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“We will cross that bridge when we come to it” : An explorative study of the structuration of organizational conflicts and individuals’ conflict management

Bonds, S.J. (2020) “We will cross that bridge when we come to it” : An explorative study of the structuration of organizational conflicts and individuals’ conflict management.

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Abstract:Purpose: The theory of conflict cultures views individual conflict management from an organizational point of view and suggests that there are socially shared norms for how conflicts should be managed within an organization. According to the theory, a conflict culture influences organizational members’ conflict management, but at the same time, a conflict culture may be influenced by the members and their conflict management. The purpose and objective of this study is to create a better understanding of conflict cultures by studying the reciprocal relationship between an organization’s conflict culture and organizational members’ conflict management. Method: Based on the critical incident technique (CIT), 20 interviews with participants from different organizations were conducted. CIT encouraged the participants to recall specific events of conflicts they had experienced within their organization and share their interpretations of the conflicts and their outcomes. The interviews took the form as online interviews. Further, grounded theory and open and axial coding were used to understand the reciprocal relationship. Findings: The results of the study suggest that individuals perceive an organization’s conflict culture by referring to one or several of the conflict culture’s organizational features and the organization’s characteristics. This perception is created and/or strengthened when individuals experience conflicts within their organization. Depending on which feature(s) is prominent in the individual’s perception, the conflict culture’s influence may be perceived differently by individuals, and either guide, prevent and minimize, or support the individual’s choice of conflict management. Furthermore, the result suggests that reproduction of a conflict culture is stronger than production of it, and as a consequence of the conflict culture’s capability to influence, individuals can experience an intrapersonal conflict as part of their choice of strategy. Conclusion: The results of this study explain and provide an understanding of how conflict culture works and influences organizational members’ choice of conflict management. The result also illustrates how the power and stability of a conflict culture enables it to constantly reproduce, and what consequences this can cause organizational members to experience.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:01 general works
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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