After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Meaning of Conflicts 2. Sources of Conflict 3. Stages 4. Causes 5. Views 6. Impact 7. Results 8. Resolution.

Meaning of Conflicts:

Disputes between individuals and between groups are characteristic of human behaviour. Conflict (dispute) is a type of behaviour which occurs when two or more parties are in opposition or in battle.

The Disputes:

(i) Adversely affect the effectiveness of individuals or groups,


(ii) May break down the relationship between individuals or groups, and

(iii) May result in acute neuro­sis of strike.

This makes difficult to achieve objectives of the organisation.

Hence it is very essential to eliminate disputes by:


(i) Adequate job definition,

(ii) Detailed specifications of rela­tionship between various positions,

(iii) Careful selection of people to fill up various posts, and

(iv) Through training of people for the job assigned to them.


Organisational conflicts are a disagreement between two or more members or groups of the organisation.

The conflict may arise due to:

(a) Sharing of scarce resources or work activities.

(b) Different status, goals, values and perceptions.


(c) Disagreement over facts and methods.

(d) Social, economic and psychological reasons.

Sources of Conflict:

In any organisation, large numbers of potential sources of conflict exist.

Some of such sources of conflict are:


1. Competition for Limited Resources

2. Diversity of Goals

3. Task interdependence

4. Organisational ambiguities


5. Differences in values and perception

6. Poor Communication

7. Aggressive nature of people

8. Introduction of change.

Stages of Conflicts:


Conflict may have following stages:

1. Latent Conflict:

This is the conflict which is anticipated by the participants. These may be due to competition of scarce resources, drive for autonomy, role conflict and divergence of subunit goals.

2. Perceived Conflicts:

These are due to misunderstanding of each other’s true position. Such conflicts can be removed by improving communication.

3. Felt Conflict:


Such conflicts arise when differences become personalised.

4. Menifest Conflict:

At this stage conflict becomes open. It may be in the form of aggres­sion, sabotage, apathy, withdrawal etc.

5. Conflict aftermath:

If the conflict is resolved to the satisfaction of all, it may become him base for more cooperative relationship. But if the conflict is merely suppressed, the latent condition of conflict may be aggravated and explode in more serious or violent form at a later date.

Causes of Conflicts:

The following are some of the important factors, which disturb industrial relations and cause dispute:


(i) If industrial work is done under severe restrictions and control, the worker loses his freedom and he is, therefore, discontented.

(ii) The most important are wages and allowances. If the workers feel that the remunera­tion they get for their labour is not sufficient.

(iii) If the employer refuses to pay bonus, it gives rise to many disputes.

(iv) If the employer refuses to recognize trade unions and does not accept the legal de­mands of the workers.

(v) A large number of workers are engaged as temporary hands. The slightest depressing conditions in industry lead to the retrenchment of many of them. Retrenchment and discharge of employees have caused many disputes.

(vi) Unsatisfactory working conditions, hours of work, lack of welfare measures, harsh treatment, favourism, exploitation by bosses and political causes are among other causes of disputes.


Views about Conflicts:

Different schools of thought about conflict are:

(A) Traditional View:

According to this theory conflict are viewed negatively and associ­ated with violence, turbulence, agitation, destruction and irrationality. In this theory of 1930s and 1940s, it was believed that, conflict indicated a malfunctioning within the organisation and is due to management’s failure to bind the employees and the organisation together.

(B) Behavioural View:

According to this view, the conflict is the logical and inevitable outcome in an any organisation. This theory was prominent from late 1940s till 1970s. This theory maintained that since individuals in an organisation had different perceptions of goals and differing values, conflicts are bound to arise, may be over priorities, time schedule, resource allocation, or way of doing a job.


The conflict may also lead to creativity in problem solving. The manager’s role in resolving conflict is to restore understanding, trust the openness between parties.

(C) Interactionist View:

This is current theory and, it does not only accept conflict but also encourage it. It states that conflict must be regulated in such a manner so that its beneficial effects are maximised and harmful aspects are minimised.

Impact of Conflict:

(A) Changes that may occur within the groups:

(i) Group cohesiveness increases.

(ii) The group becomes task-oriented.


(iii) Organisational structure becomes more effective.

(iv) Leadership becomes more effective.

(B) Prolonged group conflicts cause following changes between groups:

(i) Each group sees the other as an enemy who interferes with its goad-oriented behaviour.

(ii) Develops positive perceptions about own group and negative perceptions toward the other.

(iii) Communication ceases to exist.

(iv) Each group clearly sees all the vicious acts of the other while remain blind to the same acts performed by their own group.

(C) Potential benefits in intergroup conflicts are:

(i) Conflict clarifies the real issue.

(ii) Conflict increases innovation.

(iii) Strengthens the group and reduces the internal conflicts.

(iv) Conflict can provide an outlet for ventilating their feelings.

(v) Conflict resolution may strengthen intergroup relationships.

Results of Conflicts:

Following are some of the serious results which arise out of these disputes:

1. Strike:

A common form of Industrial disputes is the ‘STRIKE’ which means abstaining from work until the demands are met or a compromise is affected.

Usually strikes are done for one of the following purposes:

(a) Getting their demands sanctioned.

(b) Preventing changes harmful to the workers.

(c) Getting recognition for the Union.

A strike is considered to be the last resort for the workers to express their discontent.

Strike may be in the following forms:

(i) Sit down Strike:

In this, the workers go to the work place but refuse to work. They do not leave the premises of the factory until the strike is over.

(ii) Go slow or slow down:

In this, the workers continue to work but do so at a much slow rate, thus slowing down the progress of work. Since, they do not totally abstain from work; they are entitled to pay for the period of slow down.

(iii) Picketing:

In order to call to the attention of the public that a strike is going on, and disallow others from entering the plant or doing business in the undertaking, the workers or their sympathizers place themselves at the entrance of the factory, causing obstruction to people who want to go in or come out. These persons are termed ‘PICKETS’ and the method as a whole, Picketing.

(iv) Gherao:

It is a form of dispute, in which workers do not allow the officer to leave his room or working place for a considerably long period so as to press for their demands. The officer can’t even go for make off water.

2. Lockout:

It is just opposite procedure of strike and consists in the closing of factory by the employer because of a dispute with the employees and is the refusal of entry to them.

Resolution of Conflict:

Strategies for Resolution of Conflicts:

Some conflicts are relatively minor, easy to tackle, or capable of being overlooked, while others are of greater magnitude, however, require a strategy for successful resolution if they are not to create constant tension.

Conflict resolution strategies may be classified into three categories as explained hereun­der:

1. Avoidance:

Some conflict situations are avoided altogether. These are the situations, which are either cannot be sorted out effectively or preferred to be ignored.

2. Defusion:

This tactic is essentially a delaying action. Defusion strategies try to cool off the situation, at least temporarily. Delaying discussion of the major problem, postponing a confrontation until a more auspicious time are the examples of defusion. These tactics result in feelings of dissatisfaction, anxiety about future, and concerns about oneself.

3. Confrontation:

These can be either power strategies or negotiation strategies and nego­tiation strategies. Power strategies include the use of physical force, bribery, and punishment. With negotiation strategies, unlike power confrontations, both can win. The aim of negotiation is to resolve the conflict with a compromise or a solution which is mutually satisfying to all the parties involved in the conflict.

Measures to Prevent Conflicts:

Some of the significant measures to prevent industrial disputes are:

1. Two-way communication.

2. Participative decision-making.

3. Labour participation in management.

4. Effective leadership.

5. Better interpersonal relationship.

6. Code of discipline between labour and management

7. Fair wages, bonus, allowances, awards etc.

8. Favourable working conditions.

9. Effective system for improving employee morale and motivation etc.

10. Regular review of facilities etc.