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Not All Confict Is Bad


By Brenald Chinyowa

Social structures are created through conflict between people with differing interests and resources. Individuals and resources, in turn, are influenced by these structures and by the “unequal distribution of power and resources in the society.”

But not all conflict is bad! Conflict is always difficult, but it leads to growth and change, which is good. No one likes pain, but pain wakes you up and tells you when to react. If you had your hand on a stove, and you couldn’t feel the pain to know to remove it, you’d be in big trouble! If there were no painful stimulus, you would get burned. It’s been said that conflict is like a tea bag: You have no idea how strong it can be until it gets into hot water.

Some level of organizational conflict is actually desirable — it’s not always dysfunctional. When conflict exists, it generally indicates commitment to organizational goals, because the players are trying to come up with the best solution. This in turn promotes challenge, heightens individual regard to the issues, and increases effort. This type of conflict is necessary. Without it, an organization will stagnate!

Positive conflict is very useful in group deliberations. When faced with a conflict, most healthy groups will look for more information to resolve it. Because the disagreement was expressed, a more thorough investigation will be conducted. When the group makes a decision, it will be based on additional information that probably wouldn’t have been obtained had the conflict not occurred.

Even though some of the feelings generated by conflict may be negative, disagreement indicates involvement in the discussion. A good argument may be an effective antidote to apathy!  “Let’s argue so we can make up.”

When resolving conflicts, one has to focus on finding ways that will allow all people to “win.” Usually, conflict results in one side “winning” at the expense of another. Conflict becomes unhealthy when it is avoided or approached on a win/lose basis, where one side is the winner and one is the loser. Your responsibility as a manager or team member is to ensure that this situation doesn’t occur, because it has negative effects for both the winner and loser.


From the human resource management school of thought, the belief that conflict is not an inherent or permanent feature of the employment relationship; rather, conflict is a manifestation of poor human resource management policies.

In unitarism, the organization is perceived as an integrated and harmonious system, viewed as one happy family. A core assumption of unitary approach is that management and staff, and all members of the organization share the same objectives, interests and purposes; thus working together, hand-in-hand, towards the shared mutual goals. Furthermore, unitarism has a paternalistic approach where it demands loyalty of all employees. And conflict is perceived as disruptive and illegitimate and it is there only to disturb the social order.

Conclusively for there to be a conflict it shows the existence of an problem which has to be attended to with immediate cause as it may result in unproductively, therefore to some extend a conflict is necessary in an organization as it helps the management to focus on problem areas are craft solutions, but also conflict can be unhealthy detrimental to an organization if managed wrongly and if taken for granted.

Brenald Chinyowa writes on his own capacity, for comments inbox to chinyowab@gmail.com (0777 897 586) 0715 764 862. Blog: profbrenald.blogspot.com or follow him on Facebook: Brenald Chinyowa.


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