Strategies to manage conflict within


The Researcher would like to express her heartfelt gratitude to all the people who had helped in making this study a vital success.

First and foremost, to the beloved parents and family who gives financial and moral support, and for giving aspiration and courage as she go along this study.

To the members of the Panel of Examinees, who had rendered recommendations and suggestions in making this research study complete.

To friends and classmates who give suggestions to accomplish every detail in this proposal.

But above all, to the Almighty God, for His untiring support, guidance and perseverance that make this study meaningful and successful.

Thank you.


This study deals with the strategies to manage conflict within higher education. The researcher believes that the present techniques and methods to manage conflict must be enhanced to make it more effective.

The focus of the study is to seek and develop varied strategies that will efficiently manage conflict within higher education. Conflict made within higher education is deeper and difficult to resolve because students at this age have their own ways and means to run their lives. They are already capable on their actions and the underlying consequences.

The goal of the study, strategies to manage conflict within higher education is to allocate ideas and strategies that will best fit as a way to manage conflict within higher education.

It is hope that readers will find this study a meaningful introduction to better ideas and open mindedness to avoid conflict for better appreciation in life’s existence.



In our daily interaction with others, we communicate to express our ideas, opinions and share our sentiments and feelings and discuss simple things that need simple understanding. Every person is inculcated with a unique individuality. Although each individual varies in personality and traits, still most people go long with each other. An individual tend to go by groups where he belongs and accepted.

In the day to day experiences in life, we reach into a certain point of disagreement and misunderstanding. This is very common to most living organisms. In general terminology, we call it as the term “CONFLICT”. Conflict is define by the Webster dictionary (1999) as a mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes and or external and internal demands.

Adolescent stage is a confusing stage because of the underlying transformation from childhood to adolescent.  But as people, more specifically students who enter into a higher level of education, their level of maturity at the same time increases. People on this level of education think more critically and logically on what is right and what is wrong. They give more justice on their actions than on lower years. Though this significant development among students within higher education, conflict on both aspects is highly present and is harder to manage.

The researcher will conduct this study in order to look for better strategies to manage conflict within higher education. The researcher sees that there is a need to improve the strategies to manage conflict within higher education because she believes that conflict within higher education must be organizationally resolved hence, higher education is a part where individuals prepare him for the future.

Conflict must be neutralized to develop good interaction and communication with others and to develop a quality and peaceful learning experience. This study aims to look for strategies to manage conflict efficiently and effectively.

Educators play a big role in cultivating the love for education in students. They encourage students to reach their ambition, instill discipline, promote creative thinking and emphasize the importance of interactive education between parents and the students. They must cope with the rapid changes in technology and keep up with trends that younger generations practice. (Dingoasen, 2004)

There are many factors that affect a child’s learning experiences. There are certain instances that took place within their reach. The bonding they created among co-students is an opportunity for them to grow.  Conflict between students occurs most likely to higher education. These shocking realities exist in many schools. We are aware of them but refuse to do something about them. Today’s curriculum, values integration is collaborated on every subject. It implies that our society recognizes the vital role in propagating positive values to students. Values are caught not taught. (Abarra, 2004)


1. Psychological Conflict (internal conflict) – this type of conflict could be going on inside the person and no one would know ( instinct may be at odds with values) – Freud would say unconscious id battling superego, according to Freud our personalities are always in conflict

 2. Social Conflict – interpersonal conflict- two individuals me against you; intergoup struggles -us against them; individual opposing a group- me against them, them against me; intergoup conflict- members of group all against each other on a task.

3. Approach-Avoidance – conflict can be describe as having features of approach and avoidance: approach-approach conflict; avoidance-avoidance conflict; approach-avoidance conflict Approach-Approach Conflict two desirable things are wanted, but only one option can be chosen ( example: desirable date Or ski trip)”I want this but I also want that.” Avoidance- avoidance Conflict two unattractive alternatives ( example: study or do the dishes “I don’t want his and I don’t want that Approach- Avoidance Conflict attractive and unattractive parts to both sides “I want this but I don’t want what this entails”

4. Functional vs. Dysfunctional Conflict – dysfunctional conflicts is conflict disrupts, hinders job performance and upsets personal psychological functioning. Functional conflict: from an integrationist perspective conflict can be responsive and innovative aiding in creativity and viability. Determine if conflict achieves goals and undermines them. (Falikowski, 2002)


Duffy Robbins in Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts lists some of the causes of conflict: a lack of communication, a lack of understanding, ambiguous lines of authority, conflict of interest, disagreement on issues, the need for agreement, generational differences, theological disagreements, diversity in perspective, majoring in minors, environment and a lack of relationships.


Myth #1: Conflict can never lead to anything positiveWhile confrontation is a risk, it is often a learning experience for those involved.

Myth #2: Conflicts are the result of clashing personalitiesPersonalities do not conflict, behaviors do! Different people can work together for years without having conflict – until their behavior conflicts. Differentiating personality from behavior makes conflict manageable because if conflict is based on personalities, we can do little else but bear it.

Myth #3: Conflict and anger go togetherConflict with people does not mean that there is anger involved. There are a whole range of emotions that surface in conflict situations.


Speed Leas and Paul Kittlaus, in Church Fights, distinguish three ways in which conflict is experienced: (1) Intrapersonal conflict (when a person has internal conflict); (2) Interpersonal conflict (when personalities clash); and (3) Substantive conflict (disputes over facts, values, goals and beliefs).

Duffy Robbins, Youth Ministry Nuts & Bolts, Page 237f, mentions four levels of conflict, that are actually four levels of substantive conflict:

Level 1: Facts or Data – This level of conflict occurs when two parties simply have different information. This is the easiest kind of conflict to resolve. To resolve this conflict leaders simply ensure that both parties have the same information.

Level 2: Processes or Methods – This level occurs when there is a difference of opinion over how things should be done. Because the issue here is “how do we get there?” rather than “where should we go?” compromise is usually a realistic option.

Level 3: Goals or Purpose – On this level parties cannot agree on a common goal. Negotiations at this level take patience and skill. Often youth leaders withdraw from this kind of conflict because they are not of the temperament to work through the hard issues and avoid the uncomfortable dialogues that accompany the resolution of conflict at this level.

Level 4: Values – The deepest and most serious conflict relates to values – the parties disagree about basic meanings. Any resolution at this level is almost impossible.

Defining the level of conflict can lead to the selection of appropriate responses to conflict resolution. But often what leaders think is the level is just a screen for a deeper level of conflict. One situation may include several different levels of conflict.

CONFLICT HANDLING STYLEA. McSwain and Treadwell, in Handbook of Practical Theology, Page 194f, suggest five styles:

(1) The Problem Solver – refuses to deny or flee the conflict, presses for conversation and negotiation of the conflict until a satisfactory conclusion is reached. Most effective with groups that share common goals and whose conflict stems from miscommunication.

(2) The Super Helper – they constantly work to help others and give little though to self. This is the ‘Messiah’ who is often passive in their own conflicts but always assists others to solve their conflicts. This style is to be avoided as one must deal with personal conflicts to effectively help others.

(3) The Power Broker – For this person, solutions are more important than relationships. Even if a person leaves the group, as long as a solution was achieved, they are satisfied. It can be used when substantive differences are so contradictory that mutually inclusive goals are not possible.

(4) The Facilitator – they adapt to a variety of situations and styles in order to achieve a compromise between competing factions. It is effective for conflicts where differences are attitudinal or emotional.

(5) The Fearful Loser – this person runs from conflict probably because they are personally insecure. This tends to produce hostility and a weakening of leadership in the church.

B. Speed Leas in Discover Your Conflict Management Style, mentions six styles:

(1) Persuading – trying to change another’s point of view, way of thinking, feelings or ideas. Techniques used include: rational approaches; deductive and inductive arguments; and other verbal means. Persuade when there is great trust; when one party is admired; when goals are compatible; and when one party does not have strong opinions on the subject.

(2) Compelling – the use of physical or emotional force, authority or pressure to oblige or constrain someone to act in a desired way. Use compelling infrequently; when you are threatened or under attack; when rights are being violated; when you have authority to demand compliance; when there is inadequate time to work through differences; and when all other means have failed.

(3) Avoiding – This is actually a category that combines four styles: avoidance (to evade or stay away from conflict); ignoring (act as if the conflict is not going on); fleeing (actively remove oneself from the arena in which conflict might take place); and accommodation (going along with an opposition to keep the relationship). Strategies include: procrastination; saying yes to requests but not acting on them; showing concern for the other without responding to the problem; resigning; and studying the problem with no intention of doing anything about it.

Avoid this style when people are fragile or insecure; when they need space to cool down; when there is conflict on many fronts simultaneously; when differences are trivial; when parties are unable to reconcile differences; and when the relationship is unimportant.

(4) Collaborating – This is a process of co-labouring with others to resolve difficulties that are being experienced. It is also called joint or mutual problem solving. Collaborate when people are willing to play by collaboration rules; when there is plenty time for discussion; when the issue lends itself to collaboration; where resources are limited and negotiation would be better; and when conflict and trust levels are not too high.

(5) Negotiating – Also called bargaining, this involves collaborating with lower expectations. It is a process where both sides try to get as much as they can, realising there must be give and take. Where collaboration is a “win/win” strategy, negotiation is a “sorta-win/sorta-lose” strategy. Negotiate when there is something that can be divided or traded; when compelling is not acceptable and collaboration has been tried and failed; when all parties are willing to bargain; when the different parties have equal power; and when trust is high.

(6) Supporting – Here one person will provide a support to the person who is experiencing conflict. It involves strengthening, encouraging or empowering one party so they can handle their difficulties. Support when the problem is the responsibility of someone else; when a party brings problems outside of your relationship with them; and when one party in the conflict is unwilling to deal with issues.

A third model focuses on the tension between relationships and goals in conflict handling. When a leader becomes engaged in a conflict there are two major concerns to deal with: (a) achieving personal goals and (b) preserving the relationship. The importance of goals and relationships affect how leaders act in a conflict situation. Given these two concerns the following five styles of managing conflict are found:

(1) Withdrawing – people with this style tend to withdraw in order to avoid conflicts. They give up their personal goals and relationships; stay away from the issues over which the conflict is taking place and from the people they are in conflict with; and believe it is hopeless to try to resolve conflicts. They believe it is easier to withdraw (physically and psychologically) from a conflict than to face it.

(2) Forcing – people in this category try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solution to the conflict. Their goals are highly important but the relationship is of minor importance. They seek to achieve their goals at all costs; are not concerned with the needs of other people and do not care if other people like or accept them. They assume that conflicts are settled by one person winning and the other losing. While winning gives them a sense of pride and achievement, losing gives them a sense of weakness, inadequacy, and failure. They try to win by attacking, overpowering, overwhelming, and intimidating other people.

(3) Smoothing – for those who fall into this category, the relationship is of great importance, while their own goals are of little importance. They want to be accepted and liked by other people; they think that conflict should be avoided in favor of harmony and believe that conflicts cannot be discussed without damaging relationships. They are afraid that if the conflict continues, someone will get hurt and that would ruin the relationship. They give up their goals to preserve the relationship. They try to smooth over the conflict in fear of harming the relationship.

(4) Compromising – people with this style are moderately concerned with their own goals and about their relationships with other people. They seek a compromise. They give up part of their goals and persuade the other person in a conflict to give up part of their goals. They seek a solution to conflicts where both sides gain something.

(5) Confronting – people in this category highly value their own goals and relationships. They view conflicts as problems to be solved and seek a solution that achieves both their own goals and the goals of the other person in the conflict. They believe conflict improves relationships by reducing tension between people. By seeking solutions that satisfy both themselves and the other person they maintain the relationship. They are not satisfied until a solution is found that achieves their own goals and the other person’s goals and they want all tensions and negative feelings to be fully resolved.


There are two dimensions to handling conflict: prevention and management.

A. Prevent ConflictApplying good management principles in ministry and building quality relationships with people will help to prevent or at least lessen conflict.

B. Manage ConflictIn spite of the best efforts at prevention, conflict does arise. The secret is to learn to cope positively with conflict, and not to see it as an enemy to peace, but an opportunity for growth in relationships. Jesus gave an example of how to manage conflict. In John 2:13-17 he drives the money changes out of the Temple. The point here is not that leaders should take a whip to people they have conflict with, but that there are a number of ways in which leaders could deal with conflict and one that they should follow as they handle problem situations. In (1) – (3) the problem is left intact, while the leader’s course of activity is changed. They adapt to the problem, ie. The problem changes them! In (4) the problem is dealt with – problems need to be solved and not adapted to!

6. The Conflict Resolution ProcessParties should be asked to describe recent disagreements. What were the issues, who was involved, and how was the conflict handled? What are the differences between conflicts that were handled efficiently and those that were not? Can you see conflict styles evolving? With answers to questions like these the parties will be ready to work on clarifying goals, reconciling differences, and finding ways to resolve conflicts.

A. Clarify GoalsWhen people are in conflict they usually share many of the same goals in spite of their differences. Both sides usually want to see the conflict resolved in a way that will be mutually agreeable, beneficial to both, and inclined to enhance the relationship so that future communication will improve. The youth leader should try to discourage bargaining over positions and work from the basis of the common goals that people are striving for. People should first be reminded of the goals that they share, and then their differences discussed.

B. Reconcile DifferencesIn talking to his disciples, Jesus outlined a process for restoring relationships between Christians who are at odds with each other (Matthew 18:15-20). The guidelines for reconciling differences are:

Step 1: Take the initiative and go to the person who has wronged youThis should be done in person and in private. In making this move, it is best if the person goes with a spirit of humility, with a willingness to listen, with a determination to be non-defensive and to forgive.

Step 2: Take witnessesIf the person will not listen or change, a return visit with one or two witnesses becomes necessary. These people are to listen, evaluate, determine facts and try to arbitrate and bring a resolution to the dispute.Step 3: Tell it to the churchIf the other person who has been visited still refuses to listen, change, or cooperate in resolving the dispute, they may be excommunicated from the congregation.

C. Resolve ConflictsWhen individuals or groups are in conflict, they have four main choices about the direction they will take. They may avoid conflict, maintain, escalate, or reduce it. Sometimes people do not want conflict resolution and may decide to go in different directions.

Conflict resolution will involve the youth leader in negotiation and mediation. It is not always wise for leaders to get involved in someone else’s conflict even when they are asked to do so, as they will feel pressurized to take sides; be required to make quick analytical decisions; and be responsible for keeping communication open. When youth leaders do choose to get involved they should try to: show respect for both parties; understand both positions without taking sides; reassure people and give them hope; encourage open communication and mutual listening; focus on things that can be changed; try to keep the conflict from escalating; summarize the situation and positions frequently; and help the parties find additional help if the mediation is not effective.

A local team of negotiators use the following four-step method in conflict resolution:

Step 1: Separate the people from the problemThis means treating one another with respect, avoiding defensive statements, name calling, or character judgments, and giving attention instead to the issues. Each side should be encouraged and helped to understand the other’s fears, perceptions, insecurities and desires. Parties should think of themselves as partners in a side-by-side search for a fair agreement which is advantageous to each side.

Step 2: Focus on the issues, not the positionsWhen people identify the real issues and stop trying to defend rigid positions they are on their way to resolve their conflict.

Step 3: Think of various options that might solve the problemIn the beginning there is no attempt to evaluate the options or to arrive at a single solution. Each side makes suggestions in a brainstorming session. After a number of creative and perhaps new alternatives have been proposed, each option can be evaluated.

Step 4: Insist on objective criteriaConflict is less likely to occur if both sides agree beforehand on an objective way to reach a solution. If both sides agree to abide by the results of a coin toss, a judge’s ruling, or an appraiser’s evaluation, the end results may not be equally satisfying to both parties but everybody agrees on the solution because it was determined by objective, fair and mutually accepted methods.

William Willimon, in Handbook of Practical Theology, Page 190f, suggests the following guidelines for the early stages of resolving conflict:

(1) Assess Potential Conflict(a) Obtain as much information as possible – many conflicts are the result of misinformation.(b) Buy as much time as possible – delay as a means of creative avoidance to gain time to act wisely.(c) Assess individuals involved in the conflict – what are their motives?(d) Take the emotional temperature of the conflict – humour or distraction may lower anger levels.

(2) Diffuse Public Conflict(a) Inform the whole group of the facts of the situation to help with later decision making.(b) Find out ask about the history of the conflict from those concerned.(c) Engage those in conflict with people who can help them reach a constructive engagement.(d) Delay action until there has been time to attempt to manage the conflict.

(3) Solve Conflict Problems(a) Consider all the gathered facts, feelings and opinions about the conflict.(b) List options to the problem, considering possible positive and negative consequences of each.(c) List the options in the order of priority.(d) Depersonalize the options to avoid focus on the personalities of those involved.(e) Develop a consensus for the option that most resolves the conflict, even if it involves compromise.


Like most problem-solving processes, the conflict management process can be broken down into steps. The Head Start Moving Ahead training program identifies a six-step sequential process for assessing and resolving conflicts:

Stage 1 – Define the Problem: Clearly define the nature of the conflict and the fundamental issues. Show appreciation for what is working well.

Stage 2 – Clarify the Needs: Clearly identify the needs of everyone involved. By taking everyone’s perspectives into account, you are likely to develop solutions that benefit everyone.

Stage 3 – Generate Possible Options: Generate a range of possible solutions. This will help everyone involved analyze the plausibility of different options and their potential viability.

Stage 4 – Evaluate Proposed Options: Develop criteria that can be used to examine and evaluate each option. Example of questions: Do all members understand the solution? Is it realistic? Are all members of the team committed to the idea? What could go wrong? What are the potential benefits?

Stage 5 – Develop an Action Plan: Choose an effective solution, ask these questions to develop an action plan:

·         What small steps can the team take to achieve the best results?

·         Who will take the lead for each step? Who else will be involved?

·         What is the time frame for each step?

·         What criteria will be used to evaluate the plan’s effectiveness?

Stage 6 – Develop a Contingency Plan: Develop a written contingency plan in advance in case you encounter unforeseen circumstances in implementing the action plan.

While each conflict is unique, this basic framework can make the process of understanding and resolving the conflicts much easier.

Moving toward understanding conflict and using it to increase personal and workplace growth are the first steps to seeing conflict with insight and perspective. As educators and administrators, we need to step out of old beliefs, ideas, and habits and see with new eyes. Using our new-found conflict resolution skills, we can identify different types of conflict, examine and better understand them, and find a “win-win” solution for everyone involved. (Fernandez, 2002)



This study entitles, Strategies to Manage Conflict within Higher Education. Conflict is a normal cycle of life. Thus, it gives pains and sufferings to both parties. In this study, the researcher is seeking for plausible ideas that will manage conflict accordingly and concisely. The researcher will look for the best management strategy to manage conflict within higher education.


The study will be conducted within the locality. Further evidence regarding the background and significant information about the school will be leave unattached for the purpose of confidentiality.


The respondents’ of this study has a total population of fifty male and female students within higher education. They are randomly selected with the age bracket of 18-25 years old taking up Masters in Business Administration.


The data will be gathered through a checklist survey distributed to fifty male and female students within higher education taking up masters in Business Administration. Answers will then be analyzed and interpreted.


The researcher will use a checklist survey (question and answer), to gather the information needed for the study. Results are analyzed critically to get the utmost result.


The self-formulated checklist survey may be distributed to higher education students with the age bracket of 18-25 years old with the degree of Masters in Business Administration.


The researcher aims to get the efficient and sincere answers from the respondents. The data gathered will be interpreted to promulgate better ideas and strategies to manage conflict since it cannot be avoided.



Conflict is a normal cycle of life giving opportunities to every party to grow and develop into a better individual accepting differences and weaknesses. Though sometimes it is interpreted as a nightmare by the persons involve in it, yet it enables them to suggest insights to strengthen a relationship. Conflict occurs at any places, any time and to anyone. In this study, the main focus is to provide evidence of a strategy that will manage conflict within higher education.

Duffy Robins in Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts cited and list some relevant causes of conflict. These causes of conflict were used to measure what are the most common causes of conflict among students within higher education. A graph below will show the percentage comprises in each cause.

The researcher gathered information through assessing the main cause of conflict to come up with the best solution. The researcher believes that before making conclusions to the problem; settle it first from the main cause of the problem to determine appropriate moves. Every detail must be inculcated with proper solution and good judgments.

Table 1

Interpretation of data

On the survey conducted, the most common cause of conflict is the lack of communication with an average rate of 22 percent. This shows that conflict evolves when there is a lack of communication between two of more people. Communication is a vital part in the existence of humanity. A world cannot function well without proper communication. People commu