Conflict Resolution Theory



 (a) Discuss three conflict resolution strategies.


(b) For each of the strategies, provide an example where you can apply them in a personal or work situation.


(c) Discuss a preferred approach you can use when negotiating with a difficult customer? What strategies can you use to improve the relationship with this stakeholder?


(d) Discuss three lessons learned.




(a) Conflicts are regular and some of the time accidental events which occur due to the difference in approach of employees or organisation or both over any common issue related to the process, business activities, management functionalities and other operational verticals of an organisation. For resolving conflicts, basically five resolution strategies are relied upon which are Accommodating, Avoiding, Collaborating, Compromising and Competing in nature respectively. All are effective modes of conflict resolution yet, every mode is having some of other advantage over each other. For proper understanding, let's elaborate the Accommodating, Avoiding and Collaborating segments of Conflict Resolution Strategy.


Accommodation Mode of Conflict Resolution: This is the best mode of managing a conflict which is primary in nature and is of minor cause and issue. This strategy works when one of the party takes a peaceful mode or is in a mood to resolve the issue peacefully. Although this can resolve small issues yet sometimes it results in dissatisfaction and resentment.


Avoidance mode of Conflict Resolution: This is one of the profitable mode of conflict resolution as it does not involve confrontation of the parties in the resolving process. The confrontation is avoided and stress is given upon indirect methods of resolving the conflict. For instance, an organisation can hire a more productive employee and after analyzing his or her productivity, an unproductive employee can be fired or demoted without any serious reason for any showcasing to the demoted or terminated employee.


Collaboration mode of Conflict Resolution: This is one of the most effective modes of Conflict resolution, but, it is a long and time-consuming method. In this mode, the organisation involves multiple persons or units to resolve any issue or conflict and all useful ideas are accepted for a better solution. This method depends upon the availability of time of the person's or units involved in the process and likewise and similar mentality and decision-making sense is also required amongst themselves for better quality of conflict resolution.


(b) The accommodation, avoidance, collaboration, compromise and competition modes of conflict resolution are used to resolve and handle conflicts and issues amongst employees and other stakeholders of an organisation. To elaborate, the practical illustration or examples of these five types of conflict resolving modes are as follows:


Accommodation mode of Conflict Resolution: Being a peaceful mode of Conflict Resolution, this process relies upon self-sacrifice and assertive modes of dealing with issues. For example, if a manager wants few employees to work full-time at weekends or during vacation, he or she may offer some benefit or holiday beforehand to pamper the employees needed and must keep an alternative plan or replacement option if any employee declines to abide by the instructions or orders of the manager.


Avoidance Mode of Conflict Resolution: This is an indirect mode of solving conflicts as no confrontation is required in the resolving process. For example, if the management gets some information regarding proper mode of conduct or adoption of unfair means in the work practice by any employee, it can take steps without informing the blamed employee to verify his or her conviction and can either transfer his or her place of work or terminate him or her from the job without disclosing the original reason.


Collaboration mode of Conflict Resolution: In this mode of Conflict Resolution, there is involvement of multiple heads or units in the process. For example, if any policy is not at par with the satisfaction of employees, clients or other stakeholders of the organisation, it can be reframed and restructured based upon the feedbacks obtained from the stakeholders and can be accomplished in association with managers and other units of the management section.


Compromise mode of Conflict Resolution: In this mode of conflict resolution, both the parties have to compromise over few points of their issues to reach to an acceptable decision or solution. For example, suppose a contract of an organisation with any of its client or customer expires and its renewal is required against payment of some fees or other obligations. In this case, if the client or customer points out demerits in the services provided by the organisation and denies to renew, the organisation may ask the client or customer to describe their exact requirements and with slight increase in the service charges, it can outsource the project to some organisation of higher level. In this way, the satisfaction of the client or customer got ensured without any harm of the organisation in terms of goodwill or profit.


Competition mode of Conflict Resolution: This is the most direct and most preferred mode of resolving conflicts in case of emergency situations. For example, if any organisation suffers for some great disaster or loss in business, it can take appropriate steps in pay cut-offs showing the reason or may reduce the team size of employees by terminating their employment showing some valid reasons against its inability to sustain them due to the loss or disaster.


(c) A customer can be difficult to deal with if the organisation fails to understand the demands and needs of the customers. Many customers intentionally tends to become difficult to show-off their quality and status. Whatever be the scenario, a sequential approach towards resolving such conflicts using collaboration and compromise strategy of conflict resolution may be preferred. As a part of the collaboration method, the organisation can set up a team to analyse the exact problem or issues which the customer wants to make clear about his or her contract with the organisation. After analysing the issues, the team may provide instructions to the respective departments or units of the organisation to present reports about the methods by which optimum service can be provided to the customer. After review of the reports, the team can discuss and reach to a conclusion as how to satisfy the customer by delivering the service he or she is looking for or provide something very close to the expectations of the customer. This mode is then followed by the compromise mode of conflict resolution as the organisation is now ready with all the prerequisites for delivering the service to the customer ascertained in the collaboration stage and can easily negotiate with the customer in relevance to the agreement or contract the customer have to enter or has already entered to avail services from the organisation. By this mode, both the organisation and the customer can compromise one aspect of their issues by boosting the other aspects, so that they can reach to an acceptable solution in regards to closing the deal or completely solving the conflict.

The other strategies of resolution of conflicts like accommodation, avoidance or competition may not be treated fruitful in dealing with customers. The accommodation strategy may make the organisation suffer due to its one-sided beneficial nature or providing solutions, the avoidance strategy may make the customer to feel that he or she is neglected which might harm the goodwill or reputation of the organisation and the competition strategy can result in a feeling of ill-will or greater level of ambiguities in customers mind related to the efficiency of the organisation which in turn can again project a bad image of the organisation in the customers' mind. Hence, utilising the collaboration and compromise strategy to resolve conflicts may be termed to be the most effective modes to deal difficult customers as they are having the potentials of enabling the organisation to maintain good and proper relationship with the customers.


(d) Conflicts are those issues which are outcomes or results due to differences in opinions and ranks for any certain project or process in an organization and sometimes arises due to miscommunication or existence of difficult customers dealt by the organisation. These can be direct, indirect, group or individual approach, employee or client based in nature where there is a direct involvement of one or more stakeholders of the organisation standing by the side or against the policies of the organisation or both (Pinkley, R., L., 1990).

The course made me understand all the aspects which might be responsible for conflicts to arise in an organisation amongst it's stakeholders and various methods to resolve them. The major three lessons which I learnt from the course are:

a. I learnt about the causes and reasons which tends to or are responsible for raising conflicts amongst the stakeholders of an organisation. The reasons may be the inefficient policies of the organisation which are not acceptable by the respective stakeholders of the organisation or may be due to a certain level of misconduct or avoidance from the stakeholders towards the core values of the organisation.

b. As the second most important lesson, I learnt about the factors which may be responsible for conflicts. It may be the difference in thoughts, opinions and personal principles of the stakeholders or may be the egoistic approach of employees in relevance to their rank in the organisation or sometimes it may be due to the competition in the market or industry which forces clients and customers to switch to other organizations for better services.

c. The third and the most important lesson which I learned is the method of identifying and solving conflicts in a categorised and effective way to increase the functional redundancy of an organisation and maintain a good relationship between the stakeholders and the organisation. All the five strategies of conflict resolution, namely, accomodation, avoidance, collaboration, compromise and competition are effective at certain places and all possess different benefial as well as limiting features if not utilised optimally.







Alper, S.; Tjosvold, D.; Law, K. S. (2000). "Conflict management, efficacy, and performance in organizational teams". Personnel Psychology. 53: 625642. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2000.tb00216.x.

Amason, A. C. (1996). "Distinguishing the effects of functional and dysfunctional conflict on strategic decision making: Resolving a paradox for top management teams". Academy of Management Journal. 39: 1231. doi:10.2307/256633.

Baron, R. A. (1997). Positive effects of conflict: Insights from social cognition. In C. K. W. DeDreu & E. Van de Vliert (Eds.), Using conflict in organizations (pp. 177191). London: Sage.



Online Instructor

Samit Banerjee

Conflict Resolution Theory


Action Plan - Self Assessment


Related Tutorials