What Is Task Conflict? - Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:00 Definition
  • 0:19 Components of Conflict
  • 1:36 Example
  • 2:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Learn about the concept of task conflict as well as some of its key components, and see some examples to help illustrate the idea. You'll have a chance to take a short quiz after the lesson.


In a business or organization, task conflict occurs when two parties are unable to move forward on a task due to differing needs, behaviors or attitudes. It can be conflict over organizational policies and procedures, distribution of resources or the method or means of completing a task.

Components of Conflict

Let's dig a little deeper into the idea of conflict so you can get a better picture of task conflict. You can think of conflict as having three different components. The first component is behavioral. It occurs when someone actually interferes with your goals or objectives. For example, imagine you wish to keep your work cubicle neat and tidy, but your cube mate is sloppy. The moment you clean up the cubicle, he messes it up, thereby interfering with your objective. This is the behavioral component of conflict.

The second component is cognitive. It is a disagreement between you and someone else due to a divergence between your interests, needs and objectives and those of the other person. For example, let's say you and a fellow researcher both need to use the company's supercomputer to process data on separate research projects. You disagree which about which research project has priority because it's in both of your interests to finish first, but only one of you can. This is a cognitive component of conflict.

Finally, the third component is the affective, or emotional, component. In the case of conflict, it means negative feelings such as anger, resentment and aggression. If you get into a fight with a coworker over personal resentments, for example, this is an example of the affective component of conflict.

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