Archive for December, 2009


Power is the ability of individuals or groups to induce or influence the beliefs or actions of other persons or groups.
A person can have power over the other person only if the first person has something which other person desires.
Bases of Power:-
Power can be of two types- formal and personal.
Formal Power:-
Formal power is based on an individual’s position in an organization. Formal power can come from the ability to coerce or reward, from formal authoring or from control of information.
Coercive power:-
The coercive power base is dependent on fees. One reacts to this power out of fear of the negative results that might occur if one failed to comply. It rests on the application, or the threat of application, of physical sanctions such as the infliction of pain, the generation of frustration through restriction of movement, or the controlling by force of basic physiological or safety needs.
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A conciliator is a third party who provides an informal communication link between the negotiator and the opponent. In practice, conciliator typically acts as more than mere communication conduits. They also engage in fact finding, interpreting message and persuading disputants to develop agreements.

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A consultant is a skilled and impartial third party who attempt to facilitate problem solving through communication and analysis, aided by his or her knowledge of conflict management. The consultant’s role is not to settle the issues but, rather, to improve relations between the conflicting parties so that they can reach a settlement themselves. Instead of putting forward specific solutions, the consultant tries to help the parties learn to understand and work with each other.

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The Cost of Conflict - World Economic Forum on...Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr
Conflict is defined as process that begins when one party perceives than another party has affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about.
The parties to it must perceive conflict; whether or not the conflict exists is a perception issue. If no one is aware of a conflict, then it is generally agreed that no conflict exists.
Conflict can either be functional or dysfunctional. Functional Conflicts supports the goals of the group and improves its performance. It is constructive in nature. Functional conflict can be either a task conflict or process conflict. Task conflict is over the context and goals of the work. Process conflicts are over how work gets done.
Dysfunctional conflicts hinder group performance. It is destructive in nature. It includes relationship conflict, which is based on interpersonal relationships.
There are various conflicts resolution techniques. These include:
1) Problem Solving: Face to face meeting of the conflicting parties for the purpose of identifying the problem and resolving it through open discussion.
2) Super ordinate goals: Creating a shared goal that cannot be attained without the cooperation of each of the conflicting parties.
3) Expansion of resources: When a conflict is caused by the scarcity of a resources- say –money. Promotion opportunities, office space- expansion of the resource can create win- win solutions.
4) Avoidance: Withdraw from or suppression of, the conflict.
5) Smoothing: Playing down differences while emphasizing common interest between the conflicting parties.
6) Compromise: Each party to the conflicts gives up something of value.
7) Authoritative Command: Management uses its formal authority to resolve the conflict and then communicates its desires to the parties involved.
8)Altering the human variables: Using behavioral change technique such as human relations training to alter attitudes and behaviors that cause conflict.
9)Altering the structural variables: Changing the formal organization structure and interaction patterns of conflicting parties through job redesign, transfers, creation of coordination positions and the like.
In order to differentiate functional and dysfunctional conflict, it is necessary to look into type of conflict.
Specifically , there are three types: tasks relationship and process
Task conflict : relates to the contents and goals of the work
Relationship Conflict: focuses on interpersonal relationship.
Process conflict: relates to how work gets done.
Studies demonstrate that relationship conflicts are almost always dysfunctional. It appears that the friction and interpersonal hostilities inherent in relationship conflicts increase personality clashes and decrease mutual understanding which hinders the completion of organizational tasks. On the other hand, low level of process conflict and low to moderate level of tasks conflicts are functional.
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5 Stages of Conflict process

The conflict process can be seen as comprising five stages (1) potential opposition or incompatibility (2) Cognition and personalization (3) intentions (4) Behavior (5) Outcome.

Stage 1: Potential opposition or incompatibility: The first step in the conflict process is the presence on conditions that create opportunities for conflict to rise. These cause or create opportunities for conflict to rise. These causes or sources of conflict have been condenses into three general categories – (1)Communications (2) Structure (3) Personal Variables.
(1)Communications: Different words connotations, jargon insufficient exchange of information and noise in communication channel are all antecedent conditions to conflict. Too much communication as well as too little communication can rely foundation for conflict.
(2)Structure: The term structure is used, in this context to include variables such as size, degree of specialization in the tasks assigned to group members, jurisdictional clarity, members/ goal compatibility, leadership styles, reward systems and the degree of dependence between groups.
The size and specialization act as forces to stimulate conflict. The larger the group and the more specialized its activities, the greater the likelihood of conflict. Tenure and conflict have been found to be inversely related,. The potential for conflicts tends to be greatest when group members are younger and when turnover is high. The greater the ambiguity in defining where responsibility for action lies, the greater the potential for conflict to emerge. Such Jurisdictional ambiguity increases inter group fighting for control or resources and territory.
(3)Personal Variables: Certain personality types- for example individuals who are highly authoritarian and dogmatic- lead to potential conflict. Another reason for conflict is difference in value systems. Value differences are the best explanations of diverse issues such as prejudice disagreements over one’s contribution to the group and rewards one deserves.
Stage 2: Cognition and personalization: conflict must be perceived by the parties to it whether or not conflict exists is a perception issue. If no one is aware of a conflict, then it is generally agreed that no conflict exists. Because conflict is perceives does not mean that is personalized. For e.g. ” A may be aware that B and A are in serious disagreements but it may not make A tense or nations and it may have no effect whatsoever on A’s affection towards B” It is the felt level , when individuals become emotionally involved that parties experience anxiety , tension or hostility.
Stage2 is the place in the process where the parties decide what the conflict is about and emotions plays a major role in shaping perception.

Stage 3: Intentions: Intentions are decisions to act in a given way intentions intervene between people’s perception and emotions and their overt behavior.
Using two dimensions cooperativeness (the degree to which one party attempts to satisfy the other party’s concerns)and assertiveness (the degree to which one party attempts to satisfy his or her own concerns)- five conflict handling intentions can be identified.
1) Competing: when one person seeks to satisfy his or her own interests regardless of the impact on the other parties to the conflict, he is competing.
2) Collaborating: A situation in which the parties to a conflict each desire to satisfy fully the concerns of all the parties. In collaborating, the intention o the parties are to solve the problem by clarifying differences rather than by accommodating various points of view.
3) Avoiding: a person may recognize that a conflict exists and want to withdraw from it or suppress it. Avoiding included trying to just ignore a conflict and avoiding others with whom you disagree.
4) Accommodating: The willingness of one partying a conflict top lace the opponent’s interest above his or her own.
5) Compromising: A situation in which each party to a conflict is wiling to give up something.
Intentions provide general guidelines for parties in a conflict situation. They define each party’s purpose. Yet people intention is not fixed. During the course of conflict, they might change because of reconceptualization or because of an emotional reaction to the behavior of other party.
Stage 4: Behavior: This is a stage where conflict becomes visible. The behavior stage includes the statements, actions and reactions made by the conflicting parties. These conflict behaviors are usually overt attempt to implement each party’s intentions.
Stage 5 Outcomes: The action reaction interplay between the conflicting parties result in consequences. These outcomes may be functional in that the conflict results in an improvement in the group’s performance, or dysfunctional in that it hinders group performance.
Conflict is constructive when it improves the quality of decisions simulates creativity and innovations encourages interest and curiosity among group members provides the medium through which problems can be aired and tensions released and fosters an environment of self evaluation and change.
Conflict is dysfunctional when uncontrolled opposition breeds discontent, which acts to dissolve common ties and eventually leads to the destruction of the group. Among the more undesirable consequences are a retarding of communication, reductions in group cohesiveness and subordination of group goals to the primacy of infighting between members.

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Negotiation is defined as a process in which two or more parties exchange goods or services and attempt to agree on the exchange rate for them.
There are two general approaches to negotiation- distributive bargaining and integrative bargaining.
Distributive Bargaining:- Distributive bargaining is defined as negotiations that seeks to divide up a fixed amount of resources, a win lose situation. Its most identifying feature is that it operates under zero sum conditions i.e. each party bargains aggressively and treats the other as an opponent who must be defeated.
The essence of distributive bargaining is that each party has a target point that defines what he/she would like to achieve. Each also has a resistance point, which marks the lowest outcome that is acceptable the point below which they would break off negotiations rather then accept a less favorable settlement. The area between these two points makes up each one’s aspiration range. As long as these is some overlap between the aspiration ranges, their exists a settlement range in which each one’s aspiration can be met.
When engaged in distributive bargaining one’s tactics focus on try to get one’s opponent to agree to one’s specific target point or to get as close to it as possible. Examples of such tactics are persuading to his/her target point and the advisability of accepting a settlement near yours arguing that your target is fair, which your opponent’s is not and attempting to get you opponent to feel emotionally generous toward you and thus accept an outcome close to your target point.
Integrative Bargaining :- Negotiation that seeks one or more settlements than create win- win situation.
In terms of intra-organizational behavior all things being equal integrative bargaining is preferable to distributive bargaining. Integrative bargaining builds long term relationships and facilitates working together in the future. It bonds negotiators and allows each to leave the bargaining table feeling that he/she has achieved a victory. Distributive bargaining on the other hand, leaves one party a loser. It tends to build animosities and deeper divisions when people have to work together on an ongoing process.
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Five Steps of The Negotiation Process

Bruin become MEDIATOR or Negotiation for PEACE...Image via Wikipedia

Negotiation is made up of five steps:- preparation and planning, Definition of ground rules, Clarification and justification, bargaining and problem solving and closure and implementation.

  1. Preparation and planning:- Before the start of negations one must be aware of conflict the history leading to the negotiation the people involved and their perception of the conflict expectations from the negotiations etc.
  1. Definition of ground rules:- Once the planning and strategy is development one has to begin defining the ground rules and procedures with the other party over the negotiation itself that will do the negotiation. Where will it take place? What time constrains, if any will apply? To what issues will negotiations be limited? Will there be a specific procedure to follow in an impasse is reached? During this phase the parties will also exchange their initial proposals or demands.
  1. Clarification and justification:- When initial positions have been exchanged both the parties will explain amplify, clarify, bolster and justify their original demands. This need not be confrontational. Rather it is an opportunity for educating and informing each other on the issues why they are important and how each arrived at their initial demands. This is the point where one party might want to provide the other party with any documentation that helps support its position.
  1. Bargaining and problem solving :- The essence of the negotiation process is the actual give and take in trying to hash out an agreement. It is here where concessions will undoubtedly need to be made by both parties.
  1. Closure and Implementation:- The final step in the negotiation process is formalization the agreement that has been worked out and developing and procedures that are necessary for implementation and monitoring. For major negotiations – this will require hammering out the specifics in a formal contract.
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Third Party Negotiations

If the group or parties reach a stalemate and are unable to resolve their differences through direct negotiation they may turn to a third party to help them find a solution. The different third party roles are:-
  1. Mediator:- Mediator is a neutral third party who facilitates a negotiated solution by using reasoning and persuasion, suggesting alternatives and like. Mediators are widely used in labor-management negotiations and in civil court disputes. To be effective the mediator must be perceived as neutral and non-coercive.
  2. Arbitrator:- An arbitrator is a third party with the authority to dictate an agreement. Arbitration can be voluntary (requested) or compulsory. The authority of the arbitrator varies according to the rules set by the negotiators
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6 Elements of The Organisational structure

An organization structure defines how job tasks are formally divided, grouped and coordinated. There are six elements that mangers need to address when they design their organization’s structure. These are :- a) Work specialization. b) Departmentalization. c) Chain of command. d) Span of control. e) Centralisation & Decentralization. f) Formalisation
  1. Work Specialization: – refers to the degree to which tasks in the organization are subdivided into separate jobs. The essence of work specialization is that, rather than an entire job being done by one individual, it is broken down into a number of steps, with each step being completed by a separate individual.
  1. Departmentalisation:– Once the jobs have been divided through work specialization, these jobs have to be grouped together so that common tasks can be coordinated. The basis by which jobs are grouped together is called departmentalization.
The activities can be grouped by functions performed. A Manufacturing manager might organize his plant by separating engineering, accounting, manufacturing, personnel and supply specialists into common departments. Functional departmentalization seeks to achieve economics of scale by placing people with common skills and orientations into common units.
Tasks can also be departmentalized by the type of product the organization produces. Each major product is placed under the authority of an executive who has complete global responsibility for that product. The major advantage of this type of grouping is increased accountability for product performance, since all the activities related to a product are under the direction of a single manager.
Another way to departmentalize is on the basis of geography or territory. The sales function, for instance, may have western, southern, eastern region. Each of these regions is in effect, a department organized around geography. If an organisation’s customers are scattered over a large geographic area and have similar needs based on their location, then this form of departmentalization.
A final category of departmentalization is to use the particular type of customer. An organization can organize itself around customer groups like corporates, retail, government etc.

  1. Chain of Command is an unbroken line of authority that extends from the top of the organization to the lowest level and clarifies who reports to whom. It answers questions for employees such as” To whom do I go if I have a problem?” and ‘ To whom am I responsible?”
The unity of command principle helps preserve the concept of an unbroken line of authority. It states that a person should have one and only one superior to whom he or she is directly responsible. If the unity of command is broken, an employee might have to cope with conflicting demands or priorities from several superiors.
  1. Span of control refers to the number of subordinates a manager can efficiently and effectively direct. Span of control is important because, to a large degree, it determines the number of levels and managers and organization has all things being equal the wider or larger the span, the more efficient the organization. Narrow span has three major drawbacks. First, they are expensive because they add to the levels of management. Second, they make vertical communication in the organization more complex. The added levels of hierarchy slow down decision making and tend to isolate upper management. Third, narrow spans of control encourage overly tight supervision and discourage autonomy.

  1. Centralisation and Decentralisation Centralisation refers to the degree to which decision making is concentrated at a single point in the organization. The concept includes only formal authority that is, the rights inherent to one’s position. Typically, it’s said that if top management makes the organisation’s key decision with little or no input from lower-level personnel, then the organization is centralized. In contrast, the actually given the discretion to make decision, the more decentralisation there is. An organization characterized by centralization is an inherently different structural entity from one that is an inherently different structural entity from one that is decentralized. In a decentralized organization, action can be taken more quickly to solve problem, more people provide input into decisions and employees are less likely to feel alienated from those who make the decisions that effect their work lives. Consistent with recent management efforts to make organization more flexible and responsive, there has been a marked trend toward decentralizing decision making. In large companies, lower-level managers are closer to “the action” and typically have more detailed knowledge about problems than do top management.

  1. Formalisation refers to the degree to which job within the organization are standardized. If a job is highly formalized then the job incumbent has a minimum amount of discretion over what is to be done, when it is to be done and how it is to be done. Employees can be expected always to handle the same input in exactly same way, resulting in a consistent and uniform output. There are explicitly job description lots of organizational rules, and dearly defined procedures covering work processes in organizations in which thee is high formalization. Where formalization is low, job behaviors are relatively non-programmed and employees have a great deal of freedom to exercise discretion in their work. Because an individual’s discretion on the job is inversely related to the amount of behavior in that job that is preprogrammed by the organization, the greater the standardization and the less input the employee has into how his or her work is to be done. Standardization not his/her work is to be done. Standardization not only eliminates the possibility of employees engaging in alternative behaviors, but it even removes the need for employees to consider alternatives.
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Common organizational Designs

There are three common organizational designs- Simple structure, bureaucracy and the matrix structure.
  1. Simple Structure:- Simple structure is characterized by a low degree of departmentalization, wide span of control, authority centralized in a single person and little formalization. The simple structure is a “felt ” organization, it usually has only two or three vertical levels, a lower body of employees and one individual in whom the decision making authority is centralized. The simple structure is most widely practiced in small businesses in which the manager and the owner are one and the same. The strength of the simple structure less in its simplicity. It’s fast flexible and inexpensive to maintain and accountability is dear.

  1. Bureaucracy:- The key concept that underlies all bureaucracy is standardization. It is a structure with highly routine operating tasks achieved through specialization very formalized rules and regulations, tasks that are grouped into functional departments, centralized authority, narrow span of control and decision making the chain of command.The primary strength of bureaucracy lies in its ability to perform standardized activities in a highly efficient manner. Putting like specialties together in functional departments results in economics of scale, minimum duplications of personal and equipment. Furthermore bureaucracy gives opportunity to less talented and hence less costly middle and lower level managers. The pervasiveness of rules and regulations substitutes for managerial discretion. Standardized operations, coupled with high formalization allow decision making to be centralized. There is little need therefore for innovative and experienced decision makers below the level of senior executives.

  1. Matrix Structure:- Matrix structure creates dual line of authority and combines functional and product departmentalization .The strength of functional departmentalization lies in putting like specialists together, which minimizes the number necessary while allowing the pooling and sharing of specialized resources across products. Its major disadvantage is the difficulty of coordinating the tasks of diverse functional specialists so that their activities are completed on time and within budget. Product departmentation, on the other hand, has exactly the opposite benefits and disadvantages. It facilitates coordination among specialties to achieve on-time completion and meet budgets targets. Further more, it provides clear responsibility for all activities related to a product, but with duplication of activities and costs. The matrix attempts to gain the strength of each, while avoiding their weaknesses. The most obvious structural characteristics of the matrix is that it breaks the unity of command concept. Employees in the matrix have two bosses-their functional department managers and their product managers. Therefore, the matrix has a dual chain of command.The strength of the matrix lies in its ability to facilitate coordination when the organization has a multiplicity of complex and interdependent activities. As an organization gets larger, its information processing capacity can become overloaded. In a bureaucracy, complexity results in increased formularization. The direct and frequent contact between different specialists in the matrix can make for better communication and more quickly reaches the people who need to take account of it.
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