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Are teams experiencing relationship conflicts destined to fail: The role of emotions and work engagement

Ling Yuan (School of Business Administration, Hunan University, Changsha, China)
Yue Yu (School of Management, Hunan University of Commerce, Changsha, China)
Pan Liu (School of Business Administration, Hunan University, Changsha, China)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 16 December 2019

Issue publication date: 14 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to find ways to mitigate the negative consequences of relationship conflict under the situation that while the negative role of team relationship conflict has been underscored in prior literature, few studies try to alleviate it. With the development of positive psychology, a stream focusing on the role of emotion in conflict management emerges. First, the authors want to explore the mediating role of members’ work engagement in the association between relationship conflict and members’ job performance. Moreover, they want to explore contingent roles of perceived team leader’s emotional intelligence and members’ emotion regulation strategies (i.e. cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression) in moderating the effect of relationship conflict on members’ work engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a data set of 363 individuals working in 73 teams in service sectors, the authors empirically examined the cross-level model with hierarchical linear model.

Findings

Relationship conflict was negatively related to members’ job performance while members’ work engagement mediated this relationship. Moreover, perceived team leader’s emotional intelligence mitigated the negative effect of relationship conflict on members’ work engagement, while members’ expressive suppression strategy intensified the negative effect.

Originality/value

The authors address the void of the cross-level mediating process by examining the role of individual work engagement that mediates relationship conflict and individual job performance. The individual work engagement is highlighted in this study for the hope of serving as the basis of finding effective moderators to alleviate the negative relationship conflict–performance relationship by mitigating the decrease of work engagement. Moreover, the claim that the role of emotion from different status subjects varies in regulating the effect of relationship conflict contributes to the development of positive psychology by combining emotion with conflict management.

Keywords

Citation

Yuan, L., Yu, Y. and Liu, P. (2020), "Are teams experiencing relationship conflicts destined to fail: The role of emotions and work engagement", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 235-256. https://doi.org/10.1108/CMS-03-2018-0455

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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