June 14, 2013
Benefits of Conflict among Team Members
Conflict is inevitable in the workplace. Countless documents research conflict and their important determinant in team building and team resolution. Tjosvold states, “For formulating strategy, avoiding disasters, and strengthening relationships, conflict has proved invaluable.”(13) Does conflict hinder a team’s ability to produce resolution in differences? Can differences in opinions create stronger relationships and produce effective and efficient outcomes? In summation, can conflict among team members be a useful tool for leaders to resolve differences, create stronger relationships and produce effective and efficient outcomes. Research on cooperative conflict and group performance will provide evidence to conclude that conflict can benefit team members. The first step necessary to prove the thesis will be to provide studies that include evidence and research results in favor of the proposed. The diagram below shows the correlation among team leaders and positive conflict from team members:
Literature Review on Conflict among Teams
Jehn and Mannix define conflict as “awareness on the part of the parties involved of discrepancies, incompatible wishes, or irreconcilable desires.” (Jehn and Mannix 238) Since conflict is something that is avoided and shunned in the workplace, it is a harder and difficult theory to test this idea out. Conflict brings upon critiquing, integrating and consequences among team members. Team mates will often search within, using cognitive conflict and intrapersonal to challenge their own positions. Next, integration opens their eyes to see from different viewpoints. Lastly, conflict brings upon consequences: the arguments and perspectives from different people bring about challenge and help to develop new concepts that have emerged. (Tjosvold 16).
The literature review research does support the thesis statement. Abundantly, group conflict among teams bring about certain changes that positively affect group performance. In Tjosvold concludes in his paper, “Positive conflict reconciles different points of view and opposing tensions in an organization into workable solutions.” (22) Jehn and Mannix, in their study of identifying patterns of group conflict over time as well as the antecedents conclude, “ conflict must be examined as a dynamic process, rather than as a static event, echoing early conflict theorists…leveraging the synergy provided by moderately high levels of task conflict” (247).
Another aspect of supporting research is a more in depth look at the types of conflicts which can occur within a team. The type of conflict within a team can produce different effects on the relationships, outcomes and differences. Behfar, Peterson, Mannix and Trochim clearly state in their discussion “Yet, even under these very similar operating conditions, they developed and applied conflict resolution strategies in very different ways with different results” (182) This proves, although there is conflict resolution, perhaps the outcome might not always produce the intended results and would suggest a number of implications.
While team conflict can help build stronger relationships, resolve differences, and produce intended outcomes, a caveat still remains. Amason and Sapienza bring to light a thought up question to those seeking opposition to the thesis: “Others have argued that top management teams should seek consensus and strive to maintain interpersonal relationships that will allow them to continue to work together harmoniously. The problem has been that these objectives do not peacefully coexist. A trade-off is no solution at all. It is not enough to simply acknowledge that apparent incompatibility of diversity, conflict, consensus and tem member affect.” The author shares a huge discrepancy surfacing the need to further explore the diversity that...
Cited: Amason, Allen C., and Harry J. Sapienza. "The Effects of Top Management Team Size and Interaction Norms on Cognitive and Affective Conflict." Journal of Management. 23.4 (1997): 495-516. Print.
Behfar, Kristin J., Randall S. Peterson, Elizabeth A Mannix, and William M. K. Tochim. "Journal of Applied Psychology in Teams." Critical Role of Conflict Resolution in Teams: A Close Look at the Links Vetween Conflict Type, Conflict Management Strategies, and Team Outcomes. 93.1 (2008): 170-188. Print.
Gersick, Connie J. G. "Time and Transition in Work Teams: Toward a New Model of Group Development."Academy of Management Journal. 31.1 (1988): 9-41. Print.
Jehn, Karen A., and Elizabeth A. Mannix. "The Dynamic Nature of Conflict: A Longitudinal Study of Intragroup Conflict and Group Performance."Academy of Management Journal. 44.2 (2001): 238-251. Print.
Jehn, Karen A., and Priti Pradhan Shah. "Interpersonal Relationships and Task Performance: An Examination of Mediating Processes in Friendship and Acquaintance Groups." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 72.4 (1997): 775-790. Print.
Malhortra, Deepak, and Fabrice Lumineau. "Trust and Collaboration in the Aftermath of Conflict: The Effects of Contract Structure." Academy of Management Journal. 54.5 (2001): 981-998. Print.
Pelled, Lisa Hope. "Demographic Diversity, Conflict and Work Group Outcomes: An Intervening Process Theory." Organization Science. 7.6 (1996): 615-631. Print.
Tjosvold, Dean. "Rights and Responsibilities of Dissent: Cooperative Conflict." Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal. 4.1 (1991): 13-23. Print.
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