Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Conflict Theory


Conflict theory in finance refers to the perspective that economic differences lead to disagreements and conflicts among individuals, groups, or societies. It asserts that these conflicts arise from the inequality in the distribution of resources and power. In essence, it is used to understand how financial inequality can lead to disputes and societal discord.


The phonetics of the keyword “Conflict Theory” are: /ˈkɒnflɪkt ˈθɪəri/

Key Takeaways

  1. Focus on Societal Power Structures: Conflict Theory is primarily focused on the inherent divisions of societies. It emphasises on the power differentials and structures within a society, often revealing how those with more power use it to maintain their status and advantage over those with less power.
  2. View on Society as Dynamic: In Contrast to other theories that view societies as stable and properly functioning, Conflict Theory sees society as constantly changing due to conflicts arising from differences in socioeconomic classes and other inequalities. Society is seen as a platform for competition and conflict which drives social change.
  3. Role in Social Change: Conflict Theory underlines the importance of power struggle in sparking societal changes. It suggests that change, rather than being a smooth and continuous evolution, is more often abrupt and revolutionary, triggered by social conflicts.


Conflict Theory is important in the realm of business and finance for various reasons. Primarily, it provides significant insights into the power dynamics and disparities in the allocation of resources within a business or financial system. It posits that conflicts often arise due to unequal distribution of resources, triggering a struggle between different groups or classes. Understanding this theory can help businesses and financial institutions pinpoint disparities, address the root causes of conflicts, and devise strategies to redistribute resources more equitably. This would subsequently contribute towards fostering a more harmonious workplace/investment environment, promoting fairness, and enhancing overall productivity and efficiency.


Conflict Theory, as it is applied within the realm of business and finance, is a lens through which analysts, economists, and financial experts examine power, resources, and their distribution within a particular economic system. The purpose of this theory is to offer a critical analysis of societal structures, in this case specifically economic or business ones, to unearth the inherent imbalances and conflicts that occur in the allocation of resources, capital, and power. This may include the disparities between different economic classes, the wealth and earnings gaps, or proprietary control within a business setting.In a practical business context, Conflict Theory is used to drive vital insights into how power dynamics influence decision making, resource allocation, and the overall structure of the organization. This can potentially expose inherent inequalities, enabling organizations to address any identified areas of conflict or imbalance and take measures to create more equitable environments. Through this lens, stakeholders can craft more informed strategies, promote a more equal and just workplace, and ultimately, achieve better overall performance and productivity.


1. Labor Unions and Employer Battles: This is perhaps one of the most classic real-world examples of conflict theory in business. Employees, typically under a union, demand higher wages, better workplace conditions, or other benefits. The employers, on the other hand, want to maximize their profits and resist these demands. This results in a conflict with both parties fighting for their own interests.2. Shareholder versus Management Interests: In corporations, a conflict often arises between shareholders and business management. Shareholders generally want to maximize their dividends and share market value, while managers may pursue personal goals (like greater control, job security, higher salaries) which might conflict with the profit maximization objective. 3. Social Responsibility versus Profit Maximization: Many companies have a goal of maximizing profits for their shareholders. However, increasing pressure from society is pushing companies to take on additional social responsibility, which often comes at a cost. For example, a company might need to invest in more expensive sustainable materials to reduce their environmental impact. This presents a conflict between the goals of profit maximization and social responsibility.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Conflict Theory in the context of finance and business?

Conflict Theory is a framework for understanding how power disparities and socio-economic divisions lead to creation of certain practices and regulations in businesses and financial institutions. It suggests that those with more power and resources can often dictate regulations to their own advantage.

How does Conflict Theory apply in a business scenario?

In business, Conflict Theory might be demonstrated in practices such as wage disparities between upper management and front-line employees, or through allocation of resources, where certain departments gain more access to resources due to dominance or preferential treatment.

Can you provide a real-life example of Conflict Theory in finance?

A real-life example of Conflict Theory in finance could be seen in investment access. High-net-worth individuals often have more investment opportunities than average investors. This reflects the power disparity where the wealthy gain more advantage, creating a conflict of interest.

Is Conflict Theory universally accepted in business and finance?

While Conflict Theory does provide a perspective on power dynamics and resource allocation, it’s not universally accepted. Critics argue it overly emphasizes conflict and does not adequately account for cooperative dynamics that also exist in business and finance.

How can we address the issues raised by Conflict Theory?

Strategies to address these issues include promoting transparent business practices, adhering to corporate social responsibility, creating an equitable wage structure, and maintaining regulatory laws that ensure fair investment practices.

Can Conflict Theory impact economic growth and stability?

Yes, if not managed, the economic disparities explained by Conflict Theory can potentially lead to unstable economic conditions. This is because higher economic inequality can reduce demand and lead to financial crisis.

Is Conflict Theory only applicable in finance and business?

No, Conflict Theory originated in sociology, and can be applied to many other sectors such as education, politics, and healthcare to understand power dynamics and socioeconomic disparities.

Related Finance Terms

  • Social Inequality: This term is central to conflict theory as it posits that societal resources are unequally distributed, leading to conflict.
  • Power Dynamics: Power plays a major role in conflict theory, with those in power often seeking to maintain their status while those without power seek to gain it.
  • Economic Disparity: This refers to the economic inequalities that can create tension and conflict in a society or business setting.
  • Competition: Conflict is often the result of competition, whether over resources, power, or other significant business matters.
  • Class Conflict: This term is often used in conjunction with economic disparity in conflict theory, referring to the tensions that arise between different socioeconomic classes.

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More