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From Chapter 11 of the Navahandi text (sample provided)

a) What is conflict?

b) What are the sources of conflict?

c) What is conflict management/resolution?

d) What is the relationship between conflict and creativity?

Managing Conflict and
Conflict at Yahoo
What happens when a successful 37-year-old working mom
and CEO bans flexible work for her employees? Aside from
many disgruntled employees, she becomes the center of
national controversy about women in the workplace.1 This
After studying the material in this chapter,
you will be able to:
is what happened to Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, when
1. Define conflict and its consequences
option and had to show up for work every day. Mayer who
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the
types and levels of conflict
3. Explain the role of culture in conflict
4. Analyze various sources of conflict
5. Apply the appropriate methods to
manage conflict
6. Apply the appropriate methods to
prevent and reduce conflict
7. Demonstrate knowledge of the
negotiation process and the key
approaches to negotiation
8. Identify non-effective negotiation
strategies and their causes
9. Evaluate the consequences of conflict
she declared that employees would lose their telecommuting
left Google to join Yahoo with high expectations for improved
performance at Yahoo, joined the company when she was
5 months pregnant. She returned to work after a 2-week
maternity leave after the birth of her son, who gets to stay
in the nursery she built at her own expense next to her office
so that she can work the long hours that have earned her
the reputation of being a workaholic—all of which received
extensive media coverage. As she was looking for ways to
improve performance, Mayer noticed that the Yahoo parking
lot was too empty in the early and late hours during which
she was at the office.
As one of the youngest female CEOs and few women leading a Fortune 500 company, Mayer was considered by many
to be a role model for young women.2 Her actions triggered
a deluge of e-mails, tweets, and commentary about the
role of women in the workplace and her lack of support for
other women. Mayer has not lived up to expectations of
being a role model female CEO, but she has lived up to
the promise of improving the company’s bottom line and
performance with a 50% increase in share prices.3 The decision to ban telecommuting
came suddenly and with a simple explanation from Mayer: “We need to be one Yahoo!,
and that starts with physically being together.”4 Jackie Reese, Yahoo’s HR chief said:
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be
important, so we need to be working.”5 Interestingly, just about the same time as Mayer
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Part III: Group and Team Processes
Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.
—Donatella Versace
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
Conflict cannot survive without your
—Wayne Dyer
One of the greatest powers we have in a
negotiation is the power to NOT react.
banned t­elecommuting, another company, Best
Buy—headed by a male CEO—ended its own
pioneering flexible work-from-home program.6
Little controversy ensued in that case. Also
released around the same time were several
reports about the benefits of telecommuting to
both employees and company bottom lines.
—William Ury
When people with different goals and interests work together, the potential for disagreement is always present. This disagreement or conflict may be about personal preferences,
political differences, or organizational policies and procedures. It may reside largely below
the surface, but it also may break into the open—sometimes at the oddest times—and, on
occasion, latent conflict may explode into sheer nastiness. Similarly, negotiating with others to reach or deal or to resolve conflict is also part of all relationships inside and outside
organizations. You may experience conflict with a friend, a classmate, a coworker, a supervisor, or a subordinate. In organizations, as in personal relationships, managing conflict
constructively and negotiating well are essential.
Most students of organizations view conflict as inevitable.7 Negotiating to resolve such
conflict or to make deals is an inherent part of a manager’s job. In addition, the current
trends toward workforce diversity, globalization, and partnerships with other organizations are making increasingly important the way in which managers from different organizations and cultures deal with conflict and negotiate.
Defining Conflict
Conflict is a process in which people disagree over significant issues, thereby creating friction. For conflict to exist, several factors must be present:
• People must have opposing interests, thoughts, perceptions, and feelings
• Those involved must recognize the existence of different points of view
• The disagreement must be ongoing rather than a singular occurrence
• People with opposing views must try to prevent one another from accomplishing their goals.
Conflict: a process in
which people disagree
over significant issues,
thereby creating friction
Conflict can be a destructive force. However, it can also be beneficial when used as a
source of renewal and creativity. Before we look at views, sources, consequences, and ways
to manage conflict, note that we often use the terms conflict and competition interchangeably, although the two differ. Competition is the rivalry between individuals or groups
over an outcome and always has a winner and a loser. While competition can be one of the
sources of conflict, conflict does not necessarily involve winners and loser; we can have
conflict over issues, but cooperate so that no one loses or wins.
Competition: rivalry
between individuals or
groups over an outcome;
always has a winner and
a loser
Views of Conflict
There are two general views of conflict. First, conflict can be considered a negative force
and dysfunctional—that it makes people feel uncomfortable and, consequently, makes
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The following questions provide additional insight into how you behave in conflict situations.8 Answer each
question as to the extent that you think or believe that the statement is true.
Never Seldom
1. Do you believe that in every conflict situation,
mutually acceptable solutions exist or are available?
2. Do you believe that in each conflict situation,
mutually acceptable solutions are a desirable thing?
3. Do you favor cooperation with all others in your
everyday activities and disfavor competition with
4. Do you believe that all people are of equal value
regardless of age, race, religion, culture, or gender?
5. Do you believe that the views of others are legitimate
(i.e., genuine, accurate, true) expressions of their
6. Do you believe that differences of opinion are helpful
and beneficial?
7. Do you believe that others are worthy of your trust?
8. Do you believe that others can compete but that they
also can choose to cooperate?
9. Do you believe that how one thinks and how one
feels are factors in deciding how one behaves?
After answering these questions, go back and reflect on your answers. For example, are you more likely to
accommodate or avoid confrontations? What else did you learn? You should revisit these questions after
you have finished reading this chapter.
Source: Lulofs, S., & Cahn, D. D. (2000). Conflict: From theory to action (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, p. 36.
them less productive. Second, conflict can be viewed as a natural part of organizational life
and beneficial to the workplace.9
Early views of management considered conflict to be dysfunctional. For example, one of
the fathers of management, Frederick Taylor (see Chapter 1), viewed conflict as a threat
to managerial authority and as a waste of time. According to his view, conflict can cause
unnecessary stress, reduce communication and group cohesion, and prevent employees
from focusing on their task. Many of you have experienced the negative impact of conflict when infighting and personality conflicts create intense animosity that made it hard to
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
work ­cooperatively with coworkers. Organizational psychologist David Javich suggests that many people hold inaccurate beliefs about conflict, what he calls conflict myths.10
These include the belief that conflict will destroy team cohesion, make cooperation impossible, and that it will cause an
unmanageable chain reaction in organizations.
We already have noted that the environment in which today’s
organizations operate is highly turbulent and often chaotic.
Actually, organizations in which there is a little disagreement and well-managed conflict are more likely to do well
in such environments. As a matter of fact, some researchers
suggest that too much agreement can lead to complacency
and can be destructive.11 Members are either so homogeneous that they are ill equipped to adapt to changing environmental conditions, or so complacent that they see no need
to improve the status quo. Indeed, a positive view of conflict
argues that it is the very lifeblood of vibrant, progressive, and
stimulating organizations because it sparks creativity, fosters
innovation, and encourages personal improvement.12
As with most organizational processes we have discussed so
far, conflict is neither all good nor all bad. Some levels and
Globalization has increased the frequency of cross-cul- types of conflict are healthy; others are not. Figure 11.1
tural communication, conflict, and negotiations.
shows how moderate levels of conflict stimulate creative
decision making and prevent groupthink and apathy. Very low conflict levels lead to complacency and stagnation. Very high levels, especially if based on individual and personality differences rather than issues related to organizational goals and processes, are detrimental to
the organization, and cause dysfunctional behavior. The level and type of conflict and how it
is managed determine whether it is beneficial or detrimental to the organization.
Healthy disagreement
Discussion of ideas
Lack of cooperation
Levels of conflict
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Managers should expect intelligent, well-trained, and motivated employees to disagree
over a variety of issues. In fact, employees agreeing easily on how to approach any issue of
importance to a company may signal trouble. By the same token, constant disagreements
over every issue, or personal conflict, are dysfunctional and destructive. The ability to generate disagreement might be a hallmark of the effective decision maker, but we should note
that generating conflict requires considerable maturity and self-confidence on the part of
the manager; many managers feel too insecure to stir up conflict among their subordinates.
By managing conflict properly, a manager can mobilize disparate pieces of information and
diverse perspectives into productive solutions. For this reason, conflict presents opportunities for mobilizing ideas and approaches in the organization and can promote increased creativity, innovation, flexibility, and responsiveness as well as generally improve the overall
effectiveness of the organization. Conflict forces people to test and assess themselves and, as
a result, stimulates interest and curiosity in others, promoting productive change.
Consequences of Conflict
Clearly, conflict has both positive and negative consequences, as we see in Figure 11.2. On
the positive side, all of us have experienced the exhilaration and energy that come from
competition. Competition and conflict can motivate people and inspire them to focus on
the task. Involvement in competition brings group members closer together and leads to
increased discussions of various issues and alternatives. When outside conflict or competition occurs, groups members band together and brainstorm to find creative solutions. This
process increases group cohesion and effectiveness.
Companies can use competition with other companies as a way of reducing internal
conflict and focusing the employees’ energies on outside competitors. Although conflict
is inevitable and desirable in organizations, a high level of unresolved conflict can be
destructive. Individuals, teams, or departments that are engaged in high conflict may lose
sight of the common goals and focus on winning at all costs. They could withhold important information from others, or even actively sabotage others’ work. When conflict leads
to winners and loser, losers may be demoralized and become demotivated. Consider an
organization that sets up a competition among four teams for the design of a new service.
The team that wins receives accolades and rewards; the losers are ignored or even punished. At the outset of the competition, all teams may be strongly motivated to win, so
they work hard on their task and creativity is likely to be high. However, when the manager announces the winner, the remaining
three teams lose their motivation to conFIGURE 11.2
tribute. This loser effect harms long-term
relationships and overall organizational
Ideally, managers are proactive in creating
an environment in which the likelihood of
dysfunctional conflicts is minimized as the
diversity of contributions and talents of
others are appreciated.13 When conflict is
not resolved or reaches levels that are too
high, managers risk letting differing perspectives go undirected, often resulting in
tension and dysfunction rather than creative and progressive change.
• High energy
• Focus on the task
• Stimulate
• Increased in-group
• In-group cohesion
• Discussion of issues
• Focus on conflict
• Concern with
winning at all costs
• Distorted judgment
• Lack of cooperation
• Loser effect
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Types and Levels of Conflict
Table 11.1 summarizes the four types of conflict that managers encounter. Intrapersonal
conflict is a person’s internal conflict. For example, a father who wants to be heavily
involved in his young children’s school activities and to be on the corporate fast track
may experience intrapersonal conflict. His goals and values regarding family conflict with
his goals as a manager. Interpersonal conflict refers to conflict that arises between two or
more people who are required to interact and who have different goals, values, or styles.
This is the type of conflict we often call “personality conflict.” Because such conflict typically revolves around personal differences rather organizational goals, the potential for
negative impact is high and it can be problematic for managers.
TABLE 11.1
Type of Conflict
Within a person, because he or she is motivated to engage in two or more activities that are incompatible
Between two or more people who interact and have incompatible goals, styles, or
Within a group when members disagree over group goals, activities, leadership,
or processes
Between different groups, departments, or divisions that disagree over task,
processes, resources, or information
conflict: a person’s
internal conflict
conflict: conflict that
arises because two or
more people who are
required to interact have
different goals, values,
or styles
Intragroup conflict:
conflict within a work
group over goals or work
Intergroup conflict:
when groups within and
outside an organization
disagree over various
Horizontal conflict:
between departments or
groups at the same level
of the organization
Intragroup conflict refers to conflict within a work group over goals or work procedures.
While some level of intragroup conflict is healthy and helps prevent problems such as
groupthink, this type of conflict, if not well managed, can be extremely detrimental to
group cohesion and productivity. As you read in Chapter 10, all groups and teams face
some conflicts, particularly in the early stages of development. Navigating these conflicts
successfully is an important aspect of a group’s maturity and a predictor of its success.
Finally, intergroup conflict occurs when groups within and outside an organization disagree over various topics. Intergroup conflict is usually about broad organizational issues
such as resource allocation, access to information, and system-related processes. For
instance, departments in most organizations face conflict over the allocation of resources
during budget negotiations, each vying for a larger share of the pie. Or key departments
may disagree as to how a product should be designed or marketed. Intergroup conflict
occurs at different organizational levels. Horizontal conflict takes place between departments or groups at the same level of the organization. As departments work together to
achieve organizational goals, they may disagree over schedules, quality, efficiency, and
so forth. Sales and production departments often conflict over production and delivery
schedules. Sales people promise customers certain delivery dates without double-checking
the production schedule. When the sales team learns of product delays, conflict results.
As you will learn in Chapter 14, proper management of horizontal conflict is essential for
integration of activities within an organization.
Vertical conflict occurs between groups at different levels of the hierarchy. It typically involves
broad organizational issues of control and power. A department may have a conflict with
top executives over the allocation of resources for raises. Another vertical conflict may arise
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because managers want autonomy to stay flexible and responsive to local customers’ needs but
headquarters wants to control and standardize procedures to monitor costs. Understanding
the type and level of conflict is the first step for managers to manage conflict well.
Culture and Conflict
Culture is one factor that determines how people handle and view conflict. Individuals’
dispositions are rooted in their early social and cultural experiences, and, because conflict
is an interpretive behavior, culture shapes people’s interpretation of behavior and their
style of interaction with others. Therefore, cultural values create a social environment that
encourages members to select some behaviors over others.
Some cultures are more tolerant and accepting of conflict than others who tend to view it
as a sign of trouble. Any cross-cultural contact has the potential for conflict because people from different cultures often have different values and goals. Any differences in goals
or values can lead to conflict, so we cannot identify all those differences here. It thus is not
surprising that research has also found that strategies for negotiating conflict vary according to one’s cultural background and cultural values.14 Collectivist cultures such as those of
Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American countries tend to adopt a harmony perspective
on conflict.15 Individualistic cultures in English-speaking countries are more likely to use a
confrontational approach.16 Eastern European and Hispanic countries are likely to adopt
a regulative model of conflict, which relies on bureaucracy and organizational structure to
contain conflict.17 A study of businesspeople in Japan, Germany, and the United States found
that the Japanese used power strategies more than Germans, who used more power than
Americans.18 Generally, people in individualistic cultures, such as that of the United States,
value and encourage competition. In collectivist cultures, characteristic of many Asian and
Latin American countries for example, people focus on the community and consensus. Thus,
in collectivistic cultures, managers are more likely discourage competition to reduce conflict.
Social status and gender, group-level cultural factors, will also influence individuals’
choice of conflict management strategies.19 For example, avoiding disputes or refraining
from direct confrontation with conflict issues in a formal or public sphere has been found
to be a prevailing mode of conflict management by low-status individuals and members of
minorities.20 Additionally, research on gender and conflict resolution found that femininity was significantly related to the use of an accommodative style in conflict resolution,
while masculinity was related to the competitive style.21
The culture of an organization can also act in much the same way as national or group culture. An
organization based on individual achievement and competition will encourage conflict, whereas
one based on cooperation and group consensus is likely to discourage conflict. Furthermore,
because of the leader’s impact on culture, a leader’s conflict management style, which we discuss
later in this chapter, can affect how the organization as a whole views and manages conflict.
Sources of Conflict
Conflict can arise because of both personal and organizational sources (see Figure 11.3). While it
is not always easy to separate the two, some conflicts are more directly related to individuals having incompatible goals or values while others are related to the way the organization is structured
or managed.
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Vertical conflict:
between groups at
different levels of the
Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
Personal Sources of Conflict
Personal sources of conflict are often interpersonal in nature and cover many different
grounds.22 For example, two coworkers may have different work styles, or an employee
may want more autonomy than her manager is willing to give her. These sources of conflict often involve individual perceptions and expectations about how the work should
be done and what is important in the work environment. They are influenced by the personality, style, and culture of the individual. Because they involve individual values, conflicts based on personal differences tend to be highly emotional and difficult to resolve. For
example, a devout Catholic business owner might have difficulties locating his business
near a Planned Parenthood clinic where abortions are performed. A disagreement about
location may turn into a bitter argument about who is morally correct.
Perception may also lead to personal differences. Differing perceptions alone may be
enough to invite conflict. An employee may perceive that he is not valued by his supervisor
because he does not receive regular praise for his efforts. The supervisor values his work
and believes he is making excellent contributions in a tough financial environment. However, she is internally motivated, does not personally have the
need for constant praise, and does not see the point of praising
her employee often. The conflict is caused by how each person
perceives the situation.
What Do You Think?
Some managers try to control conflict to
maintain smooth operations. Others stimulate
disagreements, hoping to get all sides of the
issue. Both strategies make some sense. What
do you think? Which strategy are you most
comfortable using? Why?
Many conflicts caused by cross-cultural differences are further
related to differences both in values and in perception. Since
culture influences what people value, it is not surprising that
culture can be a factor in personal sources of conflict in organizations. A Mexican manager may perceive his North American
employee who calls him by his first name and interrupts him in
meetings to disagree with him to be rude and disrespectful. The
employee is simply behaving according to his cultural values
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that suggest openness and participation. Similarly,
a Thai employee who comes from a culture that
values indirectness and avoiding conflict may find
her European manager’s honest and direct performance review or her North American team members’ open disagreement offensive, causing conflict
and leading to lack of motivation.
Organizational Sources of Conflict
Sometimes we attribute conflict to personal factors, where organizational structures and processes
may really be the source. For example, we may
think a coworker is uncooperative and unhelpful
by nature while the organization’s reward system
that encourages competition may be to blame. We
consider five organizational sources of conflict (see
Figure 11.3).
Managers from masculine cultures are likely to be more assertive
and independent, a potential cause of conflict when working with
those from cultures that value indirectness or cooperation.
Goal Incompatibility
Goal incompatibility is the source of many conflicts. Because different departments in
organizations are focused on different tasks and functions, conflict among them is inevitable. The manufacturing department may be focused on efficiency and cost cutting
while the designers aim at creating the most innovative product. The goal of the Human
Resources manager is likely to include ensuring that all employment laws are followed
in the hiring of new employees, causing delays and additional steps, while managers
throughout the organization may be seeking to fill their vacancies quickly. Legal departments focus on risk management and documentation; good management may contradict
those goals.
Today’s rapidly changing work environment further contributes to conflict.25 Uncertainty
makes it difficult for managers to set clear a direction. Because they lack information, they
either have to change course often or remain flexible. Managers are increasingly forced to
adapt to rapidly shifting environmental constraints and are under pressure to “do more
with less,” contributing to conflict as departments and individuals deal with shifting goals.
Additionally, uncertainty puts in question accepted practices and procedures, opening the
door for disagreement related to both goals and processes. We will review the impact of
uncertainty on organizations in more detail in Chapter 14.
Resource Scarcity
When resources are scarce, employees and departments have to compete to get their share
of those resources. Such competition increases the likelihood of conflict. Cost-cutting
activities are an example of the effect of resource scarcity. As resources dwindle and the
organization has to make do with less, individuals, work teams, and departments compete
over those limited resources. Such competition leads to higher conflict.
Reward Systems
The fourth organizational source of conflict is the reward system. 26 If managers reward
competition and set up a win-lose environment for their employees, they will increase
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
The dynamics of helping relationships have been explored in great
detail by Edgar Schein in his book, Helping.23 A helping
relationship can be informal (as when we seek help from
a friend, a spouse, or a coworker), semiformal (as when
we go to a computer consultant), or formal (as when we
hire a management consultant), but all of these involvements bear certain features in common. Most important, helping involves a relationship between people
and that relationship must be understood for effective
helping to occur.
Initially, the helping relationship must be based on
conditions of mutual trust. “Trusting another person
means, in this context, that no matter what we choose
to reveal about our thoughts, feelings, or intentions, the
other person will not belittle us, make us look bad, or
take advantage of what we have said in confidence.”24
­ mbiguity. When people ask for help, they expose a cera
tain dependency, which in many cultures and in many
situations are seen as self-degrading. On the other
hand, the person being asked for help is elevated in the
relationship. But if that person is in any way dismissive,
the status difference is accentuated and trust is eroded.
And if, after help has been given, the one being helped
doesn’t express appreciation, another type of tension
arises. In either case, the tension in the relationship
must be dealt with.
Anyone attempting to help another must be mindful of
the emotional state of the “client.” For example, the client may be cautious about initially stating the full problem. The helper, in this case, must be careful not to jump
too quickly to presenting advice or possible solutions.
There may be more to the story than is being initially
revealed. Similarly, the client may ask for help but really
be seeking attention or recognition for what he has
already done. The helper who provides a quick solution
may be missing the point. In any case, the helper must
be sensitive to the emotional state of the client.
Trust equates to emotional safety. Beyond that, building an effective relationship requires that both parties
get something out of it and it feels “fair.” Over time, we
learn the different roles we play and the expectations
associated with those roles. But we also recognize that
confusing these roles can be detrimental to an effective
relationship. For example, though we may be a parent, if
we act in a parental way toward others at work, we may
appear patronizing, and trust in the relationship will be
2. How does the leader or manager know that people
are not just saying what she wants to hear?
The helping relationship, while potentially beneficial
for both parties, can also be riddled with tension and
3. Explain why understanding the emotional state of
the other is essential to the helping relationship.
the extent to which
employees depend on
others to get their work
1. Leaders and managers learn to give help and to get
help. What are some of the ways in which they get
really good advice?
c­ onflict in their organizations. For example, most organizations give raises and promotions on a competitive basis. Many set up a system whereby only a certain percentage of
their employees can get the top rankings regardless of performance. Such a reward system
may motivate employees to do their best, but it also encourages competition for limited
spots and thus creates conflict among employees. Other examples of factors that may produce conflict include common practices such as employee of the month or major awards
that are given on a competitive basis. Similarly, rewards based on individual, rather than
team, performance are likely to increase intragroup competition and conflict. While such
practices are not inherently wrong and often are designed to motive employees, managers
must be aware of their consequences.
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The final source of organizational conflict is interdependence,
which is defined as the extent to which employees depend on others to get their work done. As long as people with different goals
can stay away from one another, there is little conflict. The conflict arises when interdependence is high. Consider, for example,
three shifts of workers, each of which picks up where the previous one leaves off. Each group’s actions affect the others. Their
disagreements over work procedures, cleanup, documentation,
organization of their common workplace, and so forth will lead
to conflict because of their interdependence.
Many of you have experienced conflict related to interdependence in the group and team projects for your classes. You may
like the company of your fellow students and not really care
about how they work or what grade they pursue in their class.
But once you have to work with them on a paper or project, your
grade depends on them having the same focus and goal as you.
Such interdependence often leads to conflict.
Managers cannot avoid either the personal or the organizational
sources of conflict. Based on our earlier discussions, there really
is no reason to avoid them. Moderate conflict can be beneficial to
the organization. The key is for managers to learn to manage conflict effectively. In some cases, they will need to reduce conflict; in
others they may need to encourage conflict.
Managing Conflict
Rewards given to a single individual, such as an
employee of the month, can motivate employees but
also increase intragroup competition and conflict.
Managers and leaders are no longer interested in eliminating
conflict completely. Instead, they are interested in finding ways
to manage conflict effectively. Managers must consider several factors before deciding
how to manage a conflict. These are presented in Figure 11.4.
Managers must consider how complex the source and issues
involved in the conflict are, whether they are seeking quick
relief or a long-term solution, how much time they have to
spend on conflict management, how important the conflict and
You are director of a purchasing department.
issues are, and how much power the conflicting parties have.
What Would You Do?
The two division directors who report to you
Two General Approaches
To manage conflict effectively, the organization should maintain a moderate level of conflict through prevention and
reduction or through an increase or stimulation of conflict.
Table 11.2 presents two general approaches to conflict management. Managers may target behaviors or attitudes to manage
conflict.27 The behavioral approach is aimed at simply stopping
the behaviors that are causing the conflict. It does not delve
into the roots of the conflict or analyze its sources. The results
are often quick, short-term, and are useful if the conflicting
have been feuding for years. They even built
a wall separating what was once a completely
open space where people needing help from
the other side could simply walk over and ask.
Now they have to go out the door, down the
hall, to the person’s desk, and back. Employees
on both sides of the wall think the feud is silly.
You do too. What would you do? Are you able
to identify sources for the conflict?
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
of the Issue
Conflict Management
Power of
the Parties
Need for
parties are not interdependent so that they can limit or avoid interaction. The attitudinal
approach addresses the roots of the conflict by focusing on emotions, beliefs, and behaviors. It is more time-consuming than the behavioral approach, but has the potential for a
long-term resolution of the conflict. Managers should use the attitudinal approach when
conflicting parties have to work together—such as in a self-managed team or between
members of two departments that are highly interdependent. They should rely on behavioral approaches to address more simple conflicts where a quick resolution is needed.
TABLE 11.2
Behavioral Approach
Attitudinal Approach
Changing individuals’ behaviors
Changing individuals’ attitudes,
beliefs, feelings, and behaviors
Quick and short term
Slow and long term
Time needed
Can be implemented quickly
Keeping parties on separate floors;
enforcing policies; establishing rules that
limit interaction; assigning a go-between
Team building; rotating conflicting
employees to each others’ teams;
Individual Conflict Management Styles
In addition to various methods managers can use to manage conflict, their individual
conflict management style also plays a role. Because of the importance and consequences
of conflict, researchers have developed several models for understanding how different
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i­ ndividuals handle conflict.28 Two dimensions are used to identify different conflict management styles. The first is concern for self or assertiveness; the second is concern for others, or cooperativeness.29 Assertiveness is defined as taking action to satisfy one’s own
needs and concerns. Cooperativeness is defined as taking action to satisfy the other party’s
needs and concerns. Figure 11.5 depicts how the combination of these two dimensions
creates five conflict management styles: collaboration, competition, accommodation,
avoidance, and compromise. You can identify your dominant styles from the self-assessment at the beginning of this chapter (see Self-assessment 11.1). Each style has benefits
and disadvantages and should be used in different situations.30
• Collaboration involves high concern
for satisfying both your own needs
and the needs of others. People with
this style focus on openness, cooperation, and exchange of information. They focus on a win-win style
and on finding a solution that is in
both parties’ best interest. This style
typically takes more time, but can
deliver long-term gains.
• Competition is a style that is high on
assertiveness and low on cooperaCompromise
tion. Individuals who consistently use
this style are interested in their own
positions, ignore the needs of others,
and view the world as a zero-sum
game with winners and losers. They
view conflict as competition and their
goal is to win. Although this is a common way of handling conflict, it is
not viewed as beneficial to individuals or groups that have repeated interaction. But it
might be appropriate when an unpopular action needs to be implemented for the greater
good of the organization.
• Accommodation is a style that is low on assertiveness but high on cooperation. The person who relies on accommodation is willing to sacrifice his own needs to satisfy the needs
of others. The individual doing the accommodating is able to build credibility for the
next conflict. Accommodation may be useful in the short run but harmful in the long run.
If one party continuously accommodates while the other party has its needs and concerns
met, then the accommodating party eventually will begin to resent the other party.
• Avoidance is a style that is low on assertiveness and low on cooperation. The person
using it to manage conflict does not satisfy her needs or the needs of the other person.
Instead, she avoids the issues and does not want to explore the sources or solutions to
the conflict. People can avoid conflict by withdrawing or creating a physical separation
so that they do not have to engage in the conflict. Avoidance may be useful for trivial
issues or in the short run in that it allows individuals time to cool off and regain perspective, but it can be quite harmful in the long run. Individuals might resent having to
suppress their feelings about the conflict, and they might find other dysfunctional ways
of dealing with the issues.
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Assertiveness: taking
action to satisfy one’s
own needs and concerns
taking action to satisfy
the other party’s needs
and concerns
Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
• Compromise falls in the middle of both assertiveness and cooperation. People using
this style take the middle ground. They explore issues to some extent and move to a
give-and-take position where there are no clear winners or losers. Everybody ends
up with something, though not everything he wanted. This style focuses on negotiation and diplomacy. Although it may appear to be ideal and it allows parties to work
together, it focuses on satisficing—finding an acceptable solution that everyone can
minimally accept—rather than taking the time to find optimal solutions. Additionally,
people using this style often will focus on what they have given up rather than on what
has been gained. Even with these disadvantages, compromising may be the only style
that works in situations where the parties have equal power and strongly opposing
views, such as is often the case in diplomatic negotiations.
When Should the Different Styles Be Used?
So which conflict management style works best? Most would say it depends on the situation. Managers should take a contingency approach and match the style to the situation. Note that although conflict management style may have a basis in personality, it is
not considered a personality trait. Rather, it is a behavior related to managing conflict.
As such, people can practice and learn new styles, thereby expanding their ability to handle different conflict situations. Table 11.3 summarizes the situations in which each style
should and should not be used.
Satisficing: making
a satisfactory, but not
optimal decision
TABLE 11.3
When to Use
When Not to Use
•• When issues are complex and require input
and information from others
•• When commitment is needed
•• When dealing with strategic issues
•• When long-term solutions are needed
•• When there is time
• When there is no time
• When others are not interested and do not
have the skills
• When conflict occurs because of different
value systems
When there is no time
When issues are trivial
When all solutions are unpopular
When others lack expertise
When issues are important to you
•• When issues are complex and require
input and information from others
•• When working with powerful others
•• When long-term solutions and
commitment are needed
When the issues are not important to you
When your knowledge is limited
When there is a long-term give and take
When you have no power
•• When others are unethical or wrong
•• When you are certain you are correct
•• When there is no chance of future give and
•• When issues are trivial
•• When conflict is too high and parties need to
cool off
•• When a long-term solution is needed
•• When you are responsible for resolving the
•• When goals are clearly incompatible
•• When parties have equal power
•• When a quick solution is needed
Where there is an imbalance in power
When the problem is complex
When long-term solutions are needed
When conflict is rooted in different value
Source: Based on Rahim, M. A. (1983, June). A measure of styles of handling interpersonal conflict. Academy of Management Journal,
368–376; Rahim, M. A. (1992). Managing conflict (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger.
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All of the styles of managing conflict are valid; what is appropriate depends on the situation and the factors that we presented in Figure 11.4 and how important it is for you to satisfy
your own needs and those of others.
What Would You Do?
You feel that your team has become complacent and uncreative. The members are just too
Preventing and Reducing Conflict
cozy and comfortable. So you take action. You
Table 11.4 summarizes the different methods of conflict prevention and reduction. As the table shows, the prevention and
reduction methods can use either the behavioral or the attitudinal approach.
TABLE 11.4
pick several of the most complacent members
and pair them with aggressive go-getters that
you know will push them. You hear that conflict
is intense and stressful. Should you intervene?
(B = Behavioral;
A = Attitudinal)
Appropriate When . . .
Enforcing rules (B)
•• Issues are trivial
•• Immediate relief is needed
Quick results
Causes of conflict not addressed
No long-term change
Conflict likely to reemerge
Separation (B)
•• Parties are not interdependent
Quick results
May increase conflict
No long-term change
Conflict likely to reemerge
Clear tasks (B)
•• Ambiguity and uncertainty are the
cause of conflict
•• Tasks can be clarified
•• Quick results
•• No long-term effects
Find common enemy or
encourage competition with
outside group (B or A)
•• When competition with outside is
part of organizational goals
•• Increased in-group cohesion
•• Source of conflict not addressed
•• Conflict can re-occur when outside
threat is gone
Member rotation (A)
•• When there is interdepartmental
Increasing resources or
rewarding cooperation (B
or A)
•• When resources are available
•• When conflict is caused by too
much competition
•• Works as long as resources are available
•• Source of conflict not addressed
•• Possible long-term impact
Team building;
development (A)
•• Conflict is complex with major
•• When there is time
•• When long-term solution is
Increased empathy for others
Flexibility in work assignment
Short-term increase in training costs
Long-term impact
Long-term change and impact
Addresses sources of conflict
Skill development
Requires considerable commitment,
time and resources
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
Behavioral Methods of Conflict Prevention and Reduction
What should a manager do if her employees are in constant conflict, often over trivial
issues? First, she can refer to the professional conduct section in the company policies and
procedures manual. Say that she finds several statements about cooperation and respect
for others, or vague reference to professional conduct. In a department meeting, she can
bring up these statements with her employees and tell them that the company policy
requires them to work cooperatively. She may also move several employees’ offices away
from one another or transfer others to another department. Finally, she may make threats
about the consequences of not following her directions and violating company policy.
The manager is using enforcement of rules and policies and separation as methods
of resolving conflict. The source of the conflict is not addressed and employees do not
develop the skills to address their differences. The manager has not presented a long-term
solution; the conflict is simply suppressed. These tactics are appropriate when the individuals or groups do not have to work together. They also can be used successfully if the
conflict is over trivial issues and when “time off” can give a chance for cooler heads to
prevail. In addition to rules and separation, clarifying tasks can help reduce conflict. This
behavioral method is effective when the conflict is caused by a lack of clarity concerning
work procedures or goals.
Attitudinal Methods of Conflict Prevention and Reduction
Compared to the behavioral approaches, attitudinal methods of conflict resolution aim
not only at changing people’s behavior, but also at changing how they think (cognition)
and feel (emotion) about the conflict and one another. Attitudinal approaches focus on
finding and resolving the root causes of the conflict. This approach tends to result in longer-term resolution compared to the behavioral approach.
One attitudinal method of conflict reduction is to find a common enemy or to compete
with another group outside the organization. The focus on an outside enemy or group
can help pull conflicting parties together. For instance, two departments that are fighting
may join forces to ensure that their new product gets to the market before their competitors’ products. In the process, they come to think, feel, and behave differently. Similarly,
two companies engaged in intense domestic competition may join forces to fight a global
The presence of an outside enemy does not fully address the source of a conflict, but it
increases interaction and cohesion, eases internal tensions, and provides an opportunity
for the conflicting parties to work productively together and focus on common goals
rather than on their differences.
Rotating members among departments achieves a similar goal. Employees who rotate to
other departments learn to look at conflict from varying points of view. This new perspective and the increased interaction with other employees provide opportunities for the conflicting parties to discuss and resolve their differences. Rotation has the added benefit of
increasing an organization’s flexibility in work assignments. As employees learn different
skills, they can fill in for one another as needed.
Managers can further resolve conflict by increasing resources so that individuals and
departments do not have to compete for them. A related approach is to allocate resources
in a manner that precludes pitting one individual or department against another. For
example, managers can fund any project that merits funding regardless of which department proposed the project.
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Another attitudinal method of conflict resolution is full-scale intervention through team
building. The various methods of team building that we discussed in Chapter 9 can be
used to resolve conflict. Through building trust, respect, and support; clarifying goals;
and similar methods, managers can help increase group cohesion and reduce conflict.
Similarly, teaching individuals and groups problems-solving skills can help them manage
conflict. They can discuss seemingly incompatible goals by relying on rational decision-­
making models, brainstorming, or other methods presented in Chapter 7. Team building
and problem solving both focus on long-term solutions and can be time-consuming.
Along with team building, managers can use organizational development (OD), which
involves making wholesale changes in organizations by addressing issues at the individual, group, and organizational levels. As you will discover in Chapter 15, OD uses various
team-building techniques in addition to numerous diagnostic and problem-solving tools
that analyze a broad range of organizational problems. For the purpose of this discussion,
you need to know that the methods are appropriate for dealing with complex and deeprooted conflict. They require a considerable investment of time and resources, but they
have the potential for long-term change, skills development, and long-lasting impact.
Increasing or Stimulating Conflict
Remember that very low conflict can be unproductive, so managers may face situations in
which they must stimulate conflict to prevent employee complacency and groupthink, and
to encourage creativity.31 The four methods for stimulating conflict are presented in Table
11.5. They are: introducing change, increasing task ambiguity, creating interdependence,
and introducing competition. The key to successfully stimulating conflict is to focus on
organizational issues rather than personal issues and to closely monitor the situation.
TABLE 11.5
Introduce change
Assign new, less routine task; bring in new members; change processes;
change structure and reporting lines; change leadership
Increase task ambiguity
Assign unknown or new task without providing clear guidelines or training
to force group members to figure it out on their own
Create interdependence
Bring together groups that do not typically work together on a task force to
address a specific organizational issue; assign tasks where people need
others to get their job done
Introduce internal competition
Set up a competition between individuals or groups for best new product,
for reaching a target or goal, or for a promotion or bonus
First, managers can stimulate conflict by introducing change to a team or department.
Change requires reevaluating procedures and relationships with fresh perspectives and,
as a result, can lead to varying degrees of conflict. Second, managers can increase ambiguity. This method is closely related to introducing change. Just as clarifying tasks prevents
and reduces conflict, uncertainty stimulates it. Managers can assign tasks for which there
are no clear requirements, instructions, or procedures so that employees need to discuss
and debate such issues. Not having a clear path or well-established procedures generally leads to disagreement, creates conflict, and increases creativity. Another method
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
What Do You Think?
Some people consider conflict, courage, and
of stimulating conflict is creating interdependence among
employees and departments. Depending on others to perform
task requires interaction, a consideration of other perspectives,
and negotiation of incompatible goals and approaches.
creativity together as central to the capacity of
The simplest and probably most commonly used method of conflict
stimulation is internal competition. Competing to achieve a goal or
mental change. They say you can’t have one
to get a promotion, bonus, or a prize stimulates creativity and motivates individuals and groups, particularly in more individualistic
without the other—and still be successful. What
cultures. While simple, this method has the potential to get out of
do you think? Are you comfortable with stimuhand, especially if there are clear winners and losers. Competition
lating conflict?
decreases interaction and may be hard to manage, even after the
contest ends. Regardless of which method a manager uses, he must
monitor the situation carefully to keep conflict at a constructive level by using a combination of
conflict resolution and conflict stimulation. Part of managing any conflict involves negotiating
with the various parties who are involved, a topic we consider next.
an organization to respond to rapid environ-
Whether you manage a small department, own your own business, head a major corporation, or hold an entry-level sales position, you must know how to negotiate. Negotiation is
a process whereby two or more parties reach a mutually agreeable arrangement. It is one
of the most commonly used and beneficial skills managers can develop. The global business environment, the diverse workforce, rapid pace of change, and shift toward teams
and empowerment all require managers to hone their negotiation skills.
The Negotiation Process
All negotiations share four common elements:32
• The parties involved are in some way interdependent
• The parties are in conflict over goals and processes
• The parties involved are motivated and capable of influencing one another
• The parties believe they can reach an agreement
These four elements come into play at different stages of the negotiation process presented in Figure 11.6. While most of us think of the third and fourth stages—bargaining
and agreement—as the heart of negotiation, most experts emphasize the importance of both
careful and thorough preparation and presentation in negotiating well and successfully.33 As
we will discuss in the next section, culture plays a significant role in all phases of ­negotiation.
Negotiation: a process
whereby two or more
parties reach a mutually
agreeable arrangement
The first or preparation phase includes gathering factual information about the issues
and alternatives and acquiring “softer” information about the other party’s interests,
positions, personality, and style. Intense preparation not only leads to a better outcome, but also reduces the anxiety of negotiation. The second phase is the presentation
of i­ nitial offers and demands, either orally or in writing. Careful choices of words and
self-presentation to project the right image through effective verbal and nonverbal communication are essential in this phase. The third phase is the actual bargaining in which
managers use various negotiating strategies to reach an agreement. Their ­preparation
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concerning facts and people can strengthen their position. Active listening, feedback,
persuasion, and the various communication techniques and barriers we reviewed in
Chapter 9 all come into play in this phase. The final phase is the agreement that closes
the negotiation process. The agreement is finalized and put into a format that is acceptable to both parties.
As indicated in Figure 11.6, the process of negotiation is continuous. Once an agreement is
reached, negotiation over clarification and implementation are likely to continue. Additionally, one party can stop the negotiation process at any time, forcing all to restart the process.
Ethics and
Negotiating to get what
you need raises a number of ethical dilemmas.
Should you always tell
the truth? Should you be
up front and reveal your
game plan? What can you
ethically not tell? These
are difficult questions that
arise regularly in all formal
and informal negotiations.
Below are some typical
ethical violations to avoid;
they are progressively more
Phase 1:
Investigation and
Phase 2:
• Selective disclosure:
Negotiators highlight
positive information and downplay or fail to mention negative information
• Misrepresentation: Negotiators misstate facts or their position; for example, they misrepresent the lowest price they
are willing to accept
Phase 3:
Phase 4:
What Would You Do?
During your company’s negotiations with a
supplier, you inadvertently stumble upon information the other team left on a table. It contains
• Deception and lying: Negotiators give the other party factually incorrect information or information that leads to
incorrect assumptions or conclusions
their negotiation strategy and pricing informa-
• False threat and false promises: Negotiators provide misinformation about actions that they may take and concessions
they may be willing to make
next section?
tion. What should you do with the information?
Does your game plan change after reading the
• Inflict direct or indirect harm: Negotiators intentionally sabotage the other party’s
chance of success
Any of these violations is likely to occur in negotiations. The last two, giving false information inflicting harms, are the most severe violations, although how a negotiator ranks
the others depends on his values and morals, and in some cases, his culture. Table 11.6
provides some guidelines for monitoring your own ethical behavior.
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
TABLE 11.6
Learn from your mistakes
We all have committed ethical violations; learn from them and do
not repeat them
Do you like what you see?
Evaluate your own behavior and strategies. Can you look at
yourself in the mirror? Are you proud of yourself?
What does the other person see?
Consider how you appear to the other party or to an observer. Are
you projecting an image you like?
Culture and Negotiation
Globalization has increased the frequency of cross-cultural negotiations. Given that
negotiation involves exchange, interaction, and communication, culture’s impact on this
process is significant. Knowing how culture affects negotiations and having information
about another party’s culture allow for more focused preparation, clearer presentation,
better bargaining, and more effective agreement.
The various cultural dimensions we discussed in Chapter 2 all affect the process of negotiation. Managers from masculine cultures are likely to be more assertive and independent, see negotiation as a competition, and focus on winning at all costs. Managers who
value uncertainty avoidance (e.g., from China or Japan) will rely on bureaucratic rules
and established procedures and rituals when negotiating, whereas those from cultures
that are more comfortable with ambiguity, such as North Americans or Scandinavians,
will be comfortable with free flowing discussions that may yield more creative solutions.
The power distance and individuality-collectivism dimensions further affect the negotiation process. Low power distance will likely lead to open sharing of ideas and cooperative behaviors during negotiation, whereas individualism will emphasize self-interests.
Managers from collectivistic cultures are likely to consider building relationships essential
before bargaining. Negotiators from individualistic cultures will often have the authority to make the decision on their own while those from collectivistic cultures will tend to
seeks their group’s input, a factor that may slow down the process.38
High and low context is another cultural dimension that influences negotiations. Negotiators from high-context cultures rely on the context, various nonverbal cues, and situational factors to communicate with others and understand the world around them. 39
Those from low-context cultures, such as Germany or Canada, pay attention to what is
said and written and want clear, formal written documentation of all agreements. Those
from high-context cultures, such as Korea or Vietnam, will look for subtle cues, read
between the lines, and operate on trust and implicit agreements.
Negotiators from cultures where display of emotions is accepted, such as Italy or Brazil, may
upset their British, low emotion counterparts, with an outburst or show of emotion. Additionally, those who are focused on the present and have a short-term orientation, for example
the United States, may be confused when their Egyptian counterparts keep referring to events
that happened in the past and consider them an integral part of their discussion. According to
a recent survey that compared 2,500 professionals from eight countries on their reactions to
negotiation, 39% of Americans report being anxious about negotiating, the highest percentage, while Germans are the most positive, and Indians are most confident.40
While none of these culturally based negotiation styles is either right or wrong, they add considerable complexity, subtlety, and confusion to an already difficult process. In addition to national
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Western businessmen have been accused
of focusing too much on the financial aspects
of a deal. They often believe that as long as a proposal
is financially attractive, it will succeed.35 Many experts
in global negotiations warn against taking such a position. Horatio Falcao, a professor in the world-renowned
INSEAD business school in Paris, believes that we both
over and underestimate the impact of culture in negotiations but that we should also consider every negotiation a cross-cultural exercise. Falcao has worked
with hundreds of global managers on how to negotiate
across cultures. He says: “People come to me normally
and ask ‘how do I negotiate with the Chinese?’ And I
would say which Chinese exactly do they want to talk
to? Do you want to talk to the Chinese from Beijing or in
Shanghai? The one who came from the countryside and
moved to the city, or the one who was born and raised
in the city?”36 Falcao believes that you can’t look just at
national culture; you also have to consider many other
factors such as education, social class, and religious
culture. Similarly, we often overestimate the impact of
culture for people who are similar to us. Just because
an American is negotiating with an Australian, and they
think they speak the same language, does not mean that
cultural factors are not relevant.
Consultant Richard Lewis believes that people fall back
on their culture in times of crisis or challenge or when they
are under pressure, so it is very important that any negotiator does not fall back on his simple intuition. He states:
“We feel that our unwritten behavioural codes for persuasion and negotiation are universal and innate. In fact, they
are largely acquired and culturally-bound.”37 So what is the
solution? Do we always judge people by their culture and
put culture first? Or do we look at the person? The answer
is to achieve a balance and push back your assumptions.
Falcao recommends: “start with the assumption maybe, of
at the very ‘get-go,’ of zero: I don’t know. And why does that
help me? That helps me to approach you from a learning
perspective; I’ll start to try to learn as fast as I can about you
to know if you’re friend or foe.”
In cross-cultural negotiations, as in other aspects of
management, the key to success, according to global
practitioners and experts, is to get the know the individual you are dealing with.
1. Which aspect of negotiation is most influenced by
2. What are some steps managers can take to avoid
cultural conflict during negotiation?
culture, many ethnic, gender, or other group-based values affect how people negotiate. For example, women often shy away from making clear demands during negotiations, a factor that has
been found to work against them. As a matter of fact, the cross-national survey about negotiation
indicates that women in all the surveyed countries feel less comfortable than men about negotiating (26% vs. 41%, respectively). Selena Rezvani, author of “Pushback: How Smart Women
Ask—And Stand Up—For They Want” believes that women, more than men, forgo their own
demands to ensure that the relationship is maintained. She says: “A big part of that problem for
women is the belief that relationships should trump agenda.”41
Savvy and effective managers include culture in their preparation and in other phases of
negotiation to ensure that they meet their goals and those of the other person. Knowledge of
culture at all levels, including organizational culture, can help in negotiation.
Common Mistakes in N
­ egotiation
Even skilled negotiators make mistakes. Table 11.7 presents common mistakes and their
causes. One of the most common is the fear that we may be conceding too much either
because we appear to give in too easily or because we make a major blunder. While we worry
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
about how we look, many of us simultaneously believe that we are more reasonable
and rational that others. These fears distort our judgment and add to a number of
other mistakes we make while negotiating.
The perceptual biases that we discussed in
Chapter 3 play a particular role in negotiation because the process heavily depends on
social perception. Selective attention and
other perceptual filters and biases, such as
stereotyping and halo effects, affect our perception of others and ourselves.
The Winner’s Curse and Overconfidence
stem from lack of information and misperceptions concerning the correctness of our
As secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton often engaged in cross-cultural negotiposition. Considerable research indicates
ations. Here she meets with former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.
that we tend to underestimate our chances
of being wrong. We tend to not rely on experts and end up making mistakes that can be
avoided. Careful preparation and awareness of biases can help avoid many of these common mistakes. Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, Ambassador to the United
Nations, and 2008 U.S. presidential candidate, has skillfully negotiated with foreign countries on behalf of the United States. He suggests: “You have to be a good listener. You have to
respect the other side’s point of view. Certainly you want to have a goal. You want to come
out of a meeting with something, even if it’s only a second meeting. And basically you have
to use every single negotiation technique you know—bluster, reverence, humor.”43 He also
emphasizes his preparation: “I talk to the people who know the guy I’ll be negotiating with. I
talk to scholars . . . experts, journalists.”44
TABLE 11.7
Irrational escalation of
Continuing a selected course of action
beyond what is considered rational, and in
spite of contrary information
•• Wanting to win at all costs
•• Impression management (ego)
•• Perceptual biases
Mythical fixed pie
There is a set amount on the table and one
party has to win and the other lose
•• Lack of creativity in problem solving
Winner’s curse
Making a quick high offer and feeling
cheated when the offer is accepted
•• Lack of preparation
•• Lack of expertise
•• One party having more information
than the other
Overestimating your ability to be correct
•• Lack of information
•• Arrogance
•• Distorted perception
Source: Based on information in Bazerman, M. H., & Neale, M. A. (1992). Negotiating rationally. New York, NY: Free Press.
Negotiation Strategies
In addition to preparing carefully and avoiding mistakes, skillful negotiators need to be
ready to use a variety of skills, strategies, and qualities.
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• Creativity allows for developing novel solutions and seeking win-win solutions.
• Flexibility allows both parties to consider alternatives and change course when needed.
• Keeping the climate positive even when strong conflict and disagreement exist
increases the chances of success.
• Being aware of how much control one does and does not have is essential. No one can
control all aspects of the negotiation process; instead, good negotiators identify the
issues they can control and focus on them.
• Managing the balance of power and using appropriate sources of power to persuade
and influence the other parties allows negotiators to address needed issues.
• Knowing your goals and your own motives is also essential to keeping a focus on what
matters to you most. Success depends on focusing on the real issue and not getting sidetracked by irrelevant and unimportant factors.
• Finally, every negotiator should be able to say no to deals that do not match her goals
and be prepared to walk away.
Specific negotiation strategies are basically focused on either a win-win or a win-lose approach.
The traditional view of negotiation (which corresponds with the traditional view of conflict we
discussed at the beginning of the chapter) considers negotiation a zero-sum game in which one
party’s gain always leads to the other’s loss. This view is called distributive negotiation because
the rewards and outcomes are divided among the parties. Another approach, called integrative
negotiation, offers a win-win scenario whereby parties try to reach an agreement that benefits
them both by focusing on creating new options and solutions. Although integrative strategies create a positive climate by eliminating winners and losers, they are not easily achieved.
When selecting a negotiating strategy, managers must consider two factors. First, they
must determine the importance of the relationship with the other party. Does the manager
want to establish a positive, long-term relationship with the other party? Do the other party’s thoughts and feelings matter? Is it important that the other party leave the negotiation
satisfied and happy? Remember from our earlier discussion that women, for example, are
often too focused on this aspect of negotiation. If the answer to these questions is yes, the
relationship with the other negotiating party is important and must be preserved.
Second, managers must ascertain the importance of the outcome.45 Is this an important deal?
Does this agreement affect organizational performance? Does it affect the manager’s career success and chances for promotion? If the answer to these questions is positive, then the outcome of
the negotiation is important. The manager must therefore ensure that she achieves her goals. The
combination of these two factors leads to the four negotiation strategies illustrated in Figure 11.7.
Trusting collaboration involves cooperation, give and take and compromise, and collaborative problem solving to achieve a win-win outcome. Negotiators use this strategy when
both the relationship and the task outcomes are important.46 Parties can share motives,
ideals, and goals openly as they want to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that promotes long-term relationships and continued cooperation. Using trusting collaboration
in teams or within organizations where people are mutually interdependent is essential.
When using trusting collaboration, managers must do the following:
• Use a neutral setting where both parties are comfortable
• Take turns making offers
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negotiation: a zero-
sum negotiation in
which one party’s gain
always leads to the other
party’s loss
negotiation: parties try
to reach an agreement
that benefits them both
by focusing on creating
new options and
Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
Is the Substantive Outcome Important?
Is the
Trusting Collaboration
Open Subordination
• Openness
• Openness
• Cooperation
• Yielding
• Win-win
• Yield-win
• Problem solving
• One-way acceptance
Firm Competition
Active Avoidance
• Aggressive
• No interaction
• Forcing issues
• Refusal to negotiate
• Win-lose
• No win
• Imposing a solution
• No solution
• Explain and clarify their reasons and motives
• Offer an honest consideration and appraisal of their own and the other party’s position
• Be willing to yield on some issues
Firm competition is appropriate when you do not care about the long-term relationship
with the other party but the outcome is important. It is an aggressive win-lose strategy in
which managers concentrate on imposing their own solution. Using firm competition as a
negotiating strategy requires access to power, organizational support, and the willingness
to forgo future relationships. Tactics of firm competition include:
• Impose the negotiation location
• Present your own offers and demands first
• Refuse to discuss the other party’s issues
• Exaggerate your own positions and the extent to which you have made concessions
• Yield little
Open Subordination should be used when the task or substance of the negotiation is not as
important as the relationship. It involves yielding to the other party on all or most points and
openly accepting the other’s solutions. Open subordination may be the only option when
managers do not have much power or leverage to negotiate. However, they can also use this
strategy when they have power but want to create goodwill or reduce hostilities when conflict is high. For instance, it is important for many start-up operations and small businesses
to have well-known clients, however unreasonable they may be, to gain access to other highprofile customers. Tactics of open subordinate include:
• Let the other party present all offers and demands
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• Make high offers and low demands
Part I: Group and Team Processes
• Magnify the other party’s concessions and downplay your own
• Concede on as many demands as possible
Active Avoidance involves refusing to negotiate, as
the negotiator does not care about either the task
or the relationship. In this case, one neither seeks to
win nor to lose. The individual is simply not party to
the exchange and interaction. Often managers avoid
negotiating because they have no stake in the results.
To determine which of the four strategies to use,
managers must consider the situation. Their conflict
management style and personality may also influence
their selection of strategies. For example, if your primary conflict management style is competition (see
When using trusting collaboration, the setting is important. NegotiFigure 11.5), you are likely to feel most comfortators may select a neutral setting where both parties are comfortable with firm competition as a negotiating strategy.
able and neither has the home turf advantage.
Similarly, a person with a collaborative style of conflict management (Figure 11.5) is more likely to use trusting collaboration. Personal style and
preferences notwithstanding, managers should evaluate the situation and apply the strategy
that will most likely achieve the relationship and task outcomes that they seek.
A very popular approach to negotiating presented by authors Roger Fisher, William Ury, and
Bruce Patton in their book, Getting to Yes, offers four key points to negotiating effectively:47
Focus on People and separate the people from the problem. A basic fact about negotiations, yet not one easily remembered, is that we are dealing with human beings who have
emotions, deeply held values, and different backgrounds and viewpoints. Fisher and his colleagues suggest: “A working relationship where trust, understanding, respect, and friendship
are built up over time can make each new negotiation smoother and more efficient”48
2. Pay attention to people’s interest, not their positions or demands. One of the basic
problems in negotiation lies not in conflicting positions, but rather in the conflict
between each side’s needs, desires, concerns, and fears. You need to ask the why and
the why not questions. In addition to eliciting information about the other party’s
interests, you need to communicate information about your own. By identifying
where these interests overlap or are compatible, you can overcome apparently conflicting demands and begin to move to the next stage.
3. Generate many options before deciding what to do. Brainstorming (discussed in
Chapter 7) is a good technique to arrive at as many options as possible. Decisions
should not be made until all options have been exhausted. Fisher and colleagues
suggest that you can convert ideas into options by using different perspectives or
“invent[ing] agreement of different strengths.”49 Look for mutual gains in the options.
4. Use standards and criteria based on some objective standards that have been established by neutral experts. Once the objective criteria and procedures have been identified, frame each issue as a joint search for objective criteria. Ask others what objective
standards would be most appropriate for dealing with the issue.
By accurately identifying individual needs as well as the sources of conflict, the principled
approach can result in positive growth of the individuals involved and the organization as a whole.
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Collaborative style:
seeks a win-win solution
for all parties
Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
Summary and Applications for Managers
Let’s begin by reemphasizing the importance of
viewing both conflict and negotiation as natural
parts of life for individuals and organizations. Managers often worry about conflict in their organizations and are afraid that any sign of trouble will
undermine performance. Their response is likely to
be to ignore or avoid the conflict, or try to impose a
solution without getting to the root of the problem.
While this strategy may be appropriate when conflict is trivial, it is not always the best solution.50
Here are some ways you can apply the material you
learned in this chapter.
1. Take time to evaluate and understand the conflict you are facing. Some level of conflict is necessary and healthy, so use it to your benefit.
2. Focus on actively managing, not just reducing,
conflict. This may mean that sometimes you will
reduce it, and sometimes you may want to stimulate it. The goal is not to suppress conflict at all
3. Step outside of the conflict you are facing .
Sometimes we get pulled into conflict with a
coworker or boss. Attack brings counterattack.
The spiral begins. Nine times out of ten, if you
step away from the conflict for a few moments/
hours/days you’ll see how small and petty the
issue being fought over likely is. Without regaining this perspective, you’re doomed to get
involved in a battle that’s not worth fighting. On
top of that, you might miss an easy solution to
the problem because you’re too busy attacking.
4. Develop self-awareness about your most preferred style of conflict management and practice
the other ones. Chances are that you will find
the style that is diagonally across from your preferred style (see Figure 11.5) most challenging.
Practice all of them in safe and low-cost settings.
5. You may not be able to control the other party,
but you do have control over your own behavior and reaction. Your enemy may take shots at
you. The defining moment comes in how you
react to them. You either attack back or you try
to take the high road. You can ignore the insult
or laugh off the verbal slight. You can kill them
with kindness. Those around you will take note
of how each of the combatants is behaving and
of your professionalism; it will be hard for you
to look bad.
6. Pick your conflicts. Not everything is worth
fighting over and you cannot win every fight.
Use your energy to address things that are
important to you and your organization. This is
one more reason for you to know your own values and priorities.
7. Extend the olive branch. When it costs nothing, be kind (even if it costs you something—be
kind). The best way to be the bigger person is to
set differences aside and create a positive environment. If your enemy continues the conflict,
he is not going to be the one to reach out to end
hostilities. That leaves the task to you. Take him
out to lunch. Tell him you’d like to work with
him more productively and end the conflict. Ask
what you can do to change the way you communicate and LISTEN when he tells you what’s
8. Negotiation is a skill. Practice it any chance you
get and become comfortable with the different
9. While the task and the outcome are often
important, conflict and negotiation are about
people. Deal with the people. You can be kind
without giving in on the outcome you need.
Fisher and his colleagues call this being “soft on
people and hard on issues.”
Key Terms
Assertiveness (p 349)
Collaborative style ( 361)
Conflict (p 338)
Cooperativeness (p 349)
Competition (p 338)
negotiation (p 359)
negotiation (p 359)
Horizontal conflict (p 342)
Interdependence (p 346)
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Part I: Group and Team Processes
Intergroup conflict (p 342)
Intragroup conflict (p 342)
Negotiation (p 354)
Satisficing (p 350)
conflict (p 342)
conflict (p 342)
Vertical conflict (p 343)
Exercise 11.1 How Do Relationships Affect Conflict?
Think back over the past 5 years and recall conflicts
that you had with three different people: (1) a personal friend, (2) a coworker, and (3) a roommate.
Respond to the following questions.
1. What happens to conflicts as relationships
become closer, more personal, and more interdependent?
2. Did you find that as relationships become closer
and more interdependent, there are more opportunities for conflict, the more trivial complaints
become significant ones, and feelings become
more intense?
What type of resistance are you encountering during
conflict or have you experienced in the past?
1. “I don’t get it.”
Do you see people’s eyes glaze over, eyebrows
furrow, or head tip slightly to one side when
you are proposing an idea?
2. “I don’t like it.”
Does someone encounter fear of, for example,
a loss of job with your idea? These fears are
not always aired, so it may require that you
ask questions.
3. “I don’t like you.”
Are ideas that you propose shut down simply
because you proposed them?
Source: Adapted from Maurer, R. (2002). Why don’t you want
what i want: The three faces of resistance. Manage Online, 1(2).
Retrieved from http://nma1.org/Communications/Manage/.
Exercise 11.2 Asking Questions
The most basic method for promoting mutual
understanding is to ask questions. Sometimes others
are hesitant to ask questions because they might be
perceived as criticism. By providing structure, this
exercise will help you to understand that questions
are not intended as attacks.
1. Ask for a volunteer to be the “focus person” and
another to be the facilitator. The focus person
in the group is invited to speak on any controversial problem facing the country. This person
starts with, “Here is the point I want to make”
and is given 3 minutes to speak.
2. When the speaker is done, the facilitator asks
the group, “Can you explain why?” or “What
did he [or she] mean by that?”
3. The group answers the questions.
4. If the answers are clear to all participants, then
go to Step 5. If they are not, then ask those who
are unclear about what was said and exactly
what they still find to be unclear. For example,
someone might say, “I heard the person say that
we should all share the assignment equally. But
I am not sure why he feels so strongly about it.
In my view, if we divide up the tasks according
to skill, the work may not be equally divided,
but the product may be more effective.” Give the
focus person a chance to respond.
5. When both the group and the speaker feel
understood, ask for someone else in the group
to take a turn as the focus person.
The goal of this exercise is to promote understanding, not to resolve differences. This should
be emphasized beforehand and throughout the
Source: Adapted from Kaner, S. (1996). Facilitator’s guide to
participatory decision-making. Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society, pp. 173, 175.
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
Exercise 11.3 Individual Needs
Have you ever been in a situation where the arguing just kept going around in circles? It will be helpful if the parties can stop arguing over the proposed
solution and start talking about their individual
interests instead. For an example of a situation that
might cause this type of discussion, look at Case
Study 11.1 about emergency evacuation at the end
of this chapter, where a family is interested in staying
in the town in spite of the mandatory evacuation. It
will become easier to develop proposals that meet a
broader range of needs when those needs have been
made explicit and understandable to all. Assume
the roles of the business owner trying to protect the
employee and his family. Allow each group to make
a case for its viewpoint.
1. Make sure that group members understand the
difference between their proposed solutions
and what the family in the case study needs.
For example, evacuating is a proposed solution,
whereas staying home with family is a need or
an interest. Take time, if necessary, to clarify this
distinction among group members.
2. Ask everyone to answer the question, “What are
the needs and interests in this situation?”
3. Continue until everyone is satisfied that his or
her own needs and interests have been stated
clearly, then ask the group to generate new proposals that seek to incorporate a broader range
of everyone’s needs.
Exercise 11.4 When Is Conflict Healthy?
Not all issues in organizations are worth conflict.
Use any of the earlier case studies, and apply the
following three principles to decide if the issue merits conflict:
1. Are the stakes high enough to motivate employees? If so, what is at stake?
2. Does the challenge reflect a larger cause that is
central to the program or organization’s mission?
3. Is there opportunity to improve current circumstances? How so?
4. If the situation merits the conflict, what would
need to change to avoid the conflict?
Case 11.1 Conflict in an Emergency Evacuation
You are a small business owner on the Jersey shore.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast. The
Northeast has had very little experience with hurricanes, and this one hit the most highly populated
areas. In order to evacuate the beaches, state public
health was coordinating with the National Guard,
the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and
local governments. They had planned and scheduled
all evacuation to occur before the storm hit on Saturday evening. On Saturday morning, a member of
the National Guard calls you to inform that one of
your employees, along with his family, has decided
that he would not be evacuated. The governor of
New Jersey had stated the evening before that if
anyone stayed behind in the areas under evacuation,
they would not be receiving services. The member of
the National Guard had tried to encourage the family to go; the family refused. The National Guard
had called on the state social worker to speak with
the family. The family was infuriated that the state
would impose their values on their family. This family had weathered many storms as they had moved
to the northeast from Puerto Rico. Their feeling was
that they should be together as a family and protect
their property. If Sandy were to take them, at least
they would be together. As Mr. Ortega’s employer,
you are viewed as the last resource to try to talk
some sense into this family. The National Guard
calls you later in the morning and tells you that they
are not wasting their time with Mr. Ortega, and the
family can do what they choose. You become terribly upset, as you believe that their lives are being
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Part I: Group and Team Processes
placed at risk and you ask the National Guard to let
you speak with Mr. Ortega and his family.
3. Are there cultural issues that may be at play in
this scenario?
1. Identify the sources for this conflict?
4. What negotiation methods would you find most
useful in trying to deal with the conflict?
2. How will you, as Mr. Ortega’s employer, try to
resolve this situation?
Case 11.2 A Group Project
You have been assigned to work on a Marketing
group project with randomly selected classmates.
When you discover who will be your coworkers,
you realize that the group is made up of students
who do not take their work as seriously as you do.
You are given until the end of the semester to complete the project, so you have plenty of time. You
decide to take the lead and assign people to specific
components of the project. When you meet with the
group the first time, you assign the tasks only to find
much discontent. Your classmates want to know
what made you think you could just tell them what
to do. You now need to exercise damage control in
order to avoid a very long semester.
1. What will you do?
2. What techniques might you employ to negotiate
with your classmates?
Case 11.3 Executive Compensation
On the same day in March that a large manufacturer
warned that the sequester could lead to thousands of
employee furloughs and layoffs, the nation’s largest
federal contractor disclosed that it had just boosted
the compensation of its former CEO by more than
$2 million, according to Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) forms.
disgruntled employees wanting explanations. You
share some of their same concerns, but are conflicted
with the role that you have been asked to play in the
You work in the organization’s human resources
department and will be designated as the person
people may contact if they have questions. Since
the release of the CEO’s compensation was made,
your voice mail and e-mail boxes have been filled by
3. What methods would you find most useful in
trying to deal with the conflict?
1. How will you respond to your colleagues?
2. How will you respond to management?
4. How will you apply the materials you learned in
this chapter?
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Chapter 11: Managing Conflict and Negotiations
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Part I: Group and Team Processes
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