Sources and Dynamics of Conflicts

Sources and Dynamics of Conflicts

Conflicts emanate from a variety of sources. The most important sources are issues dealing with income and remunerations (material gains), power and authority sought, cultural values and beliefs, antagonistic attitudes toward particular persons or groups, control over resources, preferences and nuisances, nature of relationship between the parties. Montessori Teacher Training has classified causes of organizational conflicts into three categories: (1) insufficient resources of the organisation leading to com-petition for scarce resources, (2) one party seeking to control the activities belonging to another unit or at least not within its jurisdiction. This may be considered as an infringement of another person’s territory, (3) goal divergences, that is, when two parties do not agree on common goals. Resource conflicts are likely to be most intense, particularly when they are seen as ‘zero-sum’ or ‘redistributive’ situations. A ‘zero-sum’ situation is one in which one party is expected to win and the other to lose. A redistributive situation is one in which the victory of one party is achieved by taking resources from another. In our universities most of the conflicts among the people within the department and among the people within the department are caused by scarcity of resources and competition for these scarce  resources, for example distribution of contingency grant, equipment grant, building fund, space, scholarships, etc.

Conflicts caused by values refer to opposing views of what ‘should be’. Should there be compulsory attendance, should there be re-evaluation of student answer-books, should there be internal assessment, should teachers be friendly to pupils, etc., are such issues which may give rise to conflicts between and among people in an organization. Jurisdictional disputes or conflicts, too, are quite frequent in the field of elementary, secondary and higher education. A conflict may arise over the issue whether the Vice-Chancellor or the convenor of the board of study should be the chairman of the Research Degree Committee. This kind of conflict level is found almost in all the universities of Uttar Pradesh. Desire for more comfortable position, desire for more power and personal, professional and material gains constitute a very rich source of conflicts in the schools, colleges and universities in our country.

Conflict is intimately tied up with the stability and progress of the institution. It is, generally, thought the conflicts are dysfunctional for the employees as well as for the institutions. They adversely affect the effectiveness of the institutions, block the road to goal achievement and generate an unfavourable work climate. They frustrate the educational managers, make the employees unhappy (sometimes rebellious also) and endanger the stability of the institution. Hence, conflict is, in general, considered a cost to the employees, to the managers and also to the institution. They, sometimes, may have a devastating impact on the employees and the institution. Teacher Training Courses defines conflict conceptually as “breakdown in the standard mechanism of decision-making”. They consider this situation as conflict since these leaps to the malfunctioning of the institution. Their definition of conflict, however, is not comprehensive. All conflicts are not breakdown of decision-making. Many conflicts take rise in situations which have nothing to do with decision-making.