Management Notes

Reference Notes for Management

Which of the following is a source of intergroup conflict in the workplace?

Which of the following is a source of intergroup conflict in the workplace?

A.) too many resources
B.) inconsistent goals or reward systems
C.) strict job boundaries
D.) excessive communication
E.) lack of diversity

The Correct Answer is option B.) inconsistent goals or reward systems

Answer Explanation


The Correct Answer is option B.) inconsistent goals or reward systems

Intergroup Conflict


Conflict is an inevitable fact of life in an organization, since the objectives of the managers and the employees are often incompatible. It results in a situation where they trouble each other in order to achieve their goals. Conflict occurs between individuals, and between groups, in organizational life. Conflict is generally regarded as dysfunctional, but it can also be functional in that it may lead to a discussion from different perspectives. Conflict can be beneficial and detrimental simultaneously. Ultimately, it can create positive outcomes when it promotes creativity, new viewpoints, the clarification of points of view, improves the quality of decisions by stimulating personality thinking, and challenges individuals to become better, which leads to the development of human capabilities to handle interpersonal differences.

Inconsistent Goals or reward systems is one of the major source of intergroup conflict in the workplace. A conflict between one group inside an organization and another outside of it is called intergroup conflict. Conflict can also arise between two groups within the same organization, and that would also be considered intergroup conflict.

Causes of Intergroup Conflict


The nature of the group itself is a prominent reason for intergroup conflict. Other reasons could include work interdependence, goal variances, differences in perceptions, and the increased demand for specialists. Individual members of a group are also frequently involved in the initiation of group conflict. A group’s characteristics, values, or unique characteristics are created, followed, and even defended. There is typically some type of defensive response given to outsiders who violate important elements of the group, as well as to members who violate important aspects of the group.

The opinions groups hold of each other often reflect the relationships between them. Each group may view the other in a positive light when their interests and directions seem to be parallel; however, if the activities and goals of the groups are different, they may view each other negatively. The relationship between the groups in conflict must be taken into account when trying to prevent or resolve intergroup conflict. Unless we intervene, history will repeat itself.

By making the differences between group goals more apparent, limited resources and reward structures can cause intergroup conflict. When combined with different group goals, time and status perceptions between groups can also lead to conflict. Integration of services and facilities and reorganization of the workplace can cause conflict and stressful situations for some. The deviant behavior of a few individuals within a group may contribute to intergroup conflict, but problems within intergroup relations are not usually caused by the deviant behavior of the group.

Consequences of Intergroup Conflict


Change occurs both within the conflicting groups and between them as a result of intergroup conflict. Individual differences are usually overlooked within the groups in an effort to unite against the other side. Therefore, with this concerted effort, the focus is on the task at hand. Group members can be more loyal by following group norms closely and the group can become more efficient and effective at what it does. It is possible, however, to run into problems when the group loses focus of the organization’s goals and becomes closed off from other groups.

A culture of arrogance quickly leads to reduced communication within the organization. In reciprocal interdependence, communication is key and the groups with the lowest communication effectiveness suffer the most negative consequences. Poor communication can spell the end of any organization.

Solutions to Intergroup Conflict

  • There are many ways to avoid conflict, avoid it becoming damaging, and resolve more serious conflicts. Among these are simple avoidance where possible, problem solving, changing certain variables in the workplace, as well as internal alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs. The resolution method should be based on the cause and severity of the conflict as well as the type. In conflicts involving misunderstandings or language barriers, a face-to-face meeting can be very effective. To reach a resolution, groups can discuss issues and relevant information with or without a facilitator.
  • There may be a case for establishing a goal that can only be reached if conflicting groups work together where there are divergent goals. The organization needs a superordinate goal not only to eliminate conflict, but to focus on performance. This option has the downside of identifying a common enemy between the conflicting groups, which they must unite against. As time passes, the solidarity breaks down, and groups begin to turn against one another.
  • Avoiding conflict is another stopgap solution. Even though this does not solve the problem, it can help get a group through a period where they may become more objective or they may achieve a greater, more immediate goal. Additionally, focusing on common interests can smooth the groups and de-emphasize the differences between them. Short-term solutions such as these are especially effective when dealing with relatively simple conflicts.
  • The authoritative command approach is another quick fix, in which groups unable to resolve their conflict are directed by management. The underlying cause of the conflict is usually not addressed by this response, and it is almost certain to come up again in some way. In this era of personal autonomy and self-determination, this would probably be the last resort.
  • It is not always possible to change someone’s behavior, but by focusing on the underlying cause and the attitudes of the participants, a permanent solution will become apparent. In addition, structural variables involving conflicting groups can be adjusted through changes in employment or rearranging reporting responsibilities. Structured change is much more effective when the groups themselves are involved in the decision-making process. The resolution method resembles avoidance or compulsion and is unlikely to succeed without meaningful input, further frustrating all involved.


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