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Human Relations in the Organization:Conflict and Negotiations

Updated on June 13, 2015

5.1 Conflict and Negotiations

  • Which of the following identifies the most difficult aspect of negotiating multimillion-dollar mergers?

Social issues like ego and corporate pride are the most difficult aspects of negotiating multimillion-dollar mergers. In the case of PointCast, social issues led to the breakdown of the negotiation process.

5.2 Understanding Conflict

  • Which of the following is an example of conflict?

Two coworkers having a simple disagreement about where to eat lunch.Although debating the best lunch location may seem to be a minor thing, it is still an example of conflict because it involves people disagreeing.

  • Dominic has created a mandatory project progress meeting for his design team every day at 4 p.m. He is also on the development team and just received a notice that there is a meeting today at 3:45 p.m. What type of conflict is Dominic experiencing?

Dominic is experiencing a role conflict. As the head of the design team and a member of the development team, he is not sure which role is more important.

  • Which of the following is an accurate statement regarding conflict within an organization?

Both too little and too much conflict can be detrimental to the performance and success of an organization, so proper conflict management is essential.

  • Which of the following describes the team with the highest performance?

A team with high performance has members who usually work well together but also have occasional conflict. Some conflict within a team, especially if it occurs in the early stages of decision making, is healthy and can stimulate creative thinking. Personal attacks, however, are never healthy.

  • What type of conflict typically takes place between two groups within an organization?

Conflict between two groups is known as intergroup conflict. The types of groups that experience intergroup conflict can vary, and the conflict often occurs during mergers, buyouts, and placements due to management decisions.

  • Emilia and John are both members of the accounting department, and every week during the weekly department meeting, one of them makes a snide or sarcastic remark about the other that everyone at the meeting hears. What type of conflict are Emilia and John experiencing?

Emilia and John are experiencing interpersonal conflict, which occurs between individuals rather than between groups or within a single individual.

5.3 Causes of Conflict

  • In which of the following scenarios would you be MOST likely to experience conflict?

You would most likely experience conflict in an organization with a new matrix structure. The matrix structure has decisional conflict built in, which can lead to confusion.

  • Which of the following is a causal factor for conflict in the workplace?

Poor organizational structure is a causal factor for conflict in the workplace, among other factors such as limited resources, incompatible goals, communication problems, task interdependence, and personality differences.

  • You have a friend who is starting her first job at a multinational organization with offices around the globe. Which of the following is a piece of advice that you should give her regarding conflict? Choose the BEST answer.

Too much conflict can lead to reduced performance and other problems in an organization, so it would be good advice for your friend to plan an exit strategy if she notices that there is too much conflict there.

5.4 Self-Assessment 11: People Skills

What did you learn about yourself from this self-assessment?

My score on the people skills self-assessment was a 56. This score means that I generally get along with others. This self-assessment taught me that while I get along with others I still have a ways to go before I can consider my people skills adequate. I need to work on my self-confidence and my shyness so that they don’t hurt me in the long run.

5.5 Outcomes of Conflict

  • Which of the following is a positive outcome of conflict?

One positive outcome of conflict is that it can lead to the clarification of an individual’s perspective or idea.

  • Which of the following is a negative outcome of conflict?

Conflict can lower productivity and teamwork by causing stress and anxiety, decreasing morale, and sowing mistrust.

  • You are considering the following job offers. You are well-qualified for all of them, but would prefer a job with a low risk for workplace violence. Which job should you select?

Compared with the other options, you would have a lower risk for workplace violence as a member of a marketing team. The other jobs are high risk due to interacting with frustrated customers, dealing with valuables, handling weapons, and working nights and weekends.

5.6 Conflict Management

  • Which of the following is considered an effective way to manage conflict?

Focusing the attention and energy of the conflict on a common enemy is considered an effective way to manage conflict.

  • Maria and Stacey are both members of the Human Resources “Hiring and Onboarding” team. They have completely opposite personalities: Maria is quiet and shy, while Stacey is talkative and always willing to share her opinion. Due to these circumstances, the two women do not get along, and the team leader, Jim, is looking for a way to manage the conflict. What action should Jim take?

Jim should change the structure of the team so that Maria and Stacey do not interact with one another as much. This might consist of a layout change where the two women do not sit together.

  • Two teams within the marketing department are fighting over which one should get the bigger portion of the departmental budget. Which conflict management strategy should the department head choose to effectively manage this situation?

If the two teams have a common enemy, they will be better able to work out their internal differences and focus their attention on the larger problem at hand.

5.7 Conflict-Handling Styles

  • Which of the following conflict-handling styles is highly assertive but low in cooperation?

Competitive individuals are more interested in getting what they want than in keeping everyone satisfied, and they will often push for their agenda. This style can be effective if one has a moral objection or if some options are unethical or harmful.

  • Omar manages two supervisors who disagree over how to handle financial distribution within the department. He was supposed to have a meeting with them to advise them on the situation, but cancelled it because he was afraid of a verbal confrontation between the two. What conflict-handling style is Omar using?

Omar is attempting to avoid the conflict by postponing the meeting.

  • You have entered into a salary negotiation with your boss, and are interested in garnering a raise of $5,000 per year. Your boss is interested in paying you the least amount of money for your best work and has indicated that she is willing to work with you to find a raise that is acceptable to you both. What conflict-handling style is your boss using?

Collaboration indicates that both sides present their position and then work together to achieve a win-win situation. This is different from compromise because the end goal is for both parties to walk away with their goals met.

  • Which conflict-handling style is characterized by giving up one’s own goals in favor of the other party’s?

Accommodation is high in cooperation and low in competitiveness, making the goals of others more important. An individual who uses this style, however, can begin to feel neglected.

  • Which of the following is an effective means of stimulating conflict?

Introducing a “devil’s advocate” to shake things up is one way to stimulate healthy conflict. Other ways include creating competition among teams, encouraging people to raise issues, and leaving enough ambiguity to foster creative ideas.


5.8 Self-Assessment 12: Anger Management

I scored a 67 on the anger management self-assessment. This score means that I am able to successfully manage my anger most of the time. This self-assessment taught me that I do a good job at managing my anger, but while I agreed with my results I found that some of the questions did not really apply to me. I have never really needed much in the way of anger management strategies because I rarely get angry. I am more likely to get disappointed, sad, upset, or withdrawn.

5.9 Negotiations

  • Which of the following BEST defines negotiation?

Negotiation is the process by which two parties attempt to find common ground for an agreement that will meet their specific goals.

  • Which stage of the negotiation process is often omitted?

Although quite important, investigation is often omitted during the negotiation process.

  • Tom has already done his research and gathered his information, and now he is structuring the information in such a way that it supports his position. What stage of the negotiation process is Tom currently in?

Tom is preparing his presentation for the negotiation so the other party will be aware of his goals and desired outcomes.

  • What is the BATNA?

BATNA, or “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement,” is an important method for figuring out whether or not to accept the current offer. This is determined through research and investigation before the negotiation and is not revealed to the other party. If an offer is worse than your BATNA, you should not take it.

  • Which of the following statements MOST accurately reflects the bargaining phase of negotiation?

By asking the right questions, you can find out why the other party might have rejected your first offer, or if there is a vital part of the offer that you must include within your negotiation package.

  • Which of the following is an accurate statement regarding closure during negotiations?

The closure phase of negotiation contains the all-or-nothing moment when a final decision is made on whether to take or leave the deal.

5.10 Negotiation Strategies

  • A corporation is preparing its budget for the upcoming year. The CEO asks the managers on his management team, “Since the research and development team is getting a 15 percent budget increase, which department or departments will give up the 15 percent from their budget?” What type of negotiation strategy is the CEO using?

The distributive approach (or “fixed pie” approach) looks at the budget as a finite resource: if one department gets more of the budget, another gets less.

  • Which negotiation approach attempts to find the best outcome for everyone involved?

Also known as the “win-win” approach, the integrative approach looks for creative solutions to combine and integrate goals so that each party can achieve more during the negotiation.

  • What is the first step you should take when negotiating a higher salary?

The first step is to overcome your fear and decide to negotiate for a higher salary.

5.11 Avoiding Common Mistakes in Negotiations

  • Which of the following is a good strategy when engaging in negotiations?

Being open to the give-and-take of negotiation is a good strategy. Some common mistakes in negotiations include having an overinflated ego, being overly emotional, and nurturing unrealistic expectations, such as expecting the other party to accept your first offer.

  • Malcolm is the representative of an autoworkers union and he is in the middle of a negotiation with the automobile manufacturing plant for higher wages. He has been meeting with Jerry, the plant’s representative, and has just presented a reasonable offer: a wage increase of ten dollars per hour to be implemented over a five-year period. Jerry throws the proposal against the wall, points his finger in Malcolm’s face, and yells, “We will never pay the workers that much! This is an exorbitant sum and we won't pay it!” What mistake is Jerry committing?

Jerry is becoming overly emotional and disrespecting Malcolm in the process. This will not lead to a successful negotiation. A calm refusal or perhaps an offer with a rebuttal would be a more reasonable response.

  • Which of the following is an accurate statement about mistakes during the negotiation process?

It is true that with great power comes great effectiveness in showing anger during negotiations. The only time anger helps negotiations is when the angry party is perceived as being more powerful than the other party.

5.12 When All Else Fails: Third-Party Negotiations

  • Fritz is a welder and a member of the welders union. His immediate supervisor suspended him without pay for two days for not wearing protective eyewear. Fritz took his case before the union, and they decided to bring in a neutral third party to guide both parties toward a mutually agreeable decision. What type of negotiation do Fritz and the union want to use?

Fritz and the union are looking to use mediation in this scenario. Mediation occurs when an outside third party helps both parties come to an agreement. The mediator does not represent either party and is able to make suggestions and facilitate discussion.

  • When should you decide to use a mediator?

The best time to use a mediator is when both parties are unable to reach a solution during the negotiation.

  • Kim heard the union present a case suggesting that employees should be given two days off per week. She then immediately heard a case from the management of the company claiming that employees had previously signed a contract to work six days a week, and if they didn’t like that, they could resign. Once all the cases were presented, Kim decided in favor of the company. Kim is which of the following?

Kim is an arbitrator and is likely in mediation-arbitration negotiation. She has the authority of a judge and can make rulings by which both parties are expected to abide.

5.13 The Role of Ethics and National Culture

  • Which of the following pieces of advice about ethics and negotiations would be the MOST helpful?

Treating others the way you want to be treated is great advice for maintaining ethical negotiations. It is even recommended to go a step beyond this and follow the “Platinum Rule” by treating others the way they want to be treated.

  • Which of the following statements accurately reflects the varied nature of negotiations around the globe?

Negotiators from Western cultures like the United States tend to be more keen to jump straight into business, while Eastern negotiators like the Chinese are more likely to try developing a relationship first. Americans tend to be straightforward and businesslike, with what is said providing the sole contextual and informational stream. Japanese negotiators, on the other hand, take in the whole negotiation and learn much from what is not said or offered, using contextual clues as well as nonverbal communication to aid in the negotiation process.

5.14 Avoiding Conflict at WorldCom: The Case of Bernard Ebbers

  • Which of the following is an example of how Bernard Ebbers took an avoidant approach to conflict?

By avoiding the reality that his company was in serious economic trouble, Ebbers created a culture of success at all costs, which ultimately led to falsified financial reports. He also refused to make long-term decisions, avoided negative news, and consistently justified his actions by referring to the way things were done at LDDS.

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