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Module 4 -20 Managing Conflict

20.1 What are conflicts?
20.2 Conflict preparedness
20.3 Conflict prevention
20.4 Mechanisms of conflict resolution
20.5 Conflict resolution techniques and skills
Further Guidance

Key Questions:

Related Tools:

3 Planning and Organising
8 Establishing Principles
10 Establishing Partnership Processes

Implementation – Managing Conflict

20.1 What are conflicts?

Conflict and conflict resolution is a way of life

Conflict is a natural and normal part of working relationships. It's not a matter of if a person will face conflict, rather when and how. Without conflict, growth is limited, however many fear and avoid conflict because they don’t know how to deal with it.

Conflict comes about from differences – in needs, values and motivations. Conflict is not a problem in itself – it is what a person does with it that counts.

Conflict is good when it:
  • helps to raise and address problems;
  • focuses work on the key issues;
  • motivates people to participate; and/or
  • helps people learn how to recognise, value and benefit from their differences.
Conflict is a problem when it:
  • affects productivity;
  • affects morale;
  • causes more and continued conflicts, disagreements and/or divergence; and/or
  • causes inappropriate behaviours.


Conflicts in PPPs

Although the PPP is based on overlapping goals, there is much potential for conflict. Human nature being what it is, there will be conflicts arising throughout the life of the PPP: from the starting point of bringing the partners together for negotiations up until the end of the project.

When the public-private partnerships involve long-term arrangements between two or more parties, the risk of conflicts over the service quality, customer satisfaction, tariff reviews and so on are especially high. This is not surprising, as PPPs can involve a myriad of complex legal arrangements. The interpretation – or in some cases misinterpretation – of these arrangements can lead to conflict between the parties to the agreements.

Besides, PPPs are subject to legal processes that involve non-local stakeholders and perhaps non-local levels of the legal system. This change in who resolves disputes, and the rules for dispute resolution, is accompanied by increased potential for political conflicts over the partnership agreements.

What causes conflict?
  • Poor communication or no communication around issues of importance.
  • Lack of understanding of why or how decisions have been made.
  • Roles and responsibilities determined without consultation. Confusion and stress associated with “who does what?”
  • How resources are allocated. Scarce resources will prompt competition.
  • Conflicting values. Personality clashes.
  • Leadership problems, including inconsistent, missing, heavy-handed or uninformed leadership.
Ways of approaching conflict

It is important assess the type of the conflict and select the strategy to approach it. There are five common ways of doing this:

Avoidance – “it may not be worth worrying about”;
Accommodation – “You may well be right about this. Go ahead and do it your way”;
Confrontation/Competition – “I am going to win on this, and will push for my own point of view”;
Collaboration – “Let’s combine our skills and knowledge to find the best solution”; and
Compromise/Negotiation – “Let’s meet in the middle, and we both get a bit of what we wanted”.

Klick here for Tool 20-1.



  S T A R T P A G E  
  Module 1 - Before PPPs  
  01-Starting Out  
  02-Strategic Planning  
  Module 2 - Preparation Stage  
  03-Planning & Organising  
  04-Collecting Information  
  Module 3 - PPP Development Stage  
  05-Identifying Constraints  
  06-Defining Objectives  
  07-Defing Parameters (Scope)  
  08-Establishing Principles  
  09-Identifying Partners  
  10-Establishing Partnership  
  11-Selecting Options  
  12-Financing (Investment)  
  13-Financing (Cost Recovery)  
  14-Preparing Business Plans  
  15-Regulating the PPP  
  Module 4 - Implementation  
  16-Tendering & Procurement  
  18-Managing PPPs  
  19-Monitoring & Evaluation  
  20-Managing Conflict  
  21-Capacity Development  
  Contact Information