American Journal of Applied Sciences 3 (7): 1905-1909, 2006 ISSN 1546-9239 © 2006 Science Publications
A Competence-based View to Conflict Management
Waitchalla R.R.V. Suppiah and Raduan Che Rose Graduate School of Management, University Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor Darulehsan, Malaysia
Abstract: This study presents a review of conflict management from the competence-basedperspective. It highlights the conflict management typologies as well as previous studies conducted using the competence model of conflict. There are scant studies using the competence model to conflict management. Previous studies using this model have used students as their respondents and have a Western biasness. Key words: Conflict, conflict management styles, competence, effectiveness,appropriateness INTRODUCTION Conflict is a pervasive aspect in both professional and social interactions. It occurs among family members, friends, colleagues and even between superiors and subordinates. As long as there is a human element present, conflict is certain. No doubt when mentioning the word conflict, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is a negative and a destructive element to beavoided at all costs. In addition, other issues associated with conflicts are wasted time on conflicts[1-4], low employees motivation[2,3,5,6], lower productivity[1,3,5], equipment being stolen or vandalized[1,2], increased legal costs[1,5], relational strain in the workplace, negative consequences for health and stressed-related medical claims. Furthermore, decisions made by people inconflict will not be the best as angry colleagues might withhold or manipulate information required by decision makers and decision makers’ judgments are marred when they feel threatened by the other’s intentions. Conflicts in the workplace are not something to be ignored. Unaddressed conflicts will fester and get worse if it is neglected. Individuals need to have the skills and knowledge on how tomanage the conflict as competently as possible when the inevitable conflict surfaces. More so, since management of conflict is one of the important roles played by managers in organizations as managing workplace conflict is one of the crucial investment for long term viability and success for a business. In addition, it was found that managers spent in excess of 20% of their time dealing withconflict. Cetin and Hacifazlioglu argued that the way a conflict is handled would affect the nature of the conflict, that is, whether it becomes beneficial or destructive. The benefits of conflict should not be underestimated. Conflict which is managed effectively
and appropriately would add substantial value to an organization, as it is considered as a healthyingredient in business life in addition to acting as a catalyst for change agent[14-16]. Conflicts which are managed well will create a conducive workplace for its workers where relationships, trust and respect will prevail among its employees. Having such working environments will result in stimulated team spirit and increased productivity. Furthermore, with strengthened workingrelationships, the “us” versus “them” polarization can be eliminated. This is crucial as good working relationships are important to achieve organizational goals. Damaged relationships would hinder future work together initiatives. Conflict: There is no one comprehensive definition of conflict as it depends on which perspective one is looking from. Definitions have been given from various disciplines suchas psychology, behavioral sciences, sociology, communication and anthropology. However, the common dominant theme in these definitions are the aspects of differing needs, goals, or interests and the perceived or real interference from one party unto the other party to achieve these needs, goals or interests. Perception plays an important role in conflict. If the conflict is not perceived by...
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