Strategic Management

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1. How would you ensure sufficient discussion of contentious issues in a work group? How can managers bring unspoken conflicts into the open without making them worse?

If managers recognize that in some situations conflict can be beneficial, what can they do to manage conflict effectively in their organizations? Let’s look at some approaches organizations are using to encourage their people to challenge the system and develop fresh ideas.
One of the keys to minimizing counterproductive conflicts is recognizing when there really is a disagreement. Many apparent conflicts are due to people using different language to discuss the same general course of action. For example, someone in marketing might focus on “distribution problems,” while someone from operations will talk about “supply chain management” to describe essentially the same issue. Successful conflict management recognizes these different approaches and attempts to resolve them by encouraging open, frank discussion focused on interests rather than issues (we’ll have more to say about this when we contrast distributive and integrative bargaining styles).
Another approach is to have opposing groups pick parts of the solution that are most important to them and then focus on how each side can get its top needs satisfied. Neither side may get exactly what it wants, but both sides will get the most important parts of its agenda. 39
Groups that resolve conflicts successfully discuss differences of opinion openly and are prepared to manage conflict when it arises. 40 The most disruptive conflicts are those that are never addressed directly. An open discussion makes it much easier to develop a shared perception of the problems at hand; it also allows groups to work toward a mutually acceptable solution. Managers need to emphasize shared interests in resolving conflicts, so groups that…...

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