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Unbundling task conflict and relationship conflict: The moderating role of team goal orientation and conflict management

Jia‐Chi Huang (Department of Business Administration, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 6 July 2010

Abstract

Purpose

This study seeks to explore team goal orientation as a team characteristic that affects team members' self‐regulation, and conflict management approach as a self‐regulation tactic. Its purpose is to investigate the moderating effect of team goal orientation and conflict management approach on the linkage between task conflict and relationship conflict.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were received from 529 team members in 120 R&D teams in Taiwan. The hypothesis is tested using hierarchical regressions.

Findings

The results indicate that team goal orientation and a conflict management approach moderated the relationship between task conflict and relationship conflict. The positive relationship between task conflict and relationship conflict was weaker under conditions of higher team learning orientation and lower team performance orientation. The positive association between task conflict and relationship conflict was also weaker among teams that engaged in cooperative conflict management and did not engage in the avoiding conflict management approach.

Research limitations/implications

The study is cross‐sectional in design, limiting the ability to make causal assertions about links between task conflict and relationship conflict.

Practical implications

To prevent detrimental relationship conflict triggered by task conflict, supervisors may need to use goal orientation disposition as a criterion in selecting team members. Supervisors also could frame the tasks and discussions of team members towards learning rather than performance goals, enabling team members to openly share divergent opinions and take advantage of task conflict.

Originality/value

The study facilitates understanding of how to unbundle the linkage between task conflict and relationship conflict in teams, along with making contributions to conflict theory.

Keywords

Citation

Huang, J. (2010), "Unbundling task conflict and relationship conflict: The moderating role of team goal orientation and conflict management", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 334-355. https://doi.org/10.1108/10444061011063207

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited