The Nature of Conflict and the Negotiation Process
Conflict and negotiation are key aspects of operating a business. According to Raines (2013), organization owners’ face conflicts from various parties including the employees’, managers, partners, as well as the general public. Negotiation is a crucial process for creating a lasting solution for all the conflicting parties. The small businesses manage to avoid internal conflicts because the owners perform virtually all the business functions. However, external conflicts are rampant in large organizations where the organizational owners are distinct from the management. Rahim (2001) note that conflicts occur in organizations when people have different theories, ideas, and beliefs regarding the organizational operations. The negotiation process attempts to reach a solution through discussions and bargaining. For the solution to be amicable, it has to be beneficial to the parties involved. This paper analyzes the nature of conflicts and the negotiation process in details. Furthermore, it summarizes the Bridgewater Associates sexual harassment case as well as highlighting the case outcome. Finally, the paper outlines the negotiation process as administered by the National Labor Relations Board and how this body helped in resolving the conflict.
Various options are often created to resolve conflicts in organizations. The organizational owners may follow the traditional steps to resolve a conflict. Raines (2013) reveals that the steps allow the organization to logically resolve conflicts and include; identifying the conflict, analyzing the problem, creating various approaches or strategies, and finally acting to resolve the conflict. Organizations apply the conflict negotiation process in creating a favorable outcome, especially where the parties involved are powerful. High bargaining power enables businesses to negotiate for a favorable outcome. As a result, organizations save money for increasing production output as well as improving the quality of its products. Organizational owners should use the conflict negotiation process in creating relationships that give their companies a competitive advantage over the rivals in the market.
In every conflict, the organizational owners should aim at achieving the best alternative to negotiated agreement. Since in a conflict and negotiation process no party can obtain all the requests, having the best alternative at hand ensures that the organization to derive the maximum number of concessions from the negotiation process. According to Rahim (2001), it is important to acknowledge that the alternatives could result in more conflicts if they constantly require the other party involved to surrender more benefits. Additionally, one party may engage in unethical practices during the conflict negotiation process. Therefore, organizations must be well versed with the negotiation process to avoid being caught up for lack of experience. Organizations must constantly learn how to resolve conflicts as well as ways to avoid landing in conflicting situations. Failing to reconcile or negotiate conflicts can land organizations into lawsuits, which have the potential of draining it financially.
One of the famous cases according JD (2016), involved the Bridgewater Associates’ Inc. In the case, the complainant was a 34-year-old adviser to institutional investors of Bridgewater Associates Company, Christopher Tarui. He claimed that a male supervisor harassed him sexually for over one year during work trips. After complaining, the organizational top executives confronted Mr. Christopher pressuring him to rescind the claims. One manager accused Mr. Christopher of lies and accused him of acting out of proposition. The complainant had kept silent about the harassment for that long out of fear that exposing the matter could hamper his chances of being promoted in the company. The organizational culture, according to the complainant ensured that employees could not keep their experiences confidential.
JD (2016) observe that a few months later after Mr. Christopher was promoted and his salary increased, his supervisor gave him a negative performance rating. He claimed that during a meeting with the human resource manager held in November 2015, he raised the sexual harassment concerns. As is the culture at Bridgewater Associates Company, the proceedings of the meeting were recorded. In a separate meeting with other company’s top executives including Bridgewater president, Mr. David McCormick, Mr. Christopher complained that the video recordings of the meeting were shared with other managers at Bridgewater. The company promised Mr. Christopher of a thorough investigation into the matter, but in his complaint, he accused the Bridgewater management of persuading him to withdraw the allegations. According to Bridgewater’s employment agreement, employees are required to solve disputes through arbitration. As a result, Mr. Christopher and Bridgewater jointly withdrew the case in March 2016 after consideration of the dispute by the Connecticut Human Rights Commission.
Since no valid reason was given by either party as to why the complaint was withdrawn, investigations were purportedly halted. In a separate, but related action, the National Labor Relations Board, filed a complaint against Bridgewater Associates Company. In the complaint, the NLRB claimed that Bridgewater interfered with, restrained, and coerced Mr. Christopher as well as other workers from exercising their rights confidentially. According to NLRB (2017), Bridgewater violated the confidentiality agreement that employees sign during hiring. However, it remains unclear whether firms in the financial sector will alter their confidentiality policy because the NLRB closed the case without pronouncing a public resolution against Bridgewater Associates. Confidentiality agreements are popular in the financial sector, and lawyers were keen to see how the National Labor Relations Board judge would handle the Bridgewater case in the hearing that was meant to begin in December 2016. However, the closing of the case implies that case will not take place and there won’t be any published ruling by the National Labor Relations Board against Bridgewater.
JD, Supra. (November 01, 2016). The NLRB Continues to Go after Non-Union Employers in Industries it has Historically Not Targeted. JD Supra, 2016-11.
National Labor Relations Board. (2017). Cases & Decisions. Retrieved from https://www.nlrb.gov/
Rahim, M. A. (2001). Managing conflict in organizations. Westport, Conn: Quorum Books.
Raines, S. (2013). Conflict management for managers: Resolving workplace, client, and policy disputes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.