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Conflict Management in the Healthcare Sector

Business leaders have been forced to investigate various change theories that can be incorporated into their companies to ensure smooth adoption of transformational strategies. This paper will address Kurt Lewin, Ronald Lippitt, and Everett Rodgers’ change theories that have been applied extensively in the healthcare industry. In addition, it is crucial to realize that executing changes results in conflicts, especially when some parties feel threatened by the proposed amendments. As such, in addition to presenting the CCEM and the dual-concern framework as two major conflict theories, this paper will examine the extent to which my capacity to deal with disagreements can ruin or facilitate effective leadership in the healthcare sector.

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Change Theories

According to Mitchell (2013), Kurt Lewin is regarded as one of the oldest change theorists whose model has been quoted in many contemporary nursing publications. In addition, Lewin’s unfreezing, moving, refreezing phases have been applied to assess situations that call for change, including the appropriate time to execute transformations or identify the equilibrium level (Mitchell, 2013). This change theorist developed particular forces that he viewed as capable of determining the effectiveness of transformations implemented. He referred to these elements as the force-field analysis.

Ronald Lippitt developed another change theory that has been embraced by healthcare officers in the United Kingdom due to its capacity to help in the assessment of patients’ status, the planning of the necessary prescriptions to facilitate sick people’s healing processes in collaboration with their relatives, and the execution of some agreed-up care plan (Mitchell, 2013). According to the Nursing Agency for Clinical Innovation (2015), Everett Rodgers also developed a change theory that emphasized five stages, which nurses are required to follow when implementing planned transformations. These phases include understanding, persuasion, decision, execution, and authentication (Nursing Agency for Clinical Innovation, 2015).

However, it is crucial to note that the above change theories are interlinked and highly consulted when executing planned changes in healthcare settings. Resistance usually accompanies the process of carrying out amendments in organizations from various individuals or departments, especially those who view the suggested transformation as not serving their interests. Hence, it becomes important for healthcare facilities to be equipped with various conflict management theories, which they can deploy to address any disagreements when implementing changes.

Conflict Theories

According to Reimers (2016), the comprehensive conflict engagement model (CCEM) is one of the most applied frameworks for addressing situations that are characterized by disagreements in the workplace. According to this theory, people who wish to solve conflicts permanently and comprehensively need to ensure that the proposed long-term realistic strategies take into account the “three bases of social conflict, namely, its internal, relational, and structural roots” (Reimers, 2016, p. 438). According to Elgoibar, Euwema, and Munduate (2017), the dual-concern framework is another conflict resolution tool that specifies two factors, namely, a person’s individual and relational concerns, which determine the extent to which disagreements can be addressed effectively or inefficiently. Based on this theory, people involved in conflicts may choose to avoid the situation, seek a compromising scenario, or accommodate each other’s differences (Elgoibar et al., 2017). Nonetheless, dealing with conflicts or transformations requires the respective leader to act as a change agent who can work collaboratively with people to achieve the desired outcome.

Leaders as Change Agents

A leader is expected to play a huge role in facilitating the change implementation process. Due to the inevitability of clashes when making organizational amendments, leaders should take mediating positions by appropriately communicating the reason and essence of the change to all interested parties, including workers. This leadership role during change execution processes reduces the level of opposition by some individuals. The study by Elgoibar et al. (2017) refers to a leader as a conflict management instructor who creates an environment that can allow constructive deliberations to help in executing the proposed amendments. According to Galloway and Lesaux (2014), change-agent leaders encounter challenges, especially when executing transformations in a diverse and multicultural business environment that is characterized by significant differences in terms of employees’ perceptions of organizational issues. As a result, one’s capacity to deal with conflicts can obstruct or boost effective leadership in the healthcare industry.

Conflict Management in the Healthcare Sector

As earlier mentioned, leaders should take an impartial position when dealing with conflicts in their workplaces. As a nurse leader, I was subjected to a situation where violence between some healthcare givers and patients had occurred following medical errors in giving prescriptions. This conflict worsened to involve other practitioners who had varied views regarding individuals to be held responsible. Some of them directed the blame to nurses while others argued that the concerned patient was ignorant of checking prescription details. I solved this conflict by taking a neutral position that involved explaining to both sides the steps to deploy to avoid such instances, including proposing the necessary measure to ensure that the patient was not exposed to the risk of further complications after taking wrong prescriptions. If I had joined the fight to defend one side, chances are high that no solution would have been achieved.

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Organizations that operate in the presently transforming technological world cannot ignore the aspect of change. Advancements made since the onset of scientific discoveries have altered the manner of conducting businesses. This situation has been accompanied by significant transformations concerning the manner of handling patients, prescribing medication, advertising products, communicating to clients, employees, and employers, hiring and recruiting, and even giving and receiving feedback from the appropriate organizational stakeholders. This paper has examined in detail various change theories and conflict management strategies in addition to presenting leaders as change agents who are expected to be neutral when dealing with parties in disagreement.


Elgoibar, P., Euwema, M., & Munduate, L. (2017). Conflict management. 

Galloway, E., P., & Lesaux, N. K. (2014). Leader, teacher, diagnostician, colleague, and change agent. Reading Teacher, 67(7), 517-526.

Mitchell, G. (2013). Selecting the best theory to implement planned change. Nursing Management, 20(1), 32-37.

Nursing Agency for Clinical Innovation. (2015). Change management theories and models-Everett Rodgers. 

Reimers, B. C. (2016). Building a bridge across the conflict theory-practice gap: Comprehensive conflict engagement in community contexts. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 33(4), 437-458.

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