Essay on Conflict and Negotiation
Number of words: 2550
Conflicts and negotiations are an everyday occurrence. Just like change, they are inevitable. Apart from being harmful, conflict can have its benefits in achieving desired objectives contrary to popular beliefs. Conflicts and negotiations are critical to the upward trajectory of any organization since they spur innovation and creativity. The main objective of the study was to evaluate conflict, conflict resolution and negotiation policies, practices and procedures in a sampled organization in Nairobi, Kenya. Additionally, employee perception of the afore-mentioned policies and procedures was evaluated. A questionnaire was administered to collect data from both the management and lower ranking employees of the sampled organization. Seventy respondents were selected from the organization using convenience sampling methodology while descriptive tools of percentages and frequencies where utilized for data analysis. All statistical tests were conducted using SPSS version 23.0. Results of the study revealed the leading drivers of conflict within the organization. It also brought to light the conflict and negotiation policies and procedures put in place by the organization as well as employees’ perception of these measures.
Conflict and Negotiation
Conflict and negotiations have baffled many and have depicted a semantic jungle. This owes to the various meanings and connotations associated with these terms (De Dreu and Carnevale, 2003). They have presented scholars with uncertainties over their meaning and relevance as well as how to navigate them. Situations involving conflicts and negotiations are unavoidable in all human relations including in organizations and even between countries (Dewulf et al., 2009). A conflict or negotiation situation is evident where there exists a conflict of interest or when different people want different things and both opposing sides actively seek solutions, rather than throwing in the towel (Rahim, 2010). These terms are organizational realities when working with others.
In tandem with Robbins and Judge (2011) and Spaho (2013), conflict has different definitions according to different authors. The common ground of all these definitions is that conflict is a perception. When a person perceives that another person has the capacity of negatively affecting anything worthwhile to them, conflict arises. There exist differences among people in social settings, including cultural, ethical and educational. Hence, the absence of conflict more often than not points to lack of profound social interaction (De Dreu and Van de Vliert, 2000). Conflict should be encouraged in organizations in order to boost creativity. This is in accordance with De Dreu and Van de Vliert (2000) who assert that organizations which are harmonious and tranquil are susceptible to being static and unresponsive to change. Conflict could be functional. However, in other instances, it could be time-consuming for organizations, cause stress, emotionally strenuous and reduce respect as well as trust (Peterson and Behfar, 2003; Ikeda et al., 2005; Penny and Spector, 2005; Jehn et al., 2008).
Negotiation on the other hand, is a process in which two or more entities seek to reach a mutually acceptable agreement in a situation characterized by some level of disagreement (Oetzel et al., 2003). During a successful negotiation, each party wins. The overall aim should be an agreement, not victory (Bülow and Boje, 2015). For each need that requires meeting and satisfying, there is a potential situation for negotiation. A negotiation usually involves a number of steps including the exchange of proposals and counter proposals. In good-faith negotiation, both sides are expected to make offers and concessions (Pruitt, 2003). Given that conflicts are continually becoming an ever present feature in organizations and administration, numerous studies have revealed that negotiation skills are increasingly becoming paramount and a pre-requisite of career and personal success (Matusitz and Breen, 2003).
This methodology follows a research done on an international organization with a subsidiary in Nairobi, Kenya. The organization had 70 workers. The research design adopted was a quantitative descriptive approach (Bruner and Ripani, 2008). The main reason behind the adoption of the research design was to provide a description of the status of a particular phenomenon as it were presently. In the same breadth, Cresswell and Clarke (2007) noted that research designs are imperative since they help navigate the methods and ideas that research must adhere to during the study. They also lay the foundation for the interpretation of results in the end. This is corroborated by Brink and Wood (1998) who reveal that studies of this nature ought to be descriptive.
Seventy (70) respondents were sampled for this research but only 60 responded. Of the 60 respondents, 10 were part of the management team and 50 were lower ranking employees. The convenience sampling technique was utilized to select respondents. This is owing to respondents being selected based on their willingness to respond to the questionnaire. The five-point Likert scale of measurement was employed to collect data from the respondents. In this regard, respondents were made to indicate their level of agreement or disagreements on a symmetric agree-disagree scale for a series of statements.
The primary tool used for collecting data was questionnaire. Questions used in the questionnaire were structured in a way that evoked the required data that was needed to achieve the objectives of the study. The close-ended response strategy was used to design the questionnaire which was administered and reverted within a fortnight. Descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages were used to analyze the data. Descriptive analysis gives a clear description of the results arrived at. Data management and analysis was done using SPSS software (version 23) (George and Mallery, 2016).
The results were presented using percentages and frequencies. Demographic data of the respondents show that the male gender was predominant at 54% of staff in the firm. In regards to age, 6 out of 60 sampled respondents were below 25 years. Fifteen respondents fell within the age bracket of 26-30 years. Additionally, 12 respondents were within the range of 41-50 years, 25 respondents were between 31-50 years while 2 respondents were above 50 years. The work tenure for the various employees was as follows; 30% have worked for less than 5 years in the organization, 54% have worked for between 6-10 years, 10% for between 11 to 15 years while the remaining employees have worked for not less than 16 years in the organization.
A study done by Nahavandi and Malakzadeh (2007) shows that different goals, perceptions and beliefs among individuals are some of the causes of conflict in organizations. With this background, the researcher sought to shed more light on the factors that cause strife or conflict in organizations. Five sources of conflict were identified by the employees. An overwhelming percentage of 94% identified differing values, opposing interests, breakdown in communication, dismal performance and scanty resources as the main drivers of conflict in the organization. Furthermore, three additional causes of conflict were identified by the 94% of the employees. There were; difference in perception, lack of accountability and competition among employees. The remaining 6% were uncertain.
Rahim (2010) affirms that policies developed and introduced by organizations, have a ripple effect on employees and their performances. To this end, the researcher sought to evaluate the perception of employees in connection to policies introduced by the firm. The four main conflict negotiation policies in the organization are mediation, arbitration, open communication channels and informal complaint process. Respondents were asked which policies were implemented and which ones they preferred. All respondents opined that all the policies were being implemented. In regards to preference, 64% preferred open communication channels, 22% preferred the informal complaint process while 14% preferred mediation. The arbitration policy was not preferred by any of the respondents.
The results obtained conformed to the findings by Nahavandi and Malakzadeh (2007) who substantiated that indeed differing values, opposing interests, breakdown in communication, dismal performance and scanty resources are the main causes of conflict in organizations. In other related studies, Robins and Langston (2001) assert that conflict can take a substantive of affective trajectory. In this regard, they discovered that substantive conflicts can be sparked by disagreements, debates, or disputes over resource distribution, task performance, and role assignments. Affective conflicts can be caused by a variety of interpersonal dynamics, including rivalries, jealousies, role definitions, or struggles for power and favor.
It is essential for managers to adhere to the policies they have put in place in resolving and negotiating conflicts when they occur. An active conflict management allows participating parties to openly air issues and grievances, thereby sharing information and resolving conflicts holistically (Lewicki et al., 2010). Moreover, Tjosvold et al. (2004) is of the opinion that to counter arguments, openness is paramount. The study further reveals that great possibilities lie in open conversation and argument confrontation. The positive results of conflict negotiation are, according to Lewicki et al. (2001), a result of the active approach which benefits team effectiveness.
The study revealed the bone of contention that cause employee conflict and that merits the attention of employers and management in organizations. The study reveals a pool of other sources of conflict that need to be further researched on. It is in the best interests for the administration and management of organizations to introduce and implement policies that employees’ opinions have been taken into account. Policies have a long-term impact on employees and also affect their productivity. In reality, conflicts are handled by first or middle line managers. This then means that top management involvement in conflict resolution points to deficiencies in the lower ranks. In conclusion, Darling and Fogliasso (2009) argue that it is impossible to get rid of conflict in its entirety. Instead, organizations should try to manage it for both institutional benefits and individual satisfaction.
Brink, P. J. (1998). Advanceddesigninnursingresearch. Sage.
Bruner, E. and Ripani, M. (2008). A quantitative and descriptive approach to morphological variation of the endocranial base in modern humans. AmericanJournalofPhysicalAnthropology:TheOfficialPublicationoftheAmericanAssociationofPhysicalAnthropologists,
Bülow, A. M. and Boje, D. M. (2015). The antenarrative of negotiation: On the embeddedness of negotiation in organizations. JournalofStrategicContractingandNegotiation, 1(3), 200-213.
Creswell, J. W. and Clark, V. L. P. (2017). Designingandconductingmixedmethodsresearch. Sage publications.
Darling, J. R. and Fogliasso, C. E. (2009). Conflict management across cultural boundaries: a case analysis from a multinational bank. EuropeanBusinessReview.
De Dreu, C. K. and Carnevale, P. J. (2003). Motivational Bases of Information Processing and Strategy in Conflict and Negotiation.
De Dreu, C. K. and Van de Vliert, E. (Eds.). (2000). Usingconflictinorganizations. Sage.
Dewulf, A., Gray, B., Putnam, L., Lewicki, R., Aarts, N., Bouwen, R. and Van Woerkum, C. (2009). Disentangling approaches to framing in conflict and negotiation research: A meta-paradigmatic perspective. Humanrelations, 62(2), 155-193.
George, D. and Mallery, P. (2016). IBMSPSSstatistics23stepbystep:Asimpleguideandreference. Routledge.
Ikeda, A. A., Modesto Veludo-de-Oliveira, T. and Cortez Campomar, M. (2005). Organizational conflicts perceived by marketing executives. EJBO-ElectronicJournalofBusinessEthicsandOrganizationStudies.
Jehn, K. A., Greer, L., Levine, S. and Szulanski, G. (2008). The effects of conflict types, dimensions, and emergent states on group outcomes. GroupDecisionandNegotiation, 17(6), 465-495.
Lewicki, R. J., Weiss, S. E. and Lewin, D. (2010). Models of conflict, negotiation and third party intervention: A review and synthesis. Journaloforganizationalbehavior, 13(3), 209-252.
Lewis, D. K. and Langton, R. (2001). Marshall and Parsons on.
Matusitz, J. and Breen, G. M. (2006). Negotiation tactics in organizations applied to hostage negotiation. JournalofSecurityEducation, 2(1), 55-73.
Nahavandi, A. and Malekzadeh, A. R. (2007). Leader style in strategy and organizational performance: An integrative framework. JournalofManagementStudies, 30(3), 405-425.
Oetzel, J., Meares, M., Myers, K. K. and Lara, E. (2003). Interpersonal conflict in organizations: Explaining conflict styles via face‐negotiation theory. CommunicationResearchReports, 20(2), 106-115.
Penney, L. M. and Spector, P. E. (2005). Job stress, incivility, and counterproductive work behavior (CWB): The moderating role of negative affectivity. JournalofOrganizationalBehavior:TheInternationalJournalofIndustrial,OccupationalandOrganizational
PsychologyandBehavior, 26(7), 777-796.
Peterson, R. S. and Behfar, K. J. (2003). The dynamic relationship between performance feedback, trust, and conflict in groups: A longitudinal study. Organizationalbehaviorandhumandecisionprocesses, 92(1-2), 102-112.
Pruitt, D. G. (2003). Communicationchainsinnegotiationbetweenorganizations. Sabancı Universitesi.
Rahim, M. A. (2010). Managingconflictinorganizations. Transaction publishers.
Robbins, S.P. and Judge, T.A. (2011). Organizational Behaviour (14ed). Pearson education,Prentice Hall, UPPER Saddle, NJ
Spaho, K. (2013). Organizational communication and conflict management. Management-JournalofContemporaryManagementIssues, 18(1), 103-118.
Tjosvold, D., Tang, M. M. and West, M. (2004). Reflexivity for team innovation in China: The contribution of goal interdependence. Group&OrganizationManagement, 29(5), 540-559.
This section will feature information that could not make its way into the main document.
Based on the results and conclusion of the current study, the following recommendations are made for different organizations;
- Participatory type of management should be encouraged by organizations rather than the autocratic
- A well-oiled system of information for all should be put in place to avoid rumour-mongering.
- Staff welfare should be paramount maximum running and optimum productivity of the
- Workshops for training and equipping staff on conflict, conflict resolution and negotiation procedures should be organized
- It should be noted that supremacy battles between employees of organizations should not be the Instead, harmony in the work place should reign supreme in order to achieve the goals and objective of the organization.
- There should be adequacy of interaction and dialogue in conflict resolution and
- Management should learn how to delegate duties and authority to lower-level employees in order to boost morale and
- Decision-making in the organizations should be multi-level to provide room for accommodation of diverse