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Power & Conflict in Individual and Group Behavior

Concrete Experience and Reflective Observation

Since I interact with my subordinates and members of the supervisory board, the senior management, and regional supervisors, I can study the role of power and its influence in practice. When I use certain skills and knowledge gained in such interaction, I can notice that there is competition not only among ordinary employees but also senior positions. Accordingly, conflicts on this ground and differences arising from the desire for recognition are quite common. To avoid the negative impact of such situations on the workflow, I have to monitor such cases and take quick and effective measures to minimize controversial situations in the team. Based on personal experience, I can say that the manifestations of power and conflict on individual and group behavior are different, and specific approaches are necessary for each individual situation.

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The first step to which I resort is assessing the degree of power and conflict in the work process. For instance, if I see that one of the employees inflames conflicts intentionally, I try to understand the reason that drives the actions of this person. Once, I happened to witness a dispute between two subordinates, and the background was the topic of better performance and production success. After my intervention, both employees moderated their ardor; nevertheless, despite the success of my participation at the individual level, the conflict-affected the group activity negatively. Employees realized that they received an opportunity to discuss and decry the existing order, which is one of the prerequisites for a crisis in the management system.

My second step is looking for ways to alleviate any tensions in order not to exercise official authority and not to encourage conflict resolution by using guiding power. If employees know that they are free to engage in open confrontation with one another, this will adversely affect the whole team’s performance. Moreover, individual productivity will also deteriorate due to wasting time on disputes rather than improving professional skills. Therefore, before making appropriate leadership decisions regarding motivation or punishment, it is essential to think over what strategy or several strategies need to be chosen to prevent conflict situations. As objective tactical steps for intervention, both modern and traditional methodologies can be tried. I am well aware of the peculiarities and personal traits of each of my 22 subordinates, which simplifies my task of finding necessary practical solutions.

Theories and Principles/Abstract Conceptualization

The rational use of the available means of control over subordinates allows leaders to distribute tasks equally. To assess the significance of the concepts of power and conflict influencing employees’ individual or group behavior, special relevant theories may be considered. The analysis of these methodologies allows finding justifications in favor of the statement about the role of the factors mentioned above on teamwork.

Theory 1

As one of the methods for assessing the influence of power and conflict on subordinates’ behavior, the social comparison theory may be applied. According to Greer, Van Bunderen, and Yu (2017), this concept provides for ongoing employees’ self-evaluation and comparison with colleagues based on criteria that they consider important. Such a theory may allow revealing the background of individual subordinates’ behavior and their specific motives.

Theory 2

Atkins et al. (2017) offer to pay attention to a rather standard behavioral theory that considers the actions of individuals in a specific environment. As a rule, special factors cause certain emotions, for instance, irritation or annoyance, which, in turn, develop into conflicts at a group level due to colleagues’ misunderstanding. Therefore, the importance of such a theory in relation to our department is significant.

Theory 3

As another tool, Greer et al. (2017) pay attention to the emergent theory. According to the authors, “the very reasons that make power great for individuals may paradoxically make power problematic for teams” (p. 119). In other words, high powers do not always have positive outcomes for group productivity, and it is crucial to consider not only common goals but also personal capabilities and employees’ interests to avoid conflicts.

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The notions of power and conflict may have a significant impact on the group and individual employees’ behavior. For effective organizational leadership, it is essential to take both categories into account. Such concepts can be applied for analysis as the social comparison theory, the behavioral theory, and the emergent theory. The proper distribution of tasks and the rational use of authority may allow excluding the possibility of violating official instructions and dissatisfaction coming from subordinates.

Testing and Application/Active Experimentation

Regarding our department, all three of the concepts discussed may be applied with benefit. For instance, the first theory is an effective mechanism to determine the priorities of subordinates and their attitude to power as a control system. The second concept may allow for a detailed analysis of the criteria that affect employees’ behavior in the working environment and identify those areas that influence most significantly. Finally, the emergent theory provides an opportunity to consider individual and group productivity factors separately and find out exactly which nuances in management activity cause the greatest resonance. Therefore, being one of the supervisory board members, I plan to take into account all three concepts.


Atkins, L., Francis, J., Islam, R., O’Connor, D., Patey, A., Ivers, N.,… & Michie, S. (2017). A guide to using the Theoretical Domains Framework of behaviour change to investigate implementation problems. Implementation Science, 12(1), 77. Web.

Greer, L. L., Van Bunderen, L., & Yu, S. (2017). The dysfunctions of power in teams: A review and emergent conflict perspective. Research in Organizational Behavior, 37, 103-124. Web.

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