Conflict: Organizational

Stewart Clegg, Elisabeth Naima Mikkelsen, Graham Sewell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEncyclopedia chapterResearchpeer-review


This article examines four contemporary treatments of the problem of organizational conflict: social psychological, anthropological, neo-Darwinian, and neo-Machiavellian. Social psychological treatments of organizational conflict focus on the dyadic relationship between individual disputants. In contrast, anthropological treatments take a more socially and historically embedded approach to organizational conflict, focusing on how organizational actors establish negotiated orders of understanding. In a break with the social psychological and anthropological approaches, neo-Darwinians explain the characteristics of organizational conflict by appealing to the concept of natural selection: all forms of organizational behavior, including conflictual relations, stem from the effects of heritable traits associated with a universal human nature. Finally, this article proposes a neo-Machiavellian view of organizational conflict where members of an organization are seen as politicized actors engaged in power struggles that continually ebb and flow.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences
EditorsJames D. Wright
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this