Impact and causes of conflict in an organisation

                                     Impact And Causes Of Conflict In An

It is an incontrovertible statement of fact
that the only place where conflict does not exist is in the graveyard. If
conflict is therefore pervasive among all human groupings, then organizations
are not left out. As such we intend to explain as brief as we can the source,
causes and effects of conflict in organizations in this write-up.

Conflict can be seen as the clash of two
opposing ideologies or beliefs, interest etc. which results into argument or
disagreement. Organizations are compositions of people with different social,
educational and religious background who come together to work in unity in
other to achieve a common targeted goals that a single person among them cannot
achieve single-handedly. There are also two major classes in industrial
organization – the employers and the employed – whose goals and aspirations
usually contradict and conflict. This no doubt keeps the two social group or
industrial actors to often be at loggerhead.

From the above submission, industrial conflict
can be defined as ‘all expressions of dissatisfaction within employment
relationship especially those that pertain to terms and conditions of
employment and the bargaining process involved. This means that for instance at
the bargaining table an attempt by one party to cheat on the other party will
induce conflict. This is why Ogunbameru (2000) defined conflict as ‘the
processes that begin when one party perceives that another party has negatively
affected or is about to negatively affect something that the first party cares
about’. Industrial conflict is usually used synonymously with TRADE DISPUTE and
is defined by the Trade Dispute Act, 1976 as ‘any disagreement or dispute
between workers and workers or between workers and employers regarding the
conditions of employment or unemployment of workers and the general conditions
relating to employment’. Industrial conflict can be formal and informal. The
formal conflict is usually carried out in an organized manner by organized
group (either labour union or employers’ association) informal conflict is
usually unorganized and it is manifested in such attitude as sabotage etc.


Here, it is important to differentiate from
‘sources’ and ‘causes’ of industrial conflict. While the former explains the
place or nature with which or from which conflict emanates. It explains the
reason why conflict is endemic and inevitable, the latter explains those
conditions that may warrant conflict to germinate and become issues of concern.
This is because conflict at its source may not necessarily become issues of
controversy, confrontation and concerns of all but conflict which is caused
(either intentionally or not) will no doubt bring about controversies and
confrontations which may not necessarily surface in conflict at its source.


Fajana (2000) identified two sources of conflict
which include the (1) internal and (2) external source of conflict

The Internal Sources: are so called because they
refer to factors which hare inherent within the framework of an organization.
Fajana stated that the major prime factor of internal source of conflict is the
‘opposing interests’ of industrial actors. These ‘divergent interests’ will
bring about conflict in attempts by the two parties in organizations to tried
to share what Ajibade (2004) called ‘industrial cake’.

Apart from the above, it is another statement of
fact that there is usually ‘power relationship’ between the two actors in an
industry which no doubt produce conflict and make such inevitable.

External Sources: These are so called because
they are outside the four walls of an organization, it may occur when the third
party intervention to industrial dispute becomes one sided or bias. A good
example is where government as the third and regulatory party tries to
formulate policy or enact laws that favour one party at the detriment of the
other, such may generate conflict.


As it is, some causes of industrial conflict are
numerous and few but those considered important among them will be highlighted 

1. Anon-recognition of labour union by the

2. Competition over resources or industrial
cake. This is exemplified in the Marxist explanation of ‘class conflict’. 

3. Autocratic management style

4. Communication breakdown or error

5. Conflicting objectives of the two parties

6. Unfair labour practices

7. Breach of agreement by either of the actors 

8. Ambiguous authority and responsibility

9. Arbitrary retrenchment of workers

10. Job insecurity or actualization (sweet

The above are the major factors causing
industrial conflicts.


It is pertinent to state here that conflict
itself does not directly affect actors in industrial organization rather it
usually forces the actors to impose ‘sanctions’ at their disposal on each other
so as to inflict economic pain on each other to press home their demand. For
workers there are several sanctions or instrument of economic coercion that may
be imposed on the employers in other to drive home their demand. These include
strike, picketing, wont-to-rule, overtime ban, rag wearing, blacklisting etc.
but ‘strike’ remains the most visible weapon used by workers. The employers on
the other hand may inflict economic pain on the workers during trade dispute by
making use of ‘lack-out, dismissal, suspension, no work no pay etc. ‘lock out’
is the major weapon that employers resort to during industrial action.

It is after this imposition of sanction on each
other that conflict becomes effective and inflicts pain on both organizations
and the actors within it.

Furthermore, because industrial relation is
tripartite in nature, it becomes imperative to identify the effects of
imposition of sanction on each actor.

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Ibrahim, Q. (2018). Impact and causes of conflict in an organisation. Afribary. Retrieved from

MLA 8th

Ibrahim, Qosim "Impact and causes of conflict in an organisation" Afribary. Afribary, 29 Jan. 2018, Accessed 29 May. 2024.


Ibrahim, Qosim . "Impact and causes of conflict in an organisation". Afribary, Afribary, 29 Jan. 2018. Web. 29 May. 2024. < >.


Ibrahim, Qosim . "Impact and causes of conflict in an organisation" Afribary (2018). Accessed May 29, 2024.