Conflict in the workplace is usually regarded as
bad news but researchers at Lingnan University say it is vital for
a companys decision-making process.
Tjosvold and one of his books
is said to be stressful, but avoiding conflict can be a lot more stressful,
said Principal Investigator Prof Dean Tjosvold.
conflict is also costly in terms of decision quality, and costly with
regard to employees being less than committed to the team and decision-making.
conflict for mutual benefit, says Prof Tjosvold, actually strengthens
teamwork, decision-making and improves the use of human resources.
Structures and methods to manage conflict within companies are being
developed, he said.
teams draw employees from all sections of a company, for example,
to plan, produce and sell a new product.
issues from all departments can be handled at the beginning of the
process and everyone feels they own the issues, he said.
each section met in isolation and there would be no opportunity to
openly deal with any inter-section conflicts. He added: For
participative management to work, its vital to manage conflict.
his research, Prof Tjosvold surveyed more than 100 companies in mainland
China and found that the Chinese cultural value of saving face
is important because it confirms the individuals desire to maintain
a strong, cooperative relationship.
respect for each others face means that individuals are able
to discuss their different perspectives and integrate their ideas
constructively because they believe they are working together for
mutual goals. In one case, a factorys new female line
manager was asked by a director to complete a rush order of products
by staying late, but there was no mention of overtime.
that workers would be unwilling to stay late with no overtime, she
negotiated with her boss on extra pay, or time off in
lieu. In securing a remedy, she also felt she had set a good precedent
for handling future overtime cases.
said Prof Tjosvold, are more constructive when people try to resolve
them for mutual benefit; conflicts involving goal incompatibility
and ethical issues can be more difficult. ̉Rather than suppress ethical
issues, if they can be discussed open-mindedly and codes of conduct
used as guides, the issues can be dealt with constructively,
Prof Dean Tjosvold : email@example.com