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.