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Workplace Conflict: Case Study and Solutions

In the present day, conflict within a company may be defined as a process that generally involves people disagreeing at work and may range from insignificant minor disagreements to considerable workplace violence. The eruption of conflict is a widespread phenomenon in the modern working environment. The analysis case implies the conflict between male and female employees who are the members of one team – a man frequently refused to share work with a woman and made inappropriate jokes concerning her intellectual abilities. In turn, the woman initially ignored her colleague’s offensive comments, however, his aggressiveness irritated her more and more. Finally, this long-lasting conflict escalated into a huge public scandal.

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According to the concept of the conflict’s relevance, this workplace conflict may be identified as completely dysfunctional. It is a destructive conflict that does not help to solve problems but “paralyzes an organization, leads to less than optimal performance, or, in the worst case, leads to workplace violence” (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011, p. 218). It has a highly negative influence on the female employee, the whole group, and the company’s organization levels The effects of this dysfunctional conflict include the potential hurting of group cohesion, diverting energies, the creation of a negative working environment, and the promotion of interpersonal hostility. As a result, the woman is considerably dissatisfied with work, and the productivity of all group members indirectly affected by this conflict may decline.

Concerning the reason, this interpersonal conflict occurred based on personality and value differences (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011). Due to his stereotyped thinking, the male employee has a prejudiced attitude to women in the workplace. He is certain of their poor intellectual abilities in comparison with men. In addition, intrapersonal conflict may additionally take place if the man feels uncertain about his competency and skills or have to admit that his female colleague is more professional. In turn, the woman does not make difference between male and female workers – she is ambitious and values equality. Constant depreciation of her work and poor performance caused by the absence of cooperation with the male worker leads to her irritation and aggression, as well.

Talking about the way of handling this conflict, it is clear that the male worker used the approach closed to competition. According to Bauer and Erdogan (2011), “people exhibiting a competing style want to reach their goal or get their solution adopted regardless of what others say or how they feel” (p. 225). The male worker saw the potential solution to the conflict in the removal of his female colleague from the group. He was interested exclusively in this outcome regardless of the other party’s feelings, opinion, and general well-being. However, appropriate conflict management was necessary in this case to avoid turnover and absenteeism, improve employee morale, and enhance productivity (Shearouse, 2011). That is why the company’s authorities decided to change the team’s composition and replace the man with another employee as he was the primary source of the conflict, his claims were unethical, and there should be no excuse for gender discrimination at the workplace. The negotiations involved distributive bargaining as one party lose. According to the classification of negotiation’s stages provided by Bauer and Erdogan (2011), the management went through investigation, BATNA determination, bargaining, and closure, as the situation was thoroughly investigated, the best alternatives for both sides were determined, and the decision was made.


Bauer, T., & Erdogan, B. (2011). Organizational behavior. Flat World Knowledge.

Shearouse, S. H. (2011). Conflict 101: A manager’s guide to resolving problems so everyone can get back to work. Amacom.

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