Academic journal article IUP Journal of Soft Skills

Conflict Management Strategies Used by Indian Software Companies: A Summative Content Analysis

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Soft Skills

Conflict Management Strategies Used by Indian Software Companies: A Summative Content Analysis

Article excerpt


'Know Thyself' and 'Nothing in Excess'-the golden words inscribed on the temple at Delphi by the ancient Greeks are extremely important (Lloyd-Jones, 1976) when it comes to conflict management. TIandling conflict is a domain where a person must 'know himself/herself' and see wether he/she is comfortable enough in handling conflict. Do they choose to deal with conflict or feel troubled with conflict and tend to avoid it? Conflict management approach matters a lot as it can substantially influence the success or failure of the company's vision and its employees and customer satisfaction.

In 2008, when CPP Inc.-publishers of the Myers-Briggs Assessment and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument-conducted a study on conflict at the workplace, it was found that employees spent approximately 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. 25% of employees experience conflict situations that eventually turn into a personal attack. 10% announced that workplace conflict led to project failure. Onethird said that conflict led to employees being fired or quitting, and in 25% of employees, avoidance results in absence.

The study also revealed the importance of conducting conflict management workshops at the workplace. It is interesting to note that countries like US and Brazil where employees attended maximum number of conflict management workshops showed highest positive outcome. Moreover, training methods that use psychometric instruments were found to be most effective. Because conflict management is perceived and experienced by individuals, it is best investigated by analyzing individually manifested states, cognitions, and acts. This study is a step towards designing an effective conflict management using behavioral approach. There is the need to understand the employees' attitude, perception, and belief towards conflict. Further, there is also a need to understand various facilitators and barriers that the target population considers important for enhancing cooperative behavior. Also, there is a need to understand the motivational factors that influence the individuals' conflict style preferences.

This could be better understood by doing elicitation studies among the target population. Content of the response could be analyzed to predict the attitude, perception and preferences among the targeted sample. Researchers regard content analysis as a flexible method for analyzing text data (Cavanagh, 1997). This can be better accomplished by qualitative content analysis which describes a family of analytic approaches ranging from impressionistic, intuitive and interpretive analyses to systematic, strict textual analyses (Rosengren, 1981).

With this cue, this paper studies the conflict process among Indian software employees. Software industry is knowledge-intensive and highly decision-oriented industry. Moreover, in the software project context, system analysis and design are very complicated. Triple constraints of scope, quality and schedule drive the walls of behavior. During implementation of software projects, difference of opinion arises due to different barriers like limitation of resources, integration issues, competition and differences in values, goals, and expectations among various stakeholders, including team members, project managers and customers. Apart from that, diverse workforce, task complexity and task interdependence lead to substantially higher degree of conflicts. Hence, itbecomes extremely necessary for the managers to tap the positives and negatives of this phenomenon to emerge successful in an industry where there is cut-throat competition.

On the basis of the above viewpoint, the objectives of our study are:

* To understand the attitude of software employees towards conflict at the workplace; and

* To understand how they manage conflict at their workplace.

Literature Review

The conflict process is said to undergo various stages, namely: incompatibility, cognition, intentions, behavior and outcome (Robbins, 1997). …

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