- Publication Type:
- International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition, 2015, pp. 639 - 643
- Issue Date:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved. This article examines four contemporary treatments of the problem of organizational conflict: social psychological, anthropological, neo-Darwinian, and neo-Machiavellian. Social psychological treatments of organizational conflict focus on the dyadic relationship between individual disputants. In contrast, anthropological treatments take a more socially and historically embedded approach to organizational conflict, focusing on how organizational actors establish negotiated orders of understanding. In a break with the social psychological and anthropological approaches, neo-Darwinians explain the characteristics of organizational conflict by appealing to the concept of natural selection: all forms of organizational behavior, including conflictual relations, stem from the effects of heritable traits associated with a universal human nature. Finally, this article proposes a neo-Machiavellian view of organizational conflict where members of an organization are seen as politicized actors engaged in power struggles that continually ebb and flow.
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