Question 1: Conflicts
Nature and function of conflicts
A conflict is potential consequence of two parties involved in an inter-dependent relationship. In such a relationship, a conflict is a decisive moment that tends to test the health of that relationship. The results of such a test can either weaken or strengthen the relationship. According to Fisher and Ury (2007), a conflict can also be considered as a critical event with a potential to bring lasting resentment, psychological scars or smoldering the hostility between two parties. In social and business setting, conflicts have the potential to bring the involved parties together or push them away from each other. In a situation where a conflict being the parties close into a more intimate union, business negotiations will have resulted in a healthy agreement between the parties. According to Deutsch and Coleman (2006), conflicts both in business and in social setting are a potential cause of unity or destruction. For instance, in my Trading Company, conflicts are a normal way of life. In fact, we encounter conflicts in form of disagreement or collision of points of view between employers and managers, between managers and among the employees. In addition, we always witness conflicts between managers and supplies, employees and customers and between managers and stakeholders.
Conflict and conflict resolution play an important role in social and individual development through integrating the parties’ perspective, values, interests or belief systems. In business, conflicts arise when or one or more parties perceive the current system as not potential to deliver, not working or unsatisfactory. For example, in at my workplace, there are several cases of conflict between managers and employees, especially where employees feel their issues are not well addressed. An example is a situation where employees in purchasing department feel threatened by the entry of new market entrants, yet the managers are doing little to address this issue. In such a case, we normally sit down for negotiation with our managers to find how best we can handle the situation at hand.
According Deutsch (2003), at least one party feels sufficiently dissatisfied with the current system or the status quo, which triggers such a party to own the conflict by speaking or expressing their dissatisfaction in an attempt or hope of influencing the other parties to consider some changes to the system. The purpose of expressing the dissatisfaction is an attempt to influence the other parties to arrive at an improved situation. In its nature, a conflict is actually a process aimed at achieving a self-definition and a new condition that will improve the current process. It provides our managers and employees in the purchasing department with an opportunity to be creatively self-defining. According to Lewicki, Saunders and Minton (2009), a conflict is a potential source of change that allows the parties to do something differently in future.
A resolution of conflict in business setting allows the involved parties to choose, evolve and redefine their course, the business relationships and the industry in general. In normal conditions, business partners in any form of business will find themselves in a major or minor conflict. Theoretically, such conflicts should be considered as a potential point at which the involved parties will redefine the relationships and improve the business process through conflict resolution. For example, a conflict between employees in our purchasing department and the purchasing manager should be treated as a way of finding the potential loopholes in the system, which in turn allows us to solve the problem and enhance the company’s productivity.
Functions (dysfunctions) of conflicts
Conflicts in an organization are considered to have functions and dysfunctions. For instance, they yield testing situation for all the involved parties. First, conflict resolution is competitive in nature, where one both party go to the negotiation table expecting a win-lose outcomes. Secondly, conflicts are based on bias and misperceptions. In every conflict and conflict negotiation, emotionality is a common issue, with each party seeking to outdo the other. Moreover, during conflicts, parties tend to decrease communication between each other, which increases the degree of competitiveness between them. It is also evident that both parties are involved in blurred issues due to poor communication and rigidity of their commitments. In fact, the conflicts have a dysfunction of magnified differences, but functions to minimize their dissimilarities as conflict resolution is involved. Finally, escalation of conflict is a major dysfunction and may affect the organization if the situation is not management with conflict resolution.
According to Deutsch (2003), a conflict is perceived as a bad and dysfunctional phenomenon. In this view, there are two aspects of conflict: the conflict is an indication that aspect or something in the setting has gone wrong and that it creates destructive consequences. However, in business (such as in my purchasing division), it is worth noting that conflict have a number of functions aimed at improving the business relationship between the involved parties.
First, parties involved in a business conflict compete against each other because there is a belief amongst them that goals and aims are in opposition and that in such a situation, they cannot simultaneously achieve their objectives. By resolving such a conflict, the parties develop competitive processes that will help them achieve their goals. Secondly, a conflict heightens morale in addition to promoting awareness of self and others in the business society. Moreover, conflicts serve the purpose of influencing organizational change and organizational adaptation, in addition to promoting psychological and personal development in a business career.
Levels of conflict
In an organization such as our sales company, we experience a number of conflicts because there are several players in the company. For instance, employees, employers, managers, executives, stakeholders, suppliers and even customers experience conflicts with each other at various times and levels. As such, these conflicts can be classified into a number of levels.
According to (), interpersonal conflicts encompasses intra-individual or intra-psychic conflicts. It is evident when a member of the sales organization at my workplace is required to carry out a certain duty or role that does not actually fit his or her expertise. For instance, I have witnessed accountants being assigned to represent the company as sales persons. In such a case, the person’s goals, interests, values and expertise fail to match with the roles assigned.
Secondly, interpersonal conflict normally takes place in our organization, wherein dyadic conflict arises due to disagreement between two or more members at the same hierarchical level of organization. In this case, members disagree on how to carry out certain tasks, how to accomplish their goals or how to solve certain problems affecting them.
Thirdly, intra-groups conflict is common in my trading company. It involves intradepartmental conflict, where members of one department or group (such as sales department) enter into conflict with their colleagues in the same department over how to carry out certain duties, how to solve certain problem or how to improve their performance. In my company, this is common in my sales department, where we normally enter into conflict on how to better execute our duties as sales representatives.
The fourth level of conflict is the intergroup conflict that involves conflicts between departments in an organization. For example, in my company, members of my sales department normally disagree with their colleagues in marketing, production or field staffs departments over how to carry out certain duties.
Conflict resolving approaches
According to (), several approaches to conflict resolution have been proposed in the last few decades. However, most scholars argue that effective conflict resolutions follow some guidelines within two broad conflict resolution approaches- competitive and cooperative. Within these approaches, the rule of the thumb is to follow a style that involves contending, yielding, inaction, problem solving, and compromising.
According to (), in contending, the parties tend to pursue their own outcomes with determination. They normally show little concern for the opposing party and are less concerned with their desired outcomes. In yielding, the parties tend to show little interested on whether they will attain their desired outcomes. In fact, at this stage, the parties are interested on whether the opposing party or parties in the conflict will attain their desired outcomes and outdo them.
According to (), inactivation stage involves the parties showing little interest in whether they gain their desired outcomes and a little concern on whether the other party will also gain any of their desired outcomes. This gives way to the negotiator to initiate the fourth stage of resolution- problem solving stage. According to (), this stage involves the parties showing high interest and concern on how and whether they obtain their own interest and a simultaneous high interest in whether the other party will obtain their desired outcomes. In other words, each party is interested in whether it gains its desirables and whether the other party does so within the negotiation table.
According to (), compromising stage involves the parties showing moderate concern in whether they and their partners in the conflict obtain the desired outcomes. According to (), at this point, the parties are willing to negotiate for the best of their relationship, the best of the outcomes and the best of the business. They will have shown the interest to solve the situation through give and take due to effective communication.
Question 2: the case of Robert and Ray
The best conflict resolution process available for Robert is perhaps the integrative bargaining in which both parties (Robert and Ray) will be satisfied with and benefit from the resolution. The first step in the process is to recognize that there is a conflict of interest that need be solved through negotiating. In the initial setting, Robert has realized that although he is willing to work in Ray’s company, there is need for him to move on to the new company to seek for better salary and conditions. However, it is equally important for him to stay in the current company to finish the program project as per the employment contract. In addition, he feels guilty to leave the company, considering that Ray has played a significant role in his career. Moreover, leaving the company prior to completion of the current project, considering he is the head programmer, would cost the company a lot. On the other side, he would lose his benefits.
With this in mind, Robert has the responsibility of initiating the negotiation process. He will first need to ensure there is a conflict by notifying Ray about his intended departure and the dilemma he is currently facing. Obviously, Ray will feel let down by Robert’s action and intended move and will seek to solve the situation. From this point, the two parties will solve the situation on the negotiation table under the following process:
Planning: Robert and Ray are the two parties in conflict. They must first frame the problem affecting them and recognize that they are part of the problem. This means that both parties need to share an interest in conflict resolution. Theoretically, framing the problem implies that the two parties must identify the conceptions and the risks involved in the current conflict. Here, Robert and Ray will identify all the risks involved if Robert leaves at the current conditions. For instance, they must note that when Robert leaves, he will have violated the employment contract by giving a late notification. Secondly, he will cost the company since he is currently presiding over a major project and is actually the head programmer. Thirdly, he will also lose his benefits, including the sick leave (worth $1,500), annual bonus worth $30,000 and $300 worth of travel incentives. He will also lose the trust that Ray has had in him since he was hired. On the other hand, if he does not move to the new company, he is likely to lose the opportunities in his career presented by the new company, the annual increase in his salary and the director’s trust in him.
After the problem identification, Robert and Ray will identify and define their goals. Robert’s goals are to develop his career beyond the current position and to venture into new areas where his worth will increase. He is also interested in obtaining his current benefits. On the other hand, Ray is interested in keeping Robert at the company, especially as long as the current project is in process. He is also interested in depriving Robert of the due benefits if at all he leaves the company at the present conditions.
With this in mind, the parties will now determine the issues to be solved. For instance, why does Robert want to move? How can he move without completing the current project? How can he complete the project and move without affecting the project and his reputation in the new company? How can they ensure the project completes on time and Robert moves within the required time?
A list of problems and priorities need be developed. In this case, the first priority is to ensure that the current project is completed on time. Secondly, avoiding a violation of responsibilities and roles in the company is a priority. Thirdly, the benefits to Robert must be protected under the contract requirements. Finally, the Robert’s commitment to work for the new company must be considered in the list of priorities against his due benefits in the current company.
Definition of ground rules: After the prioritization of issues, Robert and Ray need to agree on the negotiation agenda, including the location of the negotiation, the period, duration and the people to be included in the table. Here, Robert could include his representative at the workers union, his lawyer and perhaps a representative from his workplace. On the other hand, Ray might include the company lawyer, a member of the board and perhaps one executive manager.
Classification and justification: Evaluation of possible tradeoffs must be made. Here, both parties must be aware of their goals as well as positions. In addition, they must identify concerns, fears and desires under their goals.
The border of handling issues must also be included in the planning section, where sequencing option must be followed. They have the freedom to start with easier issues then move to the hard ones such as starting with the possible loss of benefits for Robert to the impact of his move on the current project. They must also develop supporting arguments, identification of facts and anticipation of the possible consequences.
Bargaining and problem solving: In this case, Robert and Ray will have to consider winning and losing on some grounds. In other words, it is a process of give and take, with the other involved parties playing the role of ensuring that no one party has been oppressed or gains more than the other does. In this case, Robert could be allowed to move, but lose his benefits, while the company will have to look for another person to fill Robert’s position. Secondly, the company may consider pursuing Robert to stay, but he will have lost the job in his new company. However, in such a case, the company must increase his salary to fit or come near the one promised to him in the new company. Thirdly, Robert could be pursued to work extra hours to complete the project before moving, but the company will also lose by increasing his benefits and those of the co-workers.
The role of communication in negotiation: The Case of Steven and Long Time Car Repair Pte
Managerial communication and negotiation stress on the need for communication and communication skills among the managers if the problem at ha d is to be solved. According to Lax and Sebenius (2006), communication is the critical aspect of negotiation. Without communication, then there is no possibility of negotiation. According to Carvalho, Manuel and Filipe (2008), communication must be effective and efficient. There should be little or no noise effect in the communicated message. In addition, the communication must follow a clear format that will not elicit or trigger emotions and escalation of conflict.
With this in mind, Steven has to initiate communication between him and Long Time Car Repair. It is evident that the relationship between his company and Long Time Car Repair has gone sour. This means that he has to utilize his skills in communication (communication skills) to bring the other party to the negotiation table.
Steven must realize the problem that caused the conflict as a basis to start the negotiation process. First, using communication skills, Steven must ensure that he identifies himself as a company representative and seek to negotiate the problem. It is important that he identify himself as Steven and not Roma. This is likely to attract the attention of the other party and develop an interest in communicating.
Secondly, Steven must consider the relevance of communication. In communication skills, a party must focus on what is most important for the situation. Steven must emphasize on the situation at hand and inform the company that he seeks to solve the problem affecting them. Thirdly, consistency of communication is an important skill in communication. Here, Steven must choose effective and consistent information relayed to the other party. He must not contradict himself regularly in order to ensure there is trust in what he says. Moreover, he must seek feedback from the other party before providing additional information. He must seek to note the reaction by the other party prior to making his suggestions for problem solution.
Once the company agrees to negotiate with Steven’s organization, it is likely that they will send representatives at the negotiation table. Here, both verbal and non-verbal communication must be considered for consistency. In case of verbal communication, Steven must choose his words with skill in order to ensure the communication is effective and consistent. He must seek to negotiate on the relevant issues and avoid irrelevant issues. He must ensure that non-verbal communication skills are involved. For instance, he must not express a bit of being helplessness to the other party. He must be confident but with a positive attitude.
The role of culture in negotiation: The case of African Foods
In this case, it is evident that cultural differences between the European and their African counterparts in the business dispute are an important factor that affects the outcomes of the dispute resolution process. In fact, an effective negotiation will not take place if cultural differences are not considered and addressed effectively.
According to Cohen (2003), culture is a quality of the society and not individuals. However, individuals are part of the society. Cohen further argues that individuals acquire culture through acculturation or socialization. This means that each culture is a unique and highly complex attribute encompassing all the areas of a social life. According to Carnevale and Choi (2006), culture specifies the behaviors desired or proscribed for the individual members of that culture (norms) or the individuals in a given society (roles). In addition, it specifies the important goals and principles of an individual’s life (values). It also specifies how things and issues must be evaluated and perceived within a given society.
In negotiations, culture is considered a broad concept that tends to describe the basic aspects of human mentality, behavior, language, ideologies, style, approaches and traditions. On the other hand, negotiation is a part of human activity that seeks to connect with and solve a given problem in a peaceful means. In this context, negotiation is presented as a manifestation of culture, given that it encompasses a specific code of conduct.
The behavior, language, mentality and psychology are the principal issues that determine the reasoning and understanding behind the actions taken by the two groups. In this case, there are differences in these aspects between the African and European groups, which affect the process of dispute resolution.
To improve the communication and negotiation between the two groups, it is important to add a number of issues in the curriculum developed to train the negotiators from both sides. First, it is important to condition the perceptions of reality in the two sides so that a common view of things is achieved. Secondly, the trainers must block out information that is inconsistent with culturally ground assumptions. Moreover, it is important for the syllabus to ensure that it projects meaning onto the words and actions of the two parties. Finally, there is need to include information that will impel the ethnocentric observation to a wrong or incorrect attribution towards the other culture of members of the opposite different culture.
Carnevale P. J., & Choi, D. (2000). Culture in the Mediation of International Disputes. International Journal of Psychology, 35(2), 105-110.
Carvalho, P., Manuel, F., & Filipe, A. S. (2008). The Importance of Communication Skills in Negotiation: An Empirical Study. IACM, 3(16), 23-36.
Cohen, R. (2003). An Advocates View’ in Culture and Negotiation. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications
Deutsch, M. (2003). The Resolution of Conflict: Constructive and Destructive Processes. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Deutsch, M., & Coleman, P. (2006). The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers
Fisher, R., Ury, W. (2007). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in. New York: Penguin Books
Lax D., & Sebenius, J. K. (2006). The Manager as Negotiator: Bargaining for Cooperation and Competitive Gain. New York: The Free Press.
Lewicki, R. J., Saunders, D. M., & Minton, J. W. (2009). Negotiation. San Francisco: Irwin McGraw-Hill
Use the order calculator below and get started! Contact our live support team for any assistance or inquiry.[order_calculator]