What are the causes of Conflict?

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The various causes of conflict can be broadly categorized into three categories based on the aspects of the conflict.

(a) Behavioral aspect of conflict: It arises from the human thoughts and feelings, their emotion and attitudes and their personality traits. Some of the causes of the behavioral aspect of conflict are :

(i) The values or the perception of situation by an individual could cause a conflict.
(ii) Personal biases related with religion race or sex can also generate conflict.
(iii) Different view points of individuals about the same thing can also generate conflict.
(iv) The increasing gap between the rich and the poor also causes conflict as the unrealized expectation of the under privileged causes frustration in their mind which leads to conflict among the different classes of societies.
(v) There could be a conflict between the organizational goals and the psychological needs of the individual employees. The in-consistency between the two can create conflict.

(b) Communicational aspect of conflict: It has often been seen that a lack of communication can cause conflict. The success of failure of a task depends on the method of communicating information to the employees. If the information is partial or misunderstood due to poor communication it can result in the failure of the task. It is very difficult to fix responsibility for the failure of a task due to lack of communication. The problems that arise during the process of communication can be attributed to :

(i) Problem of noise ,
(ii) Too much or too little communication
(iii) Passing of information through many levels or members. The information remains functional up to a certain point and after that it becomes a cause of conflict.
(iv) Problems in communication may also arise due to the difference in training, background or the selection process of the employees.

The problem in communication can cause misunderstanding among the members and if not cleared in time, these misunderstandings can result in conflict. Thus complete, adequate and correct communication of information is vital for the accomplishment of the task and also reduces the changes of the conflict.

(c) Structural aspect of conflict: Sometimes the structural designed of the organizations also causes conflict. Some of the factors of the structural designed of the organizations that can cause conflict are :

(i) The large size of an organization increases the chances of conflict.
(ii) Employee participation in the decision making process could also be a causes of conflict. If subordinates are not allowed to participate, they will show resentment, which will cause conflict. On the other hand, if greater participation opportunities are provided to the subordinates, the level of conflict will be even higher, because participation will create awareness about the individual differences. This conflict is further enhanced when individuals try to enforce their view points on others.
(iii) Role ambiguity is also a cause of conflict. When the role of an individual is not clearly defined, it will cause conflict especially between this individual and other people who depend on his activities.
(iv) The primary causes of inter group problems and conflicts are poorly designed work flow structure and poorly planned coordination requirements especially where tasks are interdependent.
(v) Scarcity of resources like capital, facilities, staff assistance etc. causes conflicts among the people and units who must share these and who have to compete for them. The scarcity may bring conflict among group who are otherwise peaceful at the time of abundance.

This article has been written by KJ Singh a MBA Graduate from a prestigious Business School In India
Article Published:September 14, 2012
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