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Task conflict, relationship conflict and agreement‐seeking behavior in Chinese top management teams

Satyanarayana Parayitam (Charlton College of Business, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA)
Bradley J. Olson (Faculty of Management, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Canada)
Yongjian Bao (Faculty of Management, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Canada)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 16 February 2010

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the effects task conflict has on agreement seeking behavior and interpersonal conflict. In addition, it seeks to examine the moderating role of trust on the effects of agreement seeking behavior and interpersonal conflict on the styles of handing conflict, namely, avoidance, collaboration, and third party intervention.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a structured survey instrument, this paper gathered data from 252 senior executives from Mainland China and analyzed these using the regression technique to see how interpersonal trust between executives moderates the relationship between conflict and conflict response mechanisms. The study also investigates the relationship between task and relationship conflict as well as agreement‐seeking behavior among Chinese executives in Mainland China.

Findings

Results show that the presence of interpersonal trust among executives affects the conflict responses for the benefit of organization. The results show that task conflict in top management teams is positively related to relationship conflict and negatively related to agreement‐seeking behavior. The data support the view that intra‐group trust moderates the relationship between agreement‐seeking behavior and collaborating responses such that high‐trust groups will have greater collaboration than low‐trusting teams. Results also support that intra‐group trust moderates the relationship between agreement‐seeking behavior and third party responses such that high‐trust groups will have greater third‐party responses than low‐trusting teams.

Research limitations/implications

Self‐report measures may have some inherent social desirability bias. Despite this potential weakness, this study examines Chinese executives and therefore provides insights into top management team literature.

Practical implications

This study contributes to both practicing managers as well as to strategic management literature. This study suggests that administrators need to focus on interpersonal trust while dealing with the outcomes of task and relationship conflict.

Originality/value

Although the study is related to Chinese executives, the findings from the study, that task conflict has its affect on interpersonal conflict and agreement‐seeking behavior, contribute to the strategic decision making literature.

Keywords

Citation

Parayitam, S., Olson, B.J. and Bao, Y. (2010), "Task conflict, relationship conflict and agreement‐seeking behavior in Chinese top management teams", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 94-116. https://doi.org/10.1108/10444061011016641

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited