individual In that role, he tends to be in role conflict because there is no way to meet one expectation without rejecting the other.

There may be four types of role conflicts:

I.            Intra-sender role conflict: there may be intra-sender role conflict where the expectations from a single member of a role set may be incompatible. This happens when a person is called upon to perform, a work within specified limit but it cannot be possible to do the work within that limit.

II.            Inter-sender role conflict: there may be inter-sender role conflict where the expectations sent from one sender are In conflict with those from one or more other senders.

III.            Inter-role conflict: there id inter-role conflict when an individual occupies two or more roles simultaneously and the expectations associated with those different roles are incompatible.

IV.            Role-self conflict: it occurs when role requirements violate the needs, values, or capacities of the person.

II.            Inter-individual (personal )  conflict:  inter-personal conflicts arise between two individuals having competition for achieving scarce things, such as status, power, position, promotion or resources or they may pick up conflict due to their divergent opinions, attitudes or values. Disagreement among individuals in an organization may arise for variety of reasons:

a)      Personal differences: everyone has a unique background because of his or her upbringing, cultural and family traditions, and socialization processes. Because no one has the same family background, education, and values, the differences can be a major source of conflict. Disagreements stemming from the difference "often become highly emotional and take on moral overtones." A disagreement about who is factually correct easily turns into a bitter argument over who is morally right.

b)     Information deficiency: this source of conflict results from communication breakdown in the organization. It may be that the two people in conflict are using different information or that one or both have misinformation. Unlike personal differences, this source of conflict is not emotionally charged and once corrected, there is little resentment.

c)      Role incompatibility:  this type of interpersonal conflict draws from both intra-individual role conflict and  inter-group conflict. Specifically, in today's horizontal organizations, managers have functions and tasks that are highly interdependent. However, the individual roles of these managers may be incompatible.

d)     Environmental stress: these types of conflict can be amplified by a stressful environment. In environments characterized  by  scarce or shrinking resources, downsizing, competitive pressures, or high degrees of uncertainly, conflict of all kinds will be more probable.

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