Stangor (2011) describes conflict resolution in terms of the human motives of “self-concern” and “others concern”. The Dual Model of Cooperation and Competition incorporates these two concepts into a conflict model that explains the behavior of parties to a conflict.
The Dual Model of Cooperation and Competition
The model suggests that in face of conflict people either cooperate out of others concerns or they compete out of self-concern. (Stangor, 2011). According to this model, the two conflict handling styles are cooperation and competition. Cooperation strategies include collaboration, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and conciliation. (Stangor, 2011). Personal attributes and situational factors influence conflict resolution styles and strategies. For example,values of justice and fairness, individualistic or collectivist culture, agreeable or disagreeable personality.
Conflict Resolution Strategies
Robbins and Judge (2013) identify distributive and integrative styles to conflict handling, with five strategies, viz competing, collaborating, avoiding, accommodating, and compromising. With the distributive style, parties seek to get as much as possible from the proverbial pie. It is an adversarial, win-lose, zero-sum game, employing competitive strategies. The integrative style seeks win-win end game, using cooperation strategies, like collaboration, negotiation, mediation, and conciliation.
Application of Conflict Resolution
I recall an incident at work. A corporate client requested waiver of upfront payment. I proceeded with training delivery on strength of a purchase order. Five months after training delivery, I had back and forth communications with no payment. Each follow up for payment came with requests for additional supporting documents. I shuttled between procurement, human resources, and finance, up and down the company levels.
I place the causes of the conflict in the client organization’s situational factors, namely lack of inter-departmental communication, lack of knowledge of procurement procedures, lack of jurisdictional clarity among job holders. From my organization’s side, the allowance for waivers of terms left us exposed. The overall situation of COVID-19 made us to relax terms due to cashflow crunch.
It was frustrating and I had limited choices. Adopting an adversarial approach was not in our best interests as we wanted a long-term relationship. The client could only delay but subsequently pay as we held on to their training certificates. They would need them to claim tax and skills development levy rebates for skills development. We resolved the conflict through cooperative actions. The client cooperated in providing information, and requirements, and we responded with supporting documentation and patience. Both parties got what they wanted; though with delay of payment for us and delay of issue of certificates for client.
My view of the conflict was that it denied us our cash-flow, yet it was a huge learning curve for us. We gained more contacts within the company.