Conflict Management

The only way out of conflict is through it: it is inevitable, and often desirable in a diverse system. While conflict can lead to greater organizational creativity, it often makes people feel uncomfortable or anxious. People may try to manage their discomfort with conflict in different ways, such as: avoiding the feelings and the issues or people that seem to stir them up; confronting it head on; or trying to get rid of the people that are perceived to be causing the conflict. It is important for organizations to be able to work with difference and with the conflicts that it generates. However, when conflict occurs consistently between specific individuals or groups within an organization it is usually a symptom of a larger organizational issue. Getting rid of a “problematic” employee or group may work temporarily, but often results in conflict surfacing in another part of the system.

Tracy Wallach works with conflicting parties within an organization to uncover the underlying issues of a conflict.

  • Are there structural issues (e.g., role or task conflicts) that need to be clarified?
  • What are the parties involved “holding” on behalf of the larger system?
  • Is there a larger organizational conflict that needs to be explored that is being given expression by the conflicting parties?
  • What is happening in the larger environment? How does the organizational conflict reflect or mirror the external context?


  • Assessment
  • Facilitation
  • Mediation
  • Training
  • Workshops and Retreats
  • Consultation

Conflict Management Additional Resources

  • Berg, D. N., & Smith, K. K. (1987). Paradoxes of group life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Duek, R. (2001). Dialogue in impossible situations. Paper presented at the SOCI Conference, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Fisher, R. J., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (1981, 1991). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in (second ed.). New York: Penguin Books.
  • Fitzduff, M., & Stout, C. E. (2006). The psychology of resolving global conflicts: From war to peace. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Security International.
  • Mindell, A. (1995). Sitting in the fire: Large group transformation using conflict and diversity. Portland, OR: Lao Tse Press.
  • Wallach, T. (2004). Transforming conflict: A group relations perspective. Peace and Conflict Studies, 11(1), 76-95.
  • Wallach, T. (2006). Conflict transformation: A group relations perspective. In M. Fitzduff & C. E. Stout (Eds.), The psychology of resolving global conflicts: From war to peace (Vol. 1, pp. 285-306). U.K.: Praeger Security International.
  • Wallach, T. (2010). Authority, Leadership and Peacemaking: The Role of the Diasporas: A Pilot Study of a Group Relations Conference. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA.
  • Wallach, T. (2012). Authority, leadership, and peacemaking: The intersection of the personal and political in a group relations conference. Organizational and Social Dynamics, 12(2), 171-193.
  • Weeks, D. (1994). The eight essential steps to conflict resolution: Preserving relationships at work, at home and in the community. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
  • Wineman, S. (Ed.). (2003). Power under: Trauma and nonviolent social change: Self-published.