What is functional conflict?

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The conflict which supports the goals of a group and also improves it performance is known as a functional or a positive conflict. The functional conflict is helpful in the achievement of the goals of a group as it aids in –

(i) Analytical thinking: During a conflict the members of a group display analytical thinking in identifying various alternatives. In absence of conflict, they might not have been creative or even might have been lethargic. The conflicts may include challenge to such views, rules, policies, purpose and plans which entail a significant analysis so as to justify these groups as they are or make other alterations that may be necessary.

(ii) Diffusing tension among the members of the group: When conflict is allowed to express openly it can help in reducing the tension among the members of the group which would otherwise remain suppressed. Suppression of tension can lead to imaginative distortion of truth, sense of frustration and tension, high mental exaggerations and biased opinions resulting in fear and distrust. When members express themselves, they get some psychological satisfaction. This also leads to reduction of stress among the involved members.

(iii) Promote Competition: Conflicts results in increase competition and this increased competition in turn results in more efforts. Some persons are highly motivated by conflict and service competition. Such conflict and competition can result in increased effort and output.

(iv.) Promote group cohesiveness: Some experts believe that conflict creates solidarity among the members of the group it also increases loyalty in the members of the group and inculcates a feeling of group identity as the members of a group compete with outsiders. This increased group cohesiveness can help the management in achieving the organizational goals effectively.

(v) Facing challenges: The abilities of individuals as well as groups can be tested during conflict. Conflict creates challenges for them and to face these challenges individual and group to need to be creative and dynamic. When they are able overcome these challenges successfully it leads to a search for the alternatives to the present methods which results in organizational development.

(vi.) Organizational change: It has been seen that some times conflict stimulates change among the members of a group. Whenever people are faced with conflict, there is a change in their attitudes and they become ready for the change to meet the requirements of the situation

(vii) Increased awareness: Conflict creates an increased awareness about the problems faced by the group. The group members also become aware of the members involved in the problem and the methods adopted to solve the problem.

(viii) Quality of decision: Conflict result s in high quality decisions taken by the members of a group. During the conflict, the members express the opposing views and perspective which results in some high quality decisions. The members share the information and examine the reasoning of other members to develop new decisions.

(ix) Identification of weakness: The weaknesses of a group and its members can be identified easily during the conflict. It becomes easier for the management to remove these weaknesses once it becomes aware of these.

This article has been written by KJ Singh a MBA Graduate from a prestigious Business School In India
Article Published:September 10, 2012
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