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A new look at conflict styles: goal orientation and outcome preferences

Tal G. Zarankin (Department of Management, College of Business, University of Missouri‐Columbia, Columbia, Missouri, USA)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 25 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to provide new insights into conflict styles by examining a new set of antecedents and outcomes.


A theory is outlined and a theoretical model is presented to explain the relationship between a motivational antecedent – goal orientation – and conflict styles, and to explain the relationship between conflict styles and resolution preferences.


The paper suggests that goal orientation serves as an antecedent for subsequent conflict style. Moreover, resolution preferences vary depending on goal orientation and conflict style.

Research limitations/implications

This paper has several implications for future research. Empirical research is needed to investigate the relationship between goal orientation and conflict styles as well as the relationship between conflict style and outcome preferences. Such research may either provide grounding to the model or generate further theory development regarding the antecedents and outcomes of conflict styles.

Practical implications

This paper suggests that goal orientations are relatively stable but that conflict styles are relatively mutable. This suggests that if people become aware of their goal orientation, they can change their conflict style to achieve a solution that is more appropriate for their unique situation.


This paper fills a gap in the literature and offers a new theoretical framework as to the antecedents and outcomes of conflict styles. The paper offers a motivational explanation for conflict styles and examines resolution preferences that could predict party satisfaction with the outcome.



Zarankin, T.G. (2008), "A new look at conflict styles: goal orientation and outcome preferences", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 167-184.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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