The article must be clearly related to the course content and have the potential to contribute significant analysis and substantial engagement with the course topic.

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For this assignment, you will need to accurately identify the article’s premise, significant points in support of the premise, and the significance of those points to the course and/or the field. You need to present an insightful and thorough analysis of the article with strong arguments and evidence. Your interpretation will need to be both reasonable and compelling. You will need to apply course concepts in your analysis.

As you write the review, be certain to analyze the type of conflict discussed in the article. Use the classifications discussed in the Unit III Lesson (Rahim’s functional outcomes and Rahim’s dysfunctional outcomes) in your analysis. Be certain to suggest communication techniques to manage functional conflict or, alternately, communication techniques to resolve dysfunctional conflict.

Along with the article being reviewed, you will need to reference at least two peer-reviewed sources. Use the standard five-paragraph format (introduction/body/conclusion). APA format should be used. The critical review should be a minimum of two pages in length. Content, organization, and grammar/mechanics will be evaluated. UNIT III STUDY GUIDE
Managing Conflict in an Organization
Through Communication
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit III
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
5. Recommend communication techniques that are effective in managing conflict.
5.1. Analyze conflict in an organization.
5.2. Apply Rahim’s functional and dysfunctional outcomes to managing conflict.
Learning Outcomes
Learning Activity
Unit Lesson
Unit III Presentation
Article: “Practicing conflict management can reduce organizational stress”
Article: “How to diagnose and treat poor performance”
Unit III Article Review
Unit Lesson
Unit III Presentation
Article: “How to diagnose and treat poor performance”
Unit III Article Review
Unit Lesson
Unit III Presentation
Unit III Article Review
Reading Assignment
In order to access the following resources, click the links below:
Bain, V. (2000). How to diagnose and treat poor performance. The Journal for Quality and Participation,
23(5), 38-41. Retrieved from
Antonioni, D. (1995). Practicing conflict management can reduce organizational stress. Industrial
Management, 37(5), 7-8. Retrieved from
Click here to view the Unit III Presentation.
Click here to view the Unit III Presentation transcript.
Unit Lesson
For many people, conflict can be a word with negative connotations. Within an organization, employees may
equate conflict to open hostility or harsh, interpersonal clashes. However, conflict is merely a state of
unresolved differences between entities. Sometimes, the difference is functionally productive; sometimes, it is
dysfunctional. This unit explores conflict within organizations and discusses communication techniques that
can help to effectively manage conflict.
BBA 2026, Organizational Communication
Consequences of Conflict
In Managing Conflict in Organizations, M. Afzalur Rahim (2000) explains that conflict has the potential for both
positive and negative consequences. In order to achieve the benefits from conflict, an organization must
mitigate the negative or dysfunctional outcomes of conflict and develop the positive effects to their highest
potential. Rahim (2000) lists seven categories for both functional outcomes and dysfunctional outcomes that
have been studied extensively by a variety of authors. The functional outcomes have been provided below
(Rahim, 2000, p. 7):
Rahim’s Functional Outcomes
Conflict may stimulate innovation, creativity, and growth.
Organizational decision-making may be improved.
Alternative solutions to a problem may be found.
Conflict may lead to synergistic solutions to common problems.
Individual and group performances may be enhanced.
Individuals and groups may be forced to search for new approaches.
Individuals and groups may be required to articulate and clarify
their positions.
In their groundbreaking study, Scientists in Organizations, Donald Pelz and Frank Andrews (1976) concluded
that a certain amount of creative tension had to exist between the states of worker security and conflict to
stimulate innovation, creativity, and growth. They noted that employee productivity increased when the
organizations they studied changed established patterns or when technical disputes arose. During these
times of conflict, communication between employees and between management and employees increased.
Pelz and Andrews (1976) also noted that output improved when management provided positive reinforcement
and encouraged employees to participate in policy-making. Positive communication between management
and employees helped to promote the functional outcome.
After T. J. Peters and R. H. Waterman reviewed the practices of companies like IBM, 3M, GE, Boeing, and
Hewlett Packard, they found that the companies used management practices that were designed to stimulate
competition. Many of the organizations created a contest atmosphere by assigning the same problem to two
different teams. This manufactured conflict allowed managers to see who would come up with the best
solution (Denton, 2002).
A degree of serendipity can develop from conflict. The conversations generated because of the disagreement
can lead to alternative solutions by accident.
When conflict occurs between employees working on a project, managers should encourage a dialogue to
exchange information regarding the issues. During this information exchange, employees will need to explain
their differences in perspective. Without the conflict, this exchange might never happen. Employees will be
forced to reevaluate project goals and problems, which can lead to better solutions.
When conflict arises, the organization simply cannot follow the status quo—the established way of doing
things—and the need to resolve the conflict can force organizations to try new approaches. This encourages
communication, which can trigger creative solutions for problems and encourage new ways to achieve goals.
Conflict can have a direct impact on communication. It can force employees to explain their perspectives and
to seek information from coworkers on an issue. Employees will need to explain their differences in
perspectives, which might not happen otherwise (Rahim, 2000, p. 7).
BBA 2026, Organizational Communication
Rahim’s (2000) dysfunctional outcomes have been provided below (p. 7):
Rahim’s Dysfunctional Outcomes
Conflicts may cause job stress, burnout, and dissatisfaction.
Communication between individuals and groups may be reduced.
A climate of distrust and suspicion can be developed.
Relationships may be damaged.
Job performance may be reduced.
Resistance to change can increase.
Organizational commitment and loyalty may be affected.
Too much conflict burdens and overwhelms the minds/emotions of the employees, shutting off the capacity
for creativity. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a study that evaluated elements of
job stress, burnout, and dissatisfaction for middle managers in organizations that were experiencing
organizational changes (Antonioni, 1995). The survey also assessed how the organizations used conflict
management to resolve the stressors faced by the employees. Organizations that had regular communication
regarding the conflict management had employees with lower levels of stress. Organizations that employed
individuals who had concerns about discussing situations with their superiors had employees with higher
levels of stress. The study demonstrates that knowing how to manage and resolve conflict is a valuable skill
to combat workplace stressors. As Antonioni (1995) suggests, successfully managing stressful work
situations to help avoid burnout and job dissatisfaction boils down to mastering communication skills.
Sometimes, different conversational styles or faulty inferences create apparent conflicts when no real
disagreement exists. Efficiently managing conflict involves matching the style of communication with the
situation (Rahim, 2000). Managers need to analyze their audience before addressing any type of conflict and
to recognize not only the personal feelings of the employees but also the policies and procedures of the
organization. As Antonioni (1995) relates, communication has to work both ways: Active listening must be a
part of the communication process. All of the concerned parties must claim responsibility for their actions and
collaborate to find a solution that is satisfactory to both sides.
Unacknowledged conflicts rarely go away; rather, they fester and make subsequent exchanges more difficult.
In “How to Diagnose and Treat Poor Performance,” Victoria Bain (2000) explains that teamwork is
undermined by derogatory attitudes. Employees do not function at a high level of effort when they are cast
into stereotypes or oppressed by bias (Bain, 2000).
Conflict is difficult to resolve when an employee criticizes another person instead of focusing on the issue.
This leads to counterattacks and an escalation of the conflict. The issue becomes more difficult to resolve
because feelings are hurt.
Bain (2000) recommends that managers take an active role in resolving the conflict rather than letting the
employees work it out amongst themselves. The author recommends gathering specific information about
complaints rather than general information. This makes it easier for the employees to address the problem.
Bain discusses an example from a chemical plant where an employee did not feel valued by his manager and
intentionally reduced the amount of work he did on a daily basis. The manager did value the employee but
never communicated this to him. The conflict developed due to this lack of communication and was resolved
only when a dialogue between the two began.
Managers need to review systems and/or procedures for changes that may have caused the conflict. People
who have already made up their minds about a situation are highly resistant to change. The structure of a
work group in an organization may have altered, new technology may have been introduced, or resources
that once were plentiful may now be scarce (Bain, 2000).
In order to overcome the opposition, it is important to send an unambiguous message: People who are
embroiled in conflict can misread topics that neutral parties may consider clear. It also can help to start a
message with an area of agreement or common ground.
Often, conflict arises because an employee does not feel respected or appreciated by the other members of
the organization. Bain (2000) considers it a manager’s responsibility to determine root causes and develop
BBA 2026, Organizational Communication
Antonioni (1995) describes the following situation that shows how a project manager
a request may
UNIT x phrases
make a great deal of difference. If the manager states that he or she wants theTitle
employee to attend meetings
because he or she values the employee’s input, this is a positive way to phrase the request. If the manager
states that he or she wants the employee to attend meetings because it is a corporate policy, this is a
negative way to make the request.
In this example, the conflict could arise because the statement “you need to be at the meeting because that is
our policy” does not reflect the reality of the situation. Attendance may indeed be a policy of the organization,
but the desired outcome of that policy is the important input of the employee. If this is not communicated,
conflict can arise.
Communication Techniques
In “Practicing Conflict Management Can Help Reduce Organizational Stress,” Antonioni (1995) discusses four
communication techniques that can help effectively manage conflict in organizations. These techniques can
both promote functional conflict and resolve dysfunctional conflict.
Assertive communication: Each individual in a conversation needs to stand up for his or her rights,
needs, and expectations while also being attentive to the same attributes for the other person
(Antonioni, 1995). It is helpful to determine what is at stake and who will be affected by the decisions.
The message will be most effective if it considers the entire organizational context as well as the
larger context of shareholders, customers, and so forth.
Active listening: Active listening is critical for developing a shared understanding of a problem
(Antonioni, 1995). Often, individuals do not listen attentively when another person speaks. The
listeners may be distracted or, during a conflict, may be trying to formulate a response to win the
argument. In active listening, listeners (receivers) demonstrate that they have understood a speaker
through feedback. Receivers can paraphrase the content, mirror the speaker’s feelings, ask for
clarification, or request additional information.
Problem solving: Defining the problem and identifying the causes are essential aspects of helping to
manage conflict through communication.
Negotiation: Generate as many options or alternatives as possible before deciding on a solution. In all
but the very simplest problems, there are several possible solutions. Antonioni (1995) believes that
both parties need to utilize effective negotiation skills. Focus on seeing the issues from the other
party’s perspective, he recommends, rather than negotiating solely from a fixed individual position.
As Rahim (2000) notes, it is impossible to eliminate all conflict from an organization. He believes that a
moderate amount of conflict is beneficial for an organization and is even necessary for maintaining
effectiveness. What remains central to both the functional and dysfunctional results of conflict is
Through communication, the participants establish what the conflict means and the way that it affects the
organization. In the functional examples, conflict led to greater communication among the participants. In the
dysfunctional examples, employees and/or managers did not communicate effectively, and the conflict was
resolved only through increased levels of communication between the participants.
Antonioni, D. (1995). Practicing conflict management can reduce organizational stress. Industrial
Management, 37(5), 7-8.
Bain, V. (2000). How to diagnose and treat poor performance. The Journal for Quality and Participation,
Denton, J. (2002). Organisational learning and effectiveness. New York, NY: Routledge.
BBA 2026, Organizational Communication
Pelz, D., & Andrews, F. (1976). Scientists in organizations. Retrieved from
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE;view=1up;seq=27
Rahim, M. A. (2000). Managing conflict in organizations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Suggested Reading
In order to access the following resources, click the links below:
Denton, J. (2002). Organisational learning and effectiveness. New York, NY: Routledge. Retrieved from
Rahim, M. A. (2000). Managing conflict in organizations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Retrieved from
Pelz, D., & Andrews, F. (1976). Scientists in organizations: Productive climates for research and
development. Retrieved from;view=1up;seq=27
Learning Activities (Nongraded)
Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit
them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.
Apply What You Have Learned
Consider organizations where you have worked in the past or where you are currently employed. Have you
encountered any situations of functional or dysfunctional conflict? If so, how did this conflict affect your
working environment and job performance?
BBA 2026, Organizational Communication

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