Conflict can be described as a situation where two or more parties are in disagreement over their objectives, perceptions, and behaviors, thus bringing about incompatibility in their actions. Conflict is inevitable in social life as it is linked to situations of the division of functions, scarce resources, and power relations. This concept of conflict can be found in personal, group, or organizational interactions. Conflict can be divided into four categories based on the context, namely, interpersonal, intrapersonal, intergroup, and intragroup conflict (Prause & Mujtaba, 2015). There are several ways in which conflict is managed, and this paper uses a case study to discuss strategies of conflict management.
The County was made up of fifteen municipalities of which the multi-jurisdictional drug unit was supposed to be composed of. Eventually, only ten of the fifteen agreed that their officers be part of the drug unit amidst initial disagreements on how exactly to run the organization. This was a display of intragroup conflict. Supervision and budgeting were among the issues that brought conflict. Funding from the federal government was also a key issue that brought about disagreements among the cities.
While coming up with the multi-jurisdictional unit, some issues were overlooked, which could have prevented much of the conflict. Agreement on the composition of the unit should have been done before the setting up. The size of the city shouldn't have been a consideration in how much control the officers from the city would have in the unit. The objectives of the multi-jurisdictional were probably not clearly defined leading to the unit diverting its efforts from destroying crystal meth labs and arresting those involved in the production to just making arrests on persons found selling or in possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Proper training of the officers on what exactly happens in a meth lab was not conducted. This was a major setback as the officers had no clue on what to expect while doing the raids. The unit's leadership should have made prior engagement with the fire departments in the different cities and those trained in hazardous waste management as crystal meth labs were a danger zone. Competition for the scarce resources was a hindrance to this undertaking as in some cities the officers were in competition with the fire department for resources and thus it was difficult to negotiate for collaboration between the two departments(Gillin, 2015).
Continuous negative criticism from the public also demotivated the officers. This is an issue that was preventable from the initial stages if there were proper management and good understanding within the unit. This was also subject lack of proper determination of what the objective of the unit was as officers were being made to pursue other tasks besides that about crystal meth laboratories. Some officers contemplated returning to their regular tasks back in their home cities.
The setting up of multi-jurisdictional drug units in such a hurriedly process can be attributed to increased funding by the federal government. This is a motivational tool as officers in federal as forces are well remunerated. Municipalities could also more quickly agree to be part of a federal-funded task force due to the promise of large sums of money from their collaboration with the federal government as seen in the case of Warren County. The whole mindset about drugs also contributed to the sudden formation of the unit as crystal meth is known to be a dangerous drug; thus, its production needed to be stopped immediately. This led to an underprepared task force and unplanned taking that eventually bore little or no results at all.
Conflict management is usually aimed at fulfilling two important functions. Firstly, it is to minimize disruptions that arise from conflict and secondly, to provide a lasting solution, thus preventing further occurrence of a similar conflict (Rahim, 2017). The organizational structure of the unit is a matter that should have been settled before the unit started its operations. This would have been the operations of the unit smooth as orders and instructions would be agreed upon before being executed (Mikkelsen & Clegg, 2019). This would probably have made all the fifteen cities participate in the war against production and distribution of crystal meth, making it more effective.
Federal funds distribution strategy could have been made fairly without considering the size of the cities but rather the contribution of each municipality to the unit. This would have been prevented smaller cities from feeling controlled by the larger cities. The lack of agreement on this reflected a lack of importance to the task at hand but more insistence on the benefits reaped from being part of the multi-jurisdictional unit (Prause & Mujtaba, 2015). Focus on the ultimate goal, which was to fight production and sale of meth could have been emphasized, and all other factors would have been subject to that goal.
The attitude and perceptions of the officers was a key factor in the task force (Rahim, 2017). Officers who came from smaller cities could have felt demotivated from the initial conflicts even before the start of the operations. The officers lacked proper training, thus did not feel confident enough to fight the drug due to a lack of knowledge. Training and information on the drug should have been given to the officers beforehand to have enough intelligence on what to expect, precautions to take, and how to handle any emergencies. The fire departments would have been involved as one of the key partners in the task force for precautionary and hazardous waste management measures as the production of the drug could have had chemical impacts. This would have prevented the dismal performance by the task force, which further led to more criticism and more demotivation. The unit, under proper conditions, was a constructive tool in the fight and with good conflict management strategies; it would have been a success.
Conclusively, organizational platforms can be a source competition, comparison, and thus conflict between individuals and also the parties involved. Conflict, if not well managed, can lead to a loss of focus of the mandate of a given organization leading to the organization not meeting its set objectives. Sources of conflict shouldn't be assumed, and conflict should be managed as soon as it arises.
Gillin Oore, D., Lieter, M. P., & LeBlanc, D. E. (2015). Individual and organizational factors are promoting successful responses to workplace conflict. Canadian Psychology, 56(3), 301 https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-37443-004
Mikkelsen, E. N., & Clegg, S. (2019). Conceptions of conflict in organizational conflict research: Toward critical reflexivity. Journal of Management Inquiry, 28(2), 166-179. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1056492617716774
Prause, D., & Mujtaba, B. G., (2015). Conflict management practices for diverse workplaces. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 6(3), 13 https://search.proquest.com/openview/a5b3884d6973bc811daab8221938d63b/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1056382
Rahim, M. A. (2017). Managing conflict in organizations. Routledge. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9780203786482
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