DISSOLUTION OR RESOLUTION? MANAGING RELATIONSHIP CONFLICT ACROSS CULTURES
Goh, K. and Sanchez-Burks, J., University of Southern California, USA
Conflict is generally categorized into two main types - task-based and relationship-based conflict. Task conflict exists when there are disagreements among group members about the content of the tasks being performed, and includes differences in viewpoints, ideas and opinions. Relationship conflict exists when there are interpersonal incompatibilities among group members that result in feelings of tension, animosity and annoyance. Past research has consistently found that relationship conflict has a negative impact on team effectiveness and satisfaction. While it may be difficult to prevent such conflict from ever occurring, organizations must recognize the importance of managing relationship conflict. Much of the conflict resolution literature examines how people deal with conflict, referring commonly to styles such as collaboration, competition, and avoidance. However, much of this work has not differentiated between conflict resolution for task and relationship conflict. Our research seeks to investigate systematic and culture-based differences in relationship- based conflict management strategies. In particular, we argue that in situations of relationship conflict, in addition to the suggested collaborating, competing and avoiding resolution styles, an individual may alternatively choose to "dissolve" or dismiss relationship conflict as relevant. Hence, relationship conflict management strategies can be grouped as "resolution" or "dissolution", with three or more ways for "resolution" - including collaboration, competition or avoidance. The goal of this work is to explore culturally preferred strategies for managing relationship conflict. Such findings have important organizational implications as modern workgroups are becoming increasingly global and multi-cultural.