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A Multimethod Examination of the Benefits and Detriments of Intragroup Conflict

Karen A. Jehn
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 256-282
DOI: 10.2307/2393638
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393638
Page Count: 27
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A Multimethod Examination of the Benefits and Detriments of Intragroup Conflict
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Abstract

This study examines the structure of 105 work groups and management teams to address the question of whether conflict can be beneficial. Multiple methods were used to examine the effects of conflict on both individual- and group-level variables to provide a more refined model of intragroup conflict. Results show that whether conflict was beneficial depended on the type of conflict and the structure of the group in terms of task type, task interdependence, and group norms. Relationship and task conflicts were negatively associated with individuals' satisfaction, liking of other group members, and intent to remain in the group. In groups performing very routine tasks, disagreements about the task were detrimental to group functioning. In contrast, in groups performing nonroutine tasks, disagreements about the tasks did not have a detrimental effect, and in some cases, such disagreements were actually beneficial. Contrary to expectations, norms encouraging open discussion of conflict were not always advantageous. The results suggest that while such norms were associated with an increase in the number and intensity of relationship conflicts, they did not increase members' ability to deal with the conflicts constructively. The model developed here contributes to an integrated perspective on organizational conflict.

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