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Conflicts and Creativity in Organizations


Conflicts are endemic to the human society, and the modern workplace faces challenge like grudges, rumours, sarcasm, and unpleasant comments (Rout & Omiko, 2007). Thus, the conflicts present the breakdown in the standard mechanisms of decision making in organizations. It can also be the individual, group difficulty and challenges in the selection of an action or in making decisions. In addition, conflict can occur as the behaviour that operates in opposition to what others are doing or the disagreement and incompatibility between opinions (Rout & Omiko, 2007, p. 4). Conflicts in organizations occur whenever people or organizations’ interests collide with those of others. Thus, conflicts in organizations are part of the day to day occurrence (Irwin, 2008). They form a large part in how managers perform their day to day duties may often perceive them as real. This may result in frustrations and other emotional responses that may make the people in organizations to prevent each other from reaching their goals. Today, technology, shifting of global power, financial uncertainties, and operations procedures often aggravates conflicts and this makes conflicts a reality (Rout & Omiko, 2007).

More than often, conflicts may carry a negative connotation and is something that people have to avoid in organizations. In as much as they may fear them, it is essential that managers place importance on the conflicts as this will determine how workers relate in the organization. At the same time, they have to emphasis on the role of co-operation in conflict resolution. Over the past decades, various authors have described conflicts as being functional and play a large role in the existence of organizations. This means that, at the optimal level, conflicts create benefits to the organization and may form a source of challenge and creativity for organizations. This is even with the inability of many people failing to acknowledge that conflicts carry many benefits for organizations. Managers cab use conflicts to foster creativity and enhance growth in organizations. This means that conflicts in organizations have many positive results and if people in organizations disagree they make the organizations healthier (Heathfield, 2012).

It is imperative to recognize conflicts as a source for creativity in organizations. People often look at conflicts as something that relates to anger, avoidance, tension, and even power struggle. However, we must also look at the creativity, diversity, honesty, and intimacy that come with conflicts that enhance organizational growth. Organizations must also understand that they cannot survive without conflicts and cannot live without them (Gorkin, 2012).

Sources of Conflicts

There are different sources of conflicts in organizations and this determines the benefits that organizations can gain from them. The current economy is likely to have more conflicts that will affect organizations, and it is vital that organizations understand how to use them for creative purposes. Conflicts emanate from communication differences and these arise out of the misunderstandings among teams in organizations (Ohio State University, n.d.). Conflicts may also arise from structural differentiation since organizations have different goals, decision alternatives, resource allocation, and performance criteria. This affects how the organizations plan their activities. At the same time, conflicts may come from the personal differences in organizations. This is in terms of value systems, personality characteristics, performance in jobs, and the background of the individuals. This will determine how the organizations conduct their business.

How Conflicts Enhance Creativity

The conflict debate has been one of the longest ones and dates back to up to five or more years. Various authors have shown that managers view conflicts as something that people must reprimand and shun at all costs. At the same time, different theorists have demonstrated that conflicts are detrimental and must be and have serious negative consequences for the majority of organizations. Nevertheless, other theorists have emerged to demonstrate that conflicts, under some circumstances, can be beneficial for organizations. Others authors have demonstrated that conflict is a form of socializations, and others have viewed that conflicts have a functional purpose (Jehn & Bendersky, 2003).

Source of Imaginative and Interactive Energy

Clearly, conflicts play a significant role in the modern times of management of organizations. At the same time, conflicts form an imaginative and interactive source of energy that enables organizations achieve targets. In this case, conflict resolution may take different approaches; it is essential to realize that unresolved conflicts may lead to mistrust (Gorkin, 2012). Thus, with proper conflicts resolution, they ensure that people move together in harmony and relate with each other well. At the same time, competing egos in a conflict may evolve to accommodate new ideas that are vital to the survival of the company. This is one of easiest ways that can enable the opposing parties to become more open to the different opposing views. This will also go further in identifying the flaws that the parties did not recognize existed in the views they have. As opponents to different views interact, they are likely to develop imaginative energies as they rethink about their views. This is because confrontations may lead to positive change; change will lead to adaptation and adaptation may lead to prosperity. Thus, conflicts may form the basis for understanding and appreciation of differences (Rout & Omiko, 2007, p. 238). Again, conflicts will form the basis that enhances cohesion among the employees (Ohio State University, n.d.).

In addition, one of the most potent tools of creative thinking tool is analogical thinking. Thus, as the people in conflicts identify the partial similarities that exist between like features, as with comparison of the features yields connections, it becomes more imaginative (Gorkin, 2012). This is one of the ways through which organizations learn to think about opposing views to understand their inherent characteristics and develop imaginative ways of looking at them.

Conflicts have the power to enhance creativity of the people in an organization. This means that when opposing views occur in an organization on how to reach out the objectives and plans of a company, conflict has the potential to enhance creativity and boost problem solving skills among the people involved in the conflict (Brown, 2010).

Improve Quality and Knowledge Creation

During the process of strategic decision-making, cognitive conflicts are inevitable. Diverse opinions improve the quality of the complex and ambiguous decisions that managers make. In addition, cognitive conflicts play a vital role in knowledge creation as they satisfy the need for social collaboration and individual cognition (Rout & Omiko, 2007, p. 239). Thus, proper handling of conflicts will contribute to the teams’ total effectiveness as they enhance decision quality. At the same time, this fosters creativity among the parties involved and enhances open and honest communication as it utilizes people’s skills and abilities in their resolution. At the same time, conflicts will make the employees fell alert, active and more energetic. Conflicts will ensure that organizations create a system that fosters open lamentation and will ensure that the organization undergoes change and cohesion (Gorkin, 2012). Thus, the disagreements among people involved in fulfilling an organization’s goal may result studying of options available to them and make better and quality decisions (Heathfield, 2012).

In addition, conflicts do not mean that there are opposing ideas or obstructions to the development of organizations. However, conflicts in organizations may enhance the stimulation of creative synthesis. This means that conflicts may arise out of the need to expand and integrate solutions to the problems that organizations face (Arthur, 2011). Thus, it is clear that conflicts will enhance the creation of better expanded solutions and quality decisions (Ohio State University, n.d.). At the same time, task conflicts will enhance improvement of the solutions to a given problem (Penn, 2012).

Conflicts Create Group Functioning and Organizational Performance

Over the past years, organizations have changed their approach to conflicts, and at some point they stimulate conflicts. Today, evidence suggests that stimulating conflicts will enhance group functioning and organizational performance. This means that active confrontation through negotiation will promote intergroup communication and increase mutual understanding between parties. This will result in greater acceptance of agreements and decisions than more tacit coordination (De Dreu & Van de Vliert, 1997, p. 12). Again, even when organizations have clearly defined goals and align their employees towards the same direction, it is only healthy conflicts that can make them fully attain their goals (Heathfield, 2012).

Another significant advantage that emanates from conflicts is the ability of improving performance in organizations. This is because the conflicts in organizations present the sources of tensions and challenging of strategic decision. Thus, if the conflicts in organizations remain unchallenged, the firm’s performance will decline. Thus, challenging strategic decisions offer the best ways that can improve performance in organizations (Jehn & Bendersky, 2003, p. 195). Again, maintaining the status quo does not enable organizations do business as usual, but conflicts enable them to develop (Gorkin, 2012).

At some point, groups with conflicting goals in organizations often engage in more effective organizational search and arrive at optimal policies by making little errors in judgment and the decision making process. Thus, there is a positive association between conflict and performance since tasks conflicts increased team performance (Jehn & Bendersky, 2003). Understanding the benefits that arise from functional conflicts will enable organizations to tap into its problem solving potential. This has the power to transform the organizations (Robbins & Judge, 2009). Thus, it is essential to listen to the disagreements that arise and sit through discussions that will see the selection of the best solutions that can transform the direction of the company.

Conflicts Establish and Maintain Identity

Since conflicts emanate from the different opposing views, at some point they serve as the basis for establishing and maintaining the identity and boundaries of groups. This means that conflicts enable people with opposing views to develop the approaches needed in establishing their peculiar views. In this way, the conflict serves as a safety valve, establishes and maintains the balance of power, and increases the in-group cohesion. This is the way through which different groups define their terms of interactions and adapt to changing conditions (Jehn & Bendersky, 2003). This way, conflicts will enable employees to improve their relationships.

Motivations through Conflicts

Conflicts enhance creativity through motivating people in organizations to solve problems that might go unresolved. This goes further to enhance how the individuals develop problem solving skills that enhance the development of strategic decision making skills and enhance creative performance (Jehn & Bendersky, 2003, p. 194). As employees face different challenges posed by conflicts, there is the likelihood that they will receive the motivation needed in solving arising problems.

Conflicts and Decision Quality

In most cases, conflicts occur as a result of people in a team having opposing views. However, the individuals the conflicts that occur within teams have a relationship with improvement of decision quality and strategic planning amongst groups and organizations. Studies that deal with conflicts in teams determined people often have colleagues who disagree with them on the strategy for approaching different tasks. Thus, if the people in groups can retain their productive strength over time with if they maintained vigorous interactions and intellectual tension (Jehn & Bendersky, 2003, p. 197). On the other hand, Tan (1998) notes that conflicts plays a critical role in developing creativity skills like lateral thinking, mind mapping techniques, and creative problem solving. The people who tend to maintain the current modes of thinking had difficult in solving problems in groups. This divergence and shift to a new line of thinking will enable firms maintain the skills essential in solving problems.

Conflicts Enhance Innovation

In organizations, conflicts play a vital role in ensuring that the organization remains responsive and innovative. The process of conflict resolution involves coming up with innovative ways that will ensure that organizations learn from conflicts. Thus, by coming up with new measures of solving problems, organizations identify new strategies and innovative ways of approaching problems. In this case, this ensures that organizations develop positively from the arising conflicts. This is one of the ways through which conflicts stimulates creativity, enhances innovation, and fosters change. This means that conflicts will enable an organization to adapt and survive under the competitive forces. Conflicts help drive innovation in organizations (Management-Issues, 2009).


Conflicts in an organization may be a catalyst to better organizational performance when management understands that they are vital in the day to day operations of the organization. Conflicts are ubiquitous, and organizations must learn how to harness their energies and use them to make a positive contribution. In addition, conflicts form a catalyst for innovation, improved and enhanced motivation and improve other workplace benefits. Thus, conflicts will enhance engagement among the employees, improve their attention, and enhance innovativeness.

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