How does a manager recognize a situation which is vulnerable to conflict stimulation? Some of the factors that could create grounds for stimulating conflict are:
i. Too much satisfaction with status quo.
ii. Low rate of employee turnover.
iii. Shortage of new ideas.
iv. Strong resistance to change.
v. Friendly relations taking precedence over organizational goals.
vi. Excessive efforts for avoiding conflict.
Some of the specific techniques for inducing conflict as suggested by S.P. Robbins are:
Some highly authoritative managers are very conservative in their outlook and tend to suppress opposing viewpoints. Accordingly change oriented managers should be selected and placed in such positions which encourage innovation and change from the status quo.
Competition, if managed properly can enhance conflict which would be beneficial to the organization. Such competition can be created by tying incentives to performance, recognition of efforts, bonuses for higher performance and status enhancement. Such competition and conflict could result in new ideas for improvements.
Let the various individuals and groups compete for scarce resources. This would cause conflict and make the individuals and groups do their best in order to fully utilize such resources. For example, one company president felt that the budget allocations to various departments did not reflect changing priorities and accordingly, a zero-based budget system was introduced so that each department had to justify its current budget regardless of the past allocations. This created fierce competition and conflict and resulted in changes in funds allocation which turned out to be beneficial to the organization.
Sometimes, ignoring the senior staff members and giving visible responsibilities to junior members can cause a conflict requiring senior members to work harder to prove that they are better than the junior staff members.
In one business school, the dean of the school appointed a low-status assistant professor as director of the “lethargic” MBA programme. The full professors resented having to answer to the junior professor. This caused conflict and in order to assert their superiority, the full professors initiated a series of changes that revitalized the entire MBA programme.