Project Management Institute

Project management and conflict resolution

Project managers routinely deal with conflict, both from internal and external sources. This article provides a framework for the organizational conflict process, and discusses such common organizational causes of conflict as reward systems, scarce resources, uncertainty over lines of authority, differentiation (or interdepartmental friction), and poor communication. The article describes the four-stage conflict process (frustration, conceptualization and orientation, interaction, and outcome), as well as five conflict-handling styles (competing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising, and collaborating). There are three main methods for resolving conflict: avoiding the conflict, defusing the conflict, or using confrontation to draw out the causes of conflict, usually through the use of problem-solving meetings.
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