Conflict Management in the Negotiation Process
Conflict is an expressed struggle between two or more interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals (Wilmot, 1998, pg.34).
It would seem strange to have a conflict within a conflict, wouldn’t it? The whole negotiation process is in existence because of some sort of disagreement or conflict, and aside from the actual act of the negotiation, I want to discuss some of the “behind the scenes” conflict that can exist.
Since people do the negotiating, it us understood that the people can act or behave in ways that can either make the process function or render it dysfunctional.
There are three different types of outside conflict during the negotiation process I will discuss: task/person conflict, content/relationship conflict, and conflict as a constructive/positive force.
If a team is negotiating against another team, there may be conflict within the team. We experienced this in our class simulation when the spokesperson for management kept making things up, this upset his team because they didn’t know where he would end up with his comments. Also, what he said didn’t always coincide with what his group had decided to do during meetings and caucuses.
Task conflict in team decision-making refers to the disagreements about work to be done. This includes the allocation of resources, or maybe the development and implementation of policies. This type of conflict has beneficial effects on the quality of team decision-making. Initially, task-oriented disagreement rather than consensus appears to facilitate dialectically styled discussions, which prevent groupthink (Janis, 1982). It also stimulates the identification, scrutinization, and ultimate integration of different perspectives needed to produce high-quality implementable decisions. Task conflict was also found to enhance affective acceptance among management team members due to the intellectual consideration and utilization of each other’s diverse input (Amason, 1996)
Person conflict in team decision-making refers to the occurrence of identity-oriented issues, where personal beliefs and morals come into play. This type of conflict deteriorates team decision-making effectiveness by limiting the team’s ability to reach high-quality decisions and disturbing mutual acceptance among team members. The arguments for these detrimental consequences are that person-oriented incompatibility: (a) limits cognitive processing of new information; (b) reduces receptiveness to ideas advocated by others who are disliked; (c) decrease willingness to tolerate opposition; (d) gives rise to hostile attributions concerning each other’s intentions and behaviors; (e) disturbs effective communication and cooperation within the team; and (f) consumes time and energy preserved for working on the substantive decision task (Baron, 1991, 1997).
An example of task conflict could be when a chief negotiator is arguing about the location of the research to be done with some fellow members of his team.
He says that the information regarding the negotiating sessions they are currently involved in is the library (it could be that simple). His teammates might suggest the internet. Since he has never had any exposure to the internet, he disagrees, saying the library has the books He may believe that the only place his team needs to search for necessary for the research.
After arguing this for several minutes, the other members in his team show him how the internet works and he sees that it isn’t a bad idea after all. He may still prefer to use the library, but at least he also sees the internet as an option.
Let’s use the same chief negotiator for our example of person conflict. He is in a group that tries to prevent old city buildings from being torn down, with the understanding that they can be rebuilt for another use.
There are two different small companies that are interested in the building. One is a law firm interested in locating a branch in that area of the city. The other is an abortion clinic.
Our chief negotiator is a strict catholic who is dead-set against abortion, but not to an extreme level. Other members of the group don’t care either way or are against it also- except for one, and she’s for it. She and our chief negotiator are having a problem picking the best company to leave the building to. Although he’s not an extreme person against abortion, he feels a