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Organizational Culture fundamentally influences how conflicts are managed and resolved within the workplace

The intricate relationship between organizational culture and conflict management styles is a critical area of focus in management research. Organizational culture, which includes the shared values, norms, and practices within a company, fundamentally influences how conflicts are managed and resolved within the workplace (Rahim, 2011). Organizational cultures that emphasize collaboration, teamwork, and open communication are typically associated with more collaborative and accommodating conflict management styles (Ayoko & Callan, 2010).

These styles are characterized by efforts to meet the needs of all parties involved and to address the underlying causes of conflict constructively. According to Ayoko and Callan (2010), open communication in an organizational culture encourages employees to engage in constructive dialogues during conflicts, thus promoting mutually beneficial resolutions.

Behfar, Peterson, Mannix, and Trochim (2011) research highlight how cultures that value teamwork enhance the likelihood of employing integrative negotiation tactics, which are critical in collaborative conflict management styles. Organizational cultures that prioritize individual achievement, autonomy, and competition can lead to a predominance of competing or avoiding conflict management styles.

These styles often involve a high degree of assertiveness with little to no cooperativeness, focusing on winning the conflict or avoiding it altogether (Elgoibar, Euwema, & Munduate, 2013). Elgoibar, Euwema, and Munduate (2013) illustrate how competitive environments that reward individual performance may discourage employees from engaging in collaborative conflict resolution, potentially seen as a sign of weakness.

Jehn and Bendersky (2012) provide further empirical evidence supporting the notion that high levels of individual competition within a culture can exacerbate conflicts and lead to less effective management strategies, often resulting in unresolved and prolonged disputes.

The relationship between organizational culture and conflict management is bidirectional. As organizational culture influences conflict management styles, the outcomes of conflict management can, in turn, reinforce or gradually alter the prevailing culture (Jehn & Bendersky, 2012). This reciprocal influence is crucial for organizational leaders to understand and leverage. By recognizing the patterns and outcomes of conflict management styles facilitated by their organizational culture, leaders can initiate cultural adjustments to promote more effective and adaptive conflict management practices.

Aligning organizational culture with effective conflict management practices, organizations can enhance not only their operational efficiency but also their workplace harmony and employee satisfaction (Behfar, Peterson, Mannix, & Trochim, 2011).


 By Gerry Savage



Ayoko, O. B., & Callan, V. J. (2010). Teams' reactions to conflict and teams' task and social outcomes: The moderating role of transformational and emotional leadership. European Management Journal, 28(4), 220-235.


Behfar, K. J., Peterson, R. S., Mannix, E. A., & Trochim, W. M. K. (2011). The critical role of conflict resolution in teams: A close look at the links between conflict type, conflict management strategies, and team outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(1), 170-188.


Elgoibar, P., Euwema, M., & Munduate, L. (2013). Building trust and constructive conflict management in organizations. Springer.


Jehn, K. A., & Bendersky, C. (2012). Intragroup conflict in organizations: A contingency perspective on the conflict-outcome relationship. Research in Organizational Behavior, 32, 187-211.

Rahim, M. A. (2011). Managing conflict in organizations. Transaction Publishers.



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