Organizational Conflict in Public Service: Conflict Management, Contextual Factors, and Employee Outcomes




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By expanding the conflict and conflict management literature to the public service environment, this study provides an insight into the role and aftermath of interpersonal conflicts for the organizational setting. Workplace conflicts consist of an inevitable, and typically perceived as toxic, phenomenon, owing to their negative consequences for employee job-related attitudes. Mitigating the dysfunctional conflict results can be a challenging endeavor for managers, as effectively handling workplace controversies is contingent upon the nature of conflicts, the adopted conflict management approach, and the prevailing organizational environment. As public organizations find themselves in the midst of a human capital crisis, and confront challenges for high performance results, delving into the factors that can threaten smooth organizational operations and employee behaviors becomes imperative. When studying the attitudes of state HR professionals about the role of organizational conflicts and their overall work experiences, this study reveals that relationship conflicts can be detrimental for organizational performance, even though there is not any association between organizational conflicts and turnover intent. Also, even though conflict management, and particularly a win-win approach, pertains to an essential human resources management mechanism, its role in balancing out the negative conflict outcomes only holds under the premise of a positive organizational environment. In view of fairness in interpersonal relations and an emotional attachment between employees and their organization, a cooperative approach to conflict handling could be positively associated with organizational performance and lower withdrawal intentions.



Interorganizational relations, Conflict management, Interpersonal conflict, Organizational effectiveness, Turnover (Business), Public service employment, Personnel management


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