Academic journal article IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior

Organizational Conflict Scale: Reexamining the Instrument

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior

Organizational Conflict Scale: Reexamining the Instrument

Article excerpt

This study helps in understanding the factors of conflict at various levels by reexamining the psychometric properties and construct validity of the instrument. The Organizational Conflict Scale (OCS) takes the form of a self-report questionnaire which identified three factors: conflict at individual level comprising six items, conflict at group level comprising four items and conflict at organizational level comprising six items. It was administered to a sample of 200 selected from various manufacturing, IT, hydro power and public sector organizations by convenience sampling. Analyses included scale reliabilities, mean and standard deviations and factor analysis using Principal Component Analysis. Whilst generally supportive of the OCS, the results suggest that further validation work is required. This could include consideration of the relationships between the OCS and other measures which have an impact on conflict and its related factors. The instrument's internal and sequential consistencies were generally sound. The conceptual and methodological implications are discussed.

Introduction

Conflict is common in all aspects of life (Donovan, 1993) and exists at all levels (Green, 1984; and Marion, 1995). The effectiveness of individual employees, teams and entire organizations depend on how well they manage interpersonal conflict at work (Tjosvold, 1998a). Managers spend on an average 20% of theirtime on managing conflict (Thomas, 1992) and evidence suggests conflict and conflict management at work substantially influence individual, group and organizational effectiveness as well as wellbeing (Spector and Jex, 1998; and De Dreu eta!., 1999). A UK survey found that 78% of managers are suffering from work-related stress, 52% have experienced harassment and 46% have seen an increase in conflict at work. Failure to manage change heightens stress, harassment and conflict at work (Park, 2005). An estimated 16% of employees feel that poor interpersonal relations are a source of stress at work (Warren (2005), Health and Wellness Research Database).

Conflict can be constructive and destructive. Constructive conflict is defined as situations when one person's ideas, theories, information, conclusions and opinions are incompatible with those of another, and the two seek to reach an agreement (Johnson et al., 2000). It leads to easier transitions in change, increased effectiveness, better communication, increased involvement, increased productivity and improved problem-solving quality (Haas, 1999; and Tjosvold, 2000). When there are perceived incompatibilities in goals/values between two or more parties and an antagonistic feeling towards each other, it leads to uncivil behavior in the organization and to destructive conflict (Fisher, 2006). Additionally, Deutsch (1977) stated that destructive conflict has a tendency to expand and escalate. Constructive conflict is managed and not resolved in situations where conflict can be beneficial and can lead to innovations and foster collaboration. Conflict should be managed with full understanding of multifaceted relationships associated with it and has to be shared by all involved parties (Gibson et al., 1997).

Three views about conflict have evolved over the years. The traditional view (dominant from the late nineteenth century until the mid-1940s) considered conflict as bad, has a negative impact and leads to decrease in performance as the level of conflict increases. Conflict must therefore always be avoided. In this view, conflict is closely related with terms such as destruction, violence and irrationality. The response to conflict in the traditional view is to reduce, suppress or eliminate it. Thus, conventional approaches to reducing conflict are often futile because the fundamental properties of complex adaptive systems are the source of much organizational conflict. This negative view of conflict had a great role in the development of labor unions. Conventional views of conflict are based on traditional assumptions that organizations are rational, linear systems in which cause and effect are tightly linked, systems are predictable, and organizational stability is achieved through planning and control. …

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