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Project Management: A Managerial Approach, 8th Edition by Samuel J. Mantel Jr., Jack R. Meredith

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CHAPTER 4

Managing Conflict and the Art of Negotiation

Conflict has been mentioned many times thus far in this book. This chapter is about conflict. It is also about negotiation—the skill required to resolve most conflicts. The question arises, why should there be so much conflict on projects? One of several causes is that conflict arises when people working on the same project have somewhat different ideas about how to achieve project objectives. But why should such a disagreement occur? Is there not “one best way?” There may be one best way, but exactly which way is the “one best” is a matter surrounded by uncertainty. For example, the client of the project's outputs often has a substantially different point of view than those at the input end of the project, such as suppliers, or functional managers. And other stakeholders may have even different points of view, such as the project's top management, or the local community, or the project firm's lawyers. Most conflicts have their roots in uncertainty, and negotiation is a way of managing the resultant risk. Therefore, this chapter is also about risk management, about dealing with conflicts that often arise from uncertainty.

As we will see in Chapter 6, the process of planning a project usually requires inputs from many people. Even when the project is relatively small and simple, planning may involve the interaction of almost every functional and staff operation in the organization. It is virtually impossible for these interactions ...

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