Conflict and Negotiation in Bay Apparel Limited- Essay Solved
Work related conflict can results from competition in promotions with one candidate holding the belief that the person promoted is less qualified then he is or cutting in line in the queue to use the photocopy machine or the differences in opinion on the perceived effective means of accomplishing a group or collaboration project. The negative consequences of these conflict situations then adversely affect the aggregate operations and performance of the business firms so that the decisive action or intervention by the organization to a potential or actual conflict is necessary.Conflict inevitably arises in the workplace because of the individual uniqueness in perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and behavior of the different members of the organization. These differences may catalyze non-accommodation of other peoples’ beliefs resulting to misunderstandings or even to violence. Differences that lead to conflict may be based on personal or work related differences. Personal conflicts in the workplace can range from personality clashes such as one employee preferring a quiet work environment while another employee works best with music to attitude problems such as an employee spreading rumors against another employee that irritates the person subject of the rumor and even to personal hygiene such as an employee who declines to consider personal cleanliness or neatness in the workplace that irks another employee.
However, not all business firms have the capability or competency to deal with conflict either because of the perception of the conflict as non-significant or the lack of tools or means to address the problem. In some instances, the organization even becomes aware of the conflict when this already arises instead of preventing workplace conflict.
- Organizational Conflict
Conflict pertains to the perceived or actual difference that may influence outcomes or actions believed to be important (Johnston, 1991). This implies that conflict is based on the manner that differences are perceived and acted upon by individuals in human relations. Overall, conflict involves six elements. First is its inevitability (Rice, 2000) since there will always be disagreements arising from individual unique characters. Second is the nature of conflict as not classifiable under the dichotomy of good or bad because it is the consequence of the conflict that determines the goodness or badness of the conflict. Concurrently, this element involves the determinants danger and opportunity. Danger results to bad results while opportunity to resolve conflict leads to good results. Third is conflict as a process of constantly making choices on the next step of dealing with differences. Fourth is conflict as requiring the exercise of energy whether action is taken or not because of the continuous process of decision-making. Fifth is the existence of feeling and content because conflict involves not only the reason for the conflict but also the emotions that arise in the situation. Sixth is the character of conflict as swaying from proactive to active. More proactive individuals have a lesser propensity to be involved in violence while a reactive person would likely become violent in the situation.
In the case of organizations, a number of conflict classifications arise. (1954) proposed organization conflict as falling under either affective—linked to interpersonal relationships or substantive conflict—related to the group task or project. Prime and Price (1991) propounded the three categories of cognitive, social-emotional conflicts and task-related conflict, with the latter not necessarily linked to task completion. Closer (1956) described goal-oriented conflict—where individuals follow particular gains and emotional conflict—expressed through frustrations arising from interpersonal interactions. Pinkly (1990) found that organizational conflict has task related and relational aspects.
Relative to the influence of conflict on the organization, John (1992) provides that the members of the group differentiate between relational and work related conflict and the occurrence of one over the other have different effects. Empirical data shows an adverse relationship between relational conflict and productivity as well as group satisfaction (Evan, 1965; Gradstein, 1984; Wall and Nolan, 1986). Relational conflicts meddle in the accomplishment of tasks because the members of the group become engrossed with the minimization threats, the maximization of power, and the efforts to develop cohesion instead of targeting the demands of the task. Deutsch (1969) adds that relational conflict diminishes interpersonal understanding and goodwill among the group members that prevents the efficient completion of the task. Evan (1965) provides that if most of the time is spent on dealing with interpersonal aspects instead of on the informational and technical aspects of decision-making then task completion suffers. Moreover, the conflict also makes members of the group irritable, resentful, negative or uncooperative. In serious relational problems group functioning worsen.
Apart from the negative link of relational conflict to the accomplishment of tasks, the organization also incurs cost whenever conflicts develop within the workplace. Studies show that around 24 to 60 percent of the time of top management is allocated to addressing anger or adverse feeling or conflict resolution. The result is lower levels of productivity, higher levels of stress between and among employees, decline in performance, heightened turnover rate, absenteeism, or even to violence or death.
In the case of Bay Apparel Limited, there are three major two types of internal conflict encompassing both relational and work related conflict, which are regional conflict arising between the US and HK teams, interdepartmental conflict arising between or among the different working departments, and employee-employer conflict arising between the employees and the top management of the company.
The relational conflict between the US and HK teams arise from the differences cause by a language barrier and cultural variance that affects their management practices that results to conflict when one team asserts its management practice over the other that poses resistance to the imposition. Relational conflict between the US and HK teams arise in decision-making on cost and price. Hong Kong is in charge of production, merchandising and sampling while US team takes charge of marketing, design and customer service. The work-related conflict exists when the HK team prioritizes cost efficiency while the US team highlights design and marketability that may involve higher costs.
In Hong Kong, a bureaucratic mode of management is applied that results to low levels of transparency. Due to this organizational management style, conflicts often arise between the merchandising and servicing departments when the servicing department cannot keep up with the processing of documents by the merchandising department or the merchandising department does not deliver it reports on time for to facilitate speedy processing. The conflict arising between the two departments of Hong Kong Bay Apparel Limited constitutes work-related issues.
The conflict between the employees and top management constitutes work-related differences. Employees hold the perception that their compensation and contributions constitute an amount relative to their US office counterparts. They feel undervalued, unrecognized and unfairly treated. Some of the policies of the HK office are also disliked especially with regard to the performance based solely on sales so that top grossing teams hold more favor with top management but other circumstances are not considered so that the high sales may not even be due to the efforts of the team but due to shifts in the market or decisions made by the US office that influences the performance of the HK team. Top management on the other hand perceives its management style as effective in achieving the goals of the company so that it refuses to recognize the opinion of employees or disregard their perceptions all together. In the long run, employer-employee conflicts relating to human resource management issues would result to a decline in performance or increase in the cost of allaying the discontent of employees or letting go of old and hiring new employees who are mostly inexperienced.
In Bay Apparel Limited, external conflict also arises between the company and its vendors or suppliers covering price, quality, and delivery dates. The conflict arises due to the differences in the valuation of the two parties. The vendors or sellers may value their products with a higher amount relative to the offer of the company or the vendor may require more time to deliver products relative to the schedule of the company in meeting the needs of its consumers. In this instance, if each party sticks to their respective opinions, there is a possibility that they would not be able to reach an agreement resulting to the failure of the vendor to sell it products and the company to purchase products demanded by its US and international market.
- Types of Conflict
In considering the different types of conflicts based on the parties involved. Conflicts can involve two individuals, members of a group, organizational units, or organizations. Again, the conflict may be relational or work related.
Interpersonal conflict refers to the evident struggle arising between a minimum of two interdependent parties perceiving differing goals, scarcity of resources, and other party interference relative to the opinions of others. The definition means that there are several factors intervening in the conflict. One is the express nature of the clash in perception differences so that there is communication between or among the parties. Another is the intervention of perceptions in the cognitive processes of the parties, which means that based on their perception there are differences in their respective perspectives that may even be conflicting. (Hacker and Wilmot, 1991)
In the case of Bay Apparel Limited, there is no apparent interpersonal conflict between any two or more interdependent parties within the US and HK offices or between any one or more parties in the two offices. This means that there are no personal issues between and among any of the members of the organization that arise independently or cause other conflicts to arise. This works for the organization because interpersonal conflicts can be damaging to the company and permeate the accomplishment of tasks especially when the parties avoid conflict and fail to discuss their differences and worst blame each other for the work failures that may arise from their interpersonal conflict. The development of competition among parties engaged in interpersonal conflict could lead to violence to the detriment of the organization.
AptarGroup conflict pertains to the conflict arising within a work group that involves any two or more members. John (1995) provide two kinds of AptarGroup conflict, which are task and relational conflicts. Task conflict refers to the perceptions over the disagreement existing among different individual group members regarding the content of group decisions or actions and encompassing differences in views, ideas and opinions. In the course of group discussions, members of the group may differ in opinion over the manner of allocating resources, procedures to use, and understanding of facts. Relationship conflict in AptarGroup relations finds expression through animosity and annoyance emanating from differences in personal taste, familial values, and even religious beliefs.
These forms of AptarGroup conflict have personal and organization consequences. As shown in the study by De Drau and Van Vienne (2001), relational conflict negatively affects the affective reactions of group members such as trust and satisfaction. John (1997) proved that relational conflict affects the work climate or environment and decreases the team effectiveness. Task conflict relates positively to quality in ideas emanating from the members of the group and the innovativeness of the various group members (West and Anderson, 1996). John et al. (1999) adds that task conflict leads to the prevalence of constructive debate with the group members airing and defending their respective views and ideas that could result to the acceptance of group decisions (Amazon, 1996) as well as the aversion of groupthink (Turner and Partaking, 1994)
Thus, AptarGroup conflict is not detrimental to the organization per se because the negative effect depends upon the type of conflict occurring. If the group experiences relational conflict, this could adversely affect the performance of the entire group but if the group feels the existence of task conflict, this could lead to improved group output.
- Sources of Conflict
Generally, there are common sources of conflict among different people. Most of the time conflicts arise when a person feels that his comfort zone has been violated. A comfort zone pertains to the limit of a person over acceptable or safe factors. Conflict arises when the person feels that the comfort zone has been violated or when the person is forced to move outside of the comfort zone limits. The initial emotions or feelings that the person feels upon the violation of or movement away from the comfort zone constitute conflict. (Cowan, 2003) The degree of emotions experienced by the person during this time then determines the extent of conflict expression or response. This means that conflict comes from the manner that a person internally processes deviations in emotional and intellectual state.
Another common source of internal conflict is the feeling dissatisfaction resulting from being dissatisfied or unsatisfied about work place factors. When these feelings results to discomfort, conflict may arise. (Cowan, 2003)
All forms of internal sources of conflict are explained by the natural propensity of people to return to the original state of contentment. This tendency is referred to as homeostasis or the state of balance where individuals derive contentment and satisfaction. The tendency can translate to the resolution of the conflict or resistance to resolution. (Cowan, 2003) There are instances in interrelationships when deviating from the status could result to an improvement in performance and well-being that leads to creation of a different point of equilibrium. Internal conflict could either improve or diminish the state of the individual and this could also become a source of organizational conflict.
Apart from internal sources of conflict, there are also sources of conflict arising from organizational dynamics.