Goal Conflicts and Organisation
That there are goal conflicts in organisations is undisputed by scientists or practitioners. However, there is much less agreement about how this phenomenon is to be explained and evaluated and how it can be dealt with.
From a system-theoretical viewpoint, organisations are constructed around conflicting goals. To put it even more bluntly: ‘they consist’ of goal conflicts which, in the long term, cannot be prioritised. The latter – goal conflicts can be dissolved by means of setting priorities – would mean that central decisions in organisations are cemented in favour of a decision pole. Thus, on the one hand, the organisation’s resonance ability towards change in the environment would be reduced (it would become rigid); on the other hand, and more importantly, the organisation would have to assume that, in its environment, it would only encounter consistent expectations that are compatible with their own goal weighting.
This is illusory. Organisations serve many expectations: markets, customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, authorities, local social environment, creditors and many more. These expectations are conflicted and cannot be internally resolved in such a way that a clear hierarchy of purpose is created.
Organisations often solve the problem in such a way that the goal settings are so abstractly formulated that they conceal how many conflicts they hide. In this way they can be processed ‘subcutaneously‘.