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Role Conflict & Ambiguity

In: Business and Management

Submitted By simonealicia
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In chapter 4 of our textbook, we visited the subject of Role Conflict and Role Ambiguity. They are both similar in that they both result in some level of conflict, however they are also very different. This paper shares some examples of both subjects and further explains their difference and similarity.

Describe a situation in which you experienced role conflict or role ambiguity. What caused it? How are the two ideas related, and how are they different?

Role ambiguity occurs when a person is unsure about the role that is to be performed, or unsure about how to approach a certain situation (Newstorm, pg 90, 2011). People become unsure about their roles because it has not been appropriately defined and communicated. I experienced this once a couple of years ago, where I was working as a Library Assistant. The previous librarian had resigned and for some months I was reporting to the second in command. During this time I was put in control of many of the tasks of a Librarian, and so when a new Librarian was appointed I felt reprimanded for taking initiative to continue these tasks. I presume that as an assistant, I was not eligible to perform some of the tasks that I had been, however when the new Librarian came in there was no clear understanding of what was to be done differently; Communication was lacking in this situation.
Role conflict is where the expectation and/or perceptions of a role to be performed are misunderstood (Newstorm, pg 90, 2011). Role conflict is different from role ambiguity in that role ambiguity is related to no knowing what is required in a role. Role conflict is about one person playing more than role and sometimes these roles overlap and therefore causes confusion in how to proceed. An example of such a moment would be a Manager who is also a Mother. As a manager she may have to work late on occasion, however she needs to attend to her young child. The conflict here is whether to perform her Mother role or her Manager role.
Role conflict and role ambiguity are different and yet similar. They are similar because in both situations divergence is present and can prevent productivity.


Newstrom, J. (2011). Organizational Behavior: Human Behavior at Work. (13th Ed.) New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.…...

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