Organizational conflict, conflict management, and communication:
A Social Complexity Perspective
Conflict is a pervasive aspect of human organizations, and it has played a central role in every school of organizational thought to date. Research and practice of organizational conflict management have, however, followed a narrow path of models and assumptions. These approaches to conflict management—deeply rooted in positivist, reductionist, and linear views of organization and communication—are not all-encompassing to address and understand conflicts in today’s turbulent organizations. Organizational Conflict, Conflict Management, and Communication: A Social Complexity Perspective provides an alternative approach to the study and practice of conflict management. The book draws ideas and concepts from complexity science, which constitutes a major revolution in thinking challenging the very foundations of our knowledge, and transfers them from natural science to the domain of human organizations. Conflicts, from this perspective, are considered “the very essence” of organizations. Conflicts enable the emergence of competing perspectives and are crucial to the survival and success of organizations. The book consists of four studies and a summary article. In the book, the dominant approaches to organizational conflict management are reviewed, complexity principles for individual- and organizational-level conflict management are explored, and frameworks of managerial influence and strategic conflict management are introduced. Special attention is paid to organizational communication and its conceptualization. Although the traditional models have treated communication as a tool or skill for managers to control conflict outcomes, this book takes an interpretive stance and introduces a constitutive view of communication, which highlights the power of language and discursive aspects in influencing conflict interaction in organizations.