13 Conflict in Groups

While you are alone you are entirely your own master and
if you have one companion you are but half your own and the less
so in proportion to the indiscretion of his behavior.
Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1500

Group members do not always get along well with one another. Even in the most serene circumstances, the group’s atmosphere may shift rapidly so that once close collaborators become hostile adversaries. Because conflict is a ubiquitous aspect of group life, it must be managed to minimize its negative effects.

Chapter Case Study – Jobs vs. Sculley

One of the most famous corporate conflicts unfolded at the Apple Corp. between the founder Steve Jobs and new CEO John Sculley. Sculley eventually “won” the day, and Jobs was forced to leave the company he founded. Consider these interesting sites:

General Resources


Chapter Case: Jobs versus Sculley

  • Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company by Owen W. Linzmayer (2004) provides a well-researched history of the many conflict-laden episodes in the life of Apple, Inc.

Causes of Conflict

  •  “A History of Social Conflict and Negotiation Research” by Dean G. Pruitt (2012) reviews the history of conflict studies from the perspective of a leading theorist and researcher in the field..
  • The Psychology of Conflict and Conflict Management in Organizations, edited by Carsten K. W. De Dreu and Michele J.Gelfand (2008), includes chapters examining how conflict influences communication, diversity, motivation, aggression, leadership, and health in organizational settings, written by leading researchers in the field of conflict management.
  • “Social Conflict: The Emergence and Consequences of Struggle and Negotiation” by Carsten K. W. De Dreu (2010) reviews the basic theory and latest research examining the causes of conflict, factors that cause it to escalate, and ways it can be managed.
  • Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalemate, and Settlement (3rd ed.) by Dean G. Pruitt and Sung Hee Kim (2004) provides a thorough analysis of the causes and consequences of interpersonal conflict.

Conflict Resolution

  • Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In (2nd ed.) by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton (1991) describes a step-by-step strategy for resolving conflicts to the mutual benefit of both parties.
  • The Handbook of Conflict Resolution:Theory and Practice, edited by Morton Deutsch and Peter T. Coleman (2000), is the definitive sourcebook for general analyses of conflict resolution but also provides practical recommendations for resolving conflicts.
  • Negotiation by Roy J. Lewicki, David M. Saunders, and Bruce Barry (2006) is a comprehensive text dealing with all aspects of negotiation, including power, bargaining, and interpersonal and intergroup conflict resolution.
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