Conflict is a constant in modern life and this is also the case in the delivery of services by the public administration. It occurs due to diversity of views, difference of opinion and/or conflicting interests. It may also arise among employees and between public administration and service-users and service-providers. Disagreements, difference of opinion or attitude, needs and views on the service challenges are inevitable among employees in public administration. They can be a source of strength and creativity, but they can sometimes turn into conflicts. If we do not adequately respond to these conflicts, or stop them before they fully develop, performance and service-delivery will be affected. And, for doing so, employees need essential new knowledge and access to new tools.
Conflicts are important agents of social affairs and social development. They can be both constructive and destructive. Most people do not know how to analyze conflict situations and how to plan and look for possible solutions. The obvious lack of knowledge and skills in this area often contributes to the escalation of conflict, and even to use of force and violence in their resolution.
Conflict is also biologically wired where the preservation is the priority. Any attack on the integrity of a person (direct or indirect) causes two reactions: fight (reciprocation attacks) or flight (withdrawal from the situation). The environment in which we live shapes both our view of the world and that of the conflicts. Poor interpersonal relationships, as a consequence of unresolved conflicts, could last for months, even years; leaving a negative impact on human resources, even long after the situation that caused the conflict had fallen into oblivion. Therefore, the conflict management is very demanding – but achievable – challenge for public administration.
There are currently two main research directions in conflict management:
i. All factors should be taken into account
If possible, all the factors before, during and after the conflict are taken into account. The model is given accurate and detailed formalization in order to obtain a true image of the original. It involves very complex calculations, but gives good results.
ii. All basic factors are known or assumed
All basic factors of the conflict are known or assumed (parties to the conflict, the causes, nature, potential consequences, etc.) while only one or two parameters are done in detail. In this case, results are fast but less reliable.
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