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The mediating and moderating effects of conflict and communication openness on workplace trust

Oluremi B. Ayoko (UQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Andre A. Pekerti (UQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 3 October 2008




Although a great deal of research has focused on the effect of trust on conflict, little research has examined the impact of conflict on trust. The purpose of this paper is to present a model that investigates the relationship between conflict types (task, relationship and process), conflict features (intensity and duration), communication openness (CO) and workplace trust.


Data were collected from 510 employees from public sector organizations. The authors tested the direct effects of the hypothesized links with linear regressions while the mediation effects were tested using the Sobel test. Finally, the authors followed Kenny and Baron's procedure to test the moderation effects.


Results from the regression analyses confirm that conflict features (intensity and duration) fully mediated the link between conflict types (task, relationship and process) and trust, while CO moderated the relationship between conflict features and trust. In addition, prolonged conflict duration was linked with trust. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Research limitations/implications

The study is cross sectional and some of our scales have few items. In future, more robust scales in a longitudinal study should be used to further deepen our understanding of the association between the variables in our model. In addition, we have studied the concept of trust as perceived by the employees without distinguishing between high‐ and low‐trust perceptions. Future studies should compare levels of trust associated with the different types of conflict and especially varying magnitude of conflict intensity (e.g. low, mid and high) at different times.


The study provides new insights into the influence that conflict (task, relationship and process) may have on trust and the moderating role of CO in the link between conflict and trust. The paper also offers a practical assistance to group members and leaders that are interested in building trust especially in the presence of conflict.



Ayoko, O.B. and Pekerti, A.A. (2008), "The mediating and moderating effects of conflict and communication openness on workplace trust", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 297-318.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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