An Appraisal of the Approaches to Conflict Resolution in Project Management in Cameroon
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This research thesis explores the nature of conflict, the conflict process, conflict resolution skills and conflict management techniques in the case of Icelandic companies. The most important values that determine the work in Icelandic organizations are: egalitarianism, which includes power distance, individualism, femininity and unrealistic optimism, the “action-poet” psyche and the “fisherman mentality”. Because of unique mentality of Icelanders and not typical corporate governance the author decided to explore how conflict management practices work in Iceland and identify the factors that managers can improve in their conflict resolution approach in order to increase the productivity of the organization. The theoretical chapter gives an overview of sources and discusses types of conflict, conflict resolution skills and conflict management techniques. Literature review provides the main theoretical base for the analysis. Findings of this research conclude that Icelandic managers are quite familiar with conflict resolution process and the majority of them apply conflict resolution techniques. However, they still have complaints about conflicts between employees. Interpersonal and Intragroup conflicts were identified as the main types of conflicts in Icelandic organizations. According to the conflict resolution model, which is presented in the research project, Icelandic organizations have some gaps in their approach of conflict resolution. The findings of the research should help managers of Icelandic companies to bridge those gaps. Improved conflict resolution approach it believed to have a positive impact on the whole organization by increasing work productivity.
Keywords: conflict management, conflict resolution skills, conflict resolution Keywords: conflict management, conflict resolution skills, conflict resolution styles, conflict resolution techniques, conflict resolution model
This chapter comprises of background information about the research topic
Resistance to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) by many parties and their advocates has increased extensive acceptance among both the general public and the legal profession in recent years. The execution of projects requires knowledge in conflict resolution as well as understanding the different approaches and where and when to apply it. Conflict resolution is appropriate for almost any disagreement. Our daily lives offer plenty of opportunities for negotiation between parents and children, co-workers, friends and as a result, most people will probably need a variety of effective strategies for resolving minor conflicts. For more serious conflicts, and conflicts like between groups rather than individuals, people may need some additional skills. This explains why, the more information we have about the cause of the conflict, the more easily we can resolve it. Conflict in project management is inevitable. The potential for conflict in information systems development projects is usually high because it involves individuals from different backgrounds and orientations working together to complete a complex task. The cause of conflict in team projects can be related to differences in values, attitudes, needs, expectations, perceptions, resources, and personalities. Proper skills in dealing with conflict can assist project managers and other organization members to handle and effectively resolve conflicts, which can lead to a more productive organization as a whole. All projects have a specific set of objectives and constraints such as a required time frame for completion and besides they are a costly undertaking and most people want to see their projects complete smoothly.
Change is inherent in all projects and majority of projects fail to meet up with deadlines, cost and quality targets due to poor management approaches to conflict resolution. This is not too astonishing considering that there are not known perfect project managers or that at times, the forces of nature behave in a perfectly foreseeable way. Conflict is inevitable but by properly applying the approaches of conflict resolution by project managers will increase outputs and boost productivity. In project management as a whole the three primary targets of Cost, Time and Performance are likely to be subject to conflict due to differences in views. Many people in order to make change in the project with minimum cost get the project into conflict. The lack of conflict management techniques and even an unskilled project manager can put project execution in danger. Conflict, when properly managed, is a positive source of competitiveness and collaboration in a workplace but on the other hand, when unmanaged, conflict can create division, low morale, and chaos in the same environment. Managers spend 42% of their time on reaching agreement with others when conflict occurs. Conflict management within a team environment requires the ability to solve problems, set goals, compromise, settle personality differences, and resolve conflicts. . Project managers face conflict as part of their daily life from a number of sources, both internal to the project team itself and external, in dealing with other project stakeholders. Training for project managers in this area is necessary for their success, as they are typically responsible for handling conflict.
A fine distinction between alternative dispute resolution and conflict resolution will go a long way to clarify our readers. ADR includes processes and techniques that act as a means for discordant parties to come to an agreement short of litigation. It is a collective term for the ways that parties can settle disputes, with (or without) the help of a third party. It is generally classified into four types: negotiation, mediation, collaborative law and arbitration. On the other hand, conflict resolution is conceptualized as the methods and processes involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of conflict and retribution. It entails devoting group members to resolve group conflicts by actively communicating information about their conflicting motives or ideologies to the rest of the group. The term conflict resolution may also be used interchangeably with dispute resolution, where arbitration and litigation processes are critically involved. Conflict resolution encompasses the use of nonviolent resistance measures by conflicted parties in an attempt to promote effective solutions. Let’s take for instance the conflict of Boko Haram in Cameroon. This conflict is a very complex one because it does not really have a define objective per se and since it started, these group of terrorists haven touch any state institution but every day, Cameroonian citizens are being kidnap and some dying as a result of it. The Cameroonian military have tried to resolve this conflict through the use of military warfare to no avail, the government has even pay ransom for the liberation of some kidnap citizens but still the conflict persists. Some special vigilante group has been created to combat this situation but all their efforts proof abortive. In this kind of dispensation, the conflict is perceived as really complex because the one party is not ready for any dialogue, you do not concretely know what they want and to make things worse, they are not even a legal entity.
No company free of conflict has ever existed and never will exist because resentments, tensions, anger, typecasts, negative attitudes and hindrances will always be part and parcel of any organization where men have to live and work together. We can see conflict as an integral part of human life and there exists a diversity of opinions about conflict all over the world. Most people see conflict as a negative situation that must be evaded from at all cost while others have an opinion that conflict is an occurrence which necessitates management. In this light, a conflict is seen as an opportunity for personal evolution and individuals try to use it to their best advantage. In most organizations, potential conflict could be in virtually every decision which the manager makes and handling efficiently and effectively with potential conflicts is one of the most vital aspects of the project manager. However, since conflict is apparently inevitable, it is obviously necessary for project managers to be able to identify the sources of conflict, to view its constructive as well as its destructive potential and to learn how to manage it and to implement conflict resolution techniques in a practical way (Fleetwood, 1987). ]. Indeed, one study estimated that the average manager spends over 20 percent of his or her time dealing with conflict . Most project managers would likely suggest that the 20 percent figure drastically understates the case. Consequently, because so much of a project manager’s time is taken up with active conflict and its residual aftermath, it is important that we address this natural process within the project management context.
This research thesis is focused on an appraisal of the approaches to conflict resolution in project management practices in Cameroonian organizations. There is some debate (Scimecca, 1993) as to whether mediation, conciliation, arbitration, third party facilitated negotiation merely manage conflicts or whether they actually resolve them. But for the purpose of this thesis, the term ADR and conflict resolution will be used interchangeably
- The Research Problem
Though conflict resolution in project management is what most parties opt for because of its speedy, less costly and confidential as compare to litigation, it is rather unfortunately that, for the past ten years and with studies from more than ten companies, 70% of projects are delayed or totally frustrated due to inappropriate conflict management approaches by project managers who knows little or nothing about them. Most project managers in Cameroon are things oriented rather than people oriented and this has really created such a wide gap between the project managers and their teammates who think their ideas are not good enough for the project thereby defeating the very essence of what a project team should be. In such a dispensation, conflicts are bound to erupt and project managers are always unable to bring both parties to a compromise. This situation according to the Statistics Institute in Cameroon in 2014, cost companies approximately three billion Francs CFA. Observing this situation and knowing that Cameroon is vying for emergence in 2035, I think the proper introduction and the compulsory use of conflict resolution approaches by project managers will not only go a long way to speedily resolved conflict but will mold better project managers and help to foster the country’s emergence. This research will be relevant for Cameroonian project managers as they will recognize the gaps in their conflict resolution approaches and work on its improvement and if this is done properly, the result will be increased performance of the whole organization (Eyjolfsdottir & Smith, 1997). Conflicts will be easily resolved since it cannot be avoided. With this, deadlines will be met, dialogue will be more frequent and performance will greatly increase in the organization so as to boost output and meet up with competitors.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of this research thesis is to examine conflict resolution approaches in Cameroonian companies. The research comprises information about the possible sources of conflicts and the conflict resolution techniques applied. The focus of the research is the appropriate use of conflict resolution approaches by project managers to avoid the delay in projects and to speed up execution in order to meet up with deadlines thereby promoting the organization’s image. In addition, the author’s goal is to define pre-signals for the failure of a project, due to insufficient conflict management approaches and the inability to diagnose conflict at an early stage. Projects, by their very nature are unique and the most interesting ones are complex. This research is based on an appraisal of the Cameroonian approach to conflict resolution against the modern conflict resolution model. The author believes that research conclusions will provide Cameroonian project managers with concrete and valuable recommendations at the level of employees’ productivity and improving performance of organization as a whole. Projects often take place over a protracted period of time and demand the engagement of a wide range of resources, including people, finance, facilities, materials and intellectual property. In most situations, projects have defined objectives that provide those involved in them with a clear vision and specification of their goals. The research will help Cameroonian organizations to have a better mastery of Conflict resolution techniques, their implementation and a new insight on conflict resolution approach applied in our companies.
- The research question
The research question will be divided into main and specific.
- Main Research Question
What can be done to improve the proper use of conflict resolution approaches in project management in Cameroon?
- Specific Research questions
- What can be done to empower 500 project managers in Cameroon in conflict resolution approaches?
- Can the creation of a conflict resolution centre in Cameroon speed up conflict resolution and increase project performance?
- The research hypotheses
The hypothesis will be divided into main and specific
- Main Hypothesis
The proper use of conflict resolution approaches by project managers in Cameroon will speed project execution and build a stronger team spirit.
- Specific Hypotheses
- Empowering 500 project managers in Cameroon in the proper use of conflict resolution approaches will reduce project frustration and enhance better relationship.
- The creation of a conflict resolution centre for project managers in Cameroon will guarantee swift conflict resolution and better performance in future.