This paper aims to examine the effects of task and relationship conflicts on team creativity, and the moderating role of shared leadership in inter-organizational teams. An inter-organizational team normally comprises employees from collaborated organizations brought together to conduct an initiative, such as product development. Practitioners and researchers have witnessed the prevalence of conflict in inter-organizational teams. Despite significant scholarly investigation into the importance of conflict in creativity, a deep theoretical understanding of conflict framework remains elusive.
A questionnaire survey was conducted in China to collect data. Consequently, 54 teams, which comprised 54 team managers and 276 team members, were deemed useful for the study.
By testing our hypotheses on 54 inter-organizational teams, we found that relationship conflict has a negative relationship with team creativity, whereas task conflict has an inverted U-shaped (curvilinear) relationship with team creativity. Furthermore, when shared leadership is stronger, the negative relationship with team creativity is weaker for relationship conflict, whereas the inverted U-shaped relationship with team creativity is stronger for task conflict.
The main limitation is cross-sectional, which cannot establish causality in relationships. Despite this potential weakness, the present research provides insights into conflict, leadership and inter-organizational collaboration literature.
The findings of this study offer some guidance on how managers can intervene in the conflict situations of inter-organizational teams.
Managers are struggling to identify ways to effectively manage team conflict when a team of diverse individuals across organizational boundaries are brought together to solve a problem. The findings of this study offer some guidance on how managers can intervene in the conflict situations of inter-organizational teams.
This paper provides understandings about how relationship and task conflicts affect team creativity in inter-organizational teams.
We wish to thank the reviewers and handling editor for valuable suggestion and advice, which led to an improvement of this paper. This paper is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (71371177).
Hu, N., Chen, Z., Gu, J., Huang, S. and Liu, H. (2017), "Conflict and creativity in inter-organizational teams: The moderating role of shared leadership", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 74-102. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-01-2016-0003
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