Organizational Conflict: A Critical Approach on Formal and Informal Management Processes

20 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2011

See all articles by Francesca Di Virgilio

Francesca Di Virgilio

Università degli Studi del Molise

Loredana Di Pietro

University of Molise

Date Written: June 1, 2011


Many researches and scholars would without hesitation justify the role of formal processes to manage the conflict in the workplace. The organizational culture and conflict management research in mainstream thinking has often neglected to examine the impact and implications of culture on informal processes of conflict management in organizations.

This preliminary study examines the amount and types of conflict in organizations, the processes used to informally manage conflict, and the relationship between culture and informal conflict management processes by examining the results of a survey questionnaire given to 168 employees of three Public Administrations.

The findings show that there is a relationship between culture, defined by sociability, and informal methods of conflict management. In this scenario, formal processes of conflict management become prescriptions and lose their relevance for understanding the challenges and the evolutions of conflict situations. The practice of conflict management is seen as more problematic, especially bringing the topic of organizational culture into discussions with conflict theory literature. Therefore, organizational culture and informal processes are factors that must be considered contributing to a critical perspective of conflict management.

Keywords: critical approach, organizational culture, conflict management, informal management processes, formal management processes

JEL Classification: C93, D73, D74, M12

Suggested Citation

Di Virgilio, Francesca and Di Pietro, Loredana, Organizational Conflict: A Critical Approach on Formal and Informal Management Processes (June 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Francesca Di Virgilio (Contact Author)

Università degli Studi del Molise ( email )

Via De Sanctis
Campobasso, Campobasso (CB) 86100

Loredana Di Pietro

University of Molise ( email )

Via de Sanctis
86100 Campobasso
00390874404460 (Phone)
00390874418924 (Fax)

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