Understandings of Conflict: A Cross-Cultural Investigation
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The understanding and management of conflict plays a central role in HRM practice and theory, yet from some perspectives conflict is to be avoided, while from others, it is to be embraced. From Senge’s view that visible conflict is a sign that a team is learning (Senge, 1990, p. 249), to Pascale’s (1990) notions of the need for “creative tension”, conflict can be seen as an accepted and important part of organisational life, and a necessary part of change and development – for organisational learning (Stacey, 1993, p. 236) as well as for individual learning (Vasilyuk, 1984). Managers are expected to embrace and foster conflict as an important development tool. In contrast to this, conflict can also be seen as highly problematic. Senge talks of the successful executive who “is used to tearing down other people at the office” and carries this behaviour home (Senge, 1990, p. 312); many writers on cross-cultural management talk of ways of minimising cross-cultural conflict (Hofstede, 1991; Smith and Peterson, 1988) and as early as 1945 Roethlisberger was talking of the need to address problems associated with role conflict. This paper is about such differences in the “understanding” of “conflict”, and I shall open up the debate by describing a situation that occurred recently.
Lee, Monica, "Understandings of Conflict: A Cross-Cultural Investigation" (1998). All UNF Research. Paper 13.