Common derailers, HR Management

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The importance of conflict has been highlighted earlier in the unit as well as in Reading 5.1, when we identified that effective teams engage in conflict management. In this section, we will unpack why conflict occurs,

differentiating why conflict can derail teams. Most research on the impact of different types of conflict has shown that  conflict derived from functional diversity (i.e. task or structural conflict) has favourable effects on task performance because it encourages ideas to emerge from the different backgrounds of the team members. On the other hand, conflict that is based on personal differences or emotions (Pelled, Eisenhardt & Xin 1999) is always assumed to be detrimental to team performance. However, Peterson and Behfar (2003) highlighted that interpersonal conflict follows from bad performance, not the other way around.

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Relationship conflict is more disruptive for team-member satisfaction as opposed to task-conflict. Since member satisfaction is related to absenteeism and turnover, it could be argued that affective conflict has a negative effect on those two issues. 

Behfar et al. (2008) present some very interesting findings about the best ways to resolve task-conflict in a team. They found that teams that emphasised equity or 'finding an appropriate, not necessarily equal, way for all members to contribute given their constraints' reported high performance and high member satisfaction. These teams focused both on getting the work done and integrating the different interests of the team members. As such, they made sure that when a team member had to compromise or accommodate another member they had a solid understanding of the trade-off.


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