Conflict and Levels of Analysis

Conflict arises when two or more parties believe their interests are incompatible, express a hostile attitude, or pursue their interests through actions that harm the other party. Our modern world experiences varying degrees of conflict that involve religious, tribal, national, racial, and sociocultural tendencies. These macro aspects of the conflict are overt or outward expressions of the offended group's dissatisfaction, designed to harm the other group(s) or to diminish, if not eliminate, existing intergroup relationships.

A conflict that has moved to the macro level becomes complicated for the parties involved to resolve their differences personally unaided. Therefore, this article examines effective conflict resolution and management styles from a macroeconomic perspective.

Levels of Analysis in Conflict Resolution between Individuals

Life is full of conflict. Most conflicts between people occur in the context of human society. The exception is if the two are on a deserted island. Conflict resolution methods can be classified according to the degree to which the surrounding social context determines the outcome.


Morals are a set of rules for resolving conflicts that almost everyone in society agrees on. Therefore, this is the highest level of conflict resolution.


Politics is the process of winning over as many people as possible. The general idea is that the more people agree with you, the more likely you will be the winner.

Direct Action

Direct action refers to methods of conflict resolution that either ignore or positively avoid interaction with society outside of the conflicting parties (of course, all members of society can be involved in a major conflict, in which case there is no external intervention). Hence it is the lowest level of conflict resolution.

Levels of Conflict in the Workplace

It includes −


This level relates to an internal dispute and affects only one person. This conflict arises from your thoughts, emotions, ideas, values, and dispositions. For example, this can happen when you struggle between what you "want" to do and what you "should" do.


This conflict occurs between two or more people in a larger organization. This may result from different personalities or views on goal attainment. Interpersonal conflicts can even arise without either party realizing that the conflict has ever happened.


This conflict occurs between members of the same group when multiple people with different opinions backgrounds, and work towards a common goal. While they may all want to achieve the same goal, they have differing views. Conflicts within the group can also arise when team members have different communication styles and personalities.


This conflict occurs between groups within a larger organization or groups with different common goals.

Macro & Micro Level

Conflicts can occur at either the macro or micro level or between the two. Macro refers to large-scale, global events, such as conflicts involving two or more countries. Micro conflicts occur between two people or between small groups. Most peace and conflict studies academics study at either the macro or micro level, but they occasionally try to generalise back and forth between them. However, in recent years, several researchers have focused on the level between macro and micro. Conflict resolution practitioners deal with big groups and organisations and small groups and interpersonal interactions.

Dealing with Conflict at All Levels

Conflict can be constructive in the workplace because it opens up new ideas and perspectives for employees and creates opportunities to find new and unique solutions to problems. Here are a few steps to resolve any level of conflict in the workplace.

Dealing with Intrapersonal Conflict

Intrapersonal conflict can occur daily, but managing it can sharpen your critical thinking and decision-making skills. To deal with intrapersonal conflict −

  • Follow Your Values: Determine how conflict affects your core values and what is essential to your productivity in the workplace. Then, think of solutions that match your beliefs and motivations.

  • Check Company Policies: If applicable, check company policies related to the conflict. Then, follow established procedures or ask your manager for direction.

  • Write down the Conflict: Review the pros and cons of your conflict and anticipate the results of different resolutions. Then, consider choosing a resolution that offers more benefits or better results.

  • Do not Forget the Time: Think about how much time you have to find a solution. Then, consider setting a deadline to ensure the conflict is resolved quickly.

Interpersonal Conflict Management

Interpersonal conflict management enables team members to work together towards a solution. Colleagues can improve their relationships and even develop entirely new strategies or problem-solving. Here are four steps you can use to resolve interpersonal conflict in the workplace −

  • Define Conflict: Begin by identifying exactly what the conflict is, including what caused it and how each party responded to the situation has reacted. Then, look at the situation from each person's perspective to determine what each party wants and needs to resolve.

  • Put the Conflict in the Context: Discuss the impact of the conflict on each party, project, and workplace. This step can help each side understand the importance of resolving the conflict and motivate them to work together to find a solution.

  • Creation Options: Let each side come up with an idea for solving the conflict, each side taking turns. This step allows each side to determine how the conflict can be resolved peacefully. The parties can also brainstorm together to find solutions that benefit all parties.

  • Agree on a Decision: As a group, find a decision that will benefit each party. Consider including a goal setting in this step to evaluate and measure the progress of the solution.

Managing Intragroup Conflict

Managing intragroup conflict can help keep employees productive and ensure teams achieve group goals. Here are three steps you can take to resolve intragroup conflicts effectively −

  • Discuss the Conflict as a Team: Openly discuss what caused the conflict and what each side thinks about it. This step ensures that everyone is involved in finding a solution and can discuss the problem honestly. Next, ask each team member to explain why they hold their position and discuss the information behind those beliefs.

  • Small Group Collaboration: Divide the team into smaller groups with different viewpoints. Analyze the conflict and discuss the pros and cons of different solutions. Then, get together as a team and ask the groups to share their ideas. Smaller groups can allow for a more thorough discussion since fewer people are trying to argue their points simultaneously.

  • Make a Decision: As a team, decide what course of action to take or determine if further brainstorming is needed. Finally, ensure everyone is happy with the decision and committed to the proposed strategy.

Managing Conflicts between Groups

You can use conflicts between groups to build relationships between teams, generate new creative ideas, and increase employees' confidence in overcoming future conflicts. Here are three steps to help get you started −

  • Discuss the Issue with all Relevant Parties: You may engage in conversation with large groups, such as in an open forum. This situation may work for issues that affect a large group of people and can be used to hear various perspectives, ideas and concerns with a smaller group of stakeholders.

  • Have a Closed Meeting with Necessary Stakeholders: Sometimes, address an intergroup conflict with only a few necessary people, such as team leaders or department heads. This step can come after holding an open forum or be the primary resolution tactic.

  • Gather a variety of Possible Solutions: Encourage each side to hold meetings to discuss issues as they arise. You can move team members from one team to another so they can better see the issue from the other team's perspective. Then brainstorm together the solutions that will have the most positive impact. Finally, to come to a decision, you should conduct a poll to assess each party's interest in the proposed solutions.


Conflicts erupt in all areas of life and can be effectively dealt with by addressing the root cause of the problem and gradually resolving the conflict. Conflicts occur at numerous levels. These levels are interrelated and consistently linked to one another and should not be considered independent entities. Furthermore, conflict and violence can exist on more than one level, and when this occurs, the attempts to address them must be multilayer as well. Conflicts can occur at either the macro or micro level, or in between. Individual, social, international, and planetary levels of conflict can be distinguished from the macro and micro levels of conflict. Another method for analysing conflict levels is to consider the current problem, the relational aspect, the subsystem, and the systemic concerns.

Updated on: 14-Mar-2023


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