Chapter 9. Reducing Conflict Between Teams

Thus far we have focused on designs and methods for increasing the team effectiveness within a work unit. But often a major organizational problem is the lack of teamwork between work units. In fact, teams that become too cohesive and too self-involved may be ineffective in their working relationships with other groups with whom they must coordinate.

Because of the importance of dividing labor into various organizational units to promote efficiency, such units are, and should be, different from each other.[1] They have differing tasks, goals, personnel, time constraints, and structures, and therefore these units are bound to function in different ways. The issue is not how to make all teams the same but how to develop processes that allow these different work units to work together effectively. One strategy for bringing greater integration between work units is an interteam-development program.[2] In this chapter we will explore the causes of interteam conflict and discuss the various team-building options that have been used successfully to reduce conflict and promote cooperation between teams.

Diagnosing the Problem

An interteam-development program may be considered when two or more teams, which must collaborate for each to achieve its own objectives, experience one or more of the following conditions:

  • Team members avoid or withdraw from interactions with people from the other team when they should be spending more working time together. ...

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