Organizational Conflict - Organizational Behavior

In an organizational situation, conflict may manifest itself in a number of different modes. Such conflicts may be within the organization itself (intra-organizational) or between various organizations (inter-organizational) intra-organizational conflicts may be again in various forms, for example, at individual level and at group level. Since, these are all parts of the organization; the conflicts among them are of much concern to the organization.

I.            Intra-organizational conflict: the reasons of conflicts in an organization are many but mainly three kinds of internal strains can be identified:

a)      Horizontal conflict: horizontal conflict refers to conflict between employees or departments at the same hierarchical level in an organization. The source of conflict between departments consists of pressures towards  sub-optimization. Each department may sub-optimize by independently trying to achieve its own departmental goals. For example, production department may prefer long economical runs whereas sales department may insist on quick delivery. Again, when two departments are functionally inter-dependent, breakdowns in the performance of one department can lead to serious conflicts.

b)     Vertical conflict: vertical conflict separates people in various levels of the occupational ladders in organization. It refers to any conflict between different levels in an organization. It occurs usually in superior-subordinate relations. C.G. smith identified three reasons for vertical conflicts:

I.            Inadequate communication between levels.

II.           Conflict arises essentially from differences of interest between position holders occupying different status in the organizational hierarchy, and

III.          A distinct lack of shared perceptions and attitudes among members in various levels.

c)      Line and staff conflict: controversy and conflict are inherent in the concept of line and staff. It is not an easy to divide and distribute expertise, authority and roles in equitable quantities between the line generalists and staff specialists. The concept authorizes the splitting of various functions into two categories: hierarchical and non-hierarchical, that is, creation of low status and high status persons. The splitting of functions into hierarchical and non-hierarchical levels and the creation of low status and high status positions create a discrepancy between expected and actual authority leading to resentment and frustration to all the parties involved.

II.            Inter-organizational conflict: inter-organizational interaction results in conflict among different organizations. However, it is not necessary that such interaction may result in conflict.

Inter-organizational conflict may include:

a)      Conflict between organizations pursuing similar objectives;

b)     Conflict between government agency and organization;

c)      Conflict between head office and a manufacturing unit.

While the last one is regularized by organizational rules and procedures, the other types of conflicts are regulated by social actions, particularly by state laws, administrative agencies, courts, and regulatory commissions.

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