In the current day and age, organizations are being called upon to focus all their activities towards becoming more competitive at the marketplace so that they can remain relevant in a marketplace that is increasingly becoming competitive. However, it is not once that conflicts are evidenced within the organization forcing such organizations to focus their time and energies towards resolution of the same. In this text, I concern myself with an organizational analysis while restricting myself to conflict resolution. My organization of choice in his case is the Nokia Corporation with which I am familiar with.
A critique of the organizations functions within a framework of conflict resolution
At Nokia Corporation, conflict can be taken as a tip of the iceberg. This is essentially because a closer look at the company reveals deep sated issues which inform the conflict and which if unresolved can go a long way to destabilize organizational harmony. The first conflict scenario within the corporation is embodied in functional equality. While some departments feel they are more important that others within the organizational setup, others feel downtrodden and deprived of their benefits. For instance, we have the constant squabbles between the marketing department ad he research and development department and this spat has been carried on to board meetings where the representatives/heads of each department feel that their decisions ought to sail through without any opposition.
In a recent board meeting, we had the marketing manager determined to shoot down a proposal from the research and development that recommended the development of a fully functional mobile phone handset for children between the age of 9 and 15. The research and development department had postulate that such a handset would incorporate special features appealing more specifically to children. However, Jackson, the head of marketing argued that such a product could not sell. He clamed that the market targeted by the R&D department was non-existent as it did not possess any purchasing power. What is important to note in this case was that both departments had supporting, and seemingly realistic, documentation of their arguments. It is also important t note that this is not an isolated case of conflict within these two functions.
Such arguments have often extended to issues revolving revenue allocation with departments like R&D claiming it should be allocated a larger budget due to the nature of its operations. A similar argument is held by the marketing department which claims that it should be left alone to set its own budget essentially because it sets its own calendar.
The other area of conflict can be evidenced by ideological arguments between a number o other departments. This is more so between the investment arm of the corporation and the financial and administration department. Ideas floated by the investment arm of the corporation which is headed by Mr. Isaac Johnson are usually shot down by the finance and administration department due to a wide range of disparities ranging from resource unavailability to unrealistic payback periods. This often brings about a spat between these critical departments which may at times paralyze their working relations, given that they are departments that should work in harmony.
Some other functional conflicts within the corporation are essentially perceived interest as well as needs opposition between individuals working in the same departments etc. There are also occasional clashes between the management, especially unit managers, and workers which are informed by a wide range of factors including but not in any way limited to communication breakdown. The other conflict category that can be evidenced within the corporation occurs between individuals working in the same department and in the case of the Nokia Corporation; these conflicts are more often than not informed or motivated by issues revolving around responsibility confusions, personal differences and finally sheer jealousies and rivalries.
Recommendations to reduce or solve the problems
According to conflicts within the organization are usually retrogressive and with that in mind, efforts must be taken to ensure that such conflicts do not spill over to affect other processes within the organization. However, before I propose some recommendations that should be considered to resolve the conflict instances recounted in the above scenario, it ma be important t note that the effects of conflict can be either negative of positive. Conflict can be taken to be positive where it gives birth to innovative solutions and recommendations whereas it can be branded negative in situation where it affects the smooth running of he organization.
One way to resolve conflict according to Dana (2001) is to openly discuss the same when it is identified i.e. avoid hiding it or putting a lid over it. By not putting a lid over conflict scenarios we can go a long way towards reducing tensions that could have accumulated over time. Hence by doing this, i.e. openly discussing conflict when it is identified, a situation can be averted where the same boils down to become more hostile and resistant to any attempts to address it.
Another way of resolving conflict according to Rahim (2010) could be through the invocation of super ordinate goals. This includes unifying the whole workforce in such a way that the whole organization approaches the organizational objectives as one. This idea borrows heavily from the common enemy approach where a group of individuals engaged in a conflict regroup to face a common enemy. In this case, the common enemy may be taken to be the enhancement of the profitability of the organization or fighting competition which may rife at the marketplace. When individuals involved in a conflict scenario adopt this common enemy approach, they tend to unite and come to the realization that there is more to be gained fro working together as opposed to constant bickering.
The third approach to conflict resolution is enhancing the level of interaction between conflict groups. This includes but is not in any ay limited to exchanging people between groups embroiled in conflict. This according to Rahim (2010) goes a long way to foster understanding between groups and hence trim or bring down the level or tone of conflict occurrence. Further, this approach could go ahead to act as a window for each of the conflicting groups to learn of the other groups reference points and ins such a case, bring about enhanced tolerance between groups embroiled in a conflict scenario.
Arguments against the recommendations
Though the recommendations postulated in the previous section have been proven to work in some scenarios, some management and conflict resolution experts question some distinct aspects or points of view of those recommendations. To help us understand these recommendations better and gage their applicability and practicability a discussion of the dissenting arguments is appropriate.
To begin with, when it comes to the recommendation hat the conflict issues should not be stifled but rather discussed openly, Dana (2001) is of the opinion that dong so may impact negatively on the image of the corporation to outsiders who are not privy to such arguments including the various stakeholders. He argues that firms have a responsibility to enhance their reputation and hence the free discussion of conflict issues might find their way t he public gallery hence exposing a company to negative publicity which may end up impacting negatively on the he company’s bottom line.
When it comes to coming up with subordinate goals that should unify employees towards a common goal, those who are against this recommendation ague that such a strategy would be dealing a blow to the uniqueness of groups as well as functions within an organizational setup. Rahim (2010) claims that such a strategy assumes the homogeneity of organizations claiming that the organization should be taken as a system comprising of a number of components which are essentially unique. Uniqueness within an organization spurs innovativeness and in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, the importance of innovation and continuous improvement cannot be overstated.
The third recommendation, which is, exchanging people between groups embroiled in conflict, is branded as a short term conflict resolution measure which does not have any applicability in the long term. Further, those against the measure call it cosmetic as it does not address the root cause of the conflict and instead acts to conceal the conflict by engaging in some cosmetic cages meant to heal the stalemate in the short run but leaving the wound open in the long-term.
Arguments for my choice of solutions
Though, some of the arguments against my solutions are realistic, some seem to disregard the very nature of the conflicts in question. Some also deviate from important facts and with that in mind, it would be prudent for me to briefly present my arguments for the recommendations I make in the earlier sections of the text.
To begin with, removing the lid with regard to conflicts and discussing the same openly may give the company or corporation a bad image but only in the short run. Hence in the long run, the corporation shall be better off once tings straighten out. Further, it can correctly be assumed that stakeholders i.e. clients are rational beings capable of making independent decisions and hence being open about he issues within the organization doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the said organization. It could be taken to mean dedication to improvement.
When it comes to establishing subordinate goals, this does not have to be taken to mean the inhibition of the uniqueness of groups within the organizational setup. This is essentially because this approach has more to be gained that lost and while the organization approaches goals from a united front, its homogeneity is still maintained. Last but not least, the argument against the exchange of people between groups embroiled within a conflict which brands the same cosmetic fails to recognize that the exchange of individuals is meant to make the conflicting groups see things from the other side hence enhancing understanding tolerance.
In conclusion, it is important to note that internal conflict can cost the organization a lot in terms of productivity, efficiency, cost as well as time. Therefore, the need to solve conflict within the organization should be a top priority and in that regard, be all inclusive with the management taking a critical leadership role.
Dana, D. (2001). Conflict resolution: mediation tools for everyday worklife. McGraw-Hill Professional
Rahim, M.A. (2010). Managing Conflict in Organizations. Transaction Publishers
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