of Conflict: An Academic Sampler
by Gregg Walker,
Professor of Speech Communication at Oregon State University
a component of his course COMM 440/540 - Theories of
Conflict and Conflict Management, Gregg Walker developed
this table providing a sampling of various scholarly definitions
of conflict. Professor Walker warns his students that
this page is "continually under construction" and that
additional definitions may be added as they are discovered.
People interested in watching the evolution of this table
can visit the original at his course
conflict is a struggle between opponents over values
and claims to scarce status, power and resources.
that are strategic are essentially bargaining situations
in which the ability of one participant to gain his
ends is dependent on the choices or decisions that
the other participant will make.
exists whenever incompatible activities occur . .
. one party is interfering, disrupting, obstructing,
or in some other way making another party's actions
is a process in which two or more parties attempt
to frustrate the other's goal attainment . . . the
factors underlying conflict are threefold: interdependence,
differences in goals, and differences in perceptions.
means perceived divergence of interest, or a belief
that the parties' current aspirations cannot be achieved
are communicative interactions among people who are
interdependent and who perceive that their interests
are incompatible, inconsistent, or in tension.
van de Vliert
activities-- occurs within cooperative as well as
competitive contexts . . . conflict parties' can hold
cooperative or competitive goals.
is the interaction of interdependent people who perceive
incompatible goals and interference from each other
in achieving those goals.
Walker notes: "As Table 1 reveals, these definitions
have much in common. First, they indicate the inevitability
of conflict in human affairs. Second, they reveal
key features of conflict situations. Many of the
defninitions, for example, stress that conflicts involve
interdependent parties who perceive some kind of incompatibility
How do you define conflict? Are there any unique aspects
of conflict in higher education settings?
project of Campus Conflict Resolution
Supported by a FIPSE grant from the US Department of Education
and seed money from the Hewlett Foundation-funded CRInfo
to CMHE Report
(Attn: Bill Warters)
Campus Conflict Resolution Resources Project
Department of Communication
585 Manoogian Hall
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48201.
send comments, bug reports, etc. to the Editor.
© 2000-2005 William C. Warters & WSU,
All rights reserved.