The Impact of Conflict on Organizational Dynamics and Strategies for Resolution Research Report

Assignment Question

Develop a 3-4 page report on how conflict can affect an organization. Describe reasons for conflict and explain the role of both functional and dysfunctional conflict in institutional change. Recommend strategies for resolving both functional and dysfunctional conflict. By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria: Competency 1: Identify variables within an organizational structure that can promote conflict. Describe reasons for conflict within an institution or organization. Competency 3: Apply appropriate strategies to reduce or resolve conflicts. Recommend a conflict resolution strategy for functional conflict. Recommend a conflict resolution strategy for dysfunctional conflict. Competency 4: Analyze the impact of conflict on relationship building in face-to-face, virtual, cyber, and group communication. Explain the role of functional conflict in institutional change. Explain the role of dysfunctional conflict in institutional change. Competency 6: Communicate effectively in a variety of formats. Write coherently to support a central idea in the appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics. Complete the following: Describe at least three reasons for conflict within an institution or organization. How might individual differences and perceptions contribute to the conflict? Explain the role of functional conflict in institutional change. Explain the role of dysfunctional conflict in institutional change. Recommend one conflict resolution strategy organizational leadership could use with functional conflict. Recommend one conflict resolution strategy organizational leadership could use with dysfunctional conflict. Format this assessment as a professional report. Use appropriate headings and support your statements with the resources you located. Follow APA guidelines for your in-text citations and references. Submit 3–4 typed, double-spaced pages, not including title and reference pages. Use 12-point, Times New Roman font. Include a title page and reference page. Cite at least three current scholarly or professional resources.

Assignment Answer

In today’s dynamic and complex organizational environments, conflict is an inevitable aspect of workplace interactions (Jehn & Mannix, 2001). This report delves into the various facets of conflict within institutions or organizations. It aims to describe the reasons for conflict, elucidate the roles of both functional and dysfunctional conflict in institutional change (Rahim, 2011), and provide recommendations for resolving these types of conflicts (Fisher & Ury, 2011). By addressing these aspects, this report will exhibit proficiency in identifying variables that promote conflict (Pelled et al., 1999), applying appropriate conflict resolution strategies (Kilmann & Thomas, 1974), analyzing the impact of conflict on relationships, and communicating effectively in a professional format.

Reasons for Conflict Within Organizations

Conflict can arise from various sources within an organization (Rahim, 2002). First and foremost, differences in opinions and perspectives among employees or departments are common triggers for conflict (Thomas, 1992). These differences might stem from varying professional backgrounds, personal beliefs, or divergent approaches to problem-solving (Amason, 1996). Additionally, limited resources, such as budget constraints or access to equipment, can lead to competition and conflict among employees or teams (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003). Furthermore, unclear roles and responsibilities often create ambiguity and overlap, resulting in disputes over who should handle specific tasks (Pelled et al., 1999).

Individual differences and perceptions significantly contribute to conflicts within organizations (Rahim, 2011). People perceive situations differently based on their unique backgrounds, experiences, and personalities (Fisher & Ury, 2011). These individual variations influence how individuals interpret and react to workplace events (Kilmann & Thomas, 1974). For example, a decision made by leadership that is seen as fair by some employees might be perceived as unjust by others (Jehn & Mannix, 2001). These perceptual differences can escalate conflicts, making it crucial for organizations to consider diverse perspectives when addressing disputes.

The Role of Functional Conflict in Institutional Change

Functional conflict, when managed effectively, can play a constructive role in institutional change (Amason, 1996). This type of conflict emerges from disagreements over ideas, strategies, or methods but does not involve personal attacks or animosity (Behfar et al., 2008). In an organization, functional conflict can stimulate creativity and innovation (Jehn & Mannix, 2001). When employees with different viewpoints engage in healthy debates, they bring fresh ideas to the table (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003). This leads to improved decision-making and the development of innovative solutions (Rahim, 2011). Functional conflict is instrumental in driving progress and change by challenging the status quo and pushing the organization to evolve (Rahim, 2002).

Functional conflict often arises when there are disagreements on how to approach a particular issue, project, or goal. These disagreements can be based on differing professional backgrounds and expertise. For instance, in a technology company, engineers may have one perspective on how to develop a new product, while the marketing team may have a different approach. When managed effectively, these disagreements can lead to a more comprehensive and robust solution. By considering multiple viewpoints, an organization can make informed decisions that take into account various factors and potential risks.

Moreover, functional conflict can promote healthy competition within an organization. When teams or individuals compete to generate the best ideas or strategies, it can result in higher levels of performance and innovation. In such an environment, employees are motivated to excel and contribute to the organization’s success. The competitive spirit, when channeled positively, can drive productivity and growth.

The Role of Dysfunctional Conflict in Institutional Change

On the flip side, dysfunctional conflict can have adverse effects on institutional change (Jehn & Mannix, 2001). Dysfunctional conflict is characterized by hostility, personal attacks, and a breakdown in communication (Kilmann & Thomas, 1974). In the context of organizational change, this type of conflict can be highly destructive (Thomas, 1992). It hampers productivity, creates a toxic work environment, and diverts attention away from the change initiatives (Behfar et al., 2008). Dysfunctional conflict can result in employees resisting change due to frustration and fear, which impedes the organization’s ability to adapt and thrive (Amason, 1996).

Dysfunctional conflict is often rooted in personal issues, unresolved disputes, or a lack of effective communication. When employees engage in personal attacks or hostile behavior, it creates a hostile work environment, which is detrimental to productivity and employee morale. Dysfunctional conflict can quickly escalate to the point where it affects the overall well-being of employees, leading to stress, burnout, and turnover.

In the context of institutional change, dysfunctional conflict can be a significant roadblock. Employees who are engaged in such conflicts may be more focused on their disputes than on supporting or participating in the changes the organization is implementing. This resistance can slow down or even derail the change process, making it difficult for the organization to achieve its goals.

Recommendations for Conflict Resolution Strategies

For organizations to thrive in the face of conflict, it is essential to implement effective conflict resolution strategies (Fisher & Ury, 2011).

Functional Conflict Resolution Strategy: Organizational leadership can encourage open dialogue and create a culture that values diversity of thought (Thomas, 1992). By facilitating constructive debates and discussions, leaders can harness the potential of functional conflict (Kilmann & Thomas, 1974). Additionally, designating a neutral mediator or using consensus-building techniques can help manage functional conflicts and ensure they remain focused on the issues at hand (Jehn & Mannix, 2001).

Effective leadership plays a crucial role in managing functional conflict. Leaders should foster an environment where employees feel safe to express their ideas and opinions. This can be achieved by actively promoting open communication and demonstrating that diverse viewpoints are valued. Additionally, leaders can encourage collaboration and teamwork, which can mitigate the negative aspects of functional conflict by focusing on shared goals.

Another effective strategy for managing functional conflict is to have a structured decision-making process in place. When there are clear procedures for evaluating and implementing ideas, employees are more likely to engage in constructive debates. This ensures that disagreements lead to well-informed decisions rather than prolonged disputes.

Dysfunctional Conflict Resolution Strategy: Dealing with dysfunctional conflict requires a more assertive approach (Rahim, 2002). Leadership should address this type of conflict promptly and directly (Rahim, 2011). This may involve setting clear behavioral expectations, providing conflict resolution training, and using disciplinary measures when necessary (Amason, 1996). Moreover, fostering a culture of respect and empathy can help prevent dysfunctional conflict from escalating (Fisher & Ury, 2011).

To address dysfunctional conflict, it is essential to establish clear guidelines for acceptable behavior in the workplace. These guidelines should explicitly state that personal attacks, bullying, or any form of hostile behavior will not be tolerated. Employees should be made aware of the consequences of engaging in such behavior.

Conflict resolution training can be a valuable tool in preventing and addressing dysfunctional conflict. This training equips employees with the skills needed to resolve disputes and disagreements in a constructive manner. It teaches communication techniques, active listening, and problem-solving skills, all of which can be applied to reduce the intensity of conflicts.

Furthermore, fostering a culture of respect and empathy is crucial. Employees should feel that their concerns and issues are taken seriously, and they should be encouraged to express their feelings and opinions in a safe and supportive environment. By promoting empathy and understanding, organizations can reduce the likelihood of dysfunctional conflicts arising.

In summary, conflict is an inherent part of organizational life (Kilmann & Thomas, 1974). To address it effectively, organizations must understand the reasons behind conflict, consider the impact of individual differences and perceptions (Fisher & Ury, 2011), and recognize the roles of functional and dysfunctional conflict in institutional change (Behfar et al., 2008). By adopting appropriate conflict resolution strategies (Rahim, 2011), organizations can harness the benefits of functional conflict while mitigating the destructive impact of dysfunctional conflict (Jehn & Mannix, 2001). Ultimately, an organization’s ability to manage conflict plays a crucial role in shaping its dynamics and ensuring successful institutional change (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003).


Amason, A. C. (1996). Distinguishing the effects of functional and dysfunctional conflict on strategic decision making: Resolving a paradox for top management teams. Academy of Management Journal, 39(1), 123-148.

Behfar, K. J., Peterson, R. S., Mannix, E. A., & Trochim, W. M. (2008). The critical role of conflict resolution in teams: A close look at the links between conflict type, conflict management strategies, and team outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(1), 170-188.

De Dreu, C. K. W., & Weingart, L. R. (2003). Task versus relationship conflict, team performance, and team member satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(4), 741-749.

Fisher, R., & Ury, W. (2011). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in. Penguin.

Jehn, K. A., & Mannix, E. A. (2001). The dynamic nature of conflict: A longitudinal study of intragroup conflict and group performance. Academy of Management Journal, 44(2), 238-251.

Kilmann, R. H., & Thomas, K. W. (1974). The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Xicom.

Pelled, L. H., Eisenhardt, K. M., & Xin, K. R. (1999). Exploring the black box: An analysis of work group diversity, conflict, and performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(1), 1-28.

Rahim, M. A. (2002). Toward a theory of managing organizational conflict. The International Journal of Conflict Management, 13(3), 206-235.

Rahim, M. A. (2011). Managing conflict in organizations (4th ed.). Routledge.

Thomas, K. W. (1992). Conflict and conflict management: Reflections and update. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13(3), 265-274.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main reasons for conflict within organizations?

Conflict within organizations can stem from differences in opinions and perspectives among employees or departments, limited resources, and unclear roles and responsibilities. Individual differences and perceptions also contribute significantly to conflicts.

How can functional conflict positively impact institutional change?

Functional conflict, characterized by constructive disagreements, can stimulate creativity and innovation. When managed effectively, it leads to improved decision-making, the development of innovative solutions, and challenges to the status quo, ultimately driving progress and change within an organization.

What is the role of dysfunctional conflict in organizational change?

Dysfunctional conflict, marked by hostility and personal attacks, can be highly destructive during institutional change. It hampers productivity, creates a toxic work environment, and diverts attention away from change initiatives, often leading to resistance to change.

What strategies can be used to resolve functional conflict in organizations?

Organizations can resolve functional conflict by encouraging open dialogue, creating a culture that values diverse viewpoints, and employing neutral mediators or consensus-building techniques. Leadership plays a crucial role in managing functional conflict.

How can organizations address dysfunctional conflict effectively?

To address dysfunctional conflict, organizations should establish clear guidelines for acceptable behavior, provide conflict resolution training, and use disciplinary measures when necessary. Fostering a culture of respect and empathy is also essential in preventing the escalation of dysfunctional conflicts.