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Relationship, task and process conflicts on team performance: The moderating role of communication media

Edurne Martínez‐Moreno (University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Pilar González‐Navarro (University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Ana Zornoza (University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Pilar Ripoll (University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 3 July 2009




The purpose of this paper is to examine which communication contexts – virtual or traditional interactions – is more disruptive or beneficial to the effects of intragroup conflicts on team performance.


A laboratory experiment was conducted comparing 22 face‐to‐face (FTF) teams, 22 videoconference (VC) teams and 22 computer‐mediated communication (CMC) teams over a month.


Results showed that VC teams are the highest performing teams and CMC teams the lowest. However, when task conflict increases VC team performance diminishes at the first stage of the teamwork. FTF team performance is also improved by task conflict, but also by process conflict. After a period where team members develop teamwork experience, relationship conflict and process conflict damage more seriously team performance in CMC teams than in FTF teams. In conclusion, traditional teams and virtual teams behave in different ways, but also there are differences between VC and CMC teams.

Research limitations/implications

This study concludes with a discussion of the obtained results in terms of their implications for traditional and virtual team managers, taking into account the limitations provided by the student sample used.


The paper sheds light on the beneficial impact of task conflict and process conflict on team performance in traditional contexts in several stages of teamwork, and it provides new evidence for hopeful expectations for virtual teams.



Martínez‐Moreno, E., González‐Navarro, P., Zornoza, A. and Ripoll, P. (2009), "Relationship, task and process conflicts on team performance: The moderating role of communication media", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 251-268.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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