Organizational Conflict: Types, Stages And Example

The organizational conflict is a state of discord among members of an organization product disagreements, real or perceived, related to the needs, values, resources or interests. In the past, these situations were considered negative in all their aspects.

At present, organizational conflict is analyzed as part of a normal and almost inevitable process, since the parties involved have a significant psychosocial burden. This conflict could become a relevant source of opportunities for personal and organizational growth, as long as it is managed effectively.

If there is no solution, it can mean total chaos in the company, which can trigger serious consequences in it. In no case should a conflictive situation be ignored, as it will increase the problem, with the consequence of negatively impacting the performance of the organization.

That is why it is important to identify the causes that generate it and the people who are involved, which will allow planning the strategies to follow to face and solve it.

Types and their causes


When the point of view that the worker has on a situation differs from the vision of the company. The causative factors can come from within the person involved (beliefs, values, personal or family situations) or from the environment.

The worker may show disinterest towards certain assigned activities, due to being contrary to his personal vision. This can become a problem, as you will show resistance to being part of the work team.


They occur between two people who work within the organization, because they have different points of view on the same thought, goal or topic.

It can occur between equals or between bosses and subordinates, and people from the same group or from different groups may be involved.

They arise for various causes: personality or style differences, personal or family problems, even organizational factors such as leadership, management and budget.


They appear within the same group and can be generated by multiple causes. An example may be the relationship between the old members and the new worker, creating a discrepancy between the worker’s expectation of how to be treated and the reality he or she perceives.

Causes such as poor communication, internal competition, differences in values ​​and interests, scarce resources and personality clashes also play a role.


It appears between two or more groups of the same organization and can be attributed to differences in the priorities of each work team, access to limited resources, the control that certain groups want to exercise over others, etc.

Here a horizontal tension can occur due to competition between functions; for example, the sales department vs. the production one. There can also be a vertical tension due to competition between hierarchical levels; for example, the administrative management against the office head.

General causes

Role clash

It refers to when an individual has multiple roles within the organization or when they are not well defined. If it is not clear who is responsible for a task or project, it creates a conflict.

Aggressive or passive behavior

This type of behavior is harmful to the group as it can create a hostile environment and nullify any attempt at teamwork.

Office romance

Accusations of favoritism can arise, especially if it is a relationship between a superior and his employee.

Lack of sources

Insufficient resources such as time, money, and materials can promote conflict, as company members compete with each other to obtain them.

Communication interference

When an employee requires information from another and he does not respond adequately, unreliable information is generated.

General stages

Latent conflict

At this stage there are factors that could potentially become triggers for a conflict.

People have different ideas, values, personalities, and needs, which can create situations in which others disagree. This in itself is not a problem, unless a dispute occurs to expose these differences.


At this stage the conflict begins to set in, as the parties involved acknowledge that they differ in opinions on a given issue, causing tension and discord.


If the parties involved are unable to reach a resolution, the conflict can escalate, intensifying. This may attract more people and involve them, increasing the tension, creating factions on one side or the other.


During this phase, the confrontation has gotten out of control to the point that none of the participants is willing to back down from their positions, and each side insists that their beliefs are correct.


At one point in the process, one or more of the people involved in the conflict realize the need to find a way out. During this stage, the parties begin to negotiate and consider finding a solution.


After listening to the views of each person involved, participants can sometimes come to a resolution of the problem they face.


If the parties reach a solution, it is necessary to repair relationships that may have been damaged during the conflict.


Marta is an excellent analyst who works in the purchasing area of ​​a manufacturing company, under the orders of the head of that department.

When he started working, he observed that the rest of the personnel did not follow the work rules, which bothered him because it prevented him from doing his job efficiently.

In addition to this, the owner’s wife gave her opinion and interfered in his work, although she did not work for the company. At first he had good professional relations with his boss, but later they became strained because he complained about the interference of the owner of the company.

In a meeting, Marta could not control herself and had a strong argument with her boss; this uncomfortable environment has become increasingly acute. She feels that her work is not valued or recognized, which is why she does not feel safe to continue within the company.

All this situation causes him to have a conflictive picture both with his boss and with the owners of the company.

Conflict resolution

In view of this interpersonal conflict, the owner and the Human Resources manager decide to intervene. They organize strategies focused on self-esteem, work area diagrams, definition of roles and responsibilities, and assertive communication.

Marta is learning to develop assertive behaviors and to communicate effectively. You are also learning to set limits.

In the department that works there is already an organization chart, where each position with its respective roles is well specified. Arguments have decreased notably and the work environment has ceased to be hostile.


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  5. Ebrary (2018). Stages in Conflict (or) Conflict Process. Taken from:
  6. Miranda Brookins (2018). Eight Stages of Conflict. Smallbusiness – Chron. Taken from:

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