ZIMSEC O Level Business Studies Notes: Managing Human Resources: Trade Unions and Businesses: Conflict and ways of resolving conflict

  • Conflict can be defined as a disagreement or incompatibility that arises from two or more parties having different expectations or objectives
  • Friction or opposition resulting from actual or perceived differences or incompatibilities.
  • In organisations conflict usually arises because the various stakeholders have different objectives
  • When conflict arises it has to be resolved
  • Conflict resolution is a process aimed at eliminating or alleviating the discord (conflict)
  • This process is also known as conflict management
  • There are three typical ways of resolving conflict:
  • Mediation
  • Conciliation and
  • Arbitration


  • Is a way of resolving conflict
  • The two parties in conflict seek the help of an impartial and ¬†independent third party
  • This party/person is known as a mediator
  • The process is voluntary
  • The mediator tries to amicably guide the process in a constructive way
  • This is done by facilitating the communication process between the two parties in dispute
  • The mediator helps the parties involved in the dispute or conflict to come to a mutually satisfactory outcome
  • The outcome is not binding


  • Takes place under the purview of a conciliator
  • Who is an independent and impartial third party
  • The process is voluntary
  • The conciliator is usually an expert in the field in question for example a retired judge in a labour dispute
  • The conciliator tries to help the parties to come to a mutually acceptable solution to their conflict
  • The conciliator may and usually offers his expert opinion when needed
  • The conciliator may also come up with a non binding recommendation which will help resolve the conflict


  • Is overseen by an arbitrator
  • The arbitrator is a neutral, independent and impartial third party
  • They are usually an expert in the matter being adjudicated
  • The process can be voluntary or involuntary for example when mandated by a court of law
  • Both parties make their presentations and the arbitrator makes a decision which is binding


  • This is involves the use of courts
  • The grieved party known as a plaintiff takes the matter to civil, labour or any other court
  • A judge or magistrate then hears arguments from both parties
  • The magistrate/judge then makes a ruling which is binding

NB When the resolution process fails in instances of conflict between the employer and employees, employees can take part in industrial action while employers can also take action

To access more topics go to the O Level Business Notes