What do you do when the people who are involved in a conflict are pressed for time or are located far apart? Online collaboration tools are opening new approaches for conflict resolution.
The Internet and e-mail have changed ehe environment in which organizations operate. E-mail allows us to send messages with ease and speed. The Internet gives unprecedented access to a wide array of information. This changing technological landscape has not only affected employees but also the customers, suppliers, shareholders, and bureaucrats with whom they interact. While e-mail and the Internet may have increased organizational performance, they have also added new types of conflict. Significantly, they have led to shifts in the power balance between organizations, employees, and consumers.
All organizations have conflict management systems and manage conflict along a continuum of consciousness. There are those that are "consciously competent" in uic way they nurture their conflict management system to maximize the opportunities for growth.
Those that are unaware of their conflict management system are "unconsciously incompetent" in their management of conflict. Organizations that approach conflict with any degree of consciousness appreciate that the use of e-mail and the Internet need to be integrated into an overall approach to conflict management.
The use of e-mail continues to expand, replacing more traditional modes of organizational communication. Managers routinely use e-mail to keep their employees informed and to follow up on face-to-face interactions. E-mail is also used to make unpopular requests and to avoid complaints. Referred to by some as the "coward's choice," e-mail enables unpleasant business to be dealt with at a distance. As with face-to-face communication, e-mail presents new opportunities for confusion, misunderstandings, and avoidance, and because there are no nonverbal cues, the potential for miscommunication increases.
The Internet, as a generator of choices, provides new venues for conflict to...