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Conflict, Power, and Politics

MHR 3200 Dr. Larry Inks Department of Management and Human Resources Fisher College of Business The Ohio State University

Overview
Conflict in Organizations

Conflict Outcomes and Resolution


Negotiation

Influencing Others
Power

Politics
Impression Management
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The Nature of Conflict


Conflict The process in which one party perceives that its interests are being opposed or negatively affected by another party. Dysfunctional conflict - Conflict that is detrimental to organizational goals and objectives Functional conflict - Conflict that is beneficial to organizational goals and objectives

Potential Benefits of Conflict More effective management of change Increased morale and group cohesiveness Better, more candid and spontaneous communication Improved creativity and problem solving
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Four Major Categories of Conflict


Personality Conflict Intergroup Conflict Cross-Cultural Conflict

Work-Family Conflict

Behaviors Associated with Intergroup Conflict


Group polarization Increased group cohesiveness Decreased amount/increased negativity of communication Decrease in productivity (individual and organizational)

Increase in finger pointing


Conditional cohesiveness

Relevant to both intergroup and intragroup conflict

Enabling Conditions for Worker/Management Conflict


Large psychological distance between groups

Large power/status difference between groups


Differences in ideology/philosophy about work Scarce financial resources

Lack of trust between groups (especially of management)


Lack of substantive communication/information sharing - Especially if perceived to be deliberate

Historical factors

Conflict Escalation
Conflict escalation: Process whereby a conflict grows increasingly worse over time Escalation of conflict is more likely when: - Cultural differences exist between the parties The parties have a history of antagonism

The parties have insecure self-images


Status differences between parties are uncertain Parties have strong ties to each other

The parties do not identify with one another


One or both parties has the goal of beating the other party

Different Conflict Resolution Strategies


High

Integrating

Obliging

Cooperativeness

Compromising

Dominating Low High

Avoiding Low

Assertiveness
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Forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution


Facilitation Conciliation Peer Review Ombudsman: public advocate appointed by govt Mediation Arbitration: resolve outside of courts

Distributive vs. Integrative Negotiation


Distributive Negotiation - A fixed pie Integrative Negotiation - Added Value Negotiation one type Several steps in Added Value Negotiation - Clarifying interests - Identifying options - Designing alternative deal packages - Selecting a deal - Finalizing/perfecting the deal

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Influencing Others
Potential Outcomes of Influence Attempts Resistance Compliance Commitment/Internalization

Influence/Persuasion Principles Reciprocity


Consistency/Commitment Authority Social Proof (role models, champions, etc.) Liking Scarcity (e.g., of resources, information, etc.)
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Some Generic Influence Tactics


Rational persuasion

Consultation
Personal appeal Ingratiation

Soft tactics

Inspirational appeal
Exchange Coalition Hard tactics

Legitimizing
Pressure

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Different Types of Power


Legitimate Power: based on position Expert Power Reward Power: based on perceived ability to reward Coercive Power: based on perceived ability to punish Referent Power: power of an individual over the team or followers

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Sharing Power with Others


Potential Benefits Increased motivation, engagement and self-efficacy

Increased productivity and effectiveness


Better efficiency/utilization of time and resources Better decision making Required Elements Information sharing Employee development (to ensure necessary skill levels) Allowing employees to make substantive decisions Rewarding employees based on company performance

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Politics in Organizations
Organizational Politics Intentional acts of influence to enhance or protect the self-interest of individuals or groups that are not endorsed by the organization. NOTE: This is the definition from your text; I consider it more broadly. Politics and political behaviors found in virtually all organizations Causes include change, lack of clarity, resource allocation, etc. Goal of political behavior is to exert influence on others Political behavior triggered by many things, especially uncertainty

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Some Political Concepts/Issues


Individual- vs. coalition- vs. network-level political action

Frequently used political tactics - Building networks of contacts - Getting key players to support your initiatives - Making friends with power brokers - Bending the rules to fit the situation - Self-promotion - Impression management - Ingratiation - Attacking or blaming others - Using information as a political tool

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Effectively Wielding Political Power


Know what youre getting involved with Carefully read the situation Be aware of personal relationships within the organization Build coalitions Expand your organizational network Control decision making process and parameters Be assertive (vs. aggressive) about what you want

Position issues carefully, and appropriately, and properly - Framing - Timing

Always make your own informed decision about your own behavior
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Some Caveats
Dont get overly involved in the rumor mill

Be careful about what you say to others


Be careful about what you write to others Consider email and IMs to be more or less permanent

Remember that people have long memories


This is just between you and me is almost NEVER just between you and me. Know what battles to fight and which ones to avoid/concede Dont ignore the political reality around you, but dont let it rule you

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Mintzbergs Political Games


Insurgency Game Counter-Insurgency Game Sponsorship Game Alliance-Building/Coalition-Building Game Empire-Building Game Budgeting Game Expertise Game Strategic Candidates Game

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Summary Thoughts
Conflict, power and politics are complex topics since they deal with complex situations involving multiple people These issues are part of the culture (like an undercurrent) but are most visible when they surface during critical situations Skills in dealing with these issues develop over time and with practice In addition to skills, you need to have a certain level of credibility, respect, and knowledge within the organizationthese are YOUR responsibility and result from your own behavior Managing conflict, wielding power, and dealing in politics are done best when done with integrity, clarity and objectivity.

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What Questions Do You Have?