Conflict Management definition

Conflict management refers to techniques and ideas designed to reduce the negative effects of conflict and enhance the positive outcomes for all parties involved.

The techniques and ideas used depend on the type of conflict that needs managing – researchers differentiate between affective (relational) and substantive (performance, process or task-specific) conflict, as well as interorganisational conflict (between two or more businesses) and intraorganisational (conflict within organisations).

Conflict resolution can be an aim of conflict management but not all conflict management techniques or styles have conflict resolution as the ultimate target as it may not be feasible.

Models of conflict management are very varied – theories that came out of the 1970s and 1980s focused on the intentions of the parties involved in conflict as the key to moving towards positive outcomes.

Khun and Poole (2000) classified approaches as either distributive or integrative, the former focused on distributing a fixed number of positive outcomes between warring parties, and the latter as focused on integrating the opposing needs of the parties to create the best outcome for all involved.

Rahim (2002) identified, among the literature, five common management approaches to conflict resolution: integrating, obliging, dominating, avoiding and compromising. 

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