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Conflict Management

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Essay title: Conflict Management


The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate what we have learnt about team working through the residential experience, as we will see conflict is an important part of the team work thus I will try to illustrate the effects conflicts has on the effectiveness and efficiency of individuals and team working, to do so I will refer to theory and I will support or disconfirm the different ideas by analysing and discussing specific examples within which I took an active part in our experience at Scalford hall.

Most of traditional views tend to associate conflict with a disruptive element in the effectiveness of a team whereas it is also seen as being a source of creativity and challenging of traditional view, therefore I will try to balance the different views.

Every time you bring together people from different backgrounds and culture, it is certain that conflict will occur. That is what happened at Scalford Hall, as we were working in team composed of students coming from many different countries, we all had different languages, cultures and backgrounds which could increase the conflict potential.

In this context of diversity, Belbin’s (1970) suggest an understanding of the nature of the group at an individual level, which is to understand which role each members hold within a team. We all had completed the Belbin team role self perception inventory, thus we knew our individual role preference the role which was over-represented in my team was the implementors. I will not use belbin’s theory to support the different situation i have meet at scalford hall, for the good reason that I am not convinced by it. This theory is based on a self-perception of ourself and I am not sure that it is a relevant tool, people self perception is often distort by how individual see them, which is very seldom what reality is.

“Common definitions of conflict tend to be associated with negative features and situations which give rise to inefficiency, ineffectiveness or dysfunctional consequences” (Mullins, 1999, p 816), “There is something negative about conflict which suggests that it is unproductive at least and possibly even destructive” (Cole, 2004, p 222). As we can see the traditional view tend to see conflict as something bad for the organization and need to be avoid. “From findings provided by studies, it was argued that conflict was a dysfunctional outcome resulting from poor communication, a lack of openness and trust between people,…” (Robbins, 1997, p 169-70), my experience at Scalford Hall in some points, support this view, the first conflict my team meet, raised from a lack of communication and a lack of listening. At the moment of the building of the catapult we noticed that all the team members were not listening to each other, therefore we all had to repeat at least twice what we wanted to say if we wanted to be heard. As a matter of fact as we were running out of time for that activity, we were all stressed about not to finish it on time, at this moment we were not acting like a team but we were all focused on our own idea that could help us to be quicker, conflict came in at this moment. Every body thought that nobody wanted to hear its ideas to such an extent that some team members felt neglected by the other, thus a climate of mistrust had place in our team. In this particular case the conflict has a negative effect on the group work, at the individual level, some team members felt useless and not as being part of the team, thus it affect the efficiency of the group performance, we were not working in the same way. “The impact of conflict on the individual and on the group is rarely mutually exclusive, so the way individuals perceive a conflict may have an important influence on its effect on the group.” (Robbins, 1997 p171). What Robbins means is if an individual feel ignored, excluded from the team it will affect the overall performance of the group, if we go back on the conflict concerning the catapult, some team members felt excluded because of the others not listening to them but we realised later that the others team members did not perceive it the same way, they did not intentionally exclude the other members.

Robbins also categorize conflict in order to differ the effects conflict can have on team working, the first category is functional conflict: “Some conflict support the goal of the group and improve its performance” (Robbins, 1997, p 170), the second category is dysfunctional conflicts which are seen as destructive: “There are also conflicts that hinder group performance” (Robbins, 1997, p 170), but differentiating these two is not that easy, in fact it is the impact the conflict has on the team work that will enable us to categorize it. For instance if we apply this theory on the conflict we talked

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