Every group comes into at least partial conflict with every other group with each it interacts. This tendency is known as inter-organizational conflict. This occurs when two or more organizational groups must depend on one another to complete their tasks. The conflict in such situations can potentially range from relatively low to very high, depending on the nature of the interdependence.
Pooled Interdependence requires no interaction among groups because each group, in effect, performs separately. However, the pooled performances of all the groups determine how successful the organization is. For example the staff of a sales team in one region may have no interaction with its peers in another region. Similarly two bank branches may have little or no interaction. In both cases, however, the groups are interdependent because the performance of each must be adequate if the total organization is to thrive. The conflict potential in pooled interdependency is relatively low, and management can rely on standard rules and procedures developed at the main office for coordination.
Sequential Interdependence requires one group to complete its task before another group can do the same. Tasks are performed in a sequential fashion. In a manufacturing plant, for example, the product must be assembled before it can be painted. Therefore, the assembling department must complete its task before the painting department can begin painting. Under these circumstances, since the output of one group serves as the input for another, conflict between the groups is more likely to occur. Coordinating this type of interdependence involves effective use of the management function of planning.
Reciprocal Interdependence requires the output of each group to serve as input to other groups in the organization. Consider the relationships that exist between a surgeon, anesthesiologist, nursing, and technician staff in a hospital operating room. This relationship creates a high degree of reciprocal interdependence. The same interdependence exists among groups involved in space launchings. Another example is interdependence among airport control towers, flight crews, ground operations, and maintenance crews. Clearly the potential for conflict is great in any of these situations. Effective coordination involves management’s skillful use of the organizational process of communication and decision-making.
All organizations have a pooled interdependence among groups. Complex organizations also have sequential interdependence. The most complicated organizations experience pooled, sequential, and reciprocal interdependence among groups. The more complex the organization, the greater are the potential for conflict and the more difficult is the task management.
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