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
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
Conflict is a problem when it:
- affects productivity;
- affects morale;
- causes more and continued conflicts, disagreements and/or divergence;
- 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
What causes conflict?
- Poor communication or no communication around issues
- Lack of understanding of why or how
decisions have been made.
- Roles and responsibilities determined without consultation.
Confusion and stress associated with “who
- How resources are allocated. Scarce resources will prompt competition.
- Conflicting values. Personality clashes.
- Leadership problems, including inconsistent, missing, heavy-handed
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.