A result of the passing of the Revenue Authority Act, No. 13 of 1996,the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is a national organisation, whose mission isto “promotecompliance with Guyana’s Tax, Trade and Border Laws and regulations, througheducation, quality service and responsible enforcement programmes, therebycontributing to the economic wellbeing of the people of Guyana” 1. This organisation wasestablished on January 27, 2000, and operates under the guidance of agovernment-appointed Commissioner-General. Consequently, due to its position asa large, well-established organisation in Guyana, playing an integral role inthe management of national affairs, the researcher deemed it fitting to investigatethe GRA’s management of internal and external conflict.
Organisational conflict occurs, according toRoloff (1987)2,”when members of an organisation engage in activities that are incompatiblewith those of colleagues within their network, members of other collectives, orunaffiliated individuals who utilize the services or products of theorganisation”. Hence, it can be inferred that conflict is a major social forceoperating within any organisation, inevitable because of the incompatibilities,differences and disagreements that define human interaction. In fact, Rahim(2010)3 defines conflict as “an interactiveprocess manifested in incompatibility, disagreement, or dissonance within orbetween social entities (i.e.
individual, group, organisation etc.)”.The sources of conflict have been extensivelyresearched by many scholars both in the field of business management andotherwise. Pitterson (2014)4examines organisational conflict as resulting from: management styleincompatibility, competition for scarce resources, lack of communication, clashof personalities, and conflict of duties. Moreover, Rahim (2010)3 posits causes that overlap with these, butidentifies six (6) specific instances that typically lead to conflict, namely,when a social entity(ies): “(i) Is requiredto engage in an activity that is incongruent with his/her needs/interests;(ii) Holdsbehavioural preferences, the satisfaction of which is incompatible with anotherperson’s implementation of his/her preferences;(iii) Wants somemutually desirable resource that is short in supply, such that the wants ofeveryone may not be satisfied fully; (iv) Possessesattitudes, values, skills and goals that are salient in directing one’sbehaviour, but are perceived to be exclusive of the attitudes, values, skillsand goals held be the other(s);(v) Has partiallyexclusive behavioural preferences regarding joint actions; and(vi) Isinterdependent on the performance of functions or activities.”Conflict, Rahim (2010)3 adds, occurs not only when these factors arepresent, but when the threshold of conflict has been exceeded, meaning that thepoint has been reached whereby the situation is at an intolerable intensity.
Furthermore, regarding the effects of conflicton the organisation, there is some discord among scholars. In fact, this topiccan be discussed under two headings: the Classical View of OrganisationalConflict and the Modern View of Organisational Conflict. Th Classical View of Organisational Conflict isheld by proponents of Classical Organisational Theory, which includes Taylor’sScientific Management Theory, Weber’s Bureaucratic Theory, and Fayol’sAdministrative Management Theory. Classical organisational theorists — such asFayol (1916/1949), Gulick and Urwick (1937), Taylor (1911), and Weber(1929/1947) — “viewed conflict as undesirable, detrimental to theorganisation. Ideally it should not exist.
The prescription was simple.Eliminate it.” (Litterer, 1966)5.Hence, conflict was viewed as a purely dysfunctional outcome resulting fromnegative interactional patterns among the stakeholders of the organisation.
Consequently, this offered a simple approach to examining the behaviour ofinstigators of conflict – their behaviour must be corrected for the benefit ofthe organisation. Hence, under the Classical View, approaches to conflictmanagement tended to be strict and authoritarian (Walonick (1993)6.Alternately, the Modern View of OrganisationalConflict arises from Modern Organisational Theory, which includes BehaviourManagement Theory (Human Relations School), System Theory, and ContingencyTheory, among others. With the rise of modern theorists, a shift in theperception of conflict was seen. They recognised that conflict could befunctional, and in some instances, even necessary. In fact, according to Robbins(1974)7,Behaviouralists accept conflict as an inevitable facet of an organisation(sometimes even viewing it as essential for increasing organisationaleffectiveness), while Interactionist theorists recognise the absolute necessityof conflict, explicitly encourage opposition, and defines conflict managementto entail stimulation as well as resolution methods.
Hence, under this view,”conflict can be functional to the extent to which it results in theformulation and creative solution to the right problems or the effectiveattainment of subsystem or organisational objectives that otherwise would nothave been possible.” (Rahim, 2010)3.Moreover, with regard to conflict management,theorists have proposed various models of the styles of behaviour that can beused to manage interpersonal conflict. According to Jones and Brinkert (2008)8,these range from the Model of Two Styles (competition and cooperation) ofDeutsch (1949) and Tjosvold (1990), to the Model of Eight Styles (avoiding,compromising, dominating, emotional expression, integrating, obliging, passiveaggression, and third-party help) of Ting-Toomey, Oetzel and Yee-Jung (2002).The most common, however, is the Model of Five Styles.According to Rahim (2010)3, the Model of Five Styles was firstconceptualised in 1926 by Follett (1940). She conceptualised three main ways ofmanaging conflict: domination, compromise and integration, as well as twosecondary ways: avoidance and suppression. However, it was Blake and Mouton(1964) that first presented a scheme for classifying the styles into fivetypes: forcing, withdrawing, smoothing, compromising and problem-solving.
Theydescribed the styles based on attitudes of the manager, concern for productionand for people. However, a reinterpretation of this scheme was presented byThomas (1976), who considered the intentions of the party (attempting to fulfilone’s own’s concerns or attempting to fulfil the other party’s concerns) as thebasis for classifying the styles of managing conflict into five types. Inaddition, Rahim and Bonoma (1979)9differentiated the various styles of handling conflict into two dimensions –concern for self and concern for others called the Dual Concern Model (see Fig.
1 below). Fig. 1: The Dual Concern Model of the Styles ofHandling Interpersonal Conflict According to this model, except forintegrating, all conflict management styles lead to ‘win-lose’ situation, withavoiding seeming to be the most unfavourable (Gehrke and Grundler, 2013). Inconclusion, organisations typically follow these theoretical models forinterpreting and handling conflict. Therefore, the researcher, in the study ofconflict and conflict management at the GRA, will also seek to examine: thesources of conflict and whether they satisfy the factors proposed by theorists;whether conflict’s impact on the organisation satisfies the principles of theClassical View or the Modern View; and the extent to which the organisationconforms to the commonly used Five-Style Model for managing conflict. References Guyana Revenue Authority. (n.d.
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org/walonick/organizational-theory.htm 1 Guyana Revenue Authority. (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved from Guyana Revenue Authority Website: http://www.
gra.gov.gy/about-us#page 2 Roloff, M. E.
(1987). Communication and Conflict. Handbook of Communication Science. 3 Rahim, M. (2010). Managing Conflict in Organisations (4th ed.
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(1993). Organisational Theory and Behaviour. Retrieved from Statpac.org: http://www.
statpac.org/walonick/organizational-theory.htm 7 Robbins, S. P. (1974).
Managing Organizational Conflict : A Nontraditional Approach. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. 8 Jones, T. S., & Brinkert, R. (2008).
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