The Conflict Management Life Cycle

Crisis Management (Contingency Planning)
Knowledge Center


Mohammad Hamdan
Russian Federation

The Conflict Management Life Cycle

The company is exposed during its activities to a set of conflicts with its stakeholders, and it is necessary for the company to manage any conflict arising according to its interests. Therefore, public relations officials have to develop communication strategies and processes to influence the course of the conflict according to the interests of their company. This intentional effect is called "strategic conflict management".

(Strategic / Organizational) Conflict Management Definition

Conflict management is the process by which a positive change in behavior is brought to prevent, lessen and end an arising conflict with another party through a specific approach of dealing with the causes, symptoms, dynamics, transformation, containment, settlement and resolution.

The Conflict Management Lifecycle. Phases

The conflict management life cycle shows the general form of how a strategic organizational conflict should be managed. It can be divided into four basic phases. However, in actual practice these phases are not absolute and certain techniques may overlap. The four conflict management phases are:
  2. This is the stage that precedes the emergence of the conflict and includes the development of effective plans to prevent its emergence or getting out of control. This stage is considered one of the most important stages of the conflict management life cycle, because proper preparation, and effective management at this stage is likely to at least lessen the negative effects arising from any conflict, and to prevent the escalation of any problem from the level of a conflict to the point of a crisis. This phase includes:
    1. Environmental Scanning: This method involves observing current internal and external affairs with an eye on the interests of the organization.
    2. Issues Management: This is after the problems appear. Here the attention is more focused and systematic, and it must move from monitoring to tracking in various ways, such as the daily narration of news stories.
    3. Crisis Plan: This method is applied through the development of a strategic contingency plan to address the problems arising.

  4. At this phase, the problem is identified, which has become an emerging conflict in urgent need of the required effort from the Public Relations department. In this phase, three broad strategies are implemented:
    1. Risk Communication: Dangers and threats are reported to the specialists, to prevent personal injury and environmental damage. This reporting continues as long as the risk persists or escalates into a crisis.
    2. Conflict-Positioning: Through the strategies of the conflict positioning, the organization is able to position itself in a positive position in the face of any measures against it such as litigation procedures, boycott, elections, and other events in which public opinion plays an important role.
    3. Crisis Management: When efforts to resolve the conflict fail, risk communication strategies are ineffective, and the conflict is close to becoming a crisis, a plan should be developed based on crisis management strategies.

  6. Once the impending issue or conflict reaches a point where it can scandalously affect the organization, public relations officials should interact with events in the external communication environment as they begin to unfold through:
    1. Crisis Communications: The plan drawn up in the previous phase (second phase) is put into practice.
    2. Conflict Resolution: This is done by following a set of techniques that will transform the issue from a heated conflict to an appropriate solution. Whether through negotiations, conciliation or arbitration.
    3. Litigation: Litigation or trial procedures are supported by Public Relations by communication strategies and publicity efforts.

  8. In the aftermath of a big and hot conflict, or a crisis, from which the organization has suffered, its reputation will be damaged. Therefore, the organization should use the strategies to repair or enhance its reputation in the eyes of the public. This is done through:
    1. Reputation Management: This includes systematic research to find out the state of the organization's reputation, and taking appropriate steps to improve it.
    2. Image Restoration: Image restoration strategies are employed, when the damage to an organization's reputation due to poor management of issues, controversies, or callous responses to a crisis, is severe.
    Despite the great challenge that a conflict can pose to an organization, specifically for its public relations department, it is possible to manage it. If this is done well and good conflict management is performed, the organization achieves a set of major gains.

    ⇨ Do you like this Lifecycle Model of Strategic Conflict Management? Please share your opinions and any other information here.

    Jillian Lang, (2009), "Theoretical Overview of Issues Management", team5im.
    O. K. Ohanmu, E. Ohanmu, (2016), "Conflict Management", p. 21.
    Jessica (2006), "Conflict Management Process", PR-Crisis and Management.



Strategic Conflict Management Life Cycle

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