Under escalation (Greek σκάλα (scale), "Head", French escalier , "Staircase") are understood in conflict management and in policy behavior patterns that the transition of a conflict to a higher level of intensity mutually by intensifying actions and reactions contribute or in the Organizational theory can lead to the relocation of decisions and information to a higher hierarchical level in conflict situations. The opposite is de-escalation .
Escalations are mostly due to conflicts. Escalation and de-escalation are behavior patterns that can be used consciously or intuitively by conflicting parties . They are to be found frequently in everyday life , be it in the private sphere , in and between organizations and their bodies , in society or between states .
Escalation is therefore an object of knowledge in many individual sciences , for example in psychology , social psychology , organizational theory , organizational psychology and in communication and conflict research . The escalation of conflicts in the sense of an intensifying, difficult to control, hostile intensification of forms of interaction is as omnipresent as the conflicts themselves.
In conflict, irreconcilable action tendencies clash. In conflict management, escalation is a situation in which changes in the degree or intensity of a conflict occur. The escalation does not occur suddenly, but results from an escalation history. The increase in the intensity of the conflict takes place in stages. The conflict researcher Friedrich Glasl lists 9 escalation levels in conflicts.
- Stage 1 ( win-win ):
- Hardening: Conflicts are initially not noticed, then the points of view harden and tensions arise.
- A debate can lead to polemics and polarization .
- At least one of the conflicting parties acts because they believe that words no longer help.
- Level 2 (win-lose):
- During the formation of the front, coalitions are found to strengthen one's own position. It's no longer about the conflict issue, but about victory.
- Loss of face is provoked by unmasking, one's own person is elevated, that of the conflict party is degraded.
- Sanctions ( violence , punishment ) and ultimatums are set.
- Level 3 (lose-lose):
- The opposing party to the conflict should now be harmed .
- Attempt to split up the coalition partners of the opposing conflict party, martial language emerges.
- The total confrontation no longer allows any possibility of retreat.
In level 1, the escalation can be ended and the conflict can still be resolved, in the second level one conflicting party will lose, in level 3 both parties will lose.
Escalation of political conflicts
Of the 634 inter-state disputes that occurred between 1900 and 1983, 468 were confined to two states. In 28 of these 468 conflicts (5.9%) war escalated into war . Of the 166 conflicts between at least three states, 39 (23.5%) escalated into war. The escalation to war is therefore four times as high if more than two states are involved in a conflict, because with every additional interference by a state, the probability of escalation increases dramatically. The intervention of the first state increases the probability of an escalation to war from 6% to 17%, that of a second state to 22% and that of a third state to 36%.
In organizational theory, too, a conflict is the starting point for an escalation. In companies , certain decisions are transferred to lower hierarchical levels by way of delegation . The decision-makers favored by this delegation must escalate vertically in the event of disruptions within the framework of the incident management by shifting the decision actually within their area of competence to the next higher level ( hierarchical escalation ). Disruptions can be departmental conflicts or opposing decisions by different decision-makers in the same case. This is not an unauthorized return delegation . Examples of this are at departmental conflicts when an expert is not a project is stopped, banking in credit decisions the opposing votes in the same credit event (see Back Office ) or in the judicial system when a Court of Appeal wishes to deviate under certain conditions of a decision of another higher regional court ( § 121 para. 2 GVG ). In all examples, the next higher hierarchical level must be called; in the case of higher regional courts, the final decision is made by the Federal Court of Justice .
In project management , escalation describes the step-by-step delegation of a project problem area to a higher authority. This occurs regularly when the escalating level does not have sufficient resources or room for maneuver or competence to initiate measures to remedy the problem. As a rule, the so-called steering committee is called for this .
Managers often have to deal with conflicts, either because they arise between employees or because they are themselves involved in disputes. From a leadership perspective, real conflicts consist of paralysis at work , escalation and personal involvement. Superiors must recognize the impending or actual escalation and actively seek to resolve the conflict .
In the field of social psychology , communication theory and systemic social work , the term escalation is used to characterize relationship developments that show an increasing intensity curve, such as competitive relationships and developments in love.
Also complementary relationships can escalate: Thus, for example lead to a large offer of help to the person being helped is more helpless, which in turn leads to an increase of the auxiliary supply.
The cascade effect is a special form of escalation . It describes a declining social career in which the reactions of one person or group to one misfortune become the trigger for the next.
Other subject areas
The term escalation also plays an important role in evolutionary biology . There, escalation is the phenomenon that in the history of the development of animals and plants, on the one hand, more and more organisms have produced weapons of attack and defense and, on the other hand, these weapons have become increasingly effective.
In computer science , the term is used in database theory for hierarchical locking procedures; The so-called lock rescalation refers to the process when many fine-grained locks are released on objects of a lower level and instead fewer and more coarse- grained locks are set on objects of a higher level, so that the overhead of managing the locks is reduced; however, this process increases the likelihood of locking conflicts.
The term is often used in everyday language among young people. In this case, escalation means that so much of a drug is consumed until a state of intoxication occurs or even beyond this limit.
In companies, loss escalation is the term used to describe the fact of “throwing good money after bad money”, i.e. not breaking off bad investments , but using other means to “rescue” them. The decision-makers stick to their wrong decision and try to correct the wrong decision by investing more capital . The escalation of losses can take three forms:
- In the case of an investment , unforeseen events occur that increase the investment ,
- there are unforeseen reductions in benefit with the same investment expenditure,
- the investment causes unforeseen damage .
The loss escalation is based on three principles:
- an objective risk is subjectively underestimated,
- Unrealized losses are already a sunk cost ( English sunk costs rated) that are not considered further because of their "factual inevitability", and
- it starts a new profit - loss -Kalkulation.
The - actually necessary - termination of a bad investment is seen as a wrong decision to be avoided.
For example, in the banking sector, losses escalate in the lending business when the credit risk of a borrower increases and a loan becomes a non-performing loan , but the bank does not cancel the loan in the hope of restructuring or even grant further loans.
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- Walter Milowiz: Vicious circle and life path - systemic thinking in social work . Springer Verlag, Vienna 1998, ISBN 978-3-211-83129-8 , doi: 10.1007 / 978-3-7091-9481-2 .
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- ^ Rainer Zimmermann: The strategy book . 2011, p. 21
- ↑ Heinz Schuler, Niels Birbaumer, Dieter Frey, Julius Kuhl, Wolfgang Schneider, Ralf Schwarzer (eds.): Encyclopedia of Psychology . In: Organizational Psychology , Volume 4. 2004, p. 202
- ^ Friedrich Glasl: Conflict Management . 1999, p. 215 ff.
- ↑ Wolf-Dieter Eberwein: Political stability and conflict . 1983, p. 196
- ↑ Tomas Bohinc: communication in the project . 2014, p. 73
- ↑ Anke von der Heyde, Boris von der Linde: Conversation techniques for executives . 2009, p. 197
- ^ Alois Clermont, Wilhelm Schmeisser, Dieter Krimphove (eds.): Personnel management and organization . 2015, p. 217