Background of the study
Today‘s construction projects become more complex in nature. The complex,relational and lengthy process of designing and building makes construction a process in which disputes are virtually ensured. Furthermore, the involvement of multidisciplinary in the construction project also leads toconflicts among the parties. It seems that conflict and disputes are inevitable to the construction industry especially when most of construction projects are facing with so many uncertainties.
A study by Kumara swamy&Yogeswaran provided a good reference of the common sources of construction disputes that are largely related to contractual matters, including variation, extension of time, payment, quality of technical specification, availability of information, administration and management, unrealistic client expectations and determination. In other research by (Kathleen, 2003a) highlighted conflicts may develop as a result of limited resources such as not enough time, money, labour, materials and/or equipment. Smith describes conflict and disputes as an endemic problem in the construction industry. Conflict may difficulties communications between individuals, breaks personal and professional relationships and reduces effectiveness.
Conflict produces tension and distracts team members from performing the task. According to Cheung &Suen, if dispute are not properly managed, they may cause project delays, undetermined team spirit, increase project costs and above all, damage continuing business relationships. Thus it is not surprising that many construction stakeholders still overwhelmingly view conflict as negative and something to be avoided or resolved as soon as possible. However, there are many authors have pointed out conflict is a phenomenon that may give rise not only to functional but also dysfunctional effects on individuals, groups and organizations. As today‘s claims and disputes keep increasing, the construction industry struggles to find ways to equitably and economically to resolve them. According to Shin, managing disputes should become a part of normal project management during project operation because disputes in construction projects are common place and the resolution need to occur immediately on the project site.
Brown et al highlighted that conflict is doubt or questioning, opposition, incompatible behavior, controversy or antagonistic interaction and disputes is one of the range of events considered as conflict. According to Kumaraswamy&Yogeswaran, a dispute can be said to exist when a claim or assertion made is made by one party is rejected by the other party and that rejection is not accepted.‖ This shows that disputes is more likely occur when the conflicting parties shows an action or arguments to a controversy. Referring to Vorster, a dispute is defined as an argument about an issue concerning project operations, usually resulting from a debate over differences in two or more parties‘ understanding of situation.This statement is supported by another statement by Deutsch that defines conflict as incompatible activities; conflict occurs when the behavior of one person is interfering or obstructing the actions of another. There are perhaps as many definitions of conflict as there are occasions for its occurrence. According to Thomas there are three themes among the definitions of conflict. The first is that whether conflict exists or not is a perception issue. The perceived difference may not be real but conversely if the difference is real but not perceived there is no conflict. The second common theme is that there is interdependence among parties (i.e. each has the potential to interfere with the other). Third, there are issues of blockage, opposition, and scarcity. Resources, for example, money, power and prestige, arelimited. Their scarcity creates blocking behavior. When one party blocks the means to a goal or interest of another, a state of conflict exists. These numerous definitions show that scholars are looking at conflict from different angles but are there a difference between conflict and dispute and if so, should we concern ourselves with the difference? Some authors do not differentiate as Moore manages to mix the two terms in the first paragraph of his Chapter 1. However, most of previous research defines conflict and disputes shares the same definition that is generally involves disagreement regarding interests or ideas and that was adopted for this research. The important issue is both of the terms has historically been viewed as undesirable, something to be avoided.
1.2 Statement of the problem
No matter how strategic you are in attempting to resolve a difference of opinion with another person, as long as it is framed as a conflict and viewed by at least one of you in terms of one person being “right” and the other as “wrong” no real progress is made in the relationship. A battle will be won, but a war will rage on. The presence of right/wrong dynamics in a relationship indicates a power struggle and not the process of co-creation by two equally respected partners. Whether deciding what to have for dinner, when and how to express shared intimacy or any other decision that affects both partners, ultimately it is the decision making process rather than the decision itself that speaks volumes about the quality of consciousness being expressed in the relationship.