You are on page 1of 32



What is Conflict?

Why learn about Conflict & Conflict Management

The ingredients of Conflict


Positives & Negatives of Conflict


How Public & Private Conflict differ?


What does Conflict Management aim at


Managing Conflict


Ways people deal with Conflict


How might you select your conflict management style?


Individual Reflection Exercise


Case Study






There are many ways in which conflict management definitions and concepts could be
organized, which in turn also will influence the way it is practiced. The different Conflict
management tasks will be easier to perform if definitions are broad and inclusive,
focusing on the specific problems in a conflict that need to be addressed, rather than
trying to organize every policy into perfectly worded definitions or assigning them to
specific actors. The table below provides a helpful point of departure for an overview of
how the five different approaches are played out in practice. We have chosen to look at
the five "phases" in terms of the problem that needs to be addressed, the actors who can
perform the intervention, the tasks that need to be carried out, and the target group of
those actions. By using functional rather than theoretical definitions, theory and practice
are brought closer together.












of interest






Int'l & regional

Separate &








IOs, NGOs,

Rebuild trust

Local & national

Civil Society,


Weak political

Int'l & regional

political &
civil &

Political parties,
Civil society,

By asking what is being performed, why it is being performed, who is performing it

and who it targets, the distinction between the five different concepts becomes more
logical. Even if an attempt at Conflict Prevention usually takes place prior to rebuilding
war-shattered institutions (State building), one perspective does not preclude the other,
and frequently they need to interact. Whereas Peacekeeping missions target the warriors
and are generally performed by Peacekeeping forces, Peacemaking is diplomatic and
focuses on the political elite. Peace building, which is a multipurpose task, is often
performed by local or regional Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as
churches or civic groups. It is concerned with healing and reconciliation and primarily
targets the grassroots level of society. State building deals with restructuring societys
institutions, requiring close cooperation with the governing elite.
Target Groups and Problems
When referring to the population groups that the different conflict management activities
focus on we talk about Target Groups. However, in a war-torn society, these groups are
not just the focus of externally led activities but they are also often involved as local
actors in reconciliation and peacemaking on their own. Although dividing a population
into separate groups for analysis is somewhat superficial, it is helpful for understanding
the challenges and tasks facing conflict management today. We have chosen to use a
simple three-part division of a population.


The elite: The top leadership is represented by military/political leaders with high
visibility, is usually led by a highly visible, single personality.
The middle range: The middle-range leadership is made up of respected
"elders," academics, intellectuals, and leaders of non-governmental organizations
(usually large international agencies), who generally have to rely on persuasion
and advice in order to influence change in matters of war and peace.
The grassroots: The grassroots community makes up the bulk of the population
in a conflict and is often the group that has taken the heaviest casualties from the
conflict. Grassroots leaders have very little power to change top-level political
decisions but are central in providing the infrastructure for building participation
at a local level. The grassroots leadership consists of local activists and elders,
leaders of indigenous NGOs, health officials, refugee leaders, etc. These leaders
are vital for creating participatory civil societies in post-conflict situations.
The structure of the above mentioned three part division of society implies that
communication has to function not only on a horizontally between the adversaries
engaged in peacemaking, but also vertically, between these different levels of decisionmaking within the home community. Ideas and proposals that emerge from a "top-down"
perspective have no foundation in a society if they dont bring up the grievances and
problems that are experienced by the population. Each level of a society needs to accept
and embrace peace in order for an agreement to be negotiated and implemented
effectively. However, these different groups often have very different needs, depending
on their exposure to violence or their role in the conflict. Whereas the grassroots
population may need healing from trauma, relief operations or empowerment programs,
the leadership elite needs to be encouraged to look beyond entrenched values towards
common goals and visions. Often, by empowering and encouraging the middle range
leadership to explore options and pursue reconciliation initiatives, they can act as
catalysts for both the leadership and the grassroots to accept change. The middle-range
leadership often serves as a communication link between the other two levels, making
sure that top-down peace programs "trickle down" or that bottom-up initiatives are
heeded by the leadership. The successful management of a destructive conflict thus
requires work to "undo" the destruction of conflict on all levels of a society in order to
achieve peace.

Actors and Tasks

The actors engaged in conflict management and peacemaking can be internal or external,
international, regional or local. Ideally, societies deal with conflict by exposing it to the
political process, where competitive politics substitutes for direct violent confrontations.
However, in circumstances where states are either weak or collapsing or where a
participatory political system is absent, external actors may need to be deployed to carry
out some of the conflict management activities. Exactly who carries out the activities is
not imperative, as long as they property address the challenges that stand in the way of
peace. However, due to this problem-based approach, there is also a risk of different


actors doing overlapping activities without proper coordination.
The goal of any external intervention is in some ways to "make itself redundant," by
training and capacitating internal and local actors to manage and prevent conflict
situations independently without external help. The extent of external support needed will
therefore vary in each case depending on the severity of a conflict, the degree of collapse
of a society and the extent to which human and social capital is available. External actors
therefore have a vital role to play in terms of supplying the capability needed for creating
a viable political environment. The tasks that are carried out can be everything from
funding local peace initiatives to taking over the administration of a country during its
Here are some examples of actors and tasks involved in the conflict management process:

Examples of




National political
organizations, regional and
local government

Foreign Governments
Global nongovernmental & nonprofit organizations
International Relief

Types of

Non-profit, nongovernmental local

groups and religious

Regional organizations

Local and traditional


Diplomacy (Track I+II),

Negotiation &

Track II Diplomacy

Demobilization & Peace

Funding, Services &
Organization &

Administration &
Implementation of Peace
Knowledge and Knowhow
Services & Humanitarian


Technical assistance &

Implementation &
Monitoring of peace
Security Guarantees
Economic assistance

Diplomacy as Conflict Management

Conflict management activities carried out by foreign government representatives are
usually referred to as diplomacy. Since the time of Machiavelli, diplomats have become
known as the official link of communication between states and in the past diplomacy
was often the forum where the decisions on war and peace were ultimately taken. In their
capacity as foreign emissaries, diplomats today in embassies around the world handle
everything from cultural relations to trade and politics. The use of the term diplomacy can
therefore be both vague and misleading, especially if one is referring only to official
political relations between states in matters of war and peace. Because of this confusion
the literature has come to distinguish between track I & Track II diplomacy, where Track
I represents the official relations between states conducted by elite representatives, and
track II refers to unofficial communications between lower level officials, academics or
intellectuals, whose communications can potentially lead to higher-level communications
in the future (a good example is the Oslo Process between Israel and the Palestinians).
First Track, First Tier, or Track I Diplomacy, as it can be called, is therefore the
interaction between official state actors or elites that represent each party to a conflict. It
also often involves diplomats or officials of other states - partisan or non-partisan - in the
capacity of facilitators or mediators. However, Track I diplomacy refers not only to the
actors themselves but also to the processes used in conflict management. Usually Track I
diplomacy is overt, using open channels and with full knowledge of all parties involved,
including their consent and authorization. In order for Track I diplomacy to be
worthwhile, diplomats have to have the capacity to offer credible and non-retractable
commitments and concessions. It is therefore expected that Track I diplomats either have
full decision-making capability or stand in close contact with those individuals at the
center of power whose consent is needed for any agreement to be accepted.

Track I diplomacy has been used to determine rules for warfare and conditions of defeat.
Yet, in the past fifty years, the face of diplomacy has changed. More international contact


and the development of relations with states also mean more ministries, agencies, and
other organizations working under the auspices of official authority. This can be seen in
regional organizations becoming increasingly involved in international affairs and with
them new types of Track I diplomacy. More agencies and organizations are able to
participate in international relations yet at the same time, with the loss of concentration in
representation, there is more availability for representatives to be present in all stages of
Second Track, Second tier, or Track II diplomacy is the interaction between lowerlevel actors in a conflict. As with Track I diplomacy, this refers not only to the actors
themselves but also to the methods used during Peacemaking. Track II diplomacy
provides supplemental and parallel functions to help foster relations at various levels in
support of Track I efforts. Often times it seeks to carry out the mandates of Track I
diplomacy but through more covert and subtle means, through secret channels or lowerlevel official talks. The means and efforts of the Track II diplomat extend beyond
Peacemaking into the Conflict Prevention and Peace building stages of conflict.
In recent years, a new level of diplomacy has emerged. Track One-and-a-half
Diplomacy refers to situations when official representatives give authority to non-state
actors to participate, negotiate and act on behalf of the state actors.
Empowering Local actors
External actors can do a good job of managing a conflict through peacekeeping or peace
enforcement, but there is unlikely to be true conflict resolution and transformation
without the involvement and commitment of local actors. Communication therefore
needs to go in three directions during a peace process: internally-externally between
leaders of the local parties and foreign sponsors or guarantors; vertically, between the
leaderships of the antagonistic parties; and horizontally, between the top leadership and
the lower echelons of both societies. A peace process implemented by a foreign sponsor
that lacks the vertical and horizontal elements is unlikely to properly address the real
grievances of the parties involved and may therefore fail to take root in local society. On
the other hand, former enemies are often unable to produce enough trust and
reconciliation on their own to be capable of implementing a peace process without the
help of outsiders to guarantee their security. . Local leadership thus has to be
empowered on each level of diplomacy in order for agreements to not be imposed from
the top-down. Each leadership group has different tasks and responsibilities:
The elite: The top leadership mainly focuses on high-level negotiations over
cease-fires or peace agreements. Members of the elite either have the ability to
make policy related changes, or are in close contact with those leaders who have
such decision-making capacity. In order for a peace process to "fly" with those
groups who have suffered and fought in a conflict, elites have to make sure that
their constituents most important grievances are addressed through the
negotiations and that change - although slow - is visible on the ground.


The Middle Range leadership: They focus on such issues as the coordination of
training in conflict resolution, the implementation of peace commissions, as well
as problem-solving workshops. The Middle Range leadership can often serve as a
back channel to top-level negotiators by engaging themselves in Explorative, or
Track II diplomacy. Because intellectuals and academics lack the public pressure
exerted on the political leadership, they are often free to be more creative in
searching for new options or alternatives. Because their decisions were not
binding, the small group of Arab and Israeli intellectuals who lay the groundwork
for the Oslo agreement was able to be much more flexible than those officials
who were negotiating in the parallel Washington process. When higher-level
government officials became involved, much of the facts had already been laid
out on the table and previously unthinkable options had been explored.
Grassroots: These leaders often have to carry the heaviest load of all the three
groups, in that they are faced with the largest target group, but with the least
resources and capabilities in terms of political decision-making. Tasks include
grassroots training, prejudice reduction, and socio-psychological work in reducing
post-conflict trauma of the many victims of violence. In short, the grassroots
activists are imperative for creating local peace and reconciliation between
groups, but are often unable to do so without top-down or foreign/external
For societies with little prior experience with representative government, the peace
process itself can be a good starting point for practicing increased citizen participation
required for future State building. Local actors can often carry out much of the
administrative activities of foreign sponsors and donors (such as humanitarian aid or
development assistance), while requiring less of the training. They are valuable for
providing local access to target groups and for identifying real needs and grievances both
in preventive conflict situations and in the stages of post-conflict reconstruction. Local
actors on all levels also have a growing role during Evaluation and assessment of
conflict management activities, where money spent on the right causes may be critical for
the success or failure of a peace agreement.
There are thus important choices facing the external parties when investing in a peace
process, so as to follow the principle of "doing no harm". Grassroots are easily swayed
by demagogic or religious leaders who often use the manipulation of public sentiments as
a means in their struggle for power and popularity. As economic and social conditions in
a society worsen, be it because of the ongoing conflict or because of internal political
mismanagement, it is always very practical to put the blame on the enemy group.
External parties have to be careful not empower the "wrong" local elites in such a
struggle. Looking back at the breakdown of federal Yugoslavia, many analysts put the
blame entirely on Milosevic and the Serbian civilian/military elites who used "ethnic
rallying" to bolster their own power.
However, outside parties and sponsors also have to make sure not to leave out important
players from the process if these players are vital for the implementation of an agreement.
Outliers or extremist groups who are barred from negotiations or who opt out because
their demands are not met by an agreement, often feel that they have nothing to loose


from spoiling the process through extremist acts or terrorism. In some cases the most
extreme groups from either side of a conflict end up in an "unholy alliance" that opposes
a peace process, thus in a way projecting their own expectations of non-compliance on to
the enemy.

What is conflict?
Conflict is a natural disagreement resulting from individuals or groups that differ in
attitudes, beliefs, values or needs. It can also originate from past rivalries and personality
differences. Other causes of conflict include trying to negotiate before the timing is right
or before needed information is available.
Dealing with Conflict:
Conflict occurs when individuals or groups are not obtaining what they need or want and
are seeking their own self-interest. Sometimes the individual is not aware of the need and
unconsciously starts to act out. Other times, the individual is very aware of what he or she
wants and actively works at achieving the goal.
How do people respond to conflict? Fight or flight?
Physiologically we respond to conflict in one of two wayswe want to get away from
the conflict or we are ready to take on anyone who comes our way. Think for a
moment about when you are in conflict. Do you want to leave or do you want to fight
when a conflict presents itself? Neither physiological response is good or badits
personal response. What is important to learn, regardless of our initial physiological
response to conflict, is that we should intentionally choose our response to conflict.
Whether we feel like we want to fight or flee when a conflict arises, we can deliberately
choose a conflict mode. By consciously choosing a conflict mode instead of to conflict,
we are more likely to productively contribute to solving the problem at hand. Below are
five conflict response modes that can be used in conflict.
Why learn more about conflict and conflict management?
Listening, oral communication, interpersonal communication, and teamwork rank near
the top of skills that employers seek in their new hires.3 When you learn to effectively
manage and resolve conflicts with others, then more opportunities for successful team
memberships are available to you.
If we can learn to manage this highly probable event called conflict (we average five
conflicts per day), then we are less apt to practice destructive behaviors that will
negatively impact our team. Although conflict may be misunderstood and unappreciated,
research shows that unresolved conflict can lead to aggression. Most of us use conflict


skills that we observed growing up, unless we have made a conscious effort to change our
conflict management style. Some of us observed good conflict management, while others
observed faulty conflict management. Most of us have several reasons to improve our
conflict-management skills.
Faculty members should help students develop their conflict management skills. Most
people do not resolve conflicts because they either have a faulty skill set and/or because
they do not know the organizations policy on conflict management. All team members
need to know their conflict styles, conflict intervention methods, and strategies for
conflict skill improvement.

Conflict is inevitable:
o Conflict develops because we are dealing with people's lives, jobs, children, pride,
self-concept, ego and sense of mission or purpose.
o Early indicators of conflict can be recognized;
o There are strategies for resolution that are available and DO work.
o Although inevitable, conflict can be minimized, diverted and/or resolved.
Beginnings of conflict:

Poor communication
Seeking power
Dissatisfaction with management style
Weak leadership
Lack of openness
Change in leadership

Conflict indicators:

Body language
Disagreements, regardless of issue
Withholding bad news
Strong public statements
Airing disagreements through media
Conflicts in value system
Desire for power
Increasing lack of respect
Open disagreement
Lack of candor on budget problems or other sensitive issues
Lack of clear goals



No discussion of progress, failure relative to goals, failure to evaluate the
superintendent fairly, thoroughly or at all.

The ingredients of Conflict:

Needs - Needs are things that are essential to our well-being. Conflicts arise when
we ignore others' needs, our own needs or the group's needs. Be careful not to
confuse needs with desires (things we would like, but are not essential).

Perceptions - People interpret reality differently. They perceive differences in the

severity, causes and consequences of problems. Misperceptions or differing
perceptions may come from: self-perceptions, others' perceptions, differing
perceptions of situations and perceptions of threat.

Power - How people define and use power is an important influence on the
number and types of conflicts that occur. This also influences how conflict is
managed. Conflicts can arise when people try to make others change their actions
or to gain an unfair advantage.

Values - Values are beliefs or principles we consider to be very important. Serious

conflicts arise when people hold incompatible values or when values are not clear.
Conflicts also arise when one party refuses to accept the fact that the other party
holds something as a value rather than a preference.

Feelings and emotions - Many people let their feelings and emotions become a
major influence over how they deal with conflict. Conflicts can also occur
because people ignore their own or others' feelings and emotions. Other conflicts
occur when feelings and emotions differ over a particular issue.

Conflict is destructive when it:

Takes attention away from other important activities

Undermines morale or self-concept
Polarizes people and groups, reducing cooperation
Increases or sharpens difference
Leads to irresponsible and harmful behavior, such as fighting, name-calling

Conflict is not always negative:

Conflict is constructive when it:
Results in clarification of important problems and issues



Results in solutions to problems
Involves people in resolving issues important to them
Causes authentic communication
Helps release emotion, anxiety, and stress
Builds cooperation among people through learning more about each other; joining
in resolving the conflict
Helps individuals develop understanding and skills
In fact, it can be healthy when effectively managed. Healthy conflict can lead to...
Growth and innovation
New ways of thinking
Additional management options

If the conflict is understood, it can be effectively managed by reaching a consensus that

meets both the individual's and society's needs. This results in mutual benefits and
strengthens the relationship. The goal is for all to "win" by having at least some of their
needs met.
How public and private conflicts differ?
o Most of us have experience with conflict management and negotiation in private
disputes (with a salesman, among family members or with your employer).
o Public conflicts, like those that can occur during watershed management efforts
and other environmental issues often are rooted in trying to balance
environmental protection and economic growth and jobs.
o Keep in mind, however, that effective watershed management can result in both
economic and environmental benefits. Some complicating factors include:
Distribution of costs and benefits: Those who benefit may not be the same
as those who pay the costs.
Perceptions of problems: People tend to blame others for causing the
Speed of clean-up or other actions: Some will want changes to take place
more quickly than others.


Conflict Management aims to:



Prevent the eruption of destructive conflict.

Facilitate a move from violent to spoken conflict

Enable a transformation from conflict to lasting peace by addressing root

causes and effects of conflict.
The Conflict Management Toolkit identifies five devices or strategies of conflict

Conflict Prevention



Peace building
Conflict Prevention:
Conflict Prevention is the object of a wide range of policies and initiatives; its aim is to
avoid the violent escalation of a dispute. Conflict Prevention includes:

Monitoring and/or intervening to stabilize a potentially violent conflict before its

outbreak by initiating activities that address the root causes as well as the triggers
of a dispute.
Establishing mechanisms that detect early warning signs and record specific
indicators that may help to predict impending violence.
Using planned coordination to prevent the creation of conflict when delivering
humanitarian aid and in the process of development.
Institutionalizing the idea of preventing conflict at the local, regional, and
international levels.

The concept and practice of Conflict Prevention evolved from being focused almost
exclusively on Preventive Diplomacy, to a new more comprehensive approach that can
be defined as Structural Prevention. This new approach includes long-term initiatives
targeting the root causes of conflict. The evolution of Conflict Prevention as a practice
will depend on the necessary resources being committed to Conflict Prevention initiatives
in the future. Conflict Prevention faces serious problems in this respect because it is
extremely difficult to evaluate whether conflict prevention initiatives have been
responsible for a conflict not having happened.
It is possible to distinguish three sets of elements that compose the process of Conflict

The definition of the context with reference to the nature of a conflict, its causes,
and its cyclical phases;
The use of mechanisms to monitor indicators and signs to forewarn impending
violence; and
The selection of the specific initiatives to be taken.



The Peacemaking section of the Theory category focuses primarily on the negotiation
process, as it forms the basis for mediation, conciliation, and arbitration.
Definition: Peacemaking
Peacemaking is the diplomatic effort intended to move a violent conflict into nonviolent
dialogue, where differences are normally settled through representative political
institutions. The objective of peacemaking is to end the violence between the contending
parties. A peace agreement is the desired end result of negotiations; such an agreement
can be comprehensive or limited. To be sustainable, peace agreements have to include all
key players of the conflict, end destructive violence, which is often established through
a ceasefire agreement, and address the root causes of the conflict. The peace agreement
should outline the means to strengthen a non-violent process of conflict de-escalation that
ultimately leads to the transformation or resolution of the root causes of the violence.
Peacemaking can be done through negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration.
International law provides another channel through international courts.
Peacekeeping is a military third-party intervention to assist the transition from violent
conflict to stable peace. Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) contribute to this goal
providing security; supporting and facilitating other non-military initiatives; and making
available the tool of military force. PKOs evolved from neutral monitoring missions to
complex multi task endeavors. Their effectiveness is heavily influenced by their
institutional structure and by practices at the operational level. A theoretical analysis of
Peacekeeping should go beyond a historical perspective, to define theoretical guidelines
that help distinguish between different types of missions. This distinction allows to best
match the types of intervention with conflicts; to guide training programs for
peacekeepers; and to set the criteria to measure the effectiveness of the operations.

Peace building:
These web pages outline target areas for Peace building efforts. For the complex process
of post-conflict reconstruction, all of these subject matters should be considered for a
comprehensive strategy.
Peace building is a process that facilitates the establishment of durable peace and tries to
prevent the recurrence of violence by addressing root causes and effects of conflict
through reconciliation, institution building and political as well as economic
Peace building initiatives are not limited to the post-conflict environment. Most of the



tasks described above are effective tools to prevent conflicts. Furthermore, a negotiated
peace-agreement should include an agenda for reconstruction to secure sustainability.
And during peacekeeping missions the first steps into post-conflict reconstruction can be
taken. Reconstruction should be multidimensional and multi sect oral.
Peace building is complex and results materialize only in the medium and long-term. A
great number of agents engage in a wide variety of reconstruction efforts. These efforts
include addressing the functional and emotional dimensions of peace building in
specified target areas, such as civil society and legal institutions, among others.
Evaluating the success and failure of peace building efforts is therefore especially

Create an environment conducive to self-sustaining and durable peace:

Resolve the problems of willingness to cooperate. Social and economic
transformation is paramount for the establishment of durable peace.
Reconcile opponents: Consider the psychological and emotional components of
protracted conflict and the relationships between antagonist groups.
Address structural and social factors: Direct efforts towards transformation of
the conditions that caused the conflict.
Prevent conflict from re-emerging: Create mechanisms that enhance
cooperation and dialogue among different identity groups in order to manage
conflict of interests with peaceful means.
Integrate civil society in all efforts: Include all levels of society in the postconflict strategy. Design political transformation to include civil society in
decision making (bottom-up and top-down approaches).
Establish mechanisms to handle issues of justice: Set up institutions that aim to
avoid impunity of crimes that were committed during the conflict (truth
commissions, war crime tribunals, fact finding missions).

In carrying out the tasks, Peace building should address all dimensions of society; the
societal and state structures as well as the emotional conditions of individuals.

Functional structures: Building institutions that provide procedures for

channeling conflict into acceptable solution mechanisms.
Emotional conditions and social psychology: So much less tangible than the
physical destruction of war, the effects of conflict on the psychology of
individuals and a society are as profound as they are neglected. If the attitudes
that lead to conflict are to be mitigated, and if it is taken that psychology drives
attitudes and behaviors of individuals and their collectivities, then new emphasis
must be placed on understanding the social psychology of conflict and its



Social stability: Restoring peaceful interaction among groups on the horizontal as

well as on the vertical levels.
Rule of law/ethics: Re-establishing social norms, the rule of law and ethics in the
Cultural dimension: Understanding the needs and cultural peculiarities of the
affected groups.

Peace building targets all levels of society as well as all aspects of the state structure.
Therefore, a wide variety of different agents engage in the implementation of postconflict reconstruction. Notice that success requires local ownership, thus external agents
(international organizations and NGOs) can only facilitate and support Peace building,
but can never impose it.

International organizations intervene at the governmental level on request of the

affected country. Their engagement carries the legitimacy of the international
community, thus they have the ability to change and transform established
Donor institutions provide the necessary funding for Peace building projects.
International organizations are the largest donors. Private foundations contribute
through project-based financing.
Regional institutions are international organizations with a regional mandate.
They fund and/or implement Peace building strategies
NGOs in most cases carry out small-scale projects to strengthen the grass-root
level of affected countries.
The Government of the affected country is subject as well as object of Peace
building. The government structures are often changed after conflicts. At the same
time, the government oversees and engages in reconstruction.
Specialists (lawyers, economists, scholars, educators, teachers) are employed to
carry out the specific Peace building projects. Their expertise plays an important
role for the reconstruction of the state and transformation of society.
Religious networks can play an important role for the reestablishment of moral
ethics. Their role might be questionable in cases where the conflict had been
aggravated by religious differences in the population.
Academia provides important insights for practitioners through research and
theories, which are derived thereof.

There are five steps to managing conflict. These steps are:
Analyze the conflict
Determine management strategy



Step 1: Analyze the conflict:
o The first step in managing conflict is to analyze the nature and type of conflict. To
do this, you'll find it helpful to ask questions.
o Answers may come from your own experience, your partners or local media
coverage. You may want to actually interview some of the groups involved.
Step 2: Determine management strategy:
o Once you have a general understanding of the conflict, the groups involved will
need to analyze and select the most appropriate strategy. In some cases it may be
necessary to have a neutral facilitator to help move the groups toward consensus.
Conflict Management Strategies:


o This results from a high concern for your group's own interests, matched with a
high concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is "win/win."
o This strategy is generally used when concerns for others are important. It is also
generally the best strategy when society's interest is at stake. This approach helps
build commitment and reduce bad feelings.
o The drawbacks are that it takes time and energy. In addition, some partners may
take advantage of the others' trust and openness.
o Generally regarded as the best approach for managing conflict, the objective of
collaboration is to reach consensus
o This strategy results from a high concern for your group's own interests along
with a moderate concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is "win
some/lose some."
o This strategy is generally used to achieve temporary solutions, to avoid
destructive power struggles or when time pressures exist.



o One drawback is that partners can lose sight of important values and long-term
objectives. This approach can also distract the partners from the merits of an issue
and create a cynical climate.
o This strategy results from a high concern for your group's own interests with less
concern for others. The outcome is "win/lose."
o This strategy includes most attempts at bargaining. It is generally used when basic
rights are at stake or to set a precedent. However, it can cause the conflict to
escalate and losers may try to retaliate.
o These results from a low concern for your group's own interests combined with a
high concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is "lose/win."
o This strategy is generally used when the issue is more important to others than to
you. It is a "goodwill gesture." It is also appropriate when you recognize that you
are wrong.
o The drawbacks are that your own ideas and concerns don't get attention. You may
also lose credibility and future influence.
o These results from a low concern for your group's own interests coupled with a
low concern for the interests of others. The outcome is "lose/lose."
o This strategy is generally used when the issue is trivial or other issues are more
pressing. It is also used when confrontation has a high potential for damage or
more information is needed.
o The drawbacks are that important decisions may be made by default.
Conflict Analysis Exercise:
Think of a controversial issue to analyze. On a separate sheet of paper, answer these

Groups involved
Who are the groups involved?
Who do they represent?
How are they organized?
What is their power base?
Are the groups capable of working together?
What are the historical relationships among the groups?



How did the conflict arise?
How are the main and secondary issues described?
Can negative issues be reframed positively?
Are the issues negotiable?
Have positions been taken and, if so, are there common interests?
What information is available and what other information is needed?
What values or interests are challenged?
Possible strategies
Would consensus serve all interests?
Are there external constraints or other influences that must be accommodated?
What are the past experiences (if any) of the groups working together?
What is the timeline for a decision?
How will the public and the media be involved and informed?
Will an outside negotiator be needed?
Step 3: Pre-negotiation:
To set the stage for effective negotiation, the groundwork must be laid. The following
should occur prior to negotiation.
One partner raises the possibility of negotiation and begins the process. If no one is
willing to approach the others to encourage them to reach an agreement, a trusted
outsider could be brought in as a facilitator.
o Conditions must be right for negotiation to be successful.
o Key players must be identified and invited.
o Each side must be willing to collaborate with the others. Reasonable deadlines
and sufficient resources to support the effort must exist.
o Spokespersons for each group must be identified and involved.
o Parties need to determine which issues are negotiable and which are not.
Ground rules and agenda
o The groups must agree on ground rules for communication, negotiation and
decision making.
o They should agree on the objectives of the negotiation process.
o An agenda of issues to be covered needs to be developed.



o Meeting logistics must be established, including agreed upon times and places.
o People must be contacted and encouraged to attend.
o Minutes must be taken so that information can be distributed before and after
Joint fact-finding
o The groups must agree on what information is relevant to the conflict. This should
include what is known and not known about social and technical issues.
o Agreement is also needed on methods for generating answers to questions.

Step 4: Negotiation:
o When negotiating be sure to openly discuss interests, rather than stated positions.
o Interests include the reasons, needs, concerns and motivations underlying
positions. Satisfaction of interests should be the common goal.
o To resolve conflicts, concentrate on inventing options for satisfying interests.
o Do not judge ideas or favor any of the options suggested.
o Encourage creativity, not commitment.
o Only after the partners have finished listing options, should the options be
o Determine together which ideas are best for satisfying various interests.
Written agreement
o Document areas of agreement and disagreement to ensure common
o This helps ensure that agreements can be remembered and communicated clearly.
o Every partner must be confident that the others will carry out their parts of the
o Discuss and agree upon methods to ensure partners understand and honor their
When evaluating options...
o Use objective criteria for ranking ideas
o Make trade-offs among different issues
o Combine different options to form acceptable agreements



Step 5: Post-negotiation:
Once negotiation is complete, the group will need to implement the decisions made.
Some key steps include:
o The partners must get support for the agreement from organizations that have a
role to play in the agreement.
o These organizations should be partners and should have been involved in the
previous steps.
o Each organization will need to follow its own procedures to review and adopt the
o You and your partners' jobs are not done when you've reached agreement.
o Communication and collaboration should continue as the agreement is carried out.
o The partnership will need to have a plan to monitor progress, document success,
resolve problems, renegotiate terms and celebrate success.
Negotiation skills:
o Negotiation is an important skill for coming to an agreement when conflicts
develop at home, at work and when dealing with issues like those related to
watershed management. When negotiating...
Separate people from the problem:
When negotiating, remember you're dealing with people who have their own unique
needs, emotions and perceptions.
Some conflicts are based on differences in thinking and perceptions:
These conflicts may exist mainly in peoples' minds. It helps for each party to put
themselves into the other's shoes so they can understand each other's point of view.
Identify and openly discuss differences in perceptions:
Be careful not to place blame. In addition, recognize and understand the other side's
emotions as well as your own.
Interest vs. Position:
o People often confuse interests with positions.
o An interest may be reducing litter in roadside ditches. There are many possible
ways of addressing this interest.
o One might be the position of mandatory recycling. Another position might be a
deposit on bottles and cans. Still another could be organizing a clean-up day.


Focus on interests, not positions:

o Focusing on interests, rather than positions, makes it possible to come up with
better agreements.
o Even when people stand on opposite positions, they usually have a few shared
o It takes time and effort to identify interests.
o Groups may not even be clear about their own interests. It helps to write down
each group's interests as they are discovered.
o It helps to ask why others take the positions or make the decisions they do.
Partners will have multiple interests.
o Interests involving important human needs (such as security, economic wellbeing, a sense of belonging, recognition and control over one's life) are difficult to

Develop optional solutions:

o When developing optional solutions that meet the interests of all sides, try to meet
as many of each side's interests as possible.
o Start by inviting all sides to brainstorm ideas (before reaching a decision).
o Brainstorming is discussed in the Leading & Communicating guide.
Some obstacles to developing innovative options are:
Judging and rejecting prematurely
Searching for a single best answer
Putting limits on scope or vision
Considering only your own interests
To overcome these obstacles, view the situation through the eyes of different partners.
Focus on shared interests to make the process smoother for all involved. Look for
meaningful opportunities, not simple solutions.
Developing objective criteria:
o When developing criteria for selecting or combining possible alternatives, revisit
the conflicting interests.
o These can't be ignored or "wished" away. Instead discuss them as you begin
developing criteria for judging alternatives.



o Also keep in mind principles such as fairness, efficiency and scientific merit.
Strive for criteria that are legitimate, practical and unbiased. You may also find it helps to
explore the criteria used in making past decisions and discuss criteria with your partners
or outside experts.
Ways People Deal With Conflict:
There is no one best way to deal with conflict. It depends on the current situation. Here
are the major ways that people use to deal with conflict.
1. Avoid it: Pretend it is not there or ignore it.
a. Use it when it simply is not worth the effort to argue. Usually this approach tends
to worsen the conflict over time.
2. Accommodate it: Give in to others, sometimes to the extent that you compromise
a. Use this approach very sparingly and infrequently, for example, in situations
when you know that you will have another more useful approach in the very
near future. Usually this approach tends to worsen the conflict over time, and
causes conflicts within you.
3. Competing: Work to get your way, rather than clarifying and addressing the issue.
Competitors love accommodators.
a. Use when you have a very strong conviction about your position.
4. Compromising: Mutual give-and-take.
a. Use when the goal is to get past the issue and move on.
5. Collaborating: Focus on working together.
a. Use when the goal is to meet as many current needs as possible by using mutual
resources. This approach sometimes raises new mutual needs.
b. Use when the goal is to cultivate ownership and commitment.
How might you select your conflict management style?
There are times when we have a choice to engage in or avoid a conflict. The following
six variables should be considered when you decide whether to engage in a conflict.
1. How invested in the relationship are you?
The importance of the working/personal relationship often dictates whether you will
engage in a conflict. If you value the person and/or the relationship, going through the
process of conflict resolution is important.



2. How important is the issue to you?
Even if the relationship is not of great value to you, one must often engage in conflict if
the issue is important to you. For example, if the issue is a belief, value, or regulation that
you believe in or are hired to enforce, then engaging in the conflict is necessary. If the
relationship and the issue are both important to you, there is an even more compelling
reason to engage in the conflict.
3. Do you have the energy for the conflict?
Many of us say, There is not time to do all that I want to do in a day. Often the issue is
not how much time is available but how much energy we have for what we need to do.
Even in a track meet, runners are given recovery time before they have to run another
race. Energy, not time, is being managed in these situations.
4. Are you aware of the potential consequences?
Prior to engaging in a conflict, thinking about anticipated consequences from engaging in
the conflict is wise. For example, there may be a risk for your safety, a risk for job loss,
or an opportunity for a better working relationship. Many times people will engage in
conflict and then be shocked by the outcome or consequence of engaging in the conflict.
Thoughtful reflection about the consequences, both positive and negative, is useful before
engaging in or avoiding a conflict.
5. Are you ready for the consequences?
After analyzing potential consequences, determine whether you are prepared for the
consequences of engaging in the conflict. For example, one employee anticipated a job
loss if she continued to engage in the conflict she was having with her boss over a
particular issue. After careful consideration, the employee thought and believed strongly
enough about the issue that she did engage in the conflict with her boss. Her annual
contract was not renewed for the upcoming year. Because this individual had thought
through the consequences of engaging in the conflict, she was prepared to be without a
job for a while and able to financially and emotionally plan for this outcome. Most
consequences of engaging in conflict are not this severe, but this example illustrates the
value of thinking through consequences.

6. What are the consequences if you do not engage in the conflict?

To avoid losing a sense of self, there are times when you must engage in conflict. Most
people have core values, ideas, beliefs, or morals. If a person is going to sacrifice one of
their core beliefs by avoiding a conflict, personal loss of respect must be considered. In
such cases, even if a person is not excited about confronting the conflict, one must
carefully consider the consequences of evading the conflict. When the personal
consequences of turning away from the conflict outweigh all other factors, then a person
usually must take part in the conflict.
"Students do not come to school with all the social skills they need to collaborate
effectively with others. Therefore, teachers need to teach the appropriate communication,
leadership, trust, decision making, and conflict management skills to students and provide
the motivation to use these skills in order for groups to function effectively. Faculty



must take responsibility to help students develop their skills to participate on and lead
How might individual students apply this information to improve their conflict
management skills?
Applying the preceding information about the five different modes of conflict
management, factors affecting models of conflict management, and processes for
selecting one or more approaches to conflict involves both self-awareness and an
awareness of the others involved in the conflict. In terms of self-awareness, reflecting on
the following questions would provide useful information in selecting how to approach a
conflict situation.
1 1. Am I in conflict?
2 2. With whom am I in conflict?
3 3. Why am I motivated to resolve the conflict?
4 4. What conflict mode am I going to use to manage this conflict?
Since conflict involves at least two people, improving awareness of the other party
involved in a conflict might also be useful in choosing how to approach a conflict
situation. Reflecting on the following questions might improve awareness of the other
party involved in a confliction.
1 1. What is the nature of the conflict, that is, what is the conflict about?
2 2. What might motivate the other person(s) involved to resolve the conflict?
3 3. What conflict modes is the other person using?
4 4. How might I Intervene to resolve/manage the conflict?
Learning more about conflict allows greater intentionality in selecting a conflict response.
Most people have set reactions to conflicts. By learning more about principles of conflict,
conflict modes, and reflection on the above questions, we can be more intentional in
deciding on a conflict response. Greater intentionality will likely lead to more effective
conflict management. The following examples provide additional suggestions that
individuals might use to improve their conflict management skills.

Individual Reflection Exercise

In addition to reflecting on the preceding questions, Karl Smith6 suggests that the
following exercise might provide individuals with valuable information about their
perspectives on conflict.
Write the word conflict in the center of a blank piece of paper and draw a circle around it.
Quickly jot down all the words and phrases you associate with the word conflict by
arranging them around your circle. Review your list of associations and categorize them


as positive, negative, or neutral. Count the total number of positive, negative, and neutral
associations, and calculate the percentages that are positive, negative, and neutral. Did
you have more than 90% positive? Did you have more than 90% negative?
What do your associations with the word conflict indicate about your views about
conflict and your approach to conflict?
Learning About Your Conflict Modes
Review brief descriptions of the five modes and choose your primary conflict mode.
Supplementing individual reflection on conflict modes, you might find out more about
your modes of conflict using instruments that are available. Completing the
questionnaire, scoring your responses, and reflecting on your answers might provide
valuable information about your approaches to conflict. The TKI is a more recent
instrument that is based on the Blake and Mouton conflict model and provides
information about your conflict modes in terms of the modes. Taking the TKI assessment
would provide information about your primary conflict modes. Equipped with this
information, additional individual reflection would help you to determine your current
level of comfort with your conflict resolution styles. Then, you might decide whether you
want to make changes.
Creating an Individual Conflict Management Plan
Create a conflict management plan. A conflict management plan is a thought and
behavior process one can follow when in conflict. A person creates a list of steps she/he
can follow when a conflict comes up so that the person can productively manage/solve
the conflict. These steps have to be thoughts or behaviors that can be realistically done.
The literature shows that, if we can identify we are in conflict and can then implement a
conflict management plan, our opportunity for resolution of the conflict increases
significantly. We identify we are in conflict by identifying our physiological responses
when in conflict and by identifying thoughts and feelings we are having that trigger us to
realize that we are experiencing a conflict. There are three steps to making a conflict plan.
First, write down what physiological responses you have when you know you are in
conflict (e.g., my palms are sweaty, my heart is racing). Second, write down what
thoughts you typically have when in a conflict (e.g., I want to hurt him; I want to just
get away from her). Finally, list 48 steps you can follow to help you manage your
thoughts and emotions in a productive way to manage/solve your conflict
Improving listening skills is one approach to improving conflict management skills.
How might a student team apply this information to improve its approaches to
conflict and/or skills in managing conflict within the team?
Applying the preceding information about the five different modes of conflict
management, factors affecting models of conflict management, and processes for
selecting one or more approaches to conflict within the context of a student team involves
increasing the awareness of the each of the team members about the way the other team



members view conflict and how the other team members approach conflict. There are two
basic types of team activities.
1 In the first type of team activity, individual team members learn more about their
perspectives and approaches to conflict through either individual reflection or
appropriate instruments. Then, the individuals share with their team members what
they have learned.
2 In the second type, the team engages in an activity that simulates a hopefully low
level of conflict. Then, the team reflects about its actions, learns from its experiences,
and develops ways to address conflict more constructively in the future.
The following examples provide suggestions for possible team activities.
Collaborating with Different Individual Conflict Modes
Ask each member to complete the exercise on the preceding page in which she/he
identifies their primary mode of conflict management. Then, ask each individual team
member to share her/his own primary mode of conflict management and to provide
examples that illustrate that mode. Next, ask the team to identify potential strengths for
the combination of different styles and potential problems that might arise with the
combination of conflict management modes. Finally, ask the team to develop strategies to
minimize potential problems and build on their strengths.
Developing a Positive Team Perspective about Conflict
Start with the individual reflection exercise on the preceding page in which each member
writes the word conflict and associates different words or phrases with conflict. Then,
ask each member to share the insights she/he learned through the individual reflection.
Next, ask the team to take all of the positive associations with conflict and combine them
together to construct positive ways in which the team might view conflict. Finally, ask the
team to take all of the negative associations with conflict and devise ways in which the
negative associates might be eliminated or minimized.
Developing a Consensus Decision
Ask teams to rank fifteen causes of death in the country in terms of their frequency of
occurrence. These types of exercises can stimulate team development in several ways.
One of the ways is to provoke a low level of conflict within the team and to learn from its
experience. After completing the exercise, the team can debrief its performance. The team
might address several questions. What were the positive aspects in the way we handled
conflict? How did our various modes of conflict management help our performance?
How did our various modes of conflict management hinder our performance? How might
we improve the ways in which we managed conflict within our team?
Intrateam Communication
Improving intrateam communication can reduce the likelihood of conflict and increase
the chances for faster, more effective management of conflict when it occurs.
Case study: Dr Agadir



The letter from the plant pathology department was very strong. It concluded by
"If this is the attitude of the biochemistry department, we shall have no research in
collaboration with them as of now. Not only do they lack a healthy attitude towards
collaborative work, they have often refused to share achievements. Now they want to
stifle our work on cocoa swollen shoot virus, notwithstanding the fact that we have been
working on it for over a decade. We would of course continue our work in this area, but
without the biochemistry department."
Dr (Mrs.) Swanson, Executive Director, Cocoa Research Institute of Savana (CRIS) put
down the letter and was quite annoyed. She had known that there was trouble between the
biochemistry and plant pathology departments, or rather between two senior scientists of
these departments. She had not expected it to reach this level. There had been several
instances of conflicts between the scientists and their divisions, but the conflicts had
never reached boiling point. They were usually resolved amicably, even before the
executive director took note of them. Mostly the conflicts arose over allocation of plots
for experiments, budgetary allocations and participation in international conferences.
Scientists designed their experiments in consultation with the statistician. They would
then apply for a plot of land, providing a drawing of the area for laying out the
experiment. The request would be considered by the plots committee, consisting of the
heads of the research divisions and head of the plantation division. Each division had a
certain land area allocated to it, and it could use that land for its experiments as agreed
upon within the division. The plots committee simply took note of that. Difficulties arose
when the land belonging to some other division was sought, and in particular when the
other division did not want to release its land. In the recent past there were some
problems with the plant breeding department over a large piece of land on which a cocoa
plantation had stood from the very beginning of the institute. The plantation had to be
destroyed because of a large-scale disease infestation which was impossible to cure.
When the land was cleared, almost all other divisions put in a request for parts of the land
for their experiments. The plant breeding department resented these requests, and there
were heated discussions in the plots committee. The issue was somehow resolved
satisfactorily within the plots committee. The plant breeding department retained most of
the land, although a small part was temporarily allocated to other divisions for their
Objections were often raised by scientists when an area proposed for use in an
experiment was considered by them to be unsuitable. For example, all experiments on
virus studies had to be conducted on land at the edge of the experimental farm so as to
isolate them from other experiments; otherwise they might be a source of infection and
spread the virus diseases. In such cases, a scientist had to give up a preferred location.
Frequently the scientists asked for a larger area than was necessary for their experiments.
In those cases, the statistician - who was a permanent invitee to the meetings of the plots
committee - was asked to review the experimental design with the scientists. When the
plots committee denied the request for allocation of a particular plot, for whatever reason,
it helped find another plot.



Occasionally a proposed experiment might not be appropriate for a particular purpose,
even though the scientist proposing the experiment might insist on it. Such cases were
also resolved through peer intervention within the division concerned.
Conflicts over allocation of funds were not unusual, with every division trying to get
more so that its research program could proceed smoothly. Participation in international
conferences also led to some conflict among the competing scientists. Conflicts over
sharing of scientific material and equipment were not uncommon. But all such conflicts
were temporary, and had never affected the work culture of the institute.
However, the conflict between the plant pathology and biochemistry departments was
different. It was a conflict between two departments which had always collaborated in the
past. It was a conflict between two senior scientists who had worked together on the same
problem over a decade, and had jointly published their work in respected journals. For
some strange reason, friends had become foes. In the process, they had vitiated to some
extent the research environment of the institute.
Dr Agadir
(As narrated by Dr Agadir)
Dr Agadir joined CRIS as a Research Assistant (now re-designated as Assistant Research
Officer) in 1965. That was soon after he had obtained his first degree in biochemistry. He
was put in what was then the chemistry division, which comprised both soil science and
biochemistry. The biochemistry wing was at that time mainly engaged in research on
cocoa swollen shoot virus, in collaboration with the pathology division. Collaboration
between various research divisions was part of the culture of the institute, as it was
always necessary, particularly so between plant pathology and biochemistry. There had
been close collaboration between the virologists, breeders and biochemists in the study of
screening techniques, detection of infection, symptomatology, etc., for research studies
on cocoa swollen shoot virus.
Dr Agadir was asked to work on various aspects of the cocoa swollen shoot virus
purification problem. His work during the period 1965-66 was published in a respected
professional journal. In September 1966, Dr Agadir went to the University of Sheffield to
do a doctoral programme. He successfully defended his research thesis in 1969, was
awarded his PhD, and returned to the institute. He was then promoted to research officer.
Dr Asmera, the then director of CRIS, suggested several research problems to Dr Agadir.
He selected four problems:
(i) Pesticide residues in cocoa beans,
(ii) Cocoa bio-products (pectin and cocoa husk),
(iii) Cocoa swollen shoot virus purification, and
(iv) Nutrition of mealy bugs.
The last problem was in fact suggested by a Swedish biologist who was interested in
rearing mealy bugs artificially and feeding them on a liquid diet. He was keen to know
the most desired composition of the diet. The interest in mealy bugs arose because they
are the vectors of cocoa swollen shoot virus.



By 1972, Dr Agadir had published in several scientific journals. His work on mealy bugs
and pectin was well received. These were independent publications. By then, Dr Agadir
was working as the main biochemist since Mr R.H. Wode, who was part of an Overseas
Development Administration (ODA) technical team from the United Kingdom, had left
for Rustberg at about the time Dr Agadir returned from Sheffield in 1969.
Dr Agadir recalls that his collaborative work with Dr Ouadda began in 1969 when the
latter suggested a research project on factors which affected virus multiplication and
symptom development in cocoa. This problem was originally suggested to Dr Ouadda by
the chief of the ODA team. Since this involved research in biochemistry, both Dr Ouadda
and Dr Agadir teamed up. Together they published some research papers.
Dr Ouadda left for the University of Dublin to do a PhD. From 1971 to 1974, while Dr
Ouadda was away, Dr Agadir continued to work on cocoa swollen shoot virus
purification. The plant pathology department was providing infected material, such as
cocoa beans and leaves, but no pathologist was involved directly in the research work.
Dr Agadir faced several impediments in his work. He felt that the head of the ODA
technical team, himself a plant pathologist, did not want him to work on cocoa swollen
shoot virus. The ODA team had been working on cocoa swollen shoot virus for many
years without making much progress. In contrast, Dr Agadir was already claiming
remarkable progress. The ODA team brought back Dr C.H. Cantor to continue work on
cocoa swollen shoot virus. Dr Cantor came as a plant pathologist and not as a biochemist.

Productively engaging in conflict is always valuable. Most people are willing and
interested in resolving their conflicts; they just need the appropriate skill set and



opportunities in which to practice this skill set. Without a conflict skill set, people want to
avoid conflict, hoping it will go away or not wanting to make a big deal out of nothing.
Research and personal experiences show us that, when we avoid conflict, the conflict
actually escalates and our thoughts and feelings become more negative.
Through conflict self-awareness we can more effectively manage our conflicts and
therefore our professional and personal relationships. Furthermore, by discussing issues
related to conflict management, teams can establish an expected protocol to be followed
by team members when in conflict. All teams and organizations have a conflict culture
(the way the team responds to conflict). However, most teams never discuss what the
conflict culture is, therefore providing the opportunity for individual team members to
make assumptions that can be counterproductive to the team.
Practicing ones conflict management skills leads to more successful engagement in
conflict with outcomes of relief, understanding, better communication, and greater
productivity for both the individual and the team. When we manage our conflicts more
effectively, we use less energy on the burdensome tasks such as systemic conflict and get
to spend more of our energy on our projects at work and building our relationships.
Below are references that can assist both individuals and teams to greater conflict
management success.
In a world where huge friction exists between individuals, Conflict Management becomes
an area which needs to be addressed very seriously & the topic should be inculcated in
the B-Schools & Corporate around the world.




The information has been collected from the following:
Organizational Behavior by Stephens Robbins.
The Times of India (Sunday Edition).
The case study has been copied from
Power Point Presentations have been adapted from the text.