Conflict, in a professional and/or academic context, is a disagreement between individuals who interact and impacts the smooth progress of projects and the group dynamic in general. It is part of life and can be based on differences in values, motivations, interests, visions of project development, experiences, or culture, as well as behavior that does not follow the rules usually in place within the institution.

Rather than avoiding conflicts, the focus is primarily on identifying, managing, and resolving them as they emerge. A conflict that escalates can have a significant impact on the individuals involved, as well as on their collaborative environment and the overall work and/or academic atmosphere.

Conflict resolution aims to restore a collaborative attitude in service of the institution's missions. It is important to re-establish communication and create regulatory spaces allowing the various sides to express themselves to build credible and viable solutions for all individuals involved.

Conflict, in itself, does not constitute an infringement upon personality rights, but if it degenerates, persists, escalates, it can lead to a hardening of positions and provoke hostile and violent behaviors. Violence, discrimination, and harassment (psychological or sexual) then become direct infringements upon personality.


  • Personal conflicts: incompatible personalities, tensions, rivalries, poor understanding of each other
  • Positional conflicts: different approaches to a project or goals, unclear or imbalanced workload distribution
  • Conflicts of ideas or values: collaborative difficulties related to identity, cultural values, or different ideologies

Examples of consequences of conflicts:

  • Demotivation and decrease in performance
  • Creation of cliques, spreading rumors
  • Disruption of communication channels, withholding of information
  • Absenteeism
  • Presenteeism (being present at work without delivering expected performance)


Narratives reconstructed from real events handled by the University of Geneva.


Two people disagree on how to collaborate. In front of a third person, and in an urgent situation, the tension rises. One says, "you are not professional", the other responds, "it's nonsense." Their conflict is structural, meaning it pertains to their job responsibilities (what should be done, by whom, when...). One of them is accused of "encroaching" on the other's work. Over time, the conflict tends to become interpersonal, leading to a loss of trust. People avoid working with each other, and sometimes they no longer greet each other.


A student is facing challenges in completing their thesis: "The professor does not communicate with me; meetings are scheduled, and I am not included, despite having reported it. I had an appointment with her, but she didn't show up; I had to follow up several times. When I presented my results, another person from the department criticized everything. They are against me and claim that I create a negative atmosphere in the department." The conflict revolves around communication issues, work organization, expectations regarding each person's role in research collaboration, and responsibilities when multiple individuals supervise a thesis student.