Organizational Behavior — Conflict Management and Negotiations
Conflict is functional when it serves to respond to business needs and problems are results in the creative outpouring of ideas and functions. Functional conflict can help teams achieve goals and create new solutions to problems. Conflict is not functional when it serves only to disrupt the work environment, disturbs or hinders job performance and creates emotional turmoil for employees. Functional conflict can turn into dysfunctional conflict if employees stop communicating with one another and searching out new ideas.
There are certain situations when it would be beneficial to have more inter-group conflict. A perfect example is when a company is deadlocked or out of ideas and thus decides to go with the standard approach to solving a problem or conflict rather than a new one. Sometimes additional conflict and varying ideas help add to a particular problem and can result in new interpretations and suggestions for solutions.
Generally changes that take place include a change in perspective among employees and a change in attitude.
Generally positive changes are those that enable employees and managers to see a particular situation in a new light and help them come to recognize alternative ways of thinking or solutions. Negative changes are those that result in personal or emotional turmoil and those that hinder creative thinking.
Generally the higher the level of positive inter-group conflict the more productive the organization is. An organization does not want to be in a constant state of conflict, however generally some conflict is good to keep new ideas flowing. An organization can foster optimal conflict levels by encouraging employees to participate in group discussions with the intent of building creativity and developing new ideas/solutions to corporate problems.
Inter-group conflict often occurs from misunderstanding, miscommunication and one sided thinking. My personal experience has been that inter-group conflict results most often from miscommunication, when one party is not clear in their intent or another takes things too personally and fails to.