Title page for ETD etd-11182009-215347

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Williams, Felice Amanda
URN etd-11182009-215347
Title Behavioral Responses to Interpersonal Conflict in Decision Making Teams: A Clarification of the Conflict Phenomenon
Degree PhD
Department Management
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kevin Carlson Committee Chair
Roseanne Foti Committee Member
T. W. Bonham Committee Member
Wanda Smith Committee Member
  • teamwork behaviors
  • interpersonal conflict
  • team performance
Date of Defense 2009-09-10
Availability unrestricted
Interpersonal conflict in organizations plays an important role in performance, but the exact nature of that role remains unclear. Among conflict researchers a shift has occurred from believing that all conflict is debilitating for organizational performance to the realization that there are both positive and negative aspects of conflict. Contemporary research adopts a distinction between task conflict and relationship conflict. Conceptually, a positive relationship has been proposed between task conflict and performance, while a negative relationship has been proposed between relationship conflict and performance. Empirically, however, there has been wide variation in the findings linking either type of conflict with performance. A recent meta-analysis by De Wit and Greer (2008) found that across studies linking task conflict and performance, findings reflected positive, negative and no relationships. Similarly, for relationship conflict, though a predominantly negative relationship was found across studies, there was wide variation in relationship magnitudes across studies. These meta-analytic results show that the effects sizes across both types of conflict studies are mainly negative. However, given the large standard deviation estimates in both cases, there were also positive effect sizes in some of the studies. The wide variation across studies leads to the conclusion that in most studies conflict is detrimental, but in some it truly can be useful. Also, it suggests that the relationship between both task and relationship conflict and performance needs to be clarified. Consequently, this research aims to examine the source of the inconsistencies within the conflict literature by introducing a behavioral taxonomy to help explain the relationship between performance and the two types of conflict. Using a quasi-experimental design to study conflict, I will be able to induce conflict and observe the team behavioral dynamics as they unfold.

Revised file, GMc 5/28/2014 per Dean DePauw

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