The processing of conflict in organizational groups : a case study in a Greek industrial company
The purpose of the research was to investigate the way in which employees in two departments of a Greek industrial company resolved conflict situations encountered in the context of their department. The premises are that (a) the positive effects of conflict for the organization are related to the way in which it is resolved; (b) the investigation of the phenomenon of conflict resolution necessitates the examination of employees' conflict handling behaviour during a conflict episode, as well as of their representation of the particular episode; (c) the bureaucratic culture of the organization and the wider social culture determine the conditions within which employees represent and deal with conflict situations. The research used a single case design to develop new ways to model the conflict resolution process. The use of open-ended interviews constituted the methods of data collection. Employees from two departments (Research/Design and Supplies) of the organization were selected. The analysis of data in the first part of the thesis led to the development of a net model, indicating patterns of conflict handling behaviour during any conflict episode; the generic structure of the net model, which was found to be common to both departments, was discussed in the light of Greek culture, as well as of the bureaucratic practices of that particular organization. On the basis of this analysis, a further analysis was made of the data relating to those nodes of the net model where employees were found to be involved in a decision making process. The methodology selected enabled the representation of the process of the conflict management problem by organizational members. The basic assumption incorporated within this methodology is that the conflict management problem can be represented in more than one way. The identification, via employees' discourse, of the way in which conflict situations are conceptualized in the context of the two departments, indicated how this representation relates to the wider social and organizational nexus within which it is embedded. The contribution of this study lies in identifying the conflict resolution structures and processes within two departments of the organization studied and, to a certain extent, the wider organization, while offering an insight into how this organization shapes the way in which conflict situations are processed by organizational members, using their own discourse.