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Theses Doctoral

Conflict Climates in Organizations: An Integrated Decision-Making Model of Participation in Conflict Resolution Training

Lowe, John

Little research to date has investigated the role that destructive and constructive conflict climates have on individual decisions to engage in conflict resolution interventions in organizations. One such widely employed intervention is conflict resolution training. The purpose of this dissertation was to test the influence of conflict climates on decisions to participate in conflict resolution training. An integrative behavioral intention model was formulated that predicted intentions to participate. The model proposed, counter intuitively, that both destructive and constructive conflict climates would positively predict reasons for and reasons against participation in conflict resolution training. On one hand, destructive conflict climates were expected to motivate reasons for participating in order to resolve conflicts in the work unit, yet simultaneously motivate reasons against participating due to concerns that training may lack sufficient power to effect such change. On the other hand, constructive conflict climates were expected to generate reasons for participating to build further morale while simultaneously generating reasons against participating due to concerns that the work unit might be functioning sufficiently well and therefore not be in need of training. The reason factors, in turn, were expected to predict global conflict resolution motives (i.e., attitudes, subjective norm, and perceived control). Global motives and reason factors were further hypothesized to predict behavioral intention, which in turn was expected to predict participation in conflict resolution training activities. A cross-sectional survey design was employed, involving 214 respondents in a large international non-governmental organization. Study hypotheses were tested using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling. Overall, the study revealed that: (1) destructive conflict climate predicted reasons for as well as reasons against participating in conflict resolution training, while constructive conflict climate predicted reasons for but not reasons against participating; (2) behavioral reasons for participating in conflict resolution training predicted the three global conflict resolution motives of attitude, subjective norm, and perceived control, while behavioral reasons against participating in conflict resolution training predicted attitude and perceived control but not subjective norm; (3) behavioral reasons fully mediated the effects of destructive and constructive conflict climates on global motives; (4) the global motive factors of attitude and perceived control predicted intention to participate in conflict resolution training but subjective norm did not; and (5) behavioral reasons for and against participating in conflict resolution training did not predict intention over and above global motives. Exploratory analyses found that destructive and constructive conflict climates interacted to predict reasons against participating in conflict resolution training. Implications of the study's findings for conflict management in organizations are discussed.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social-Organizational Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Westaby, James
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014
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