Top 3 Causes of Conflict in an Organisation

This article throws light on the three major causes of conflict in an organization, i.e, (1) Communicational Aspect of Conflict, (2) Behavioural Aspect of Conflict, and (3) Structural Aspect of Conflict

1. Communicational Aspect of Conflict:

Lack of proper communication can be a cause of conflict. If due to the poor communication, partial or misunderstood information is passed from the sender to the receiver of communication, it can make a difference between the success and failure of the task. For such failure, it will be very difficult to fix the responsibility and it will cause conflict between the sender and the receiver of the information.

The problems of communication process may be due to:

(i) Too much or too little communication

(ii) Filtering of communication which means that information is passed through many levels or through many members. The amount of information is functional upto a point, after that it becomes a source of conflict.

(iii) Semantic problems arise due to differences in background, training, selection perception and inadequate information about others.

(iv) Problem of noise.

All these problems may tend to stimulate misunderstanding among members, which if not resolved will result in conflict. Accordingly, adequate, complete and correctly understood communication is very important in orderly completion of tasks, thus, reducing the chances of conflict.

2. Behavioural Aspect of Conflict:

The behavioural aspect of conflict arises out of human thoughts and feelings, emotions and attitudes, values and perceptions and personality traits.

Some of the important causes of this aspect of conflict are:

(i) Some people’s values or perceptions of situations are particularly likely to generate conflict with others.

(ii) This conflict may also be based on personal biases regarding religion, race or sex.

(iii) Some of these conflicts are not about issues but about persons. Some families carry on enmity for generations.

(iv) This conflict may also arise due to differing viewpoints about various issues. s

(v) The widening gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s also causes considerable conflict, because the unrealized expectations of under privileged causes frustration in their mind which leads to conflict.

(vi) From an organisational point of view, there is conflict between the goals of the formal organisations and the psychological needs of the individual, because both of these are inconsistent with each other.

3. Structural Aspect of Conflict:

These conflicts arise due to the structural design of the organisations.

Some of these factors are:

(i) The larger the size of the organisation more will be the chances of conflict.

(ii) One of the frequently mentioned and continuous sources of conflict is the distinction between line and staff units within the organisation.

(iii) Participation of the subordinates in the decision making process is a cause of conflict. If subordinates are not allowed to participate, they will show resentment, which will cause conflict. On the other hand, if greater participation opportunities are provided to the subordinates, the level of conflict will be even higher, because participation will create awareness about the individual differences. This conflict is further enhanced when individuals try to enforce their view points on others.

(iv) Role ambiguity is also a cause of conflict. When the role of an individual is not clearly defined, it will cause conflict especially between this individual and other people who depend on his activities.

(v) The primary causes of inter group problems and conflicts are poorly designed work flow structure and poorly planned coordination requirements specially where tasks are interdependent.

(vi) Scarcity of resources like capital, facilities, staff assistance etc. causes conflict among the people and units who must share these and who has to compete for them. The scarcity may bring conflict among groups who are otherwise peaceful at the time of abundance.

Submitted by : Dr. Deepali, Category : Conflict Management