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The Case Study


Read the below case study.  Use your knowledge of conflict, stages of conflict and conflict resolution to answer the questions below. 

Joan had been working at Café City for 9 months. She was only 18 but she enjoyed her work and was a very efficient employee. 

City Café had decided they needed to employ a Supervisor. They placed a job advertisement in the Brisbane Courier Mail and started interviews. 

Joan was not happy with their decision to hire someone outside the establishment. She felt that she should be the first in line for this position given her time working for the café. 

After interviews the café hired a 25 year old called Kate. Kate had been working in the industry for 6 years and had excellent practical and professional skills. 

Kate took on the role with enthusiasm and looked forward to getting to know her fellow employees. Unfortunately over the following 4 weeks Kate felt that Joan was not very friendly towards her. Joan would mutter things under her breath, deliberately not perform tasks required, and would not talk to Kate unless necessary. 

Kate began to feel uncomfortable with the situation and thought that the problem needed to be addressed. She however did not feel confident in dealing with the situation and avoided the problem for another 3 weeks. Kate then decided to discuss her concerns with her Manager. 

1. Would this situation be identified as conflict? Explain why.

2. What stage was this conflict at? Explain.

3. What do you feel caused this conflict? Explain

4. How did Kate identify that there was conflict occurring?

5. How did Joan feel? Were her feelings justified?

6. How did Joan contribute to the conflict?

7. How did Kate feel? Were her feelings justified?

8. How did Kate contribute to the conflict?

9. Explain the 5 conflict resolution strategies/styles a workplace manager can adopt? Identify and explain which strategy would be appropriate for resolving the conflict.

10. Explain the 5 steps to resolving conflict in a team environment. Apply these 5 steps to the above conflict scenario.

11. Who should be informed of this situation? Who should be involved in resolving the conflict and why?

12. What could have happened to prevent this conflict prior to Kate starting?

13. Explain how the manager may contribute to the escalation of the situation? 

1. There are four types of conflict that can occur in a business organization. The types include interpersonal conflicts, conflicts due to lack of interest, conflicts due to limited resources and unclear definition of job roles. The type of conflict shown in this case study is interpersonal conflicts that refer to personal issues within an organization between individuals. This is evident from the reaction shown by Joan towards Kate, who was recently employed (Types of Conflict., 2016).

2. There are five stages of the conflict in the business organization. The first stage is the potential opposition and incompatibility which connects to the second stage of recognition followed by the third stage "intention" connecting to the fourth one "behavior" finally the last stage outlining the outcomes.

Identifying Conflict, Stages of Conflict, and Conflict Resolution

The case showed here represents the second stage which is the recognition. The personal grudge and issues of Joan with Kate are well recognized and understood by Kate. She is yet to discuss with Joan about the issues (5 Stages of Conflict and Workplace Conflict Resolution, 2016). 

3. Joan is an efficient employee and has been working for nine months in this cafe. Therefore, she is accustomed to every need and objectives of this establishment. She was dissatisfied because the cafe company put up an advertisement for hiring a supervisor and in doing so they were hiring people outside the establishment. Joan though that she was appropriate for the post.

4. Kate recognized that Joan was not happy with Kate becoming the supervisor by her behavior which showed signs and symptoms of dislike. Kate as observed and noted that Joan was deliberate in not doing her tasks properly. Moreover, Kate has also observed her murmuring silently in grudge. Joan would also not interact properly with Kate until and unless it is necessary.

5. Joan felt that injustice was done to her since she was from the establishment with experience. She felt that instead of hiring from outside her should have been selected as the supervisor given her experience. Her feelings are justified because she has contributed her efforts to the company for nine months, and she knows all about the company so it would have been a good idea to hire her instead of someone outside the establishment.

6. Joan's lack of understanding contributed to the conflict. She wasn't able to accept Kate and whatever the company did to hire the supervisor. Her unfriendly behavior contributed to the conflict. Joan wasn't being professional from her end and was violating the ethics that she should have while working in an organization 

7. Kate herself did not contribute to the conflict as such. Kate was not even aware of the feelings of Joan and that she is dissatisfied with the company's decision to hire Kate. However, Kate could have initiated discussion and open sharing of this problem with Joan. Kate was newly employed.

8. Kate's feelings were justified. Kate felt uncomfortable Kate was efficient and has an experience of 6 years in the related industry. She was enthusiastic and looked forwards to establish a good relationship with all the employees but was not able to do so for Joan's behavior. Kate started feeling uncomfortable and unhappy because of the environment as created by Joan.

9. The five strategies that are adopted to minimize the conflict in an organization. The strategies are accommodation, which adapts and changes things according to the requirement of the opposition. The second one is the avoiding, which is avoiding the conflict to prevent any confrontation. The avoider hopes that by avoiding or rather delaying the conflict and its discussion, it will get resolved with time. However, avoidance might also result in further conflict. The avoidance takes time but at times are effective in dissolving the issue. Collaboration is another strategy. Collaboration is the integration of each or multiple employees towards a solution for the conflict. In doing so, a solution is created which is accepted by all. Therefore, collaboration is an efficient process n minimizing the conflict in the organization. Compromising is another step towards resolving the conflict in an organization. Compromising requires both the parties to negotiate to a point and compromise their demands up to a point were both can be satisfied. “This strategy prevails most often in conflicts where the parties hold approximately equivalent power. Business owners frequently employ compromise during contract negotiations with other businesses when each party stands to lose something valuable, such as a customer or necessary service.” Competition is another way out where both parties can compete and the winner wins by his/her capabilities." Competition operates as a zero-sum game, in which one side wins and other losses." In this case, competition would be most appropriate given the behaviour of Joan towards Kate (5 Conflict Management Styles at a Glance, 2011). 

Conflict Resolution Strategies in the Workplace

10. In a case of conflict among the team members of a team, the following strategies or steps can be implemented. The first step that can be taken is the preparations of the resolution by acknowledging the conflict, analysing it, preparing discussion and methods of cooperation, communication and agreeing to agreements. The next step would involve the analysing and understand the situation. This can be done by clarifying the situations and also listing out the problems and causes of it. This step also involves subdividing the team and then analyzing things separately. The next step is reaching an agreement after analyzing all the facts and figures and making the assumption; it is finally the time to reach an agreement based on the understanding of the team members. The last most valid step that needs priority is the prevention step. As we all know that prevention is better than cure. This concept needs to be implemented in his sector as well. Prevention involves the analysis of the possible conditions that may result in conflicts. The assumptions made collaboration, competitions, cooperation and much more. Prevention should be the priority of every company when it comes to the conflict management (, 2016).

11. The manager and the team leader should be informed about the ongoing conflict in the organization because it them who does the decision making. The decision making procedure, recruitment and also team handling is the job of the team leader and the manger. The first line of managers, therefore, should be informed along with the human resource department. For resolving the conflict, the party in opposition needs to actively participate in the conflict management strategies. The team members and also other people might be involves depending upon the severity of the case.

12. Prevention is the best step that can be taken before the outcomes of the conflict. In this case, before Kate started working the managers and the people involved should have had an analysis of the possible causes of the hard feeling that Joan has for Kate. They should have gone for an open discussion with Kate and Joan in such cases. Joan should be counselled and compromising step should have been considered in such cases. At the same time Kate should also have been informed so that after starting, her behaviour towards Joan was different and open enough for discussion.

13. The manager may contribute to the conflict by inefficient communicating and lack of management skills to minimize the conflict or its onset. The manager's lack of communication may lead to improper treatment to Joan, who is feeling insecure. Manager's partiality may also escalate the conflict and lack of compromising and negotiation attributes. The manger, therefore, needs to analyse the situation and act accordingly with maximum humility to consider other's worth and demands in a sustainable and just manner. Therefore, managers play a very important role in the conflict management. 


5 Conflict Management Styles at a Glance. (2011). Retrieved 25 May 2016,

5 Stages of Conflict and Workplace Conflict Resolution. (2016). Udemy Blog. Retrieved 25 May 2016,

Types of Conflict - Conflict Resolution, Definition of Conflict, Conflict Management Styles. (2016).Types of Conflict. Retrieved 25 May 2016.

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