Essay on Conflict in the Workplace

3579 Words Feb 17th, 2008 15 Pages
1. Abstract Interpersonal conflicts in the workplace are very common because they inevitably arise when groups or teams perform. This essay critically discusses the view that these conflicts can in certain circumstances be a positive factor in improving the individual performance. The approach used to address this issue is a combination of literature review and interviews of employees working at the chosen business, which is the PTA GmbH.

T he four levels of conflict in the workplace and the explanation of the traditional, behavioural and interactionist views of conflict are identified. C onflicts are classified using two approaches: First, they are grouped into relationship and task conflicts. Second, they are categorised by
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In terms of the intensity of the conflict, it distinguishes between functional and dysfunctional conflicts (Wood et al., 2003, pp. 599-600):

§ Functional conflicts are of a constructive nature. They, for instance, support the goals of a work group and thus improve the performance of its individuals.

§ Dysfunctional conflicts are destructive and can decrease work productivity and job satisfaction and contribute to absenteeism and job turnover.

Figure 2 illustrates the conflict intensity's impact on the individual performance.

Figure 2 : The two faces of conflict (Robbins et al., 2003 , p. 422 Wood et al., 2003 , p. 601 )

1.3. Two classifications of interpersonal conflict 1.3.1. Types of conflict - relationship and task conflict To be able to differentiate between functional and dysfunctional conflicts an additional factor has to be taken into consideration: the type of conflict. Two major conflict types can be identified: relationship and task. Relationship conflict, also called A-type or socio-emotional conflict, is a conflict based on interpersonal relationships (Esquivel & Kleiner, 1996). This type of conflict is usually dysfunctional and thus not preferable. It involves interpersonal difficulties that arise over feelings of anger, mistrust, dislike, fear, resentment and the like. Relationship conflicts can drain people's energies and distract them from

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