Previous research has shown that diversity is related to both task and relationship conflict in groups. The purpose of this paper is to posit that leadership is an important factor for maintaining high group performance and morale under conditions of conflict. Specifically, the paper argues that leader conflict management, emotion management, and transformational behaviors determine the impact of conflict on group outcomes.
Data were collected from 585 people in 89 workgroups from eight public service organizations in Australia. The authors used hierarchical regression to test the hypotheses regarding group performance and morale. To test mediation and moderation, the authors followed the procedure outlined by Baron and Kenny. Finally, they used the formulas provided by Preacher, Rucker and Hayes to test for moderated mediation.
Results showed that diversity increased task conflict but was unrelated to relationship conflict. Both task and relationship conflict were negatively associated with group performance and morale, and effective leadership reduced these negative effects to zero. There was also a partial support for the authors’ theoretical model predicting that leadership moderates the indirect effect of diversity on group outcomes occurring through the mediator of conflict.
A greater amount of variation in the diversity of work groups included in the sample would have been useful for overcoming problems of restriction of range, which likely reduced ability to observe an association between diversity and group outcomes. Based on the results, in order to prevent negative emotions from task and relationship conflict from damaging group performance, leaders of diverse groups can act to manage those emotions among their group members. Results from this study implicate conflict management training. While training for conflict management is beyond the scope of this research, further research should examine this issue.
The study extends research in the area of diversity, leadership and group work. In particular, it demonstrates that transformational leadership is an important factor for maintaining high group performance and morale under conditions of conflict. It also offers practical assistance to individuals entrusted with the responsibility of managing culturally diverse workgroups.
Ayoko, O.B. and Konrad, A.M. (2012), "Leaders’ transformational, conflict, and emotion management behaviors in culturally diverse workgroups", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 31 No. 8, pp. 694-724. https://doi.org/10.1108/02610151211277581
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