Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


There is a popular assumption that conflict is so destructive that the goal of good management should be to minimize friction. According to Robert and Judy (2002), the Conflict-Positive Organization takes the opposite position and presents the argument that conflict, when well managed, adds substantial value to the organization. Effects of conflict could be destructive or constructive; it depends on the expertise that manages it in an organization, Lawrence and Jeffrey (1987). Some conflict management experts transform conflict from destructive to a constructive form, making use of opposing ideas to make decisions, negotiate their differences, and deal with anger to strengthen their relationships and get things done. Dean Tjosvold, from Simon Fraser University: “Conflict is the medium by which problems are recognized and solved.” It is needed to improve the innovation and productivity of the company and the competence and well-being of its employees. Conflict is a natural disagreement resulting from individuals or groups that differ in attitudes, beliefs, values, or needs. Conflict is everywhere, and we seem to have difficulty coping with it. In fact, in most cases we flee it. Once we understand that conflict is normal and should not be avoided, resolution itself becomes more normal and part of the skills we need in society and in the communities of interest we call organizations. The society we live in is comprised of different backgrounds, perspectives, and approaches to life. It is therefore not surprising that conflict is established as part and parcel of our everyday life. This is because people have competing interests and competing perspectives in relation to the same issues; as a result, tensions exist between individuals and groups. The idea of ever achieving a society with no conflict is clearly a pipedream. However, this is not necessarily a problem, as conflict can also be creative and constructive. Every conflict holds the opportunity for creating improved processes and developing innovative procedures. However, conflict has a positive side brimming with opportunities only if it is perfectly and efficiently dealt it. Conflict has the ability to foster creativity, higher thinking, better listening skills, and change. These in turn provide management with the tools for significant improvement. It is inevitable that we will run into conflict. Many important changes in the society and in the organizations in which people work have occurred as a result of conflict. Successful organizations generally deal with conflict in a positive, proactive manner. The important question, then, is not so much: “How do we create a world without conflict?”, but, rather: “How do we manage conflict as constructively and positively as we possibly can?”