Types of Conflict

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Conflict within the individual

The conflict within the individual is usually value related, where role-playing expected of the individual does not conform to the values and beliefs possessed by the individual. For example, a secretary may have to lie on instructions that her boss is not in the office to avoid an unwanted visitor or an unwanted telephone call.

Likewise, a police officer may be invited to his brother’s wedding where he may find that some guests are using drugs that are against the law. It may cause conflict in his mind as to which role he should play – as of a brother or as of a police officer. Conflict within an individual can also occur when a person has to choose between two equally advantageous alternatives or between two equally undesirable goals.

Interpersonal Conflict

Interpersonal conflict involves conflict between two or more individuals and is probably the most frequent and most recognized conflict. This may involve conflict between two managers who are competing for limited capital and manpower resources. This conflict can become further serious when scarce resources cannot be shared and must be attained. Likewise, if there are two equally deserving professors and they are both up for promotion, but only one of them can be promoted because of budget and positional constraints, then this could result in interpersonal conflict between the two professors.

Another type of interpersonal conflict can relate to disagreements over the goals and objectives of the organization. For example, some members of a board of directors of a school may want to offer courses in sex education while others may find this proposal offensive, therefore causing interpersonal conflict among the members of the board. These interpersonal conflicts are often the results of personality clashes. People with widely different characteristics and attitudes are sure to have views and aims that are at conflict with the views and aims of others.

Conflict between the individual and the group

All formal groups and informal groups have established certain norms of behavior and operational standards which all members are expected to conform too. An individual member may want to remain within the group for social needs but may disagree with the group goals and the methods to achieve such goals.

Intergroup conflict

An organization is an interlocking network of groups, departments, sections, or work teams. The intergroup conflicts are not so much personal in nature as they are due to factors intrinsic in the organizational structure. For example, there is an active and continuous conflict between the union and the management. One of the most common conflicts is between the line and the staff members of the organization.

Inter-organizational conflict

Conflict also occurs between organizations that are dependent upon each other in some way. This conflict may be between buyer organizations and supplier organizations about quantity, quality, and delivery times of raw materials and other policy issues. Such conflict could also be between unions and organizations employing their members, between government agencies that regulate certain organizations and the organizations that are affected by them.


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