Essay: Management Approach That Offers

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[. . .] Taking this thought to the organizational level, Porter, et al., found that conflict encourages the growth of knowledge within an organization. Individuals seemed to crave the competition and conflict created within certain organizations and they were able to increase the knowledge development of the entire organization (Porter, Lyon, Adamu, & Obefemi). They did research in the market places in Africa, but the same has been found to be true in larger organizations in the West.

In a section of the book "Using Conflict in Organizations" the authors talk about the dangers of "groupthink" (de Dreu & Vliert, 53). NASA is one of the largest government sponsored organizations in the United States, and that organization has both monumental successes and devastating failures. Among the failures are those which occurred because scientists within the organization had become too arrogant of their knowledge and were blinded to problems with their product. In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after taking off, killing all of the astronauts on board. The engineers involved realized later that they allowed cooperation to blind them to the problem of faulty O-rings. In 1992, the same agency launched the Hubble space telescope. When it did not work as it was supposed to, the investigators found that scientists, working together, had dismissed a problem that was voiced but not investigated. The authors argue that;

"when groups are susceptible to groupthink, their goals are transformed from the pursuit of effective problem resolution (i.e., identifying possible problems, evaluating different alternatives) to the suppression of conflict at all costs (i.e., launch despite any concerns or contradictory indications)" (de Dreu & Vliert, 53).

It can be easily acknowledged that in these cases, some voice of conflict would have introduced an element that would have added to the overall knowledge and suppressed the groupthink that can occur when there is too much cooperation.

How Management Should React

The evidence show significant benefits for both approaches. This means that both conflict and cooperation have their good and bad points. Conflict can result in a divided workplace that accomplishes nothing, or it can be the voice of sanity among a group of people who have become too narrowly focused. Cooperation can lead to a group of people who always look to each other for a solution and become unimaginative because they dislike conflict, or it can lead to a group that feeds off of one another's individual abilities and increases each other's knowledge base. It would be simple to say that since both approaches have positives and negatives, that a manager who uses both approaches would actually come out ahead in the end. However, this is not necessarily the case because that manager would have to be able to discern when the team could most use one or the other approach. This is, many times, difficult to ascertain, and could lead to a halt to knowledge development because of a wishy-washy leader. A good manager will look at how their organization runs and determine the appropriate leadership style that is needed to develop the knowledge that the workers require.

It would seem, from the research that has been accumulated for this report, that encouraging conflict, while managing same, would be the best alternative for developing knowledge. This conclusion is reached based on the realization that people can get too complacent with how they are working and they need some form of conflict to motivate them (de Dreu & Vliert, 101). Other researchers have found that although cooperation tends to add to within groups knowledge, this often does not translate to the entire organization as readily (Zhang, Shu, Jiang & Malter). These authors argue that both conflict (they generally use the term competition, but interchange that with conflict) and cooperation are needed for healthy growth of organizational knowledge, but they contend that conflict is what determines how fast a company is able to develop greater knowledge.

One conflict strategy has been used for many years successfully by a wide range of organizations -- brainstorming (de Dreu & Vliert, 103). Brainstorming may seem to be the epitome of cooperation, but it is actually a process that is born in conflict. Every individual at a meeting is given the ability to voice their own opinion without regard to what anyone else has said. Also, the group will pick apart all of the ideas that are presented and add their own ideas. The conflict is that every individual in the group believes that they have a viable solution that is workable and they must be able to back that suggestion up against rival suggestions. Sometimes this process has a difficult time succeeding because individuals are too tied to the ideas that they propose and they are offended by the group rejecting what they have to say. However, this stratagem often works to increase the knowledge development of the entire group because a single individual could not have come up with all of the ideas presented by the group (de Dreu & Vliert 103).

The issue that a manager must remember is that conflict can easily cause an organization to become disjointed; it is a delicate process that must be carefully managed. Conflict occurs "when an individual or group feels negatively affected by another individual or group, for example for perceived divergence of interests, or because of another's incompatible behavior" (de Dreu & Vliert, 1). A manager wants there to be conflict because an individual believes that they have a better idea (divergence of interests), but they do not want conflict to occur because there is "incompatible behavior." That is why the management of conflict in the pursuit of knowledge development is so critical. The manager acts as a referee through a process that is inherently volatile. This also means that the manager has to be comfortable with some amount of conflict themselves. In the end there will be cooperation among the team when they have reached an agreement and have developed the appropriate knowledge, but the process of gaining the knowledge is better born through conflict.


The Pacific Rim is an area in that resembles a large bath tub in which a large portion of the Pacific Ocean is ringed by islands born through volcanic activity. These islands were formed because there was a need for gases and molten rock to escape from the increasingly constricted space it had once occupied. People are much the same. An idea occurs, but in the interest of cooperation many will not voice an opinion. However, if this is something that will help the company the individual will have to eventually create some amount of conflict and introduce it. Even if the process is completely new and unique, if it increases the profitability and viability of the company, it needs to be spoken.

A manager who understands that conflict is not a negative force that must be quashed at all costs will be able to increase the knowledge within the organization better than the manager who uses only cooperation. There has to be some element of conflict and this is better when knowledge is being developed because people are more accepting of conflict when an idea needs to be introduced than when cooperation is needed to complete a process (Fischler).

Managing conflict is the key though. A manager with poor skills can do more harm to an organization than good if he or she tries to use a strategy of conflict generation when they are not able or willing to manage it. A team also has to be able to work together once the knowledge is developed, and if they cannot do that because they are too hurt by the conflict, then they will not function properly. Being able to manage conflict effectively is the key to effective knowledge development.

Works Cited

Cohen, Debra J. "Knowledge Development -- Future Focus: Emerging Issues -- in Human Resource Management." HR Magazine (2003). Web.

de Dreu, Carsten K.W., and Evert van de Vliert. Using Conflict in Organizations. New York: Sage Publications, 1997. Print.

Fischler, Michael L. "From Crisis to Growth…Race, Culture, Ethnicity, Conflict and Change." Education 124.2 (2003): 396-398. Print.

"Knowledge." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2011.

Liu, Yongcan, and Linda Fisher. "Danwei as a Community of Practice and Induction Teachers as Legitimate Peripheral Participants." Research in Education 75 (2006): 99-101. Print.

Mischen, Pamela A., and Stephen K. Jackson. "Connecting the Dots: Applying Complexity Theory, Knowledge Management, and Social Network Analysis to Policy Implementation." Public Administration Quarterly 32.3 (2008): 314-322. Web.

Moon, Yun Ji, and Hyo Gun Kym. "A Model for the Value of Intellectual Capital." Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences 23.3 (2006): 253-262. Web.

Morris, Michael H., Akin Kocak, and Alper Ozer. "Coopetition as a Small Business Strategy: Implications for Performance." Journal of Small Business Strategy 18.1 (2007): 35-48. Web.

Porter, Gina, Fergus Lyon, Fatima Adamu, and Lanre Obafemi. "Conflict and Cooperation in Market Spaces: Learning for… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Management Approach That Offers.  (2011, May 27).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

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"Management Approach That Offers."  27 May 2011.  Web.  22 July 2019. <>.

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"Management Approach That Offers."  May 27, 2011.  Accessed July 22, 2019.