The Upside of Conflict

Too many organizations ignore or avoid addressing internal conflict. A healthy perspective on disagreement can increase resilience and spur needed innovation.

Intraorganizational conflict can arise from many different sources. A sudden shift in donor priorities can upend current programming. A change in politics or public policy can make an organization’s mission less relevant or viable. Potential negative publicity about an overseas branch can spark heated debate about whether and how to deal with it. Substantive disagreements between boards and executives or between field offices and headquarters are common. The question is not simply whether conflicts arise, but rather whether organizations are equipped to deal with them.

The authors' research into the topic has revealed that they are not. 

Publication date: Winter 2019

​Alan Fowler

Honorary Professor Chair of African Philanthropy, Wits Business School

University of the Witwatersrand

​Elizabeth Field

Conflict Advisor, International Secretariat

Amnesty International

​Joseph McMahon


Collaborative Processes, LLC

President, Inter-Mediation International

Grants Management Professional Competency Model

Cross-Cutting Competencies

  • Communications: Listen to others and communicate effectively.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in grantmaking practices.
  • Staff and Volunteer Development: Build the capacity of staff and volunteers to be successful in their grantmaking role.