Managing relationship conflict and the effectiveness of organizational teams
Journal of Organizational Behavior
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Past research has revealed that team effectiveness and satisfaction suffer when teams experience relationship conflict - conflict
related to interpersonal issues, political norms and values, and personal taste. This study examined how teams should respond
to these conflicts. Three types of conflict responses were studied: collaborating responses, contending responses, and avoiding
responses. A field study involving a heterogeneous sample of teams performing complex, non-routine task showed that collaborating
and contending responses to relationship conflict negatively relate to team functioning (i.e., voice, compliance, helping
behavior) and overall team effectiveness, while avoiding responses were associated with high team functioning and effectiveness.
It is suggested that collaborating and contending responses to relationship conflict distract team members from their tasks,
while avoiding responses appear more functional in that they allow team members to pursue task performance.
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