Alternative name(s)

Conflict Management
Conflict Control
Alternative Dispute Resolution (Gianna,2008)


In dictionary, conflict has been defined as a seriously disagreement or argument. For a project, there are mainly three types of the conflict: goal-oriented conflicts, administrative conflicts and interpersonal conflict (Verma, 2008). The process of conflict resolution involves the reduction, elimination, or termination of all forms and types of conflict. According to Verma, traditionally, it was the project managers responsibility to release the conflict within the project, usually through an authoritarian method. However, it is not an effective approach when the conflicts are repressed or inherent because they will be hard to identified or solved completely. Moreover, the positive factors (Such as Settlement or Negotiation) brought in by conflicts could be neglected.

The previous literature has provided fundamental concepts for conflict resolution (Velasquezet al, 2008): conflicts should be prioritised so that the general conflicts and more particular conflicts can be assigned into different position of a hierarchy; the conflict resolution proposal should be organized in a hierarchy according to their generality and specialty; once a conflict occurs in the project, it should be assigned to the category in the hierarchy to which it belongs and then mapping it with corresponding resolution to eliminate.

Agile values

Respect(XP value)
Respect is the precondition of resolving conflicts between different stakeholders because it contributes to mutual understanding and cohesion. An respectful relationship increases one’s willingness of standing on the opposite position to deal with problems and thus finding out the the real concerns of others. Emotionally, human have the desideration to be respected and trusted as it is part of self-fulfillment. With respect, people can feel that they are indispensable to the organization and their opinion is important to each decision. Consequently, they will be pleasure to communicate with others and communication is an effective way to resolve conflicts.

Openness (Scrum)
Information nonidentity is a major reason for conflicts because misunderstanding will occur and along with people’s suspicion and even hostility. In a project, information transparency will facilitate team coordination and effective communication. With shared information, each team or party of the project will be aware of their responsibility and what kind of support they should offer to help achieve their collaborative goals. Openness can bring in interaction of each participants and let them understand their combined responsibilities with others so the conflicts can be mitigated.

Agile principles

One agile principle that closely relates to the conflict resolution is the business people and developer must work together daily throughout the project (Agile Manifesto). To prevent conflicts in a project, the project team must work together with the customer/client to get the requirements of what the clients really wants. By having regular and constant meetings with the customer, the development team can get early feedback about the work they have done and can improve on it if customer wants any change.thus it can prevent any conflicts that may be arise.

Another agile principle that can relate to conflict resolution is Build projects around motivated individuals. 
Give them the environment and support they need, 
and trust them to get the job done. If the development team is given enough support and trust they needed, the development team might be of full potential and people may work together to get the job done

The most efficient and effective method of 
conveying information to and within a development 
team is face-to-face conversation. This principle can be also related to conflict resolution, since many conflicts arise due to the communication being poor within the development team due to misunderstanding between the development team.

Agile practices

Onsite customer (XP practice). This practice can be related to conflict resolution since, if the customer is available onsite with the development team, the team can resolve any conflicts that will arise if the customer wants any changes to original specifications.

Active stakeholder is an agile practice that can be strongly related to Conflict resolution. If the customer is strongly involved with the development team, then the team can resolve any conflicts that may arise during the development process. By having regular short meetings, the development team can gather inputs from the customer and implement into the working software.

One other agile practice that can be related to conflict resolution is collective ownership. by using collective ownership, everyone has a shared responsibility to work together and if any changes needed to be done, the development team can have a short meeting to discuss what changes had to be done.


In traditional method, there are five ways to resolve a conflict. the first one is confronting which is also described as collaborating, integrating, problem solving and win-win style.this method involves having a face-face meeting with the conflicting parties by co operating to achieve a satisfaction that will be agreed by both the parties.the second one is compromising which is also described as give and take style where two conflicting parties agree to a solution that is mutually acceptable. The third method is smoothing which is referred as accommodating or obliging style which involves the users emphasise on the area of agreement and the downplay of any disagreement.the fourth method is known as forcing where one party involves in the project has a upper hand over the other party and ignoring the concern and needs of the other party which would lead to one party being the winner. the final method is avoiding which involves the issue being postponed or withdrawn altogether(ohlendorf,2001).
In agile method, however there are five levels of conflict. the first method is problem to solve which involves sharing of information and team is focus on what is the main problem and how to fix it. the second level is the disagreement where people are necessarily don't share the information with one another and keep it to themselves. the third level is contest where people align with one another and build the cases while people and problems are becoming synonyms. the fourth level is crusade where protecting one's priority becomes the focus and language will be idealogical. the final level known as "world war" where one party not only wins but others must lose which would lead to no constructive outcome can come out of the conflict.
Responding to change rather than sticking to plan can reduce conflict occurring

Links from this KA to other KAs

Conflict resolution is related to stakeholder management and change management. Conflict between stakeholders is hard to prevent as their interests is different. Conflict resolution can reduce negative impact of these collision on the project. Change is the main source of conflict because if everything progress as agreed plan, no conflict will occur. .


Adkins, L. (2010). Navigating the Five Levels of Conflict - The Agile Way. [Available]: Last accessed 11/03/13.

Gianna, T. (2008). Avoid court at all costs The Australian Financial Review Nov 14, 2008.74(2), 200-342

Ohlendorf, A. (2001). Conflict Resolution in Project Management.[Available]: accessed 10/03/13. 86 (1), 125-198

Velasquez, J. (2008). Systematic resolution of conflict situations in collaborative facility design. International Journal of Production Economics. 116 (1), 139-153.‍

External links
..........PMI approach to conflict resolution ..........APM approach to conflict resolution