BUS209 Study Guide

Unit 5: Conflict Management and Negotiations

5a. Describe the various types of conflict

1. In any organization, regardless of size or purpose, the possibility of having a conflict exists between or among the members of the organization. Conflict is a process that involves people disagreeing. Conflict can be distracting, but is all conflict something to be avoided? It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

  • This unit presents you with three types of conflict: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and group conflict. Review the discussion on each type of conflict, and write a one-sentence definition for each.
  • Refer to the definitions that you just completed. Can you describe an experience that you had with each type or witnessed occurring in others in a sentence or two?
  • Conflicts can be either functional or dysfunctional. That is, they can have a negative or a positive impact n an organization. Write a brief paragraph describing the negatives of conflict and one describing a positive result.

In some instances, conflict can mean a difference of opinion or someone saying "I don't agree with you on this point". If this conflict results in an exchange of opinions and ideas, the result may be improved. It can delay a project or result in inferior decisions if it degenerates.

2. Conflicts can occur in any organization. If we are concerned with the potential negative effects of conflict, we will want to minimize conflict causes. The following chart depicts six possible causes of conflicts.

  • Take a moment and write a one- or two-sentence definition of each cause.
  • If you were a business manager, can you identify a specific action you would take to minimize the potential risk of a conflict resulting from each of these causes?
  • While internal conflicts can negatively affect an organization, external conflicts may be even more problematic. Can you identify three external sources of conflict that could occur? Can you identify a possible solution for each one?

Conflict must be identified quickly and managed for any organization, group, or team. We want to minimize dysfunctional conflict and its' negative impacts and utilize functional conflict to produce better outcomes. Conflict management can be integrated into an organization's strategy, and processes for dealing with conflict can be implemented.


5b. Explain how to effectively manage conflict and resolve conflict with others

Let's continue with the idea of conflict management. This is a process for identifying and resolving conflicts effectively that limits any disruption of the organization's tasks. For example, conflicts can sometimes become quite personal, instead of simply disagreements about issues. Conflict management techniques can help refocus people's attention back to the issues. Note that conflicts can grow from a simple misunderstanding to a verbal or physical abuse level if no intervention occurs.

  • There are a few ways that we handle conflict. This chart plots the different techniques by evaluating the level of cooperation between conflicting parties versus competitiveness. In one or two sentences, define each technique.


  • Pick one of these techniques, and in a paragraph or two, describe a time you used the technique to address a conflict and explain if it was successful or not. Would you use this technique again? If not, explain why.
  • Pick one of the listed techniques you have not used to address a conflict. Think about a case where you might use this technique, and write a brief paragraph explaining how you would use it.
  • Since we live and work in a diversified global market, can you identify potential conflicts that might occur due to cultural differences? Gender differences? Age differences? Make a list of five or six of these potential conflicts.

If you are planning on being proactive in planning to include a conflict management plan for your organization, many resources can help. You may consider training programs for the members of your organization. Some consulting firms can come into your organization and aid in developing plans. You can also ensure that many communication channels are available to people to express a concern, point out a problem, or seek help.


5c. Summarize and employ negotiation strategies

Many conflicts may be resolved through the process of negotiation. Negotiations typically require that the parties involved discuss the point(s) of conflict, and through varying degrees of give and take, which may utilize an independent, outside referee, to reach an accommodation. This chart represents the stages of the negotiation process:

  • First, describe each phase in the negotiation process in a sentence or two.
  • Let's consider a scenario describing a workplace conflict. You are the department manager, and two of your employees have responded to your request to identify a solution to a customer issue. Only one resolution can be implemented, and there is a conflict between the employees on whose idea should be used. Briefly explain how you might use the negotiation phases to resolve this conflict.
  • Have you ever been involved in a conflict with a classmate, co-worker, or teammate? How did you resolve this conflict? Did the resolution go through any of the listed phases of negotiation?

As discussed, there are several ways to address conflicts in an organization. An organization must be familiar with many techniques to be effective at limiting conflicts. Different levels of conflict will require a different response. Most of us would agree that it is better to have a win-win outcome, if possible, rather than a win-lose outcome.


Unit 5 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • accommodation
  • conflict management
  • interpersonal conflict
  • intrapersonal conflict
  • negotiation