The impacts of leadership on workplace conflicts

Olivier Doucet (Service d'enseignement de la GRH, HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Jean Poitras (Service d'enseignement de la GRH, HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Denis Chênevert (Service d'enseignement de la GRH, HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Publication date: 2 October 2009



The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the influence of managers' leadership styles (transformational, transactional and laissez‐faire) on both the level and the nature of workplace conflicts (cognitive and relational in nature).


Data are collected from hospital employees in Canada. A total of 1,031 completed questionnaires are received, representing a response rate of 46 percent. The hypothesis is tested using confirmatory factor analyses and multiple regressions.


The results indicate that the two conflict dimensions do not derive completely from the same mechanisms, since only two out of the eight leadership dimensions evaluated influence both cognitive and relational conflicts. On the one hand, inspirational motivation has a negative impact on cognitive conflicts while intellectual stimulation and passive management by exception seem to foster it. On the other hand, inspirational motivation and individualized consideration negatively influence relational conflicts whereas management by exception‐active and management by exception‐passive impact it positively.

Research limitations/implications

The sample comprises a single organization and the data are collected at one point in time. Also, the model's variables are assessed by the same source (employees).

Practical implications

The results of this research highlight the importance of a supervisor's ability to introduce a common vision and demonstrate individualized consideration to reduce workplace conflict during periods of organizational change.


Although researchers stress that conflict management represents an important role for leaders, very few empirical studies have examined how leadership influences workplace conflicts.



Doucet, O., Poitras, J. and Chênevert, D. (2009), "The impacts of leadership on workplace conflicts", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 340-354.

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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