Impacts of Conflict to Decision Making Essay Example

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3Impacts of Conflict to Decision Making


Impacts of conflict to decision making


Organizational conflict can be defined as a disagreement between individuals, groups of people, managers or departments within an organization (Schwan, 2000). It can also be defined as the process that starts when one party is about to frustrate or has frustrated his or her concerns (William 2015). Most organizations experience conflict at some point in time. Organizational conflicts may be caused by differences in ideology, inequitable treatment, change, interdepartmental rivalry divisions or responsibility, point of view or resource allocation. There are four main frames on conflict; the pluralist frame, radical frame, interactionist frame and unitarist frame. The differences may result in either positive or negative outcome to the company. Major dysfunctional or functional consequences may arise from an organization conflict regardless of the level or nature of the conflict. A workplace environment is diverse since it has people with diverse personalities, cultures(Allen 1996), and ideologies. At certain times, these differences clash resulting in a conflict. The way an organization manages a conflict will depict its success or failure. Conflict can be managed through clarification of roles, rewards, effective management styles or effective resource distribution. Decision making is an essential function of an organization. Decisions that govern organizations are often reached upon by the organization’s management team. Due to the difference in ideologies, sometimes they clash over opinions that lead to disagreement and thus conflict. The disagreement can lead to a positive consequence or a detrimental consequence. This essay seeks to discuss the how conflict is detrimental to an organization’s decision making process.

Before analyzing the detrimental consequences of conflicts to decision making process, it is important first to understand the different types of conflicts that may arise within an organization that is closely linked to decision making. The most prevalent type of conflict is the conflict of interest. Sometimes personal goals and interests are not always congruent with the organizational goals and objectives resulting in a conflict of interest. In such cases, the person is sometimes tempted to champion or fight for his or her rights leading to a conflict that may deter success. It is worse if the employee is in the management team because it may adversely affect decision making process (Schwan, 2000). Conflict can also arise when responsibilities are not well defined. Often territorial issues erupt when contradicting decisions are made which appear to cross boundaries of roles and responsibilities.

Subsequently, interpersonal relationships may trigger conflicts among decision makers. The management team who are the decision makers in an organization plays a significant role in conflict management. Personal prejudices usually affect decision making process that may affect the hamper business operations eventually. There can also be a conflict between a manager and an employ. Sometimes an employee may feel that the supervisor or manager is not competent and start despising him or her and not hearkening to his or her commands. The converse is true. This is a tricky form of disagreement because if either party publicly displays their differences it may not anchor well with the management and may hamper operations.

Moreover, cultural differences and beliefs may also hamper decision making process. Cultural beliefs usually vary. One’s acceptable belief may be a taboo in another person’s culture. Such differences may result in conflicts especially when making decisions that are culturally sensitive. It is clear that there are different forms of conflicts in an organization that may result to disruptions and negatively influence decision making process.

How conflict is detrimental to organizational decision making

Typically, conflicts can result in positive or negative consequences. It affects an organizational as a whole. Decision making process is often done by the management team with little assistance from other stakeholders. The way these stakeholders or members of a management team relate will depict the success or the failure of the organization. Conflict may result to:

Division within the management team: due to different ideologies within the management team, disagreements might occur. If the disagreement is not quickly handled it results in division among the team (De Drau & Van De 2007) once the team is divided, reaching a consensus or agreement will be difficult. This may result in ineffective or biased decision making since the agreement may not have been reached entirely on good will.

Waste of resources and time: the organization might lose its resources and time in times of conflicts. This is because instead of the management focusing on making effective decisions to meet the organizational goals, they lose track and focus on the divisive issue thus wasting time and hampering of operations(Herbert 2005). Often during conflicts misuse of organizational materials, resources or funds are usually relatively high when the management is engaging in warfare (De Dreu & Van De 2007).

Reduced productivity: when there are too many conflicts within a management team, members drift their attention from the allocated tasks and focus on their personal interests. Attaining the operational objectives becomes difficult because continuous wrangles, war, emotional confrontations and stress reduce their productivity. This eventually affects decision making process and organizational profitability (Conn 2001). Moreover, a work environment full of conflicts may affect the organization’s culture since it establishes an environment of suspicion, hostility, and distrust. Similarly, job productivity and satisfaction as well as the workers commitment consequently reduces the negative influence on the organizational culture heighten.

Mental health concerns: when employees get frustrated as a result of the organizational conflict, they are often traumatized(Herbert 2005). When they feel that their opinion and ideas are not considered in decision making, or there is no solution in sight, they become stressed which consequently affects their personal and professional lives. Such management members may have challenges in finding sleep, overeat or loss their appetite, become unapproachable or have an unending headache (Conn 2001). In worst cases, such team members may resort to skipping meetings to avoid being stressed up or from experiencing stress related symptoms.

Management members resign or leave the organization: when the level of conflict increases and becomes frustrating. Some members may decide to resign from the job. This is detrimental when the employee is part of the decision making a board (Fang, Hipel & Kilgour 2003). This is because if they start leaving, the organization will be forced to appoint an acting team member. It could be worse if most of the team leave the organization because it may result in dissolution.

Communications: when conflicts occur within the decision making team, communication suffers when the members withdraw their participation or focus, resulting in poor control and coordination of activities (Nicotera 2005). Intensified emotions and tension reduces employees motivation and satisfaction, heightens frustration that results to a poor decision or bad judgments.

Violence: increased levels of conflicts without any fruitful mediation, it may give rise to intensified situations within amongst the company’s members. People are different tempers. People who are highly tempered my lose their temper amidst an argument and get involved in physical confrontations among the members. This may result in legal problems for the organization as well as the decision making members.

Sub-optimization: some conflicts may be adverse, and members of a team may engage in an extreme misunderstanding, sub-optimization may take place. Conflicting individuals may engage in endless and needless arguments that may lead to supremacy contests, instead of cohesively working together as a team to attain the organizational objectives and goals (Fang, Hipel & Kilgour 2003). Distortion of priorities and decisions takes place when members of the management embark on demoralizing other people’s efforts.

Unhealthy competition: conflicts sometimes are initiated because of jealousy and envy of employees to one another. They try to compete against one another and may do not anything to see the failure of the other employee so that they may take advantage. This is common in times of employee’s promotions. In a decision making process, an employee may want to prove that his or her argument is the best while underpinning the opinions of others. In such a situation, the team spirit and teamwork may be lost as every member are not willing to help each other instead they are antagonistic to each other. They fear to help one another with the fear that they might be outdone and thus each work to see the downfall of the other (Fang, Hipel & Kilgour 2003).

Increased injuries and accidents: conflicts can result in indirect consequences. Typically, conflict results to a stressful work environment that can affect its employees resulting in unintentional mistakes and errors. This may in turn result in workplace accidents. Negatively polarized work environment increases injuries in the back, arms or the shoulders.

Positive influences of Conflict to decision making

Despite being highly detrimental to the decision making process, conflict to some extent can positively influence a decision making process in several ways. Conflict in decision making process is positive in the following ways;

Enhances management and decision making skills: in situations where conflicts occur between two management employees, the executive or the decision making team are forced to make more thoughtful and equitable way(Ammons 2009). For instance, when the management promotes an employee at the expense of a more qualified and skilled candidate might take the blame when the resentful candidate creates conflict. The management will have learned, when the time comes for the management board to promote other employees, the outcomes from the last decision will prompt the team to choose more wisely (Rahim 2011). Furthermore, the conflict will help the inexperienced decision making team to learn conflict management techniques to limit the spread escalation of the conflict to a worse decision.

Conflict raises questions: in most cases conflict raises a series of questions both sides of the matter. The questions raised can result in new ideologies and critical thinking which can be beneficial the departments, organization or the individuals. Organizational conflict presents an opportunity to reexamine the issue, and this can lead to breakthrough thinking (Bazerman 2005).

Present new ideas: conflicts in the decision making the team, especially if it’s about competing ideologies compels the team to evaluate what best works and what do not work. This might lead to increased outcome, productivity or improved product ((Bazerman 2005). Similarly, organizational conflict can lead to effective and efficient decision making by indicating out other choices, ideas or even indicate that the status quo is vague and is not working as anticipated. If the decision making team decides to concentrate on getting the best solution to the conflict, all members shy away with a feeling that they contributed to the solution.

Encourage participation: there are some organizational cultures that restrict their employees from sharing their ideologies. However, if one employee challenges an unjust management policy, the move might embolden others to participate and speak up. Therefore, a workplace conflict can lead to improved organizational decision making process by showing a more accurate perception of employee sentiment.

Opportunity for renewed teamwork: often a conflict is solved when the management team takes up the mediation task. The employees in conflict are made to listen and talk more to one another. Enhanced communication between the feuding employees in a controlled environment provides an opportunity for compromise, clarification, and cooperative decision making. When appropriately resolved, organizational conflict, can result to improved teamwork than when the conflict had not occurred. Taking time to find a solution to a problem, needs less effort in the long run than when the conflict is left unresolved (Bazerman 2005).

Goal congruence: reviewing of organizational objective and goals to meet or attain the needs of the feuding parties may lead to achievement of coherence and goal congruence in the operations. Groups, individuals, and departments are interdependent within an organization. Often they compete for the limited resources which in most cases results to conflicting interests (Baron, Loomes & Weber 2001). The aroused conflict forces the company’s management team to realign its goals and objectives into a more comprehensive common goal to encourage teamwork among its employees.

Innovation: Organizational conflict might result in healthy competition among employees that may cultivate inventiveness and innovation amongst the team members(David, William & James 1986). Often during conflicts, there is always increased the sense of need that leads to divergent ideologies amongst the employees. Employees often tend to come up with new and better strategies in an attempt to outshine their colleagues (Baron, Loomes & Weber 2001). The competition, in the long run, results in improved innovation.

Encourage critical thinking: typically most people avoid conflict; however, some enjoy conflict to some extent because it can encourage new thinking(Kathleen & Ralph 2011). It opens up new possibilities that can help generate new perceptions and ideas that might have been overlooked.

Build relationships: the organizational conflict between different parties can lead to improved relationships with joint and mutual respect and understanding (Baron, Loomes & Weber 2001). It strengthens relationships to some extent. Being able to listen and learning leads to insights that are valued by both parties in a conflict.

In conclusion, with regard to the above discussion it is clear that conflict can result in both detrimental and positive consequences of decision making process. It is detrimental to decision making in the sense that it results in the division within the decision making teams, leads to a lot of resource and time wasting, mental challenges such as depression or reduced employee productivity. Similarly, it can lead to positive consequences such as enhanced decision making skills and encourages participation and innovation. Conflict can be resolved through various avenues such as through accommodation, competition, collaboration and avoidance.


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