What’s The Relationship Between Conflict And Negotiation In Tech Companies

An excerpt on what evidence-based research has to say about conflict and negotiation and how we can apply these ideas to modern technology organizations.

Chuma S. Okoro
3 min readMar 22, 2023

When managing people and organizations, it will be difficult to avoid conflict and situations that involve negotiation. Also according to evidence-based research, avoiding them can have detrimental effects on you and your organization. As a result, it is pivotal that people that want to manage their organizations and themselves well, know the fundamentals of these concepts.


Conflict, an occasionally destructive force, occurs when two or more people/entities believe one another has opposing ideas, beliefs, or actions. They can come about when resources are minimal, goals are misaligned, or even when disrespect is sensed. For example, many minor conflicts for new software engineers come about when they put out their first piece of code. Many senior folks will come to them and say how they disagree with the ideas in their code and request changes. These opposing ideas can lead to the newbie feeling disrespected and boom conflict.


Luckily, there are resolutions to a conflict that you can leverage, namely, negotiation. This is a process where the parties involved in the conflict try to meet the interests of all the parties to satisfy everyone. Although difficult to do, negotiation has been proven to be the best way to maintain cooperation amongst these parties in the future. Using the same example with the engineers, oftentimes, the engineers can meet to discuss the potential changes and express why their rationale and come up with a solution that works for both parties.

Cross Unit Conflict

Sometimes the aforementioned conflicts can be bigger in scope than just individuals writing code. In large organizations, these conflicts, called cross-unit conflicts, occur at the business unit or department level. This is because dividing up work can be tricky and is never so clear-cut. Inevitably, stepping on toes will happen when the responsibilities of one unit’s domain affect the goals of another. For example, many technology organizations have infrastructure units and product units. These infrastructure units are often responsible for building the platforms upon which the product units build new features on their applications. Let’s say the product unit wants to build some very important and time-sensitive new features on their app like messaging capabilities between users. This will likely require some new infrastructure. Who should be responsible for getting this set up? Is it the infrastructure team that has goals for making infrastructure for the entire company better? Is it the product team with goals to deliver the new product quickly? Although these conflicts can be difficult to resolve, having them can be healthy and necessary for an organization, according to evidence-based research.



Chuma S. Okoro

Sr. Software Engineer @ Bloomberg. I love talking about technology and business. Every article has my opinion backed by my experience, education, and research.