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Understanding Stakeholder Conflict Management Using Social Identity Theory


Project frameworks give project managers a variety of social identities to choose from (Fang & Zhang, 2021). Thus, grasping project management disputes requires an understanding of the social identification concept. A heritage of conflict in project management difficulties is created by a number of elements, including present stakeholders and project management techniques, as well as the legacy of stakeholder behavior and interactions. – This type of dysfunctional disagreement causes delays in decision-making. The bond between people and organizations is strengthened as a result of the long-term nature of conflicts, but the prospect of cooperation and compromise is limited. This article examines significant literature on project management conflict, focusing on the importance of functional conflict and interactive practice, as well as applying the notion of social identity to better understand stakeholder engagement in projects. This essay will begin by explaining why project management conflict is a concern in projects, why it is such an important component of project management that it is worth studying, and why it is an issue in projects. Why is social identity a useful tool for analyzing stakeholder conflict? The research then undertakes a conflict-based project management analysis based on relevant literature, examining key features of stakeholder participation as well as project conflict. based largely on the findings of these investigations, breaking through the prism of social identity theory integrating significant conflict factors, such as stakeholders and project managers into project management control. The study will then give a social identity theory-based explanation of conflict management among stakeholders. Also, the literature review looks at how project conflicts influence project managers’ perceptions of project control challenges. Finally, this research provides new insights on project management disputes and stakeholder engagement.

Importance of Conflict in Project Management

Conflicts in project management are unavoidable. When stakeholders from various experiences and perspectives work together to achieve a project, conflict is more likely to happen. Differences in values, attitudes, requirements, expectations, perceptions, resources, and personalities can be the core causes of conflict in team initiatives. Conflict management skills can assist project managers and other stakeholders in efficiently managing and resolving disagreements, resulting in increased project productivity. Conflict is a good thing. It raises awareness of current concerns and motivates people to seek out better solutions. When conflict is valued, it fosters an atmosphere in which change is seen as a positive development, whereby problems can be bettered, and where creativity may flourish.. It also aids in the successful decision-making of teams and the strengthening of relationships. As a result, project managers must view disagreement as a source of learning and a means of moving the project ahead. Project managers and project stakeholders can use conflict to address and expose unanticipated challenges. It helps people stay true to themselves by allowing them to notice and capitalize on differences.

Working styles and cultures change as a result of conflicts (Rahim 2001). The project environment may be changed by identifying the reasons of problems and suggesting remedies. Project disputes are a boon to stakeholders and project managers. When project disputes are identified early on, new and effective communication avenues open up. A healthy project conflict provides an outlet for stakeholders and project managers to express their emotions and sentiments. Stakeholders and project managers are taught a lot about themselves and others via project disagreements. Conflict can lead to more powerful project work as a result of its aftermath. Project competitions can be used by businesses to restructure their organisation behavior and resolve issues without jeopardizing the project’s value. Conflicts may cause project managers to reevaluate their goals and responsibilities. It allows them to have healthy talks and improves the Project’s overall productivity and performance. In addition, disagreement encourages individuals to think outside the box and come up with new ideas. The competition pushes project managers to be creative. Furthermore, disagreement promotes unstructured thinking. This is critical when dealing with ambiguous circumstances. When disagreements emerge regularly, project managers can quickly and efficiently think through and handle them.

Literature Review

Some researchers have looked at the reasons of conflict in general project management. The reasons for conflict in construction projects can be classified into three main categories contractual, behavioral and technological issues (Jaffar et al., 2011) Additionally, Leung et al. (2013) assert that the imbalance of power and group interests lead to conflict . The complexities of project stakeholders can result in poor contract design and execution, poor planning, financial challenges, and other issues. As a result, arbitration may be necessary. In building projects, a lack of communication between parties can lead to problems.

Concurrency, on the other hand, is frequent in many aspects of the project, according to AlSedairy (1994). The fundamental cause for this isn’t a lack of technical understanding or managerial tactics, but rather diverse perspectives, priorities, and objectives. Procurement procedures, according to Pesamaa et al. (2009), can lead to possible disputes, unfriendly relationships, and poor project outcomes. Communication issues between clients and contractors in the building business have also been investigated (Mitkus & Mitkus, 2014). Sun and Wang (2015) argue that conflict tends to focus on getting the desired reward due to information asymmetry. Contract conflict concerns are most widespread in the Middle East’s construction business, according to Awad et al. (2016), resulting in major delays and increased project costs. Conflict is inevitable in all projects, and it may have either beneficial or bad outcomes depending on how the project manager manages the project. Most studies focus on the negative consequences of conflict. (Lee et al., 2016). Litigation is the issue that has the biggest impact on project costs, according to consumers and contractors involved in building projects (Brockman, 2014). Project stakeholders’ conflict can also have a detrimental influence on the project’s cost and schedule (Moza and Paul, 2016). Aside from the negative repercussions of conflict, several good outcomes have been observed. The correct degree of dispute, according to Leung et al. (2002), can foster group invention. Vaaland (2004) investigated the issue of customer-business interactions and discovered that they can help to reduce tensions between two parties and lead to stronger bonds. In addition, Yiu and Cheung (2006) discovered a link between project team disagreement and stress levels. This has a minor impact on project team members’ behavioral flexibility.

Social Identity Theory in understanding Conflict Management

The most extensively utilized theoretical lens, especially for understanding the dynamics of organizations, is the social identification approach. This is a “meta-theoretical viewpoint” (Hornsey, 2008) that incorporates notions from both social identity and stereotypes (Mason et al., 2014). Any interaction between groups, as well as how someone accepts an organization’s identity and how social elements might alter that organization, are examples of social identity strategies. Because social groupings are vital for task control activities, social identification is relevant for investigations. It has been employed to recognize the complexity of the work through the wide application of the notion of identification. Few studies have attempted to explain stakeholder processes using knowledge of socially defined tactics, particularly during project conflicts. Some people, on the other hand, employed social identification approaches to better comprehend the effects of stakeholder ideas in the workplace. Crane (2011), for example, highlights the importance of social identification in selecting which stakeholder organizations individuals should join and which to engage with in order to better understand how companies identify socially. Stakeholder behavior is influenced by associations. Through the application of social identity, Rowley and Moldoveanu (2003) examine the social elements that encourage stakeholders to behave in the industrial environment. The concerned agencies can no longer work just to fulfill particular goals, but must also authenticate their identification as members of the organization, as evidenced by their actions.

The concept of social identity is founded on the basic distinction between “in-group” and “out-group.” One individual defines a group inside a group. Belonging to a group that satisfies basic human wants and hence identifying with the group is thought to improve human happiness (Greenaway et al., 2016). Individuals can be integrated into numerous groups at the same time, but their performance is influenced by the social situation (Haslam 2000). A person may be a mechanic, a parent, a cyclist, and a vegetarian all at the same time, for example. When working at a mechanic shop, their mechanic identity is most obvious, yet when speaking with the parents of a childhood friend, they have the most parental identity. In both circumstances, they will equate with all four groups, but the social environment places a premium on the related identity. The importance of identity excellence is that it gives a person with norms and behavioral cues (Tajfel and Turner 1979; Haslam, 2000). By categorizing themselves by ID, people can obtain new ingroup IDs. Declassifying (no longer differentiating from the group) or reclassifying (reclassifying IDs inside the group into a different meaning) might also put you outside the group (Tajfel et al., 1971; Haslam, 2000). A non-identifiable outgroup is one in which no one can be identified. The connection between a person and their outgroup is often determined by disparities in this approach. Like nationality and gender, the boundary between within and outside a group is fairly evident. This indicates that people build a sense of self based on a specified outside group and differentiate themselves from an unidentified outside group (Haslam, 2000). It is increasingly vital for both inner and exterior groups to contribute to people’s sense of self. Inside-group partiality and out-group animosity describe connections within and between groups, according to the social identity theory (Hogg and Abrams, 1988). People with a common internal identity have a favorable attitude toward one another, as well as similar values, beliefs, and subjective facts (Haslam, 2000). Out-group animosity is a stereotyped, suspicious, divisive, and generally antagonistic attitude toward people from other groups (Hogg and Abrams, 1988; Haslam, 2000).

In order to develop in-group bias and out-group antagonism, neither the in-group nor the out-group must establish significant differences. Many empirical research have revealed that following arbitrary or simple categorisation of study participants, group preference emerges (Tajfeletal. 1971; Haslam, 2000). The basic process of producing within and outside the group leads to ingroup preferences, according to these small group experiments. Indeed, the grouping is believed to be determined by the number of dots counted by the participants in the shot, or by two artists’ preferences (in reality, the group is random) (Tajfel 1978). Group allocations, on the other hand, are said to be fully random (Brewer and Silver 1978). Within-group preferences, on the other hand, were never detected in isolation from the intergroup environment. Participants aren’t only looking to make the most money. Instead, there is an internal bias for external group status. Even though absolute average returns are declining, participants aim to enhance their profits beyond out-of-group rewards (Haslam, 2000). Prejudices are frequently the source of out-group hatred. At this point, belonging to the outgroup is viewed as a social identity rather than a personal one (Haslam, 2000). When there is both a dominating identity within the group and a perceived conflict with those outside the group, prejudice is perpetuated. Prejudice can be good or negative, but all biases are damaging to the individual who is prejudiced (Siy & Cheryan, 2016). This is due to preconceptions that cause mankind to be dehumanized. This is due to the fact that it is possible to justify harming others. The victims, after all, are simply archetypes (Haslam, 2000). Participating in non-individual out-of-the-box groups on a regular basis can help people become more conscious of stereotypes. Interpersonal ties may, in fact, transcend preconceptions and help re-humanize group members (Fielding and Hornsey 2016). The way a group of individuals makes decisions is also influenced by group dynamics. When a common group’s identity is highlighted, the group will place a greater emphasis on obtaining consensus inside the group than than assigning significant ratings to nonconforming options. It’s linked to the binding group parameter, which stresses the group members’ homogeneity. Within a group, individuals endeavor to encourage one other’s views and reject disputes in order to preserve consensus (Hogg and Abrams, 1988). If this occurs in the setting of out-of-group disagreement, cross-group comparisons will amplify the consensus-seeking effect, making the current argument more severe (Haslam, 2000). Furthermore, various justifications have been used to support the argument, although not all of them reflect the band’s or members’ genuine viewpoints. Ingroup members will participate in activities that are both (or either) goal-oriented (e.g., an activist group achieving a positive policy outcome) and identity-oriented (e.g., an activist organization pursuing a favorable policy outcome). In the second situation, rather than achieving a specific objective, actions might be performed to increase the prominence of a preferred social identify. Participants in the ingroup will have similar norms. This is accomplished by ‘practicing’ social identity and continual norm negotiation among non-organizational members (Haslam 2000; Rowley and Moldoveanu 2003; Gray 2004).

The management of identification firms is pushed largely based on the context between enterprises, according to social identification approaches. In non-combat scenarios, the identifying organization’s leader reflects the “average” of all participants in the organization. As a result, the boss has a strong identify with the organization’s many viewpoints. While organizational management suffers from de-organization, it is forced into a strict function that supports polarization with de-organization before dismissing it (Haslam2000). This is said to represent the organization’s attempt to set itself apart from the outgroup and underline the contrasts between internal and external stakeholders. Because the struggle against disorganization likely leads to stereotyping of disorderly individuals, this polarization is a perceived contrast between the “good” and “bad” qualities of organization. It aids in the explanation

The most widely used theory for studying group dynamics is the social identity approach (Hornsey 2008). The intricacy of how groups develop and interact is revealed by this technique, demonstrating its use in examining stakeholder conflict in general. a larger audience Rowley and Moldoveanu (2003) and Crane and Ruebottom (2003) extended the social identity method to stakeholders in the business management environment (2011). Using a social identity method, Rowley and Moldoveanu (2003) investigate how stakeholders would organize around a corporation. They show that stakeholder theory and social identity techniques are naturally compatible, and they claim that social identity should be used to analyze stakeholder behavior. The authors, for example, illustrate how stakeholders would mobilize not only in reaction to material concerns about corporate behavior, but also to support corporate identity, using a social identity method. their socioeconomic status (e.g. as an activist). To firmly establish “real world” stakeholder theory, Crane and Ruebottom (2011) suggest that stakeholder theory must be defined in terms of social identities, not corporate relationships. The social identity method to project management was used to investigate various attitudes about project management. The idea is that utilizing an approach to analyze conflict is a relatively new area of research with promising outcomes, but only a tiny amount of research has been done in this area (Fielding and Hornsey 2016). The social identity method sheds light on differences between stakeholders and project managers about how project activities are viewed in a study of attitudes toward project management challenges. This is a firm that might be able to fill the hole. The social identity method sheds light on differences between stakeholders and project managers about how project activities are viewed in a study of attitudes toward project management challenges. This is a firm that might be able to fill the hole.

StollKleemann and Welp (2006) offered the social identity approach as a viable tool for studying conflict discourse in their project. Social identities clash through an identity framework in their conversations to encourage intra-group advocacy and separation from outside the group, according to Disputation. The project’s approach to conflict management and analysis was validated through applied research based on social identity. The Actors Network Study in Coastal Management, by Masons et al. (2015), illustrates that ignoring the intergroup parts of ENRM might lead to inferior results. In this situation, antagonism between groups based on divergent social identities harmed the prospects for cooperation required for sustainable coastal management. Brian (2008) looked at the dispute between loggers and environmentalists via the prism of social identity. In this scenario, the conflict between the organizations suggests that finding an effective solution to the land use issue has reached a stalemate. The creation of a global identity, according to the social identity perspective, is a crucial aspect prior to the final resolution of a dispute. The same ID is shared by members of a prior concurrent group.

Hunter-conservationist conflicts were also shown to indicate a sort of group conflict based on social identity. These findings were echoed in a research by Lute and Gore (2014) on wolf management conflicts between hunters and environmentalists. Intergroup conflict between the “Conservator” and “Wise Use” groups characterizes this conflict. Each advocate for a distinct method to wolf control, and group interactions are marked by conflict where groups differ. These things, however, were shared, according to a research by Lute and Gore (2014). The possibility for comprehensive identity formation based on wildlife management is demonstrated through intergroup trust. These studies show how the social identity method may be used to explore the complex intergroup components of project conflict.

Although the social identity method is extensively utilized and accepted, it is not without criticism, which focuses on conceptual areas where the theory falls short. Rubin and Hewstone (2004) are worried that social identity theory lacks sufficient detail on social and systemic circumstances, and that the social identity method is lacking in information about intergroup behavior. Emphasize the importance of incorporating the perspectives of. Similarly, owing to perceived rigidity of theoretical rules and reduced complexity, such as tolerance for social identity, Hornsey (2008) has minimized the possible constraints of the social identity method. It describes the reasonable thinking possibilities. However, research into social identity and self-classification is continuing in the field of social psychology, refining the region to which the original theory was expanded (e.g., Grant’s certainty and Hogg (2012)). Despite these concerns, the social identity method remains a key theoretical framework for comprehending and interpreting group dynamics (Haslam 2000; Hornsey 2008). Haslam (2000) suggests a number of fundamental processes by which links between groups are generated through the model’s social identity process, based on research on approaches to social identity. project conflict as a concept The distinction between within and outside the group is the most fundamental difference in social identity. The individual’s group is defined as the group. The group to which the person is not a member (Tajfel 1982). It’s possible that there will be some outgroups. At any given time, a person can be a member of many outgroups. The differentiation and link between internal and exterior groups, on the other hand, is central to the social identity approach.

Conflict in project management and its study through the lens of a social identity approach, highlighting some of the major processes that promote conflict knowledge and, more crucially, recognition of the conflict’s temporary reinforcing character. Project management in the aftermath of a dispute. Each social identification mechanism, on its own, provides a theoretical foundation from which certain features of project conflict may be investigated in order to uncover the underlying causes for project conflict. Extending study in this fashion is beyond the scope of this publication, but the research’s direction is worth exploring further. Overall, the social identity approach of the conceptual model illustrates how polarized relationships across stakeholder groups follow and perpetuate participation patterns that conflict with project management difficulties. Stakeholder leadership may draw project managers into predefined and opposing viewpoints by continuing to promote the agenda and strengthening the norms for involvement in project management challenges. This may impede the capacity to start communication in order to identify innovative solutions to project difficulties, since conflict parties are distracted by apparent incompatibilities based on previous experience. The argument is that there are always exceptions for stakeholders and project managers, just as there are for any other generalization process. The accuracy of the social identity approach, on the other hand, is widely established and empirically confirmed (Haslam 2000; Hogg and Abrams 1988).


In summary, a number of factors have been identified to mediate a tradition of conflict in project management problem – it’s the kind of functional conflict that causes delays in decision-making. These factors include current stakeholder and project management practices, legacy of stakeholder behavior and interactions. As this article shows, the long-term nature of conflict emphasizes the interaction between individuals and organizations while reducing prospects for collaboration and compromise. This study has studied and assessed the relevant literature on project management conflict, including the predominance of functional conflict and interactive practice, as well as applying the idea of social identity to understand stakeholder participation in projects. To begin, this essay outlines why project management conflict is a worry in projects, why it is such an important component of project management, and why it is worthwhile. Why social identification approaches are useful for analyzing stakeholder conflict is the subject of research. The study then expands on its examination of project management conflict by covering essential features of stakeholder involvement as well as project conflict from relevant literature. The outcomes of these investigations have been examined through the lens of social identity theory. Integrate significant conflict factors, such as players and project managers with certain backgrounds, into project management control. The research then uses social identity theory to give an explanation of conflict management among stakeholders. Finally, the literature study addressed the influence of project conflict on the project manager’s perception of project control challenges, as well as objections and suggestions for documenting project conflict. management of a project In addition, this article has provided fresh insights on project management conflict and stakeholder involvement. Furthermore, the social identity method explains and clarifies how people in groups interact, as well as how people might join groups. Individuals’ social identities describe who they are, explain how they see themselves in social groupings, and suggest which social standards they are likely to agree with. Social identity has been employed by some scholars to better understand stakeholder relationships in the corporate world (Crane and Ruebottom, 2011). The environment is the field of environmental psychology. The importance of social identity in conservation behavior is also discussed. However, although attitudes and activism (Stetsand Biga 2003; Donoetal. 2010; Men. 2014; Unsworth and Fielding 2014; Bliuc et al. 2015) and land identity (DevineWright 2013) have been applied to understanding stakeholders in project management competitions, the application to understanding stakeholders in project management competitions is relatively rare. Although some scholars use the social identity approach to explain and understand changes in identity and relationships between stakeholders in various project disputes (Lewickietal. 2003; Wondollecketal. 2003; Bryan, 2008; Lute and Gore 2014), the use of social identity approaches to analyze and understand the broader sociopolitical context of project management conflicts has yet to be researched. The many social identity techniques investigate group norms and interactions between groups, as well as their influence on reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving. As a result, integrating stakeholders and project managers, who are at the center of project management disputes, is required when using a social identity approach to project management. This white paper has given an outline of various project management aspects. Conflicts are analyzed and comprehended via the lens of social identity, and the concepts and consequences of social identity methods are examined. This article explores how to understand the complex and often unseen social structures that underpin project management competition, as well as how to open the way for new ideas to adjust current project management techniques to minimize conflict, using an integrated approach to social identity.


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