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Leaders' fairness and followers' conflict handling style: The moderating role of need for cognitive closure

Mauro Giacomantonio (University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy)
Antonio Pierro (University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy)
Arie W. Kruglanski (University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




The present paper aims to identify an important moderator of the effect of leader's fairness on the conflict handling style adopted by followers. Based on the uncertainty management model the authors hypothesize that the motivation to reduce uncertainty, reflected by individual differences in need for cognitive closure, moderates the use of constructive conflict handling style as a response to variation in leader's perceived procedural fairness.


A correlational study was conducted on a sample of 175 Italian public employees. Each participant filled out a questionnaire. Data analysis was carried out performing a series of multiple regression analyses.


Consistent with previous research, regression analysis showed that perceived leader's fairness promoted a more constructive approach to manage conflict with leaders. More importantly this relationship was stronger under high rather than low need for cognitive closure.

Practical implications

Present results suggest that in order to favor a solution‐oriented conflict handling style, leaders should promote perceptions of procedural fairness, especially among those with high need for closure.


This is one of the first studies that looks at a moderator of the relationship between leader's fairness and constructive conflict management. It integrates literature on procedural fairness and cooperation. Furthermore, as the current research focuses on need for closure, it has important implications with regard to the uncertainty management model.



Giacomantonio, M., Pierro, A. and Kruglanski, A.W. (2011), "Leaders' fairness and followers' conflict handling style: The moderating role of need for cognitive closure", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 358-372.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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