Conflict Resolution to Project Success

This article examines five strategies for solving common disagreements: confronting, dominating, compromising, accommodating, and avoiding. Pay attention to the literature review.

Results and discussions

In the student sample, after analyzing the main strategies adopted by the TMs compared to those adopted by the PMs (Figure 1), a clear difference in focus is observed. Where major differences are detected are on the forcing strategy which suppose an 11.43% of PMs response and 7.62% of TMs. Even though for the rest of the conflict resolution management strategies differences extracted from the statistical analysis are not significant, a clear difference of conflict management strategy selection is detected, that can be confirmed by posing and ruling out the hypothesis H0I , with a likelihood ratio of 136,8 (α = 0,05). After corroborating this, the university sample was screened even further, reducing it to solely the 41 PMs, thus guaranteeing a better contrast of the results compared to the professional sample.

Fig. 1 PM Vs TM.

Fig. 1 PM Vs TM.

Now, dealing solely with the PM sample (removing TMs responses), the H0II is assessed for the student sample, and contrasted against a control group of professionals. In this way, the hypothesis, is ruled out in both cases with a likelihood ratio of 836,01 (α = 0,05), therefore confirming the dependency of the interdependence of the conflict source when selecting the management strategy.

The comparison among these conflict management strategies of the aggregate data for PMs (Figure 2) show a clear tendency on behalf of the students towards confronting (36%) and compromising (28,61%) strategies, similar to the professionals (40,98% for confronting and 28,46% for compromising), with two details that stand out: the professionals exhibit a noticeable tendency in their strategies, and they opt for, as a third option, the accommodating management style (16,21%), whilst the students leave this option as the last possible alternative (10,71%). Forcing strategies are rated in a very poor way by professionals (8.01%) and something better by students (11.43%). The same occur for Avoiding strategy (13.24% ETSII-UPM and 6.34% for companies).

Fig. 2. Aggregate Strategies.

Fig. 2. Aggregate Strategies.

After studying the data in a disaggregate way (Figure 3), a variance in the chosen strategies was detected, depending on the conflict source, just as the hypothesis contrast had previously confirmed.

Fig. 3. (a) ETS II- UPM Disaggregate Strategies; (b) Companies Disaggregate Strategies

Fig. 3. (a) ETS II- UPM Disaggregate Strategies; (b) Companies Disaggregate Strategies

Comparing these results in a disaggregate way according to their conflict sources, we can come up with the following conclusions:

In conflicts in which the source is focused on the person, the interpersonal, or on relation relational themes, the professionals much more clearly opt (50.20% compared to 34.15% of the students) for settling the conflict looking for the strategy which a priori, according to literature, gives a clearer win-win situation (confrontation) compared to the students. In this way, strategies that suggest avoidance of the problem are abstained from (6.67% for PM companies and 21.14% for students), due to the fact that, just as the related literature regarding interpersonal conflicts shows, these usually have a negative impact most of the time.

Facing conflicts arising from previous projects, the focus is clearly differentiated. This is easily attributable to the fact that the students, even after having worked together for years, normally choose colleagues with whom they have experienced few conflicts, and in the case that said conflicts exist, they are able to dodge them so that there is no impact on the project performance, opting more for a compromising conflict management style (28,94%). Whereas, in consultancies, the resources are often assigned based on previous planning which doesn't necessarily take into consideration previous experiences, being chosen as the priority strategy Confronting (40%). In this case, the forcing strategy is chosen few times by the two groups (7.32% and 9.02 PM Students ETSII Company).

On the other hand, when the origin originates in the prioritizing of objectives, a noticeable difference isn't observed in the first strategy choices. However, the fact that the last strategy chosen by the professionals is avoiding is, in fact, notable (5,10%). Due to this, the forcing strategy (17,25%) takes the third place, which could be related to the responsibilities that are taken on by the role by those surveyed in a professional field. In the students group, these strategies are also the least valued (10.57% of avoiding and 10.89% of forcing).

The first strategy that was chosen by the panel of professionals to resolve conflicts originating from authority is compromising (49,80%), and after digging deeper into their motives for choosing this strategy, the professionals' answers were based on the fact that the majority of them work in vertical hierarchical organizations.

The existence of different points of view in the academic field as a conflict cause was put forth in a similar way, differing in that the last option for the students (9,92%) in this case was ignoring the conflict, while the professionals decided that the worst strategy to take up facing this type of conflict is once again forcing (1,96%).

Once more, in questions related to interdependence among tasks, the duo "confronting and compromising" is repeated with a different order according to the sample panel, and with a difference of opinion in that the strategy with the least value in the case of the students is accommodating (6,03%), while the professionals dismiss avoiding (5,1%). The explanation can be found by heeding the professionals' assessment that this type of conflicts can affect the expectations of the stakeholders' management to a great extent, thus rejecting any other alternative that can be taken as ignoring the conflict.

Culture is often a principal source of conflict in today's context of international projects, and while certain "ground rules" are normally established, there are still many conflicts that arise due to this point. That said, due to the considerable discrepancy between the academic origin results and the professional origin results (Forcing vs. Accommodating), we are able to deduce that this is because of the fact that our students have not yet had to contend with great cultural problems, while all of the surveyed professionals work in completely globalized environments. So for students the least valued strategy is accommodating (6.02%) and the most valued is forcing (25.92%). But for the professionals the most valued is accommodating (35.29%) and the least valued is forcing (3.92%).

The obtained results from the professional PMs, related to environmentally reduced stress, give us an idea of the utmost importance of time management in current companies. Only in this way can we understand the choice of forcing (34,9%) as a second-place option, which is so unusual and unadvisable in literature.