Student Research Projects

Diversity and Workplace Conflict: Challenges and Solutions

Student Alexis Brown, ‘14
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Management, Business and Economics
Course MBE 315: Managing Diversity in Organizations


Today’s workforce has become increasingly more diversified in terms of factors such as ethnicity, culture, language, age, and religion (Arlington & Borstorff, 2011). Most people tend to think of diversity as bringing together people of different backgrounds and experiences. However, those same differences (perhaps a lack of understanding of those differences) can often serve as the source of conflict among people in the workplace. As more companies seek to diversify their workforces, the potential for conflict increases. One of the reasons for the apparent increase in workplace conflict is the increase in diversity without a similar increase in understanding and acceptance of our differences (Fralix, 2010). When conflict is handled constructively, positive outcomes result. Destructive behavior damages the opportunities for positive discourse (Bohlander, 2010). This paper examines workplace conflict and how diversity creates more opportunities for conflict. It also examines how employers can manage workplace diversity and better deal with employee conflict. Workplace conflict, though inevitable, is manageable. Conflicts related to employees’ differences can be used as opportunities for dialogue and growth.