Conflict in the Workplace: While Not All Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Conflict in the Workplace:

While not all conflict is negative, conflict is an inevitable aspect of the modern business life and working environment because where there are people, there is conflict. When considered as a positive measure, conflict in some workplaces can be regarded as healthy since it is an opportunity for the business to effect positive change. On the contrary, unhealthy conflict can also occur in the workplace when it has the potential of causing negative consequences on the business. Some of the most common causes of conflict in the workplace include poor communication, poor leadership, overwork, job stress, favoritism, unrealistic work expectations, and personality clashes. However, in the past few years, workplace conflict has also originated from cultural factors because of the increase in globalization. The modern business environment is characterized by numerous attempts to include people from diverse cultural backgrounds as crucial aspects of the success and profitability of the business. As a result of globalization and diversity inclusion, there is an increase in conflict in the workplace due to cultural differences. Therefore, there is an increase in conflict when an individual is a poor cultural fit in an organization than when the person is a sound cultural fit.

Purpose of the Study:

In the past few years, the concept of cultural fit or congruence has been an enduring aspect in the study of people and organizations. This has contributed to two different streams of research regarding how cultural fit may impact significant organizational outcomes like who is hired into the organization and the individual's performance. On one hand, there is convincing evidence that cultural fit persons in the workplace are associated with positive work attitudes, less conflicts, and increased performance. Consequently, it's beneficial for the organization or business to choose individuals based on the values that describe the organizational culture. On the other hand, despite of the socially undeniable rationale for increasing diversity in the workplace, there is equally strong pragmatic evidence that diversity is associated with increased workplace conflict, high turnover levels, and lower social integration and performance levels.

These findings demonstrate that selecting cultural fit enhances the organization's core values and encourage commitment whereas diversity inclusion promotes various perspectives that enhance creativity in the organization. The purpose of this study is to explore the how poor cultural fit individuals contribute to more workplace conflicts as compared to people who are sound cultural fit. The study begins by an analysis of the importance of culture in the modern working environment and the contributions of such people to less workplace conflict and organizational performance. This is followed by a set of hypotheses derived from significant research areas and findings of these empirical tests.

Cultural Fit Persons in the Workplace:

As a relatively new concept in today's business environment and workplace, cultural fit has emerged as an important element of a firm's recruitment strategies and practices. Traditionally, businesses and organizations focused on recruiting and hiring people based on their knowledge, skills, and abilities. While these aspects remain important in today's working environments, modern research and practices increasingly show that organizational fit and culture fit as the main differentiators in the selection process. Based on the findings of research, individuals hired on the basis of culture fit tend to contribute faster, stay longer in the organization, and perform better (Watt, 2005).

As many human resource professionals recognize the significance of cultural fit, the concept has become important in the current business environment. This has primarily been contributed by the numerous and considerable changes that have occurred in the workplace in the past decade. Currently, intellectual capital, personal and organizational qualities, and knowledge represent the competitive value propositions for many businesses and organizations. Nonetheless, existing knowledge and skills rapidly become redundant though they appear to be important on the surface.

This contributes to the importance of culture since cultural change in not uncommon in the workplace as many organizational cultures are persistent and provide the anchor for people and businesses. While a person's knowledge and skills can be developed during their specific work responsibilities, cultural fit cannot be developed. Consequently, an individual who is a poor cultural fit is likely to contribute to an increase in conflict in an organization than when the person is a sound cultural fit.

Current Study:

According to several studies on cultural fit individuals in the modern workplace, the concept is described as the compatibility of people with the organization or teams in which they work (Elfenbein & O'Reilly, 2005). Therefore, culture plays a crucial role as a social control system within organizations and can be considered as a system of common values and norms that determines suitable attitudes and behaviors for organizational members. As part of their research, Elfenbein & O'Reilly (2005) state that cultural fit can be evaluated on the basis of the fitness of person-organization and person-group based on the size of the group. This consideration can also be made depending on whether the analysis focuses on the greater organizational culture or sub-culture of a specific organizational unit or department.

An individual's measures of cultural fit explain the difference in his/her affective results like preference, commitment, and social integration. The person's affective outcome of social integration is the main determinant of his/her likelihood to contribute to conflict in the workplace. Most of the current studies on cultural fit have primarily explored the importance of hiring sound cultural fit individuals and the processes of selecting such individuals. Furthermore, most of these studies show that cultural fit is best understood when considered within the context of organizational culture and how that culture was established. Organizations should therefore strive to hire individuals who express and exhibit the language, values, and characteristics that are consistent with the existing organizational culture. This helps in ensuring that the workplace has employees whose belief and behavior systems matching the organizational culture.

LeBaron (2003) argues that there is a strong link or connection between culture and conflict since cultures are rooted in every conflict. The strong connection between the two also originates from the fact that conflict emanates or arises in human relationships. Despite of whether it has a subtle and gentle or central role, cultural differences are always significant factors in conflict. As evident in many organizations, conflicts originating from varying disciplinary cultures worsen tensions between co-workers that create stressed relationships and inaccurate or strained communications.

Research Findings:

Since culture and conflict are intertwined, there is an increase in conflict when a person is a poor cultural fit in an organization than when a person is a sound cultural fit. This is primarily because when a person is a poor cultural fit, his/her values, beliefs, characteristics, and behaviors are not congruent with the existing organizational culture. As a result, such an employee has significant difficulties when working with other people in the business environment. The increased difficulties in the work relations with other employees contribute to an increase in conflicts within the working environment.

On the contrary, a sound cultural fit person has characteristics and behavior systems that match the existing organizational culture. As a result of these beliefs, characteristics, values, and behaviors that match the organizational culture, the individual is not only a sound or good cultural fit for the organization but he/she does not contribute to increased conflict in the firm. Such an individual works well in the current working environment and experiences less difficulties in work relations that result in less workplace conflict.

Limitations of the Study:

While the research findings show the link between a poor cultural fit person and increased conflict in the organization, there are several limitations to this study. First, there are only few analyses that explore the relationship between poor cultural fit individuals and increased conflicts in the workplace. As a result, it's difficult to conduct a comprehensive and extensive…

Sources Used in Document:


Elfenbein, H.A. & O'Reilly, C.A. (2005), Fitting In: The Effects of Relational Demography and Person-Culture on Group Process and Performance. Stanford Graduate School of Business, viewed 14 August 2012,

LeBaron, M (2003), Culture and Conflict, Beyond Intractability, viewed 14 August 2012,

Watt, B. (2005), How to Hire for Cultural Fit, HC Online, viewed 14 August 2012,

Cite This Essay:

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