The State of the Science
Kurt T. Dirks
Judi McLean Parks
It makes me nervous when someone says, "I agree with everything you say" Not even I agree with everything I say.
—Jeremy Rifkin (as quoted in van Biema, 1988, p. W13)
Conflict is, perhaps, one of, if not the most pervasive phenomena of organizational life. Although organizations are predicated on the achievement of a collective goal, they inherently foster conflict. The individual's attempt to define the collective goal and the means to achieve that goal bring personal agendas to pursue, as well as different personal values and work styles, all the while working under incentive systems that tend to generate competition, rather than cooperation. In other words, organizations provide the impetus for conflict, and in turn, they incubate that conflict.
It would be difficult to deny the importance of conflict, and hence of conflict research. Conflict has captured the attention of researchers from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, economics, organizational behavior, political science, social psychology, and sociology. A recent