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Part I.

Defining Work in Group Oreations

1. Elements of a Definition

Power continues to be a difficult subject to surround. Disciplinary foci have helped, but have left about as much
confusion as they have added insight into the subject. Recent analytical studies, while relatively few, have helped to
clarify elements of power, its sources, and constituent parts. This work has added needed insights into specific
dimensions of power, but has not delimited the central essence of power. Indeed, most work on power adds to the
ambiguity rather than diminishes it.

Any summary of research directions in operational uses of power points up this variety and breadth. For example,
writers have defined power variously as a potential for social action and as a predictor and conditioner of behavior.
They have described power as an ethical element of freedom, as a tool for analysis of influence, and as a basis of
violence. Some see power as a possession in a
zero-sum game. Others see it as a shared (or sharable) commodity, as a resource we can monopolize. And others
view it as a general capacity of personality. All of these perspectives help somewhat in delimiting power. Individually,
they elaborate salient dimensions of this complex social phenomenon. Together, how- ever, they garble succinct
distinctions and create confusion. Many specific power
definitions overlap or even contradict each other.

Notwithstanding this confusion, power is attractive--if illusive. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other philosophers have
dealt with this subject. And, since Machiavelli, power theory has caused concern and some degree of discomfort for
the serious student and for the generalists in human behavior. The essential nature of power has eluded us. Its
dimensions are troublesome. Its meaning in practice enigmatic.Its theory is inconclusive and imprecise. Its ethical

2.Power Politics in Organizational Life

In many ways power is a unifying thread by which we can connect and rationalize the history of mankind. Of course
other, more traditional perspectives like eco- nomic events, wars, ideology, and religion provide important and
needed per- spectives on our evolution as a society. But, certainly understanding how leaders as well as followers
used power will help in understanding our history. It will
be equally useful in helping us determine how people will relate to each other in the twenty-first century.

Viewing our leaders, our literature, our government, our philosophy, and our religion in power terms helps us
understand each other better. These social systems record our history of competition, conflict, struggle, violence, and
war. In a word, they record our fascination with power ( Winter, 1973) and the politics of power use. Perhaps there is
no single concept of human relationship of more gut importance than how we get our way in the group. It is central to
both who and what we are as individuals and as group members.

We engage in power activity in group (that is, political) settings. It is logical, therefore, that psychology, political
science, anthropology, and the rest of the social disciplines should have interest in power. Each has something to
add to our understanding of power and its use. Each discipline, almost each writer, has added specific definitions to
the lexicon of power. The resulting confusion has done little to clarify concepts, or to reduce the trauma many feel
when someone introduces the word power into a discussion.

The study of power dates from the earliest efforts to define a social science.

Part II: Power Use-Tactical and strategic modules

3.A Power-Use Model: Using Power in the Organization

We have shown that power use is a part of an organizational dynamic that is, at heart, political. This political process
is an ingredient of planning, organizing, staffing, budgeting, goal setting, and program management. However, texts
on management often ignore (and as a result mask) the political power dimension
of these functions. In budgeting, to use only one example, guidelines concentrate on goals methods, steps, and
criteria of the budget cycle; elements of the budget process; implementation; and control. They assume that
producing a budget is as mechanical as, say, manufacturing an automobile.The organizational reality is that
participants influence each other during each phase of the budget process. They negotiate schedules, they
compromise goals, they marshal support, they compete for limited resources. Budgeting and all of these other
activities are power tasks. Organization members accomplish them via use of power tactics implicit in a political
action process many call organi- zational politics.We all continually find ourselves in situations where power
negotiation is a legitimate part of our working lives. Organization members are continually in situations where they are
competing with other people for dominance ( Pfeffer, 1981, 1992). They compete for the capacity to get their own way
in the face of competing action by others in their intimate work group. We can describe this situation in five
1. Organizational participants react continually with other people who are in interde-
pendent relationship with them.

4.Power-Use Tactics: Application of Power on the Job

Power has little direct utility as an abstract concept. We think about power only in terms of its use in specific
relationships and in specific politically charged situations. It is a concrete, not an abstract, phenomenon. Yet this
tactical aspect of analysis has received little attention. Some recent work seeks to begin this tactical phase of
analysis. To date it is spotty and suffers from lack of a specific
language of power.

On balance working, tactical power use may be the most fruitful line of inquiry
into power use and theory building. It also holds promise of illuminating many
of the quandaries of organizational life and its development toward organizational health. It also has the potential to
legitimize organizational politics as an addi- tional tool all organization members can use openly. The power process
involves a collaborative relationship between an individual and a target. Power users enjoy differing styles,
philosophies, and approaches. In general, however, they perform a discrete set of functions toward the target. These
functions include intervening in the relationship to promote desired action by the target. That is, they promote change
from the current level to some ideal or desired level of action.

A study of specific tactics used today points to a wide range of power tactics operating in our groups and
organizations. (See the Appendix.) Using survey techniques coupled with interview and observational data, the
author surveyed a variety of individuals in several types of organization. The focus was to explore the kinds of
operational (tactical) behavior they engaged in routinely on the job.

5. Using Power in the Organization

Power permeates our lives. We are often in situations with others where we are controlling some people or being
controlled by them. We cannot choose whether power will be used in our internal organizational political relationships.
We can only determine whether we will think about it and act on the basis of an un-
analyst in understanding what takes place in organizational life. Power is an essential element of resource allocation,
conflict, competition, decision making, planning, staff selection, and the whole range of management, supervisory,
and leadership tasks. In a very real sense, power in use is merely organizational dynamics--the action of people in

Obviously we all use power routinely. It is a central activity of mankind. For Plato, power was "being." In The Sophist,
he argues that anything that possesses any sort of power to affect another or to be affected by another, if only for
a single moment, however trifling the cause or however slight the effect, has real existence. Writers such as Hobbes,
Machiavelli, May, Berle, Russell, and scores
of others have viewed the question of power as one of the central issues of society. Power use resolves itself into the
question of who is contending for what result and with what resources? These are, at heart, political questions. Our
power behavior determines their answers.

Power is omnipresent in organizational decision making. It is critical in se- lection of key staff. It is a part of all
resource allocation. Promotion actions, reorganization decisions, and the development, flow, and use of information
Part V: Power Use in our lives

12.The History and Theory of Power

Power is a part of all life. Viewing our relationships with others from the
perspective of power can assist us to understand our success or lack of success
in attaining our aims ( Pfeffer, 1992). A power perspective can add insight about
human interrelationships that no other perspective can. We can, of course, gain
insight about our group behavior when we view our actions from the standpoint
of communications. Other insight is possible as we analyze our relationships on
the basis of conflict, or change, or motivation, or a number of other technologies.
These perspectives are well known and well documented. Techniques and models
abound to help the individual understand group behavior in these terms.

An organizational (political) power perspective in leadership is new. Little has been written that develops a holistic
model of human relationships in work organizations based on power usage. A careful review of the literature
reveals significant insights about power in use. It is only recently that writers have begun
to abstract working models and strategies applicable to leadership ( Pfeffer, 1981; and Allen and Porter, 1983). The
ideas contained in the following discussion relate sometimes disparate power ideas into a synthesis hopefully useful
to prac- titioner and academic alike.


Society is a condition of inequality. Whether in the animal or human realm,

there are the ordinary and the extraordinary, the leaders and the led, the powerful

13.Forms of Power

As we have seen, power use is a central activity of life. Its use in the many contexts we find it takes many forms. In a
real sense, it becomes the central activity of life. And, precisely because power use is so ubiquitous in life, the terms
we have to describe the various forms of use have become confused. At
the risk of perpetuating this confusion, in this chapter I will try to redefine common language and some popular power
terms. The intent is to relate these terms more precisely to the forms that power takes in organizations.

Securing our desired results in the face of opposition characterizes much of our interpersonal life activity. Depending
upon the individual persuasions, writers define power as harmonious with influence or opposed to it. They use the
ideas of power and force synonymously. Others define it as disparate ends of a con- tinuum of control. That is, some
see power as authority or as antithetical to it.
Others see coercion as power made manifest, or as merely one form of power. Confusion in the literature is rampant.
The result is that the lexicon of power terms is almost useless in distinguishing power-use mechanisms. We need a
new language to reconceptualize power terms in ways that admit precise meaning and unambiguous application. To
do this, however, is to introduce further am-
biguity into the language and discussion of power.

Defining power as a personal capacity that allows the individual to get his desired results in the face of opposition
encompasses much of current research. It removes, also, the need to construe too narrowly much of the important
work now being done to extend and operationalize power usage. Power defined in this way allows us to see it
manifest in a wide variety of settings and in increasingly
multiple forms. It is thus a potential for organizational and individual imposition

14. Bases of Power

The basis of power is control over needed and scarce resources. We may define resources as anything physical or
psychological we own and make available to others and valuable to them in meeting their perceived needs. To be
useful for power purposes, the target must see the resources as available only (or most economically) from us. In
effect, power comes to us when others perceive us
as having resources in some kind of monopoly ( Kipnis, Schmidt, and Wilkinson,
1980). The scarcer the commodity, the more useful it is to us to achieve our desires from those who want that
commodity. The more of these scarce resources we control, the more powerful we are in the eyes of those persons in
need.Any discussion of power bases must include the seminal work of French and Raven ( 1959). They distinguished
five types of power: reward power, coercive power, expert power, referent power, and legitimate power. Briefly, they
define these very commonly referenced bases of power as follows:
1. Reward power--based on our ability to provide benefits to the target.
2. Coercive power--based on our ability to provide punishing effects to the target for
3. Expert power--based on the special ability and knowledge that we have that the target
would like to have or use.
4. Referent power--based on desires others have to identify favorably with us or with
what we symbolize to them.
5. Legitimate power--based on the feeling others have that we have the right and authority
to exert influence over their activities. This feeling results from acceptance of our
grant of power by the formal organization or through historical precedence.

15. The Ethics of Power

For many, using power to secure personal goals is somehow ethically wrong. For them, power is the capacity to force
others to do something they would
rather not do. Power lets one person dominate or subjugate another. They say one employs power when other forms
of influence fail. This negative face of power translates ethically into a view of power that sees it as constraining
on the target of power and, somehow, demeaning to the user. Much of the negative
image of organizational politics stems from these kinds of feelings.

An alternative construction sees power as a value-neutral tool in conducting human intercourse. This power tool is
neither intrinsically good nor bad. It is only in the ethics of the user that power use contributes to or detracts from
the accepted values, mores, and standards of the society.

In this chapter we lay out for review some of the ethical considerations of power use as a foundation for detailed
discussion of discrete power-use tactics presented elsewhere in this book. The tactics described in previous
chapters constitute a series of systems of behaviors one may adopt to impact the actions,
thoughts, or beliefs of others--superiors, peers, and subordinates.

Understanding something of the intellectual basis of power ethics will help us make more informed power decisions.
We can make better decisions about when to use power, specific tactics to employ, and the ethical implications of its
use. Because, whether we like the idea or not, power use is a part of all life.
We engage routinely in relationships that can be better understood from the perspective of power relations. It is
central to understanding how we relate to others. It is critical to success in these relationships.

The capacity to influence others has always been a part of the history of people.

Chapter 19 : Power and Politics

Definition and Meaning of Power

Distinctions between Power, Authority and Influence

Bases of Power

Coercive Power
Reward Power
Legitimate Power
Expert Power
Referent Power

The Dependency Factor


Contingency Approaches to Power

Interdependence and Influencability

Overall Contingency Model for Power

Power in Groups: Coalitions

Organizational Politics

Definition and Nature of Politics

Factors Relating to Political Behavior

The Ethics of Power and Politics

Chapter Summary

Power and politics are among the most important concepts in the study of organization behavior. Both power and
politics are dynamic concepts and are a function of the interaction between different elements in organizations. Power
has been defined as "the ability to influence and control anything that is of value to others." It is the ability to influence
the behavior of other people in the organization and to get them to do what they otherwise would not have done.

Although the terms power, authority and influence are often used synonymously, there is a difference between them.
Power is the ability to effect a change in an individual or a group in some way. Power may or may not be legitimate.
That is, power need not correspond with a person's organizational position. Authority, on the other hand, is legitimate.
It is the power which is sanctioned by the organization and is often the 'source' of power. Influence is a much broader
concept than both power and authority.

French and Raven, social psychologists, identified five sources of power - coercive, reward, legitimate, expert and
referent. Coercive power is based on fear and is the ability to influence another person through threats or fear of
punishment. Reward power is a positive power which refers to the ability to get things done through others on the
basis of one's power to grant rewards. Legitimate power depends on organizational position and authority. It refers to
the power conferred by a person's organizational position. Expert power is derived from a person's expertise or
specialized knowledge of a certain subject that is perceived as important to the organization. And referent power is
based on people's identification with a certain individual and their attempt to emulate his behavior. The person who
acts as a model for reference has power over the person who emulates his behavior.

Dependency is the most important concept of power. The degree of dependence of the target determines the power
exercised by the agent. Dependency is a function of importance, scarcity and non substitutability of the resources
controlled by a person.

Contingency approaches to power are also gaining importance. The contingency approach suggests that power
depends on being in the 'right place' at the right time and the influencability of the target. The overall contingency
model combines the theories of French and Raven with those of Herbert Kelman and identifies the three main
processes of power, namely, compliance, identification and internalization.

When people lose power, they try to regain it individually, or by forming a coalition with other less powerful people.
Organizational coalitions are different from political coalitions in some basic ways.

Organizational politics is often called 'power in action.' Politics may be legitimate (within sanctioned organizational
limits) or illegitimate (exceeding sanctioned organizational limits) in nature. The degree of politicking engaged in
depends on individual as well as organizational factors. Individual politicking is a function of the person's power
motive, personality factors and background, and current work environment. Organizational politicking is a function of
culture, goal and role clarity and the attitude of top management.
Considerable importance has also been given to the ethical aspects of power and politics. It is not always easy to
develop ethical standards because of the ambiguous and subjective nature of certain actions.
During discussions of leadership, the question often arises: "Why or how are leaders able to get followers to follow?"
We have already discussed the notion that followers follow if they perceive the leader to be in a position to satisfy
their needs. However, our discussion also included frequent reference to the concept of "power". We are now in a
position to take a closer look at power.
Definitions of power abound. German sociologist, Max Weber defined power as "the probability that one actor within
a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance." Along similar lines, Emerson
suggests that "The power of actor A over actor B is the amount of resistance on the part of B which can be potentially
overcome by A." Power appears to involve one person changing the behavior of one or more other individuals --
particularly if that behavior would not have taken place otherwise.
power refers to A's ability to influence B, not A's right to do so; no right is implied in the concept of power...
At this point it is useful to point out that power refers to A's ability to influence B, not A's right to do so; no right is
implied in the concept of power. A related concept is authority. Authority does represent the right to expect or secure
compliance; authority is backed by legitimacy.
At this point it is useful to point out that power refers to A's ability to
influence B, not A's right to do so; no right is implied in the concept of power. A
related concept is authority. Authority does represent the right to expect or secure
compliance; authority is backed by legitimacy.
For purposes of differentiating between power and authority, let us examine the
relationship between the manager of a sawmill and her subordinates. Presumably,
the manager has the authority -- the right -- to request that the sawyer cut lumber
to certain specifications. On the other hand, the manager would not have the right
to request that the sawyer wash her car. However, that sawyer may well accede to
her request that he wash her car. Why? It is possible.
For purposes of differentiating between power and authority, let us examine the relationship between the manager of
a sawmill and her subordinates. Presumably, the manager has the authority -- the right -- to request that the sawyer
cut lumber to certain specifications. On the other hand, the manager would not have the right to request that the
sawyer wash her car. However, that sawyer may well accede to her request that he wash her car. Why? It is possible
that the sawyer responds to the power that the manager has over him -- the ability to influence his behavior.
Classification of power : Etizoni has made the classification of power as follows:

COERCIVE POWER : Involves forcing someone to comply with one's wishes. A prison would be an example of a
coercive organization.
UTILITARIAN POWER: Is power based on a system of rewards or punishments. Businesses, which use pay raises,
promotions, or threats of dismissal, are essentially utilitarian organizations.
NORMATIVE POWER : Is power which rests on the beliefs of the members that the organization has a right to
govern their behavior. A religious order would be an example of a utilitarian organization.
To help us understand organizations, we might consider them as political systems. The political metaphor helps us
understand power relationships in day-to-day organizational relationships. If we accept that power relations exist in
organizations, then politics and politicking are an essential part of organizational life.

Politics is a means of recognizing and, ultimately, reconciling competing interests within the organization.
Competing interests can be reconciled by any number of means. For example, resorting to "rule by the manager"
might be seen as an example of totalitarian rule. On the other hand, politics may be a means of creating a
noncoercive, or a democratic work environment.
...organizations need mechanisms whereby they reconcile conflicting interests...
Systems of rule... each represent a political orientation with respect to how power is... distributed throughout the
To help us understand organizations, we might consider them as political systems. The political metaphor helps us
understand power relationships in day-to-day organizational relationships. If we accept that power relations exist in
organizations, then politics and politicking are an essential part of organizational life.
Politics is a means of recognizing and, ultimately, reconciling competing interests within the organization. Competing
interests can be reconciled by any number of means. For example, resorting to "rule by the manager" might be seen
as an example of totalitarian rule. On the other hand, politics may be a means of creating a no coercive, or a
democratic work environment.
As mentioned, organizations need mechanisms whereby they reconcile conflicting interests. Hence, organizations,
like governments, tend to "rule" by some sort of "system". This "system" is employed to create and maintain "order"
among the organization's members.
Systems of rule within organizations range from autocratic to democratic at the extremes. Between these extremes
we find bureaucratic and technocratic systems. Whatever the system, each represents a political orientation with
respect to how power is applied and distributed
throughout the organization. Each type of organizational "rule" simply draws on different principles of legitimacy.
...politics stems from a diversity of interests...
Organizational actors seek to satisfy not only organizational interests, but also their own... needs; driven by self-
According to Aristotle, politics stems from a diversity of interests. To fully understand the politics of the organization, it
is necessary to explore the processes by which people engage in politics. Consistent with Aristotle's
conceptualization, it is a given that, within the organization, all employees bring their own interests, wants, desires,
and needs to the workplace.
Organizational decision-making and problem- solving, while seemingly a rational process, is also a political process.
Organizational actors seek to satisfy not only organizational interests, but also their own wants and needs; driven by
Members of a corporation are at one and the same time cooperators... and rivals for the... rewards of successful
competition Rational models of organizational behavior only explain a portion of the behavior observed (Farrell and
Peterson, 1982):
Members of a corporation are at one and the same time cooperators in a common enterprise and rivals for the
material and intangible rewards of successful competition with each other. (Farrell and Peterson, 1982)
Political behavior has been defined as :
the non-rational influence on decision making
...the successful practice of organizational politics is perceived to lead to a higher level of power... Regardless of the
degree to which employees may be committed to the organization's objectives, there can be little doubt that, at least
occasionally, personal interests will be incongruent with those of the organization. Organizational politics arises when
people think differently and want to act differently.
The tension created by this diversity can resolved by political means. In an autocratic organization, resolution comes
through the directive: "We'll do it my way!". The democratic organization seeks to resolve this diversity of interests by
asking: "How shall we do it?" By whatever means an organization resolves this diversity, alternative approaches
generally hinge on the power relations between the actors involved.
According to Farrell and Peterson(Farrell and Peterson, 1982), the successful practice of organizational politics is
perceived to lead to a higher level of power, and once a higher level of power is attained, there is more opportunity to
engage in political behavior
One things does appear to be clear: the political element of the management process is non-rational. Organizations
cannot pretend to engage in rational decision-making processes so long as political influences play a role -- and they
always will!
For purposes of understanding organizational political behavior, Farrell and Peterson (1982) proposed a three-
dimensional typology. The dimensions are:
where the political activity takes place -- inside or outside the organization, the direction of the attempted influence --
vertically or laterally in the organization, and
the legitimacy of the political action.
1) Functional Vs Dysfunctional Conflict,
2) Sources And Types Of Conflict: Individual, Group, And Organisational;

3)The Process And Approaches To Conflict Resolution

What happens when people in an organization disagree about the desired outcomes of that organization?
What happens when peoples' values, attitudes or motives differ?
What happens when I suspect that you disagree with me?
In each case, the answer is that we have conflict; tension manifests itself as conflict.
Conflict is frequently characterized by:
� opposition
� scarcity
� blockage

Specifically, we define intergroup conflict as a process of opposition and confrontation; when one group obstructs the
progress of another.
Scarcity of resources can bring about conflict as each department within the organization seeks to secure for itself the
scarce resources it requires for its survival; each department acts out of self interest. In order to secure these scarce
resources, a department may block another department's access to the resources -- this too contributes to the level
of conflict. Furthermore, one party's opposition to the proposals or action of a second party may also result in conflict.
It is also useful to distinguish between conflict and competition. Competition takes place within a structure of rules.
Conflict, on the other hand, generally involves some interference by one party with the other party's pursuit of its
Levels of Conflict
Conflict can occur within an employee, between individuals or groups, and across organizations as they compete.
Chapter 4 examines role conflict different role expectations) and role ambiguity (lack of clarity over how to act) .

Although most role conflict occurs when an employee's supervisor or peers send conflicting expectations to him or
her, it is possible for intrapersonal role conflict to emerge . from within ~ an individual, as a result of competing roles
taken. For example, Sabrina may see herself as both the manager of a team responsible for ~protecting and
enlarging its resources and as a member of the executive staff ' charged with the task of reducing operating costs. .

2. Interpersonal conflicts are a serious problem to many people because they

deeply affect a person's emotions. There is a need to protect one's self image
and self esteem from damage by others: When self-concept is threatened,
serious upset occurs and relationships deteriorate. Sometimes the
temperaments of two persons are incompatible and their personalities clash.
In otherinstances, conflicts develop from failures of communication or
differences in perception.
An office employee was upset by a conflict with another employee in a different
department. It seemed to the first employee that there was no way to resolve the
conflict. However, when a counselor explained the different organizational roles of
the two employees as seen from the whose organization's point of view, the first
employee's perceptions changed and the conflict vanished.
Intergroup conflicts, for example, between different departments, also cause
problems. On a major scale such conflicts are something like the wars between
juvenile gangs. Each group sets out to undermine the other, gain power, and
improve its image. Conflicts arise from such causes as different viewpoints, group
loyalties, and competition for resources. Resources are limited in any organization
and are increasingly tight as organizations struggle to be competitive. Since most
groups feel that they need more than they can secure; the seeds of intergroup
conflict exist wherever there are limited resources. For example, the production
department may want ~new and more efficient machinery while, at the same time,
the sales department wants to expand its sales force, but there are only enough
resources to supply the needs of one group.
We noted earlier that some conflict can be constructive, and this is certainly
true at the intergroup level. Here, conflict may provide a clue that a critical
problem between two departments needs to be resolved rather than allowed
to smolder Unless issues are brought into the open, they cannot be fully
understood or explored. Once intergroup conflict emerges, it creates a
motivating force encouraging the two groups to resolve the conflict so as to
move the relationship to a new equilibrium. Viewed this way, intergroup
conflict is sometimes escalated-intentionally stimulated in organizations
because of its constructive consequences. On other occasions it may be
desirable to de-escalate it-intentionally decrease it because of its potentially
destructive consequences. The managerial challenge is to keep conflict at a
moderate level (where it is most likely to stimulate creative thought but not
interfere with performance). Conflict should not become so inten'se that
individual parties either hide it or escalate it to destructive levels.
Sourees of Conftict
Interpersonal conflict arises from a variety of sources.
Organizational change.
People hold differing views over the direction to go, the routes to take and their
likely success, the resources to be used, and the probable outcomes. With the pace
of technological, political, and social change increasing and the marketplace
hurtling toward a global economy, organizational changes will be ever-present.
Personality clashes.
We point out in Chapter 1 that the concept of individual differences is fundamental
to organizational behavior. Not everyone thinks, feels, looks, or acts alike. Some
people simply "rub us the wrong way," and we cannot necessarily explain why
Although personality differences can cause conflict, they are also a rich resource for
creative problem solving. Employees need to accept, respect, and learn how to use
these differences when they arise.
Different sets of values.
People also hold different beliefs and adhere to dif ferent value systems. Their
philosophies may diverge, or their etk~ical values may lead them in different
directions. The resulting disputes can be difficult to resolve, since they are less
objective than disagreements over alternative products, inventory levels, or
promotional campaigns.
Threats to status.
the social rank of a person in a group, is very important to many individuals. When
one's status is threatened, face saving becomes a powerful driving force as a
person struggles to maintain a desired image. Conflict may arise between the
defensive person and whoever created a threat to status.
Contrasting perceptions.
People perceive things differently as a result of their prior experiences and
expectations. Since their perceptions are very
real to them (and they feel that these perceptions must be equally apparent to
others), they sometimes fail to realize that others may hold contrasting perceptions
of the same object or event. Conflict may arise unless employees learn to see things
as others see them and help others do the same.
Lack of trust.
Every continuing relationship requires some degree of trust-the capacity to depend
on each other's word and actions. Trust opens up boundaries, provides
opportunities in which to act; and enriches the entire social fabric of an
organization. It takes time to build, but it can be destroyed in an instant. When
someone has a real or perceived reason not to trust anot'her, the potential for
conflict rises.

grow among people who need to coordinate their efforts. At the individual level
some people may feel defeated, while the self image of others will decline, and
personal stress levels (discussed in Chapter 16) will rise. Predictably, the motivation
level of some employees will be reduced. It is important, then, for managers to be
aware of the potential for interpersonal and intergrot~p conflicts, to anticipate their
likely outcomes, and to use appropriate conflict resolution strategies.


• communication failure
• personality conflict
• value differences
• goal differences
• methodological differences
• substandard performance
• lack of cooperation
• differences regarding authority
• differences regarding responsibility
• competition over resources
• non-compliance with rules

...three general causes of conflict:


For purposes of analysis of the causes of conflict, it may be useful to identify three
general categories:

1. semantic difficulties
2. Words do not mean the same things to everyone who hears or uses them.
3. If one person were to ask another to "level out the gravel" on a construction
site, the words "level out" could mean different things to both party's. The
differences in perceived meaning are due to semantics.
4. If the communication is related to an activity that is critical to the
organization, a semantic misunderstanding can easily lead to conflict.
5. misunderstandings
6. "noise"
7. "Noise" in the communications process can take a number of forms. Most
obviously, noise is physical -- the parties in the organization cannot "hear"
one another because too

many people are talking at once, there is a radio blaring in the background, or
the construction workers on the street are using a jackhammer.
8. Noise also comes in the form of distorted signals -- the fax message is
misunderstood because poor quality fax paper makes it difficult to read the
letters on the page.
group interdependence
The greater the degree of interdependence, the greater is the likelihood of
communication difficulties (see above).
Greater interdependence also increases the possibility that the parties need to
share resources. If these resources are scarce, the probability of conflict is
At a college, the lives of students and instructors are impacted by the Timetabling
Department. The academic departments must submit their timetabling requests to
the Timetabling Department. In turn, the Timetabling Department completes
timetables which govern the lives of instructors and students. Neither the
Timetabling Department nor the academic departments can do their jobs effectively
without the highest degree of cooperation.
This interdependence can become the cause of interdepartmental conflict. If either
end of this interdependent relationship does not provide the other with adequate
information, poor performance results. In this case, the department initiating the
poor performance becomes the recipient of the other's poor performance -- conflict
1. task specialization
2. reward systems
3. authority relationships
4. group or organizational size

personality types
value systems

demanding apologies and redress

Confrontation may be…
Positive: may be necessary when quick decisions are required
Negative: may suppress or intimidate

refusing to acknowledge that a problem exists

reducing interaction
Avoidance may be..
positive: when conflict is minor or when there is little chance of winning
negative: failure to address important issues

apologizing and conceding the issue to the other party

Accommodation may be..
positive: useful when the outcome is more useful to the other party or when
harmony is important
negative: may lead to lack of influence or recognition

bargaining until a decision or solution is reached

Compromise may be
positive: may be practical if both parties have equal power or strength
negative: expediency may favor short-term solutions

treats the need to repair or maintain the relationship as a problem both parties
should be involved in
Collaboration may be
requires parties to recast the conflict as a problem-solving situation

the dilemma is "depersonalized" as the focus becomes one of solving the problem
as opposed to defeating the other person(s).