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Criminal Justice Organizations: Administration and Management

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1 Criminal Justice Organizations: Administration and Management
Chapter Eleven – Organizational Conflict

2 Learning Objectives Understand a definition of conflict.
Know the major types of conflict in organizations. Define intraorganizational conflict. Know the types of intraorganizational conflict. Define interorganizational conflict. Describe the stages of a conflict episode. Know conflict behaviors. Define conflict management. Describe process interventions and structural interventions. Understand the limits to conflict management and its application to criminal justice organizations. Understand the role of conflict in organizations.

3 Conflict Defined A dynamic process in which two or more individuals in an organization interact in such as way as to produce “conflict episodes” that may or may not lead to hostile behaviors (Pondy, 1985). Pondy (1983) suggests four ways of understanding conflict in organizations. Antecedent conditions – resource scarcity, policy differences, disagreement over outcomes. Producing affective states in workers – stress, hostility, or anxiety. Individual employee’s cognitive states – the employee’s awareness of the conflict. The conflict behavior itself – passive resistance, outright confrontation, or aggressive behavior.

4 Types of Conflict There are four general types of conflict within organizations. Personal Group Intraorganizational (within the organization) Interorganizational (outside the organization)

5 Types of Conflict Personal Conflict
Exists within the individual. Usually caused by some form of cognitive conflict. Typically the result of failed expectations. Cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) Occurs when an employee cannot reconcile his own expectations with those of his superiors.

6 Types of Conflict Group Conflict
Occurs when individuals disagree or compete for resources. Resolution is essential to the survival of the group. May even enhance the group’s effectiveness in the long run. Group conflict can be defined by its nature and scope. Task conflict – conflict among group members about the content of the tasks being performed. Relationship conflict – conflict caused by interpersonal incompatibility among members of the group. Task and relationship conflict may affect group cohesion, but the effects may vary.

7 Types of Conflict Intraorganizational Conflict
Caused by the structural makeup and delegation of authority in an organization. Four major types Vertical conflict – exists between workers at different levels in an organizational hierarchy. Horizontal conflict – exhibited by units that are at the same hierarchical level in an organization. Line-Staff conflict – apparent in public organizations, when staff personnel are used to augment and supplement the work of line managers. Role conflict – occurs when an individual is not able to comprehend or accomplish assigned tasks.

8 Types of Conflict Role ambiguity versus role conflict
Role conflict should not be confused with role ambiguity. Role ambiguity occurs when a subordinate perceives that information about the required tasks of the job is unclear and inconsistent. Role conflict occurs when a subordinate perceives incompatible expectations about how the tasks should be performed. Role conflict appears to be widespread and potentially problematic in criminal justice agencies.

9 Types of Conflict Interorganizational Conflict
Occurs when different organizations share a common purpose but disagree about how that purpose will be achieved. Common form of conflict between components of the criminal justice system. Best solved through improved communications between agencies. Even when solved it can exist among individual actors within separate agencies.

10 Stages of Conflict Five stages of a dynamic conflict episode.
Latent conflict - occurs when the conditions that are the underlying sources of the conflict are present. Perceived conflict – occurs when at least one of the two parties recognizes that a conflict situation exists. Felt conflict – occurs when a party personalizes the conflict situation. Manifest conflict – characterized by overt or covert behavior to bring out the conflict. Conflict aftermath – may occur when the antecedent conditions of the conflict are not resolved satisfactorily.

11 Stages of Conflict

12 Conflict Behaviors Awareness of conflict behaviors helps us understand the role conflict plays in criminal justice organizations. Thomas (1985) proposed a two dimensional model each representing an individual’s intention in a conflict situation. Cooperativeness Assertiveness

13 Conflict Behaviors

14 Conflict Behaviors Different combinations of cooperativeness and assertiveness produce five distinct conflict behaviors. Competing (assertive, uncooperative) –when one person places his or her concerns above those of the other person. Accommodating (unassertive, cooperative) – satisfies the concerns of the other individual rather than one’s own. Avoiding (unassertive, uncooperative) – neglects both concerns. Collaborating (assertive, cooperative) - attempts to satisfy the concerns of both parties. Compromising (intermediate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness) - seeks the middle ground.

15 Conflict Management Thomas (1985) identifies two ways of dealing with conflict situations. Process interventions – attempts to become directly involved in the ongoing sequence of events that resolve the conflict. Two types. Structural interventions – attempts to alter the conditions in a organization that influence the direction of the conflict episodes. Two types. Each approach attempts to resolve conflict. Equally effective in intraorganizational and interorganizational conflict.

16 Conflict Management Process interventions
Consciousness-raising interventions – direct attempts (by supervisors) to change experiences that shape the parties’ behaviors. Occurs in six stages. Confrontation – each party assumes ill intent. Truce – confrontation ended by a third party. Collaboration – ill intent remains but work goes on. Cooperation – common activities are completed. Interdependence – both work to resolve conflict. Integration – support for common good and growth.

17 Conflict Management Process interventions
Interaction management – when supervisors intervene directly in the conflict and suggest resolution and avoidance of future conflict. The organizational conditions that can be altered, by supervisors, during process interventions include. Personal characteristics – personality conflicts. Informal rules – used when necessary for resolution. Constituent pressure – pressure from other groups. Conflict of interest – incompatibility between parties. Power and status – affects intensity of conflict. Organizational policy – can resolve or initiate conflict.

18 Conflict Management Structural interventions
Designed to reduce conflict by examining and altering the organizational preexisting conditions that promote conflict. Selection and training interventions. (people) Screening procedures to find qualified people. Training to insure employees understand objectives. Contextual-modification interventions. (situations) Change the context in which the parties interact. Aggressive leadership in policy development process.

19 Conflict Management Limitations
Conflict resolution may be beyond the scope of the organizations involved. Agencies may not have the authority to intervene in the conflict. Agencies may not have the resources to resolve the conflict in the long term. Administrators must accept that sometimes they will not be able to handle a conflict situation. They might even make it worse. This does not, however, absolve the administrator from the responsibility to at least attempt a resolution.

20 Conflict Management Possible in Criminal Justice Organizations?
Because compromise is not always possible, resolving conflict through goal attainment may not be likely in criminal justice organizations. Administrators must be aware of the consequences (e.g. loss of productivity) of unresolved conflict between competing groups. Conflict management must be economical of time and effort.

21 Role of Conflict in Organizations
Conflict can be both beneficial and harmful. Beneficial conflict; Improves system responsiveness, Promotes change, or Improves relationships. Harmful conflict; Jeopardizes the functioning of the unit, or Escalates to the point of violent confrontation.

22 Chapter Summary Conflict is a dynamic process that affects workers differently. The major types of conflict are personal, group, intra-organizational and inter-organizational. The types of intra-organizational conflict are vertical, horizontal, line-staff and role. Inter-organizational conflict occurs when differing organizations sharing a common purpose but disagree on how that purpose will be achieved.

23 Chapter Summary The stages of a conflict episode are latent, perceived, felt, manifest and aftermath. The types of conflict behaviors are competing, accommodating, avoiding, collaborating and compromising. There are two types of interventions in conflict management – process and structural. Conflict management in criminal justice agencies may be limited by competition, consequences and economics. Conflict within criminal justice organizations can be both beneficial and harmful.

24 Thinking Point The Chief of Police and District Attorney at are at odds with each other. The Chief of Police believes that the District Attorney is too quick to offer plea bargains to driving while intoxicated defendants, thereby reducing their sentences and the potential for increased penalties for subsequent offenses. The District Attorney argues that plea deals improve her efficiency, especially when dealing with “borderline” cases. Both parties have publically expressed their conflict in the local media.

25 Thinking Point Questions
What type of conflict is this? From the perspectives of both the Chief of Police and the District Attorney, what stage is this conflict in? Using Thomas’ (1985) model, how would you classify these individuals’ conflict behaviors? Which strategy (process or structural) would most likely resolve this conflict? What limitations exist (within the criminal justice system) that would impede a resolution of this conflict?

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