Coping with Interpersonal Conflict at Work in Small Business: the Moderating Role of Supervisor and Co-Worker Support

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Running head: COPING WITH INTERPERSONAL CONFLICT IN SMALL BUSINESS

Coping with interpersonal conflict at work in small business: The moderating role of supervisor and co-worker support Inés Martínez-Corts, Marina Boz, Francisco J. Medina, Miriam Benítez and Lourdes Munduate

Inés Martínez-Corts, Marina Boz, Francisco J. Medina and Lourdes Munduate, Department of Social Psychology, University of Seville, Seville, Spain. Míriam Benítez, Department of Clinical, Experimental and Social Psychology, University of Huelva, Huelva, Spain.

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to: Inés Martínez Corts. Department of Social Psychology (Departamento de Psicología Social), University of Seville (Universidad de Sevilla), C/ José Camilo Cela, s/n - 41018, Sevilla, Spain, Phone +34 955420075, Fax +34 954557711, Email: corts@us.es Abstract

The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between two types of interpersonal conflict at work (relationship and task conflict) and job satisfaction in the context of small business, focusing on the buffering role that different sources of social support (supervisors and co-workers) may play in this relationship. Adopting such a contingent perspective our main findings show that, first, supervisor support buffers the link between relationship conflict and job satisfaction while co-worker support moderates the link between task conflict and job satisfaction, and second, that the model estimating the influence of supervisor support and relationship conflict is relatively more important for predicting employees’ job satisfaction than the model that relates co-worker support and task conflict. Our study makes a few contributions to research on small businesses and interpersonal conflict at work, two streams that traditionally have been developed separately, and finally highlight important practical implications for the field of Human Resource Management.

Keywords: relationship conflict, task conflict, supervisor support, co-worker support, small business.

Resumen
La finalidad de este estudio fue analizar las relaciones existentes entre los tipos de conflicto y la satisfacción el trabajo en PyMES, analizando el papel moderador que diferentes fuentes de apoyo (compañeros y superior) pueden jugar en esta relación. Adoptando una perspectiva contingente en la gestión del conflicto organizacional, los principales hallazgos muestran que el apoyo del superior amortigua la relación entre el conflicto relacional y la satisfacción en el trabajo, mientras que el apoyo de los compañeros amortigua la relación entre el conflicto de tareas y la satisfacción en el trabajo. Además, el modelo que analiza la influencia del apoyo del supervisor y del conflicto relacional es más importante para predecir la satisfacción que el modelo que analiza la influencia del conflicto de tareas y del apoyo de los compañeros. Este estudio realiza una contribución al estudio del conflicto en organizaciones pequeñas, dos campos de trabajo que han sido estudiados de forma separada; del mismo modo, los hallazgos permiten la realización de implicaciones prácticas para el campo de la Gestión de los Recursos Humanos.

Palabras clave: Conflicto de tareas, conflicto relacional, apoyo del supervisor, apoyo de los compañeros, PyMES.

Coping with interpersonal conflict at work in small business: The moderating role of supervisor and co-worker support
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), i.e. organizations with less than 250 employees, play a central role in the well-being of local and regional communities in Europe, for it represents 99.8% of all enterprises and contributes for 87.8% of the total labor productivity in the EU-27 zone (Eurostat, 2008). In fact, small-sized enterprises (SSEs) account for 98.7% of such organizations, i.e. enterprises with less than 50 employees. The Spanish industry is no different being characterized by the same fragmentary nature,...
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