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Theses Doctoral

Variant Conflict Management: Conceptualizing and Investigating Team Conflict Management as a Configural Construct

Tan, Yunzi

The key purpose of this dissertation was to empirically test a new conceptual model of team conflict management (Tan, 2011). Central to this model is a configural team-level construct called variant conflict management (VCM), which refers to the relative levels of cooperative and competitive conflict management among members in a team. This model also identifies three key antecedent categories likely to predict VCM in teams: salient conflict-relevant member characteristics, team contextual determinants, and divergent team dynamics. Three archetypal profiles of VCM, i.e., distinct distributional patterns in members' conflict management approaches, are also proposed: minimum, moderate and maximum VCM profiles. These three profiles are further organized into five sub-types: minimum cooperative, minimum competitive, moderate cooperative, moderate competitive, and maximum VCM profiles. Specifically, this study sought to assess whether the proposed VCM profiles are present in 79 student project teams. It also compared the effects of VCM (based on teams' standard deviation scores) and of mean team conflict management (based on teams' means scores) on three team outcomes: team conflict efficacy, members' satisfaction with their teams' conflict management process, and team effectiveness. This study also investigated the relative effects of the proposed VCM profiles on each of the three team outcomes. Three indicators representing each of the antecedent categories, i.e., gender role diversity, team goal interdependence, and subgroup formation, were also examined as potential predictors of VCM. Using qualitative content coding analyses, it was revealed that all five VCM profiles proposed in the model, i.e., minimum cooperative, minimum competitive, moderate cooperative, moderate competitive, and maximum VCM profiles, were indeed evident in the teams sampled. Three additional profiles described as `distributed,' `multiple clusters' and `midpoint cluster' were also uncovered in the content coding analyses. In the supplementary latent class analyses, four latent classes were identified. Two of these classes corresponded with two of the five proposed VCM profiles: the moderate cooperative and moderate competitive VCM profiles. The third latent class was aligned with the new `distributed' profile identified in the content coding analyses. As for the fourth latent class, it consisted of the other three proposed VCM profiles, i.e., minimum cooperative, minimum competitive and maximum VCM profiles, as well as the two additional profiles uncovered in the content coding analyses, i.e., `multiple clusters' and `midpoint cluster' profiles. Comparisons among the five proposed VCM profiles of their effects on the three team outcomes showed that teams with minimum cooperative VCM profiles reported higher levels of team conflict efficacy than teams with moderate competitive VCM profiles, and they were also more effective than teams with minimum competitive VCM profiles. Teams with minimum competitive VCM profiles, on the other hand, reported the lowest levels of member satisfaction compared to teams with the four other proposed VCM profiles; teams with minimum competitive VCM profiles were also less effective than teams with minimum cooperative and moderate cooperative VCM profiles. Teams with moderate cooperative VCM profiles, relative to those with moderate competitive VCM profiles reported greater team conflict efficacy and team effectiveness. The study results also found no significant effects of VCM (based on teams' standard deviation scores) and of mean team conflict management (based on teams' means scores on cooperative and competitive conflict management respectively) on team conflict efficacy, members' satisfaction with their teams' conflict management process, and team effectiveness. Additionally, no significant associations were found between the three proposed predictor variables, i.e., gender role diversity, team goal interdependence and subgroup formation, and VCM. Implications of these findings for theory, research and practice, along with limitations and future research directions, were also discussed.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social-Organizational Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Coleman, Peter
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 12, 2013