Group 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 conflict can bring to the table among groups. This study, however, only intends to prove that the size of top management teams greatly affect the challenge among team building and resolution. To fully review the literature described, a methodology of criteria investigation was needed. Methodology in Conflict Among Teams Conflict has many synonyms but for the purposes of this study, problem, issue, and differences will all be used interchangeably.In order to prove that conflict among teams is a necessary tool for team leaders, data from literature will be analyzed. This paper’s intention is a literature review of those studies and no new data will be introduced. Studies included in this research analyzed several hypotheses tested against the data. Two studies were found to provide evidence that conflict within teams is guaranteed to dissolve differences, create stronger relationships, and produce desirable outcomes.First, a study found that linked intragroup conflict and group performance was found by Jehn and Mannix. Secondly, a study that detailed links between conflict resolution strategies with team performance and member satisfaction. Both studies showcased hypotheses that were necessary for this review. The Jehn and Mannix study formulated four hypotheses, one of which will be evaluated. The hypothesis evaluated herein (Jehn Mannix 240): Hypothesis 1: High-Performing groups will have higher levels of process conflict at the beginning and at the end of their group interaction than low-performing groups; in addition, high-performing groups will have lower levels of process conflict during the middle phases of their interaction than low-performing groups. ” The Behfar, , Mannix, Peterson and Trochim study demonstrated the following postulate: “Our purpose in this study is to examine specific conflict resolution strategies in groups to better understand their potential effects on group outcomes (e. . performance and satisfaction)” (171). The Jehn and Mannix study provides evidence of a conflict that are idealistic in a group setting to produce desirable outcomes, while the Behfar, , Mannix, Peterson and Trochim paper provides evidence of producing desirable outcomes from conflict. The fifth step in this inquiry will be to review the presented hypothesis and postulate was to study the data given. Analysis of Team Conflict The two studies that present themselves, provide sufficient data for this xploration. The Jehn and Mannix study 11 different variables (group value consensus, trust, respect, liking, open conflict norms, cohesiveness, relationship conflict, task conflict, process conflict, competition, and group performance) of group conflict among 52 participants. In this they process conflict in the high-performing group and low-performing group. From there, results lead to conflict being processed within high-performing group having increasingly significant correlation that low-performing groups.The results presented “help verify some of the propositions of strategic decision theorists who have suggested that although task debates are necessary for high-quality ideas, consensus (or at least, less task conflict) assists implementation” (247). This supports hypothesis 1. Another key factor to assist in this hypothesis is that high-performing groups contained less conflicts than in low-performing groups. The postulate from study two examined an entire 1st year MBA class of 252 students, or 65 study teams.The teams worked together throughout the entire duration of their first semester core curriculum courses. The students were surveyed and administered both open and closed ended questions. The performance of the student was measured through their grades. In one instance 6 of the 7 teams used resolving process conflict to mitigate negative impact of 1 member and/or to prevent any time management conflicts from escalating (179) – correlating to producing effective and efficient outcomes.Fifteen teams reported strategies for resolving task conflict (180). From there, the extrapolation of the data in the analysis “reported addressing relationship conflicts. These conflicts resolved around recurrent clashes between dominant personalities and direct accusations that members made. These groups used strategies from the avoid/ignore, idiosyncratic solutions, and discuss/debate categories – correlating to producing stronger relationships within the group” (181). The last portion of the study examined process conflict.The study produced results that stated, “five of the six teams used two strategies together to address these conflicts: rotating responsibilities and idiosyncratic solutions. They developed systems to correct problems and/or rules to prevent problems from occurring again – leaning into the portion of the thesis, resolving differences. Along with the sufficient evidence presented in this paper, further studies will be used to support conflict management with teams that constitutes as a useful tool for team leaders.Discussion of the Benefits of Positive Conflict from Team Members The inferences made within the presented studies show further representation than the studies themselves. It is undoubtedly known that time is a huge contributor to conflicts and their resolutions. A study implementing this background revealed, “that teams used widely diverse behaviors to do their work: however, the timing of groups formed, maintained, and changed the way they worked was highly congruent. Gersick 16). Further research backs up the inevitable relationship building of teams from positive conflict, “Friendship groups performed significantly better than acquaintance groups on both decision-making and motor tasks because of a greater degree of group commitment and cooperation” (Shah and Jehn 775) This reinforces the behavior of a close knit group of team members and how they will build a stronger relationship within the group.Admittedly, some may wonder how long this type of relationship could prevail amidst conflict over time and supporting evidence to show that this research is sustained: “that optimal decisions regarding contract structure require assessment of the key sources of vulnerability in a relationship.If the relationship is likely to evolve, and it is difficult to predict the kinds of vulnerabilities that will emerge over time-as is often the case when negotiating contracts at the outset of a long term joint venture, or among partners in a start-up environment—good will based trust is likely to be critical, and managers may choose to reduce the emphaisis on control and increase the emphasis on coordination” (Malhortra, Deepak, and Fabrice 994). There are so many factors causing conflict and one of the vast, most widely studied are those dealing with diversity in minorities and demographics.Within these studies a wide spectrum of diversity is studied: race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, just to name a few. Research among diversity explains that managers can better equip themselves to handle situations and minimize conflict time: “Research has suggested that, within a work group, diversity with respect to members’ demographic backgrounds can have a powerful effect on both’ turnover from the group and on the group’s performance on cognitive tasks (i. e. , “thinking” tasks that involve generating plans or ideas, solving roblems, or making decisions) (Pelled 616). With many supporting arguments from different angles of implementation, a look at limitations within this scope will follow. Limitations and Future Opportunities for Study The study linking conflict types could benefit from some further research. The study lacked numbers of sample chosen. The only factor described was the MBA class that was measured over a long period of time. In addition, the class was an example of self-managed team whereas most teams consist of team members and a team leader.Strength can develop if a study is performed on a group of individuals that coheres below a team leader’s direction. The study dictating intragroup confliction and group performance possesses many limitations as well. This group study engages only one problem-solving task and it still remains unknown whether this result would transfer over to other tasks. Another key contributor to the one study investigated, the study needs to investigate more than one instance to formulate a trajectory over time.Also, the supervisor controlled all of the teams instead of multiple supervisors, each managing their own team. Omission of feedback, led to another limitation as only a grade dictated the performance. Both of the studies limit the interaction of a team leader among a group of team members so it is harder to extrapolate the link between positive conflicts being a useful tool among team leaders. It may be more correct to state that team members benefit from conflict and omission of the team leader.From the limitations, a conclusion can be drawn upon the analysis of the research. Conclusion The purpose of this research paper is to investigate positive conflict among team members creating stronger relationships, resolving differences, and producing effective and efficient outcomes. The studies presented in this paper, as well as the literature review, favor this statement. Conflict resolution has been studied in the context of both the business world, as well at a college level.In both instances, conflict proved to be a useful tool among team members to build relationships, produce outcomes, and resolve differences. In further research, other aspects point to conflict resolution among team members under different stressors and environments. Even with opposing data collection, a general trend towards conflict among teams being necessary is still gained. In summary, conflict resolution from team members is a useful tool for team leaders to form stronger relationships, resolve differences, and produce effective and efficient outcomes.

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