Conflict is an inevitable phenomenon that impedes the efforts of an organization towards attaining success. To enhance the smooth running of operations, conflicts have to be resolved using various workable approaches. Power has a big role to play in conflict resolution. Power is an integral part of conflict resolution in an organization. Imbalances in power in an organization have an impact on conflict. This depends on the parties that are involved in the conflict in the organization. The participants in a conflict resolution group also possess the power to keep things moving for instance if the participants are not ready to bury their differences and forget about the status quo then conflict resolution can be delayed for a long time. The power of the members to disentangle themselves from the conflict is demonstrated during the discussions to resolve the conflict (William,2005).
Power can facilitate conflict resolution between the warring factions in an organization or it can also be a hindrance to conflict resolution between the parties involved. In a situation where there are two centers of power all competing for a certain end, conflict can be challenging to resolve. A good strategy would involve seeking a neutral and higher center of power from outside the organization to arbitrate between the parties that conflict. According to (Robert and Mouton, 1984), the speed at which conflict is resolved in an organization would depend on the state of power between the parties involved. Parties being involved in the conflict and having the same power levels can resolve their conflict using a facilitator who should be in a higher power rank than the two parties. As it is well known the top management of an organization has power over the other departments in an organization. If a conflict emerges in the organization and the top management is involved then resolving the conflict would call for an outside party with a higher power to have an amicable solution to the disagreement.
In the case of win-lose conflicts, power is fundamental in resolving the disagreements between parties. If it is a department against the top management, power can be exercised against the department by the top management hence leading to the resolution of the conflict. This is a good example of a direct confrontational approach in which power plays a vital role. Cloke. and Goldsmith (2000). Power struggles between parties in an organization can result in sustained conflict. This is in the sense that consensus cannot be easily be attained especially with a win-win situation whereby both sides are struggling to win. Problem-solving approaches have often demonstrated how members of a group can use their power to confront one another and find solutions to their conflict. As indicated by Cloke and Goldsmith (2000), some managers use contracts as the power to enforce cooperation amongst the employees and hence affect conflict. Power imbalances can interfere with the efforts of an interpersonal facilitator in conflict resolution. This can be viewed in the sense that the arbitrator instead of seeking a common ground for the parties in conflict, would tend to dictate on either of the parties. This is a result of the existing power imbalance in the organization (Robert and Mouton, 1984).
In conclusion, it is vital to mention that power balance is very essential between parties involved in the conflict. With power imbalance between groups, the process of resolving conflicts in an organization becomes complicated and this can negatively affect the productivity and success of an organization.
- Cloke, K. and Goldsmith, J. (2000),Resolving Conflicts at Work. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass,
- Robert R,Blake and Jane Mouton, (1984) Overcoming group warfare.. Harvard Business School Press.
- William W. Wilmot and Joyce L. Hocker; Interpersonal Conflict. (2005) 7th edition Harvard Business Review on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. Harvard Business School Press.